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Galaxy AI: Supercharged Productivity, Live Translation to Pro Photo Editing – Here Are All the GenAI Features on the Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung’s latest Galaxy S24 smartphones have introduced a significant leap in Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities, with an emphasis on generative AI (GenAI) features. Leveraging the power of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC for Galaxy for on-device processing and super-fast 5G, and Google Cloud for hybrid AI functionalities, the Galaxy S24 lineup shows Samsung’s commitment to AI integration with Galaxy AI.

Using Gemini LLM’s AI capabilities, Samsung and Google are bringing new ways to search with the new ‘Circle to Search’ feature. Gemini Nano brings the new Magic Compose feature to Google Messages (the default messaging app on the Galaxy S24 series) enabling different messaging styles, completely on-device, without needing an internet connection. There is also the Gemini Pro which powers summarization features, cutting long stories short, in apps like Voice Recorder, Samsung Internet Browser, and Samsung Notes. Lastly, using Google’s Imagen2 with text-to-image diffusion technology, Samsung is bringing intuitive photo editing with the new Generative Edit feature. Both Generative Edit and Summarization features require an active internet, making them hybrid AI features.

There are also other features like Live Translation, instant slow-mo, and generative wallpapers that make Galaxy AI a differentiating feature, setting the Galaxy S24 apart from its competitors. We have been using the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra for over three weeks now, and we will summarize our experience and how to use all these Galaxy AI features.

Senior Analyst Akshara Bassi, who tracks HPC and the cloud market, said, “Integrating AI, specifically at the Edge through native and cloud integration, will spur AI adoption across consumers who have yet to see its use beyond the text and image use cases. This will bring a more personalized user experience supercharged through Google’s multimodal AI – Gemini Pro. Additionally, the cloud-enabled solution will allow the likes of Google to tap into other smartphone players by letting them experience AI, thus turning into AI proponents, and possibly nudging them to upgrade to native AI-enabled chipsets for smartphones.”

WATCH: Galaxy AI: All the GenAI Features on the Samsung Galaxy S24

How to use Galaxy AI Features on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Series

Circle to Search: A new way to search, shop and translate!

Search has been fundamental to our internet experience, and after more than two decades, Samsung and Google are changing how we search. Found something intriguing while scrolling through Instagram Reels, a website, or even a photo? Simply draw a circle around it, and Galaxy AI will pull up relevant information along with links, be it a product, place, or even a piece of artwork.

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The new “Circle to Search” feature combines Google Lens and text search, and it is activated by pressing and holding the home button. Users can even draw a circle around text to quickly translate it. All this takes place on the same screen, without switching between apps.

Activate the Circle to Search feature by heading to — Settings > Display > Navigation bar > and then toggle “Circle to Search.”

Live Translate: Break language barriers to communicate easily

Traveling to a foreign country or chatting with your international friends? Language will no longer be a barrier to your communication. With real-time translations for both voice calls and text messages, you can have a seamless conversation on the go. This feature works across apps like the dialer for phone calls, voice recorder, text, and instant messaging apps, be it WhatsApp, Instagram, Telegram, and more.

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The live translate feature is natively built into the keyboard app, so third-party apps are out of the picture. In the Samsung Internet Browser, you can also translate the entire web page to read comfortably in your native language. Users also get native interpreter mode for two-way voice translation. It is more like having a personal interpreter with you all the time. And as all this works on-device, even in-flight mode, your chats are secure without compromising on privacy.

Bonus: Users with Galaxy Buds TWS and S24 can speak directly into their Buds mic and listen to the translated voice without having to pass the phone back and forth.

AI Summarization: Save time by getting a gist of lengthy articles within seconds

No time to go through long-form text, lengthy articles and transcripts? The AI summarization works perfectly across web pages on Samsung’s Internet Browser, Samsung Notes, and the Voice Recorder app. Users will see a new Galaxy AI Star Icon on the browser tab of these apps, tapping the icon will provide a quick, short or detailed summary of the text in just a few, easy-to-consume bullet points. However, for the AI summarization feature, an internet connection will be needed.

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Meanwhile, the Voice Recorder app can be used for transcribing voice to text, which also works in offline mode.

In the Samsung Notes app, users can get a quick summary of the notes in a few bullet points. The Galaxy AI can also correct spellings and translate text. What’s even more interesting is if you have jotted down meeting notes, the Galaxy AI can also format them with relevant headers and bullets and create a nice-looking cover image too. For these features to work, an internet connection and a minimum text length of 200 characters is required.

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Chat Assist: Improve your conversational tone in messages and chats

Chat Assist enhances messaging across various apps, offering tone customization, spelling and grammar checks, and more. As these features are a part of hybrid AI, they need an internet connection to work.

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Users can improve their writing style by choosing between different conversational tones (professional, casual, polite, or using emojis). This feature can come in super handy when communicating over messaging apps with your boss, colleagues, friends, and family. Users can also use AI to do a quick spelling and grammar check. As it uses hybrid AI, these features need an internet connection to work.

Magic Compose: Say goodbye to writer’s block!

Struggling to compose a text message? Magic Compose in the messaging app can offer context-aware, AI-generated suggestions and pre-composed replies for messages. When composing a message in the messaging app, users will see a sparkly pencil icon to pull up the Magic Compose option.

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Users can keep changing the style of the auto-generated replies until they find the right words that fit the tone. They can choose between presets like formal, chill, lyrical, and even a Shakespearean tone. All this happens on-device, and the auto-compose features work even when there is no internet connection.

Generative Edit: Unleash your creativity and photo editing wizard with AI editing

Most of us capture a lot of photos using our smartphones and sometimes wish we could remove unwanted objects or people from the frame. Other times, we wish the frame was a bit different or the subject could have been slightly away from the center. Generative Edit can make that happen.

The Generative Edit is one of the most interesting GenAI features on the Galaxy S24 lineup. Using Google’s Imagen 2 text-to-image diffusion technology deployed on Vertex AI, Generative Edit brings some nice and intuitive photo-editing capabilities similar to Google’s Magic Eraser and Adobe’s Generative Fill.

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Simply go into the Gallery App > Select the photo > Tap edit > then select Generative Edit, the blue circle with three stars. Next, using your finger (or S Pen), select the subject, and move around the screen or erase it. You can also pull up a subject from a different photo and add it to the edited one, thus creating a completely new photo. The editing is not always flawless, but the trick just works most of the time. This feature needs an internet connection to work though. Another thing to note is that photos edited in generative edit mode have a watermark on the bottom left and also add metadata, suggesting that it is an edited photo.

There are two more features in the Gallery App and they do not require an internet connection to work. When you select a photo in the Gallery App and tap on the “i” icon at the bottom, the AI will analyze the photo and offer suggestions to remove reflections and shadows from the photos. It works quite well, though sometimes the shadow removal feature could make the photos look washed out.

Instant Slow-mo: Add drama to your regular videos

As the name suggests, this GenAI feature lets you slow down your ordinary videos by adding a slow-motion effect. It works on videos shot between 720p to 4K resolution by filling in the gaps between frames using generative AI. In the Gallery App, users simply need to tap and hold the video to see what the effect will look like, and then tap on the edit button, select the portion that needs to be slowed, adjust speed, and save the video.

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If your video was shot at 30fps, it can be slowed down to half or quarter speed, whereas 60fps videos can be slowed down up to one-eighth speed. We tried recording some videos at different resolutions and frame rates and noticed that videos shot at 60fps offer better results.

Generative AI Wallpapers: Create your own, unique wallpapers

A lot of us like to personalize our smartphones with different wallpapers and themes. Now, with generative AI, users can create their custom wallpaper using different themes such as Imaginary, Mineral, Terrain, Painting, and more. Each theme has a pre-defined key phrase where one can change up to three keywords to better describe an image they are looking to generate.

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Users can let their imaginations run wild with the text prompts, but they cannot be changed beyond the pre-defined ones. Still, there are enough keywords and themes available to generate interesting wallpapers. The Generative Wallpapers can be created by heading over to Settings > Wallpaper and Style> Change Wallpapers > Generative (inside the creative category).

Initial thoughts

AI has existed on smartphones for more than half a decade now, but with on-device GenAI capabilities, smartphones have now become even smarter and more supercharged. The impressive new AI features will help boost productivity and creativity. We are only just scratching the surface, but as more OEMs and app developers start integrating more intelligence into their apps, the experience can be further redefined.

However, the Galaxy AI features are not perfect. Sometimes the translation is not accurate. The photos edited using generative edit are not pixel-perfect, but all these are still early examples, and with more data, new use cases, and wider adoption, it will likely improve, especially considering everyone is putting their efforts into AI.

Following its launch, the Galaxy AI features will be free until 2025. Although Samsung has not revealed its future pricing plans, it may go for a subscription model which could very well be an additional source of revenue via software services.

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Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: Epitome of Premium Sound with Compact, Lighter Design and Improved Battery Life

We saw a lot of changes in our daily lives in 2023, especially in terms of getting out of the house and traveling, which had been minimized after the COVID-19 pandemic. Offices recommenced to a fuller extent, with which came the return of the office commute. We resumed traveling for product launch events and trade shows. However, one thing remained pretty much unchanged since the COVID-19 lockdowns – online video calls with teams, clients and prospects. For these calls, headphones or TWS earbuds have become even more crucial to ensure better audio quality and these devices have seen some extensive advancements in specs over time.

Sony launched its WF-1000XM5 (XM5) TWS earbuds in H2 2023, and we have been using a pair extensively for more than four months now. These earbuds feature a more compact and lightweight design, improved ANC, and a better battery life than the previous iteration, the WF-1000XM4 (XM4). Incorporating these upgrades, the new Sony XM5 is priced at $299, a $20 increase compared to its predecessor.

Commenting on Sony’s TWS sales, Senior Analyst Minsoo Kang said, “Sony, especially in the >$150 segment, has shown steady growth, driven by robust ANC, impressive audio quality, and a loyal customer base. With a focus on products priced at $100 and above, Sony has consistently increased its sales in the premium segment. The XM5 does not feature a significant design change compared to the XM4, but Sony has made notable improvements to the Bluetooth version and weight.”

We have reviewed the predecessor XM4 in the past. How does the new XM5 fare in comparison? Read our usage experience and detailed analysis below.

More Compact Design, Better Comfort

Generation over generation, Sony has worked towards making its earbuds smaller, lighter, and more comfortable. The XM4 earbuds were 10% smaller and the case was 40% more compact than the XM3. The latest Sony XM5 is 25% smaller and about 20% lighter compared to the XM4. Each earbud now weighs 5.9g. In comparison, the XM4 earbud weighs 7.3g each.

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The reduced footprint offers a more comfortable fit without hitting the ear fold, thus ensuring less fatigue, unlike what we experienced in the XM3 and XM4 when wearing for long hours. Sony is bundling four ear tips this time – extra small, small, medium, and large – so you can choose the optimal size to fit your ears. These are foam ear tips and not silicone ones like what you typically see in other earbuds.

The Sony XM5 earbuds are less chunky compared to the XM4, thanks to the reduced footprint.

As most of us are not used to foam ear tips, wearing them may feel a little strange initially but with time they feel more comfortable and help greatly in improving wearability and reducing pressure on the ears.

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In terms of design, Sony has retained the gold accent on the microphone mesh cover for each earbud, which gives it a distinct look. The case and the touch-sensitive outer edge of the earbuds have a matte finish. However, most of the exterior is made of glossy plastic, which makes the earbuds a bit slippery when removing from the case, especially if you have sweaty or oily fingers. Overall, the aesthetics of the XM5 look nice and premium.

New Head Tracking Gestures, More Stable Connection

The Sony XM5 is packed with a host of features; some new, some improved over the predecessor:

  • Adaptive Sound Control to automatically switch between ANC and ambient modes.
  • Automatic firmware updates, without needing any manual intervention.
  • Head gestures to accept and decline calls by simply nodding your head.
  • Multi-point control for simultaneous connections.
  • Wireless charging and quick charge (up to one hour of music payback in a three-minute charge).
  • LDAC with Hi-Res Wireless support.
  • Six mics and dual processors for better audio quality and noise cancellation.
  • Google Fast Pair for Android, and Swift Pair for Windows.
  • Find Your Equalizer feature lets you choose the sound settings that suit your music listening preferences.

Adaptive Sound Control is an interesting feature that allows you to customize the EQ and noise canceling level depending on your activity or location. For instance, in the office, you might want to keep ambient mode on so you can listen to your colleagues sitting next to you. In a gym, you may want to turn the ANC on, and the bass turned up to pump that extra adrenaline as you work out.

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The activity-based adaptive mode can have ANC turned on when you are sitting in one place, allowing you to enjoy an immersive listening experience. Similarly, the moment you start walking or running, it can automatically turn on the ambient mode to ensure you can hear your surroundings more clearly. Though the mode switching is not instant, it takes about five to eight seconds to detect the activity and then switch.

Adaptive Sound Control works perfectly to switch through optimal EQ, ANC, and ambient modes depending on your location and activity.   

The head gesture feature to accept and decline calls is neat and works as expected. When you get an incoming call, simply nod your head up and down to accept the call. If you want to decline a call, you can move your head sideways.

The multi-point connection feature allows you to simultaneously connect the earbuds to two devices at the same time. It can intelligently switch between devices. For instance, if you are watching a video or listening to music on the laptop/tablet, and you get a call on the phone, the playback will stop, and after the call has ended, the playback on the laptop will resume. With a new chipset, Sony is also offering this feature in LE (Low Energy) mode, though it is in beta as of now.

Support for Google Fast Pair is a good addition. This makes it easier to pair by just opening the lid of the case and placing it closer to an Android smartphone. Bluetooth needs to be turned on though. It takes away the hassle of finding the device and manually pairing it. Similarly, Swift Pair for Windows 10/Windows 11 laptops makes it easier to pair with a laptop by putting the earbuds in pairing mode. The pairing button is present at the back of the case, just beside the USB-C port.

Automatic firmware update is another good addition. Once new firmware is available, it will be automatically downloaded and installed, so you need not manually check and install the updates.

Lastly, there is also a new Find My Equalizer feature that lets you find the right sound balance to suit your listening preferences. Simply play a song, and it will present some numbered bubbles, each having a different subtle effect. You need to tap on the numbers, hear the difference, and choose the optimal setting that sounds the best to you.

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Based on those inputs, it will create a custom equalizer (EQ) for you, which will be saved in the earbud profile, and that EQ will be consistent across all devices, music, and movies that you watch. It worked well for me, adding slightly more bass while keeping the five-band EQ flat.

Find My Equalizer is a perfect tool for finding optimal sound tailored to your taste, without manually fiddling around with the EQ.

Performance: Stable Connectivity, Great Sound, Long Battery Life

The XM5 offers a more stable connection, thanks to the new Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity standard. We tested the earbuds across multiple devices – MacBook Pro 16 (M1 Pro), iPhone 15 (AAC codec), and Xiaomi 13 Pro (LDAC). However, most of the music listening was on the Xiaomi smartphone as it supports LDAC codec for high bit-rate audio.

Sound Quality:

Sony is known for offering excellent sound quality on its headphones and TWS earbuds, and it has done the same in the new XM5. These earbuds come with 8.4mm dynamic drivers, up from 6mm on the XM4. Sony is also using two materials – one for low and the other for high-frequency sounds.

While listening to music with the equalizer flat, you can immediately hear that the emphasis is still on the lower frequencies a bit. It is perfect for workouts where most of us lean on the hip-hop genre, but when sitting in a home or office, the sound may get a little bass heavy. For most of the listening, we reduced the bass by two levels, and then it sounded well and balanced. Soundstaging in the XM5 is a bit wider compared to the XM4, and detecting different instruments in a sound is much easier.

However, the audio on XM5 is not as rich and full as in the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro. Otherwise, these are an excellent pair of earbuds to enjoy immersive music and video-watching experience.

Noise Cancellation and Call Quality:

 Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Ambient features have always been one of the highlights of the 1000XM series, and Sony has improved this further with every new generation. The new XM5 earbuds come with a total of six mics (three on each earbud), that can catch more ambient noise to filter, thus offering a slightly noticeable difference in ANC. We found it most effective on airplanes, trains, and even places like malls and airports. It also reduces wind noise considerably.

Noise Cancellation and Ambient modes have been improved over the XM4, thanks to the six-mic system.

But it is not just the mics, this time Sony has used two chips – the Integrated Processor V2 for better noise canceling, improved sound quality, low power consumption, and also for better connectivity, and the HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN2e, which is also used to further improve noise canceling and sound quality. Sony says the two processors work together in offering around 20% more noise cancellation compared to the XM4.

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The mics also enable crisp and clear ambient mode, to let you hear things clearly when using the Speak-to-Chat feature, without having to remove the earbuds. On calls, it uses a bone conduction sensor to capture voice vibrations and AI-driven noise reduction algorithms to isolate your voice from ambient noise. We used the earbuds for phone calls, and also for Microsoft Teams calls, and the receiver was able to hear the voice clearly, whether we were in the office or commuting in a cab or metro.

The XM5 offers crisp and clear call quality in most of the ambient noise scenarios we tested.    

Battery Life:

In terms of battery life, Sony claims up to eight hours of continuous music playback on a single charge with ANC on, and up to 12 hours with ANC off. The case offers two additional charges, meaning you can get up to 36 hours of music playback. During our testing, we found the claims to be accurate, and in fact, surpassing even the said claims. On a long-haul 10 flight from London to Mumbai, we got around nine hours and 20 minutes of total playback time with ANC on, before the battery on the earbuds completely drained and needed charging again.

Better battery life and quick charging offer long listening time.

The quick charge feature is also faster now. A quick three-minute charge can offer up to one hour of battery life. In our test, a quick five-minute charge offered roughly an hour and 35 minutes of music playback, lasting and entire Mumbai-Delhi flight from take-off to landing.

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Final Words

The Sony WF-1000XM5 is an excellent pair of TWS earbuds loaded with a lot of features not found in the competition. They sound great, offer crisp ambient noise that allow you to stay aware of your surroundings, and great noise cancellation when you want to cut off and be in your zone. Features like head tracking for accepting and declining calls, multi-point connection, and adaptive sound control set them apart.

However, there are some areas where Sony can make further improvements. These earbuds support head tracking and 360 reality audio, but unlike the Apple AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro, the compatibility is very limited. The ‘Speak-to-chat’ with bone conduction is a great feature, but similar to the previous generation, it is very sensitive and gets activated even when humming to music. Audio tuning can be slightly improved to enhance the richness and fullness of the audio.

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XREAL Air 2 Pro First Impressions: Promising Entry-level XR Glasses

2023 was the most exciting year in the Extended Reality (XR) space since Counterpoint Research began its XR service more than three years ago. While the most amount of public interest was generated by the announcement of Apple’s foray into the segment through the Vision Pro, its first Mixed Reality (MR) headset, the launch of Sony’s gaming VR headset PlayStation VR2, and the launch of Meta’s MR headset Quest 3, a significant amount of meaningful progress was also made by lightweight and competitively priced AR glasses. We at Counterpoint have been testing one such product – XREAL Air 2 Pro.

Initial thoughts

The XREAL Air 2 Pro with its lightweight and well-balanced design offers comfortable usability. The high image quality, combined with a 120Hz high refresh rate and improved audio, positions it as a good competitor in its category, especially for streaming.

It has several other intriguing features that users in certain regions – surprisingly including the US where it is officially available – are prevented from experiencing to the fullest extent. Overcoming these hiccups and adding more apps could make it one of the most interesting AR glasses in 2024 when Apple’s MR headset finally becomes available, and more consumers seek the XR experience without necessarily wanting to shell out $3,500.

Lightweight and comfortable design

The Air 2 Pro packs some upgrades into a visibly thinner and noticeably lighter frame compared with the original 2022 Air. XREAL achieved this by reducing the front face thickness by around 14% to 19 mm. The Air 2 Pro weighs 75 gm, a noticeable reduction from the Air’s weight of 79 gm. The weight distribution has also been improved, with the front/rear weight ratio going from 63:37 to 50:50. The Air 2 Pro also comes with multiple soft zero-pressure nose pads which would help users pick one that fits them better, compared to the metallic ones offered with the original Airs. However, sometimes the glasses need to be worn further out on the nose to prevent the lower part of a video, particularly subtitles, from falling outside the visual area.

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Display: Bright, crisp and vivid

The Air 2 Pro comes with three levels of electrochromic dimming, taking immersion from 0% to 35% to 100%. A 25% increase in brightness, to 500 nits, allows for a better viewing experience, even in brighter conditions. The latest 0.55 Micro-OLED panel from Sony with a 21% higher PPI (pixels per inch) of 4032 also contributes to the increased image quality in the Air 2 Pro. The new device comes with a refresh rate of 120Hz, which has also been added to the original Air through software updates.

Audio: Loud enough for a personal viewing experience

The overall viewing experience also benefits from XREAL’s second-generation sound system which makes audio more immersive. Directional audio reduces sound leakage, although it is still quite noticeable, unless in loud outdoor environments. There are two speakers, one on each side of the temple, making the audio sufficiently loud in most environments.

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XREAL Beam: Connectivity hub for reduced latency

The Air 2 Pro can be used with Beam, a handheld accessory that looks like the Apple iPod. It comes with a built-in battery that can offer a continuous runtime of up to three-and-a-half hours. With a 27W fast charger, it can be charged up to 50% in 30 minutes, while also allowing users to use the Air 2 Pro while charging.

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Built on XREAL’s proprietary spatial computing technology, it can project an equivalent of 330 inches of portable screen in the Air 2 Pro for streaming, gaming, or productivity. Gamers may also use it to connect with PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck or even the ROG Ally to mirror the screen on the Air 2 Pro for an immersive gaming experience. The Beam also comes with 32GB of built-in memory, allowing users to sideload Android app APKs.

Limited app ecosystem with availability issues across regions

With the app ecosystem playing a critical role in the success of a product, capable hardware needs to be complemented with enough apps for various use cases. At Counterpoint, we used the device in our US, China, and India offices. We were able to successfully connect it with an iPhone 15, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5, MacBook Pro 16 (M1 Pro), and a Windows 10-powered Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 where screen mirroring worked well. Using the Nebula app on macOS, we could use three virtual desktops, but only a screen mirroring option was available with a Windows laptop.

We wanted to try some apps, but both the US and India teams could not download any as the Nebula app on Android was not available in those regions. Despite software updates, XREAL Beam (China market version) currently offers only four 2D applications – document management, Bilibili (video APP), iQiyi (video APP), and Alibaba Cloud Drive.

User experience

The Air 2 Pro comes pre-installed with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video apps, and we were able to successfully log in and watch TV shows and movies without a hitch. The experience was immersive and better than expected. Logging in to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video was a bit of a hassle, especially for someone with limited experience of using such devices. This was exacerbated by a dissatisfactory cursor experience as the cursor kept sliding into one of the corners and sometimes failed to appear on the display at all.

After logging in, however, the experience of watching a couple of episodes of ‘Secrets of the Great British Castles’ on Netflix was quite exciting. After some adjustments, the first entire episode could be watched in a single sitting with relative ease. The experience was quite immersive with the drone views of the castles being especially superior on these glasses.

Pricing and availability

The XREAL Air 2 is priced at $399, whereas the XREAL Air 2 Pro comes for $499. They went on sale in October 2023 in the US, UK, Germany, France and Italy. The glasses’ companion handset accessory, the XREAL Beam, sets users back by another $120.

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Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra Review: Portable and Powerful MacBook Pro 16 Alternative with Intel Inside

  • The Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra is powered by the Intel Core i9-13900H processor.
  • It features NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4070 discrete GPU and maintains a thin and light form factor.
  • The laptop seamlessly connects with the Galaxy device ecosystem.

 Samsung launched the Galaxy Book3 series laptops along with the Galaxy S23 smartphone lineup at the Galaxy Unpacked event in early January 2023. In the laptop lineup, the Galaxy Book3 Ultra is the most premium model and has the most impressive features, which we sampled for a long duration. Aimed at content creators, professionals and gamers, the Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra is packed with powerful hardware and priced from $2,199 onwards.

I am a MacBook Pro 16 user and I apply the device heavily for content creation. However, I have always been looking for a Windows-based laptop that could run on a par with the MacBook Pro 16 and I think Samsung has done a great job with the Galaxy Book3 Ultra in this regard. Featuring top-of-the-line specs such as the Intel Core i9-13900H processor and NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4070 discrete GPU, this maxed-out version, which we are currently testing, is priced at $3,000 but can be purchased for around $2,399 with discounts.

Typically, Windows laptops do not offer hours of battery life, but Samsung and Intel have worked that out as the Galaxy Book3 Ultra offers a long battery life and powerful performance. Although Apple’s seamless ecosystem connectivity sets its devices apart, Samsung is offering the same connected ecosystem experience with its Galaxy devices.

Here is our in-depth analysis of the Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra after having used it for around two months.

Design: Sleek, lightweight and elegant

As a competitor to the MacBook Pro 16, the Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra scores full marks on sleekness. It offers a sturdy design while looking elegant at the same time. Despite the all-aluminum body, it weighs about 1.78 kg, which is an impressive feat. In comparison, the MacBook Pro weighs 2.1 kg. The clean graphite finish with just a Samsung logo on the lid adds to its neat look. The lid can be opened with one hand, and the hinge is sturdy too. However, due to its thin profile, the upper side of the screen wobbles slightly as you type.

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The laptop comes with a full-size keyboard and a separate number pad. The keys have enough travel to offer a good typing experience. The power button comes integrated with a fingerprint scanner, offering secure access, thanks to Windows Hello. Below the keyboard is a huge, awkwardly placed off-center touchpad on which the click is not very satisfying. Overall, the touchpad offers an average performance. It is a bit of a letdown, especially for someone like me who does not use a mouse, but it should not be a big issue for those who do.

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“The Galaxy Book3 Ultra looks elegant. It has a thin, lightweight profile while packing ‘almost’ all the necessary ports.”

In terms of connectivity ports, you get an HDMI out and two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left. A USB Type-A, 3.5mm jack and a microSD card slot are placed on the right. However, having an SD card slot would have been better as most content creators shoot on mirrorless cameras that have SD cards.

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Intel “EVO” Inside: Power, efficiency and more

On the hardware side, the Galaxy Book3 Ultra is powered by a 13th-gen Intel Core i9-13900H processor made on Intel 7 (10nm node). It comes with a 14-core CPU that has six performance cores with a max turbo frequency of 5.4GHz, eight efficiency cores with a max turbo frequency of 4.1GHz, and a total of 20 threads. It offers a TDP of 45W (with max support for 60W, while the processor is capable of up to 115W), making it a high-performance system for gamers, professionals and content creators. Our laptop configuration also included 1TB SSD, 32GB of RAM and NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4070 laptop GPU with 8GB GDDR6 VRAM (60W TGP – Total Graphic Power).

“The hardware on the Galaxy Book3 Ultra makes it the most powerful laptop with a sleek form factor.”

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The Book3 Ultra is also Intel EVO certified, meaning it offers core features including:

  • Instant wake where the system wakes up from sleep in under a second.
  • A battery life of over nine hours in real-world usage (FHD resolution).
  • Fast connectivity options such as the Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6E.
  • Quick charging feature where users can get up to four hours of usage on just 30 minutes of charge.

Commenting on the laptop market and Samsung’s positioning, Senior Analyst William Li said, “The MacBook Pro series has been the role model for premium laptops for a while, largely due to both its powerful hardware and seamless ecosystem support. Although Samsung is not yet a Tier-1 vendor in the PC industry, the accumulated product development efforts, new product launches and the competitive Galaxy ecosystem have earned it a ticket to the next battlefield. With Samsung’s efforts to make a mark in the laptop business, the new AI PC chapter in 2024 is likely to boost its ambition of gaining more share.”

Powerful performance: Hybrid laptop for work and play

There is often a tradeoff with Windows laptops, but that is not the case with the Galaxy Book3 Ultra. The device features a 16-inch, 10-bit 3K AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. It has a 16:10 aspect ratio, 2880×1800 pixel resolution and supports HDR. The screen is sharp and offers excellent color reproduction with deep blacks, bright whites and vivid colors. Moreover, the thin bezels around the display frame ensures an immersive viewing experience.

“Watching content, be it gaming or a movie is a treat for the eyes.”

 The Galaxy Book3 Ultra is Samsung’s most powerful laptop and offers top-notch performance. Day-to-day tasks like checking emails, browsing the web, Teams calls, and more are smooth. Even with all these apps running in the background, and multitasking on Word, PowerPoint while also editing a video on DaVinci Resolve, there were no signs of lagging.

As this is a laptop meant for content creators, we tested its video editing performance. We loaded a five-minute 720p podcast video on DaVinci Resolve, added intro and outro animations with some background music, a couple of lower thirds (title graphics) and rendered the video in 1080p (30fps). The Galaxy Book3 Ultra took one minute and 18 seconds to render the video. We did the same on the MacBook Pro 16(with M1 Pro SoC) and it took 59 seconds. The MacBook Pro is clearly the winner here, but the Galaxy Book3 Ultra with Intel Core i9 processor, without a dedicated NPU, comes impressively close.

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Having the NVIDIA RTX 4070 means you also get technologies like DLSS and ray tracing. We did try our hand at gaming but did not get enough time to run the laptop at its full potential. We managed to run old classic games such as Left4Dead2 and Counter-Strike: GO with maxed graphics settings and they ran smoothly.

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We also tried out Forza Horizon 5, which is a graphics-intensive game. With maxed-out settings 3K display resolution (and laptop on high-performance mode), it offered up to 60fps initially, but after five minutes or so, the PC started to heat up and the frame rate dropped to about 49fps as the GPU took the maximum load. Some throttling was noticeable as the device worked to keep the thermals under control. We did not push it further beyond that, but this is a tradeoff of having a thin chassis.

“Gaming performance is good, but for intensive gaming titles, you may have to rely on a proper gaming laptop or desktop.”

In terms of battery life, the Galaxy Book3 Ultra is rated at 76Whr and can be charged using the bundled USB-C 135W wall charger. During our usage, we noticed that a full charge took about two hours. Battery life depends on individual usage, and we tested multiple scenarios:

  • On a full charge, the battery would only last for about three hours when on a Teams video call, with screen brightness at 60%, speaker at full volume, and camera with a blurred background effect at all times. That is about 40 minutes less than what we get on a MacBook Pro 16 with the same usage.
  • The battery lasts nearly the entire workday for regular work with Teams running in the background, some web browsing, listening to music and writing blogs. The laptop only needed charging around the last hour.
  • With heavy-duty tasks like podcast audio or video editing workloads or mild gaming, the laptop offers a battery life of around four-and-a-half hours.

For an immersive audio experience, the laptop also has a quad-speaker system tuned by AKG and supports Dolby Atmos too. The output is good but lacks the bass and punch like in the MacBook Pro. However, with some Dolby tuning, the audio gets slightly better.

Samsung Studio Plus: AI effects for your video calls

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic subsided, a lot of businesses and professionals have been following a hybrid work model. Some are still working from home, some are working from co-working spaces and cafes, while others are back to the office full-time. To help tackle these situations and to make sure one has a consistent look during video calls, Samsung Studio Plus with AI works really well.

There are key features, such as the Face Effect which can add subtle looks or smooth complexion. The Background Effect lets you blur the background while keeping you in focus.

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The Auto Framing feature uses AI to detect you in the frame, crop and keep your face in focus. The camera can also track you around as you move. And finally, there is the Eye-Contact feature, which also uses AI to make your eyes appear to be looking at the camera, even if you look elsewhere – to the content on the screen, for example. So, even if you have a script or a list of pointers offscreen that you are looking at while presenting online, this feature makes you appear like you never looked away from the screen.

“The AI video effects on the Samsung Studio Plus app is a great addition for those hybrid work use cases.”

 The Samsung Studio Plus app works well with the default 1080p camera and activates when you start the camera app, or start a video call on Zoom, Teams or Google Meet.

The Galaxy Book “Connected Ecosystem” Experience

The connected ecosystem experience offered by Apple is something that sets it apart. Samsung is one of the OEMs with a huge portfolio of products across different categories that offer seamless connectivity. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy smartphone seamlessly connects with the Galaxy tablet, Galaxy smartwatch and Galaxy TWS, with a multi-point connectivity.

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The Galaxy Book brings a host of interesting features to elevate user experience:

Samsung Account: You need to sign in with the same Samsung account as on your Samsung smartphone, which will sync details like your passwords saved on Samsung Pass. This will let you sign with and authenticate using your fingerprint, without punching in the credentials. Your Samsung Notes will also get synced and so will the IoT devices that you have added in the SmartThings app. With the SmartThings app on your PC, you can control all your IoT devices from one place.

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Multi Control: When the Samsung laptop and smartphone are close, you can move the mouse cursor to the right of the screen, onto your smartphone (where the smartphone will effectively act like an extended display). You can use the cursor to scroll through the web pages on your phone, scroll through the UI and more.

Samsung Gallery: You can access all your photos and videos in the smartphone gallery directly from the Samsung Gallery app on your Galaxy Book3 Ultra. You can even wirelessly transfer items from your smartphone to your PC with a drag-and-drop move.

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Bixby, Samsung Flow: Samsung has also included the Bixby assistant to the Windows laptop, which allows voice commands for weather updates, playing music, opening apps, and more. You can even give commands, like start a drier, or turn the light on and off, provided they are connected with SmartThings. During our usage, it was a hit and miss, so maybe Samsung needs to fine tune it more.

With Samsung Flow, you can get all your Galaxy smartphone notifications on your PC. There is also a clipboard feature where you can copy/paste text between devices, just like on the iPhone/Mac.

YourPhone: This is a Microsoft app emulator that lets you run Android apps on Windows, among other features. It is not an exclusive feature for Samsung phones, and is available for other Android phones via the “Link to Windows” app. You cannot play games but can definitely run apps like WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook to scroll through timelines, or launch Netflix or the Maps app among others.

With YourPhone app, your smartphone screen can be mirrored on the PC. There is a call and messaging app, that lets you make and receive calls on PC, and even send, receive, and reply to text messages right from your PC.

Do note, for all these features to work, your PC and smartphone need to be on the same Wi-Fi network. We would like to highlight that during our usage we faced some glitches at times with some apps. The laptop needs more fine-tuning to make the experience seamless.

“The connected ecosystem experience with Galaxy devices adds great value as a differentiator from the competition.”

Final thoughts

The Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra is a great laptop for creative professionals, content creators, and gamers. Despite its ultra-portability, it does not compromise on heavy-duty performance apart from intensive gaming.

Along with a great screen, good battery life, and AI video call features, the Galaxy Book3 Ultra has a lot more to offer. The Galaxy-connected ecosystem experience is a value addition for Samsung smartphone, tablet, and TWS users.

 However, there are a few things that Samsung can improve on with future generations of the device. The camera could be improved to offer higher resolution and capture accurate skin tones. The speaker system can be better to compete with the MacBook Pro. Battery life and thermal management can be improved further, ideally with a new processor and further optimization. Lastly, the “Galaxy Book Experience” app can be polished to work seamlessly without glitches.

Lenovo M10 5G Tablet Review: Solid Performer with Future-proof Connectivity

Lenovo was one of the top five players in the Global Tablet Market according to Counterpoint Research Global Tablet Tracker. The company offers a wide range of tablets for different segments and use cases, from budget-friendly models to premium devices. Lenovo’s M series tablets are designed to offer a balance of performance, features and affordability for mainstream consumers.

The Lenovo M10 5G, which was launched in July 2023, is the brand’s first mid-tier tablet capable of 5G connectivity, a feature that is usually found in more expensive models. Unlike other brands in the same segment, which focus more on technical aspects than connectivity, the Lenovo Tab M10 5G stands out as a product that is ideal for work use, especially for B2B cases. Moreover, it appeals to a wide range of users with its attractive price of $276 (₹22,999), amid the growing demand for 5G-capable tablets.

Lenovo M10 5G Tablet - Front
Credits: Lenovo

In this review, we will evaluate the product on various aspects, such as design, performance, battery life, display, camera and 5G capability.

Sleek and Elegant Design

The Lenovo tablet has a slate-type design, with a semi-frosted metal back inside a plastic frame. It weighs 460 g and measures 9.6 mm in thickness with good grip around the edges, making it easy to hold and carry. The tablet has relatively wide bezels around the screen, giving it an 82% screen-to-body ratio. However, the bezels also pack a reliable front-facing camera with a light correction sensor for high-quality video calling.

Built for work and play, the tablet comes with dual Dolby Atmos speakers on the top and bottom edges. The rear camera is placed in the top left corner while the front camera is on the top centre of the screen, which is good for long video calls when the device is placed horizontally. Overall, the tablet feels sturdy and comfortable in the hand with a premium look and feel.

Lenovo M10 5G Tablet - Front & Back
Credits: Lenovo

Performance: Decent Daily Driver for Casual Users

The Lenovo M10 5G has a 16:10 aspect ratio in a 10.61-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1200×2000 pixels, and a pixel density of 220 ppi. The screen also has a 90Hz refresh rate, making it ideal for watching videos and reading documents. With a peak brightness of 400 nits, the screen is well-suited for indoor use, although it can be challenging to view outdoors. However, tablets are predominantly used indoors.

Under the hood is a 6nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 SoC. The tablet features an eight-core CPU – two Kryo 660 Gold performance cores (Cortex-A78) clocked at 2,200MHz and six Kryo 660 Silver efficiency cores (Cortex-A55) clocked at 1,800MHz.

Lenovo is offering the M10 5G in two SKUs where you get 128GB of storage, and two RAM options to choose from – 4GB or 6GB. The tablet also has a microSD card slot to further expand the storage up to 1TB. The device comes with a 20W standard power adapter with a USB Type-C cable.

In terms of performance, the Lenovo M10 5G was smooth and responsive during our usage, and it handles multitasking well. The tablet can run most games but showed occasional frame drops during long hours of usage at high graphic settings.

When an extendable display is required, the tablet can also be used as a second screen for your PC. During our testing, we used a Windows laptop to extend the display on a Lenovo M10 Tablet and it worked seamlessly, wirelessly and without any lags. Using Bluetooth 5.1, two devices can be connected simultaneously. Users can also connect a Bluetooth mouse like the HP Slim using a Type-C to Type-A connector and it works swiftly. During our usage, we connected a Logitech keyboard and a combination of wireless mouses, which offered a PC-like experience.

Lenovo M10 5G Tablet - Extended Display Mode
Credits: Lenovo

5G Performance

The Lenovo M10 5G is one of the few tablets on the market that support 5G connectivity (especially at sub $300 price point), which is the next generation of mobile network technology. 5G offers faster speed, lower latency, higher capacity, and better reliability than previous generations of mobile networks. According to Counterpoint Research, the Global Tablet Market is expected to grow in 2023, driven by the demand for 5G tablets.

The tablet can connect to different types of 5G networks around the world depending on the availability, including the network coverage. The device supports Wi-Fi calling and voice over LTE (VoLTE) features, which enable high-quality voice calls over data networks.

It provides a fast as well as seamless internet experience with its 5G capability to achieve download speeds of up to 2.4 Gbps and upload speeds of up to 660 Mbps. The device can also reduce the latency (the time it takes for data to travel between devices) to about 1 ms on 5G networks from about 50 ms on LTE networks (4G). The tablet is 5G ready, which ensures future-proof connectivity for a great viewing experience that is both high-resolution and lag-free. The tablet’s internet latency (ping) was very low on both 5G and 4G networks, not just for media consumption but also while running heavy games like PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile. However, it is worth mentioning that long hours of usage on a 5G network did result in faster battery draining as compared to on a 4G network.

Lenovo M10 5G Tablet - 5G Capable
Credits: Lenovo

Battery: Easy Full Day Usage

The 7,700mAh battery lasted us for over a day, with mixed usage. However, the battery life will differ from user to user and different use cases like gaming and streaming videos. With 20W fast charging via USB-C port, the tablet charges from 0% to 50% in about 40 minutes and from 0% to 100% in about two hours.

Lenovo M10 5G Tablet - Decent Battery
Credits: Lenovo

Decent Camera for Video Calls

The Lenovo M10 5G has a 13MP rear camera with autofocus and LED flash, and an 8MP front camera with fixed focus.

The front camera can take good selfies and support video calls with good clarity and sound quality. However, the front camera can also be afflicted with noise and distortion in low-light or backlit scenarios. Nevertheless, it can meet the basic needs of users. The mics are well-placed and capture holistic sound from all angles.

Android 13 with Some Nice Customizations from Lenovo

The software is one of the very underrated gems of this tablet. It runs Android 13 out of the box, and there are a lot of features such as multi-window, window pinning, pop-up window, split screen keyboard and dynamic taskbar for making full use of such a wide display.

The apps can be resized smoothly using a top-appearing menu option that is available at all times. The device also features Lenovo Vantage (an exclusive Lenovo product care suit) which states that Lenovo is serious about its customers’ satisfaction.

Animations across the tablet feel smooth and look beautiful. The tablet can also be used as a big clock display on your table or by your bedside. The device shows vital information such as calendars, notifications, weather, or alarms with easy access to Google Assistant. The tablet also gives the option to add more users and profiles in the OS which can help various people in a family to have their own profiles stored securely inside the tablet itself.

Lenovo M10 5G Tablet - Android 13
Credits: Lenovo

Conclusion

Overall, the Lenovo M10 5G is a premium-looking tablet with a decent performance. A good display, speakers tuned by Dolby Atmos, a full-day battery life, and reliable software make it a good tablet for casual users. Of course, there are certain areas where improvement is required like mics, cameras and software optimization. There is also room for the implementation of smarter and more effective features such as smarter UI capabilities and app predictions in the tablet which could be tackled over regular OTA updates promised with the device. The demand for quality, budget-friendly tablets is still largely untapped, and the Lenovo M10 5G aims to fill that gap.

Lenovo M10 5G Tablet - Flip Cover
Credits: Lenovo

OnePlus Launches Its First Book-type Foldable – The OnePlus Open

  • Foldable smartphones made up a little more than 2% of US smartphone sales in 2022 but remain a growing and promising segment.
  • OnePlus is the third OEM to enter the US market with a book-type foldable featuring strong hardware specifications rivaling Samsung and Google.
  • The OnePlus Open will sell unlocked and retail for $1,699.99 at OnePlus.com, Amazon.com and Bestbuy.com with pre-orders beginning on October 19 and full launch on October 26.

OnePlus launched its first foldable smartphone, the book-type OnePlus Open, on Thursday to enter the small but growing US foldable market. The new launch, which is now open for pre-orders, makes OnePlus the third OEM with a book-type foldable in the US market, competing with Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Google’s Pixel Fold. Motorola is the only other OEM that has foldable smartphones in the US market, namely the new RAZR and RAZR Plus, but these are clamshell-style foldables.

In 2022, US foldable smartphone sales accounted for just over 2% of overall smartphone sales in the country. The portion has grown further in 2023. Foldables are an important segment for the Android market as they are one of the few categories where we are seeing iOS to Android conversion.

OnePlus Open in Voyager Black and Emerald Green

The OnePlus Open is a strong contender versus both Samsung’s Fold 5 and Google’s Pixel Fold, as the company spent over a year on R&D with the help of OPPO. The new device is currently the lightest (239g) and one of the thinnest (5.8mm unfolded) foldables available in the US. It also supports one of the lightest hinges with only 69 parts made with various metals and materials to make the hinge lightweight but durable. OPPO will release the same phone as the Find N3 in other markets. Compared with the other two devices on the market, OnePlus is priced very competitively. It is $100 cheaper than its counterparts and has better or on-par top-line specs, aside from not having wireless charging.

A table comparing the specs between OnePlus Open, Samsung Galaxy Fold, and Google Pixel Fold

 

A short review – a multimedia powerhouse with a strong camera and Open Canvas

Having personally tested the device over the last two weeks – the OnePlus Open holds up to the hype. The flagship specs make the device a breeze to use. The fingerprint sensor is snappy, the battery lasts a full day, and pictures turn out great, especially if you like the signature Hasselblad look.

Hasselblad 3x portrait mode at night

OnePlus has also added a new feature called Open Canvas which enables multi-window operations and promises to be able to resize 95% of apps without weird, forced visuals or use adjustments. Up to three windows can be displayed on the screen at the same time.

OnePlus Open Canvas triple split mode

OnePlus also added a desktop-like taskbar for easy application access. Unfortunately, it does not have a desktop mode like Samsung’s DeX, which would have enabled even more productivity with the device. There is no compatibility with the OnePlus Stylo either. However, the overall device was quite impressive and OnePlus’ commitment to make a competitive foldable flagship is commendable.

Source: OnePlus Open event

OnePlus’ foldable outlook – promising if branding efforts continue

The key for OnePlus will be getting the media and consumers’ attention with its Open since it is not being ranged in carrier channels. This is where the Pixel Fold and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 will have a leg up as over 90% of smartphone sales happen within a postpaid or prepaid channel sale. Selling open market is often challenging as consumers are used to getting “free” devices from carriers with an upgrade and/or trade-in or new line offer creating the illusion of bargains that are ultimately recouped by carriers via higher service plans or customer loyalty to a carrier.

OnePlus is offering some very competitive promotions on its website to gain a competitive advantage in the open market. Customers can trade in any device, any condition, and receive at least $200 off on the Open, and get up to $1,000 off. This matches Samsung’s Fold 5 trade-in value promotion while Google Fold’s maximum trade-in value is $590. Additionally, OnePlus is giving customers free OnePlus Buds Pro 2 ($150 value), offering 24 months 0% APR financing, three months of YouTube Premium, and a six-month Google One 100GB membership.

If OnePlus is able to get deeper into the public eye with its brand and new foldable, the device could become a strong contender in the still-nascent US foldable market. In the past, OnePlus has partnered with the Boston Marathon, Riot Games, and the UFC to get its name out to different customer segments. It needs to continue these efforts to drive potential customers to the open market sales channels for the device to be successful.

The OnePlus Open will sell unlocked and retail for $1,699.99 at OnePlus.com, Amazon.com and Bestbuy.com with pre-orders beginning on October 19 and a full launch on October 26.

iPhone 14 Pro Long-term Review: Solid Performance, Great Cameras, Battery Life Make it Best Pro Yet

Apple’s iPhone 14 series, especially the Pro models, brings more than incremental changes compared to the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 series. Apple has been widening the capabilities gap between the Pro and base models. For example, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max feature the latest A16 Bionic SoC made on TSMC’s 4nm process, while the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are powered by TSMC’s 5nm-based A15 Bionic SoC. The 14 Pro series also features an advanced camera system, Pro Motion display design with intuitive Dynamic Island, and more.

iPhone 14 Pro most successful iPhone model

Ever since Apple introduced the Pro and Pro Max models with its iPhone 11 series, the iPhone 14 Pro models have proved to be the most popular Pro series. According to Counterpoint’s Global Monthly Handset Model Sales Tracker, the iPhone 14 Pro model’s volumes and revenues in its first year of global release almost doubled compared to that of the iPhone 11 Pro model for the same period, driving record iPhone revenues for Apple. Further, the iPhone 14 Pro was consistently among the top three best-selling smartphone models globally for every quarter since its launch. This helped Apple dominate the premium market, with the iPhone 14 Pro alone contributing 13% volume for the above-mentioned period. The top three markets contributing to the iPhone 14 Pro’s growth were the US, China, and UK.

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There are a few other reasons contributing to the 14 Pro’s success, including the primary camera getting the much-needed bump to 48MP resolution, and the five-core GPU. Apple also improved its ProMotion display by adding an always-on display feature and refresh rate that can go from 1Hz to 120Hz. Lastly, the Pro models also come with a pill-shaped floating notch that Apple calls Dynamic Island, a good differentiator from the iPhone 14 model.

Key differentiators for iPhone 14 Pro

Dynamic island: A notch above

Ahead of the iPhone 14 launch, there were rumors of Apple going with a new pill-shaped floating notch design. But Apple surprised everyone by adding a cool software trick and making it very meaningful for its power users and developers. Calling it Dynamic Island, Apple has made this new take on the infamous notch a little more fun, interactive and useful. It is nearly a year since we have been using the iPhone 14 Pro, and the Dynamic Island seems like a good differentiator.

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It comprises two parts – a physical island that houses the camera and sensors, and a virtual island on the display. As the iPhone features an OLED display, all the pixels go completely black, making the cutout and virtual island blend well to appear like one large cutout capsule. This approach is quite innovative and changes completely the conversation around the notch.

counterpoint iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island Use Cases

When you get important alerts, Dynamic Island adapts and expands in real time to show these notifications on the status bar. You can also tap and interact with the notification content of this expanded capsule. Dynamic Island is also a good multi-tasking option for supported apps, giving you quick access to apps, rather than swiping up and holding to scroll through the background apps.

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Dynamic Island initially launched with first-party and a few ecosystem apps, showing notifications for apps like Timer, Maps, AirDrop and Apple Music and even for charging, wireless charging, hotspots and others such as YouTube. Apple made the API available to the developers and apps like Spotify and Uber take good advantage of the notch, making it more functional. There is also Live Activities feature for background notifications, which is quite helpful too.

Cameras: High-resolution sensor with better OIS, improved night mode and more

Apple has offered the biggest camera upgrade with the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. Both the Pro models come with a brand-new, high-resolution 48MP camera sensor, which is 68% larger than the 12MP one on the iPhone 13 Pro. Featuring a 1/1.28-inch sensor, 2.44um pixel size and f/1.78 aperture, the camera outputs 12MP photos by default, thanks to 4-in-1 pixel binning tech.

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Apple has also added a new feature called Photonic Engine, which is basically a computational photography model that improves the dynamic range and low-light camera performance by incorporating Apple’s Deep Fusion tech.

Over the past year, we have used the iPhone 14 Pro as a primary phone and camera for capturing photos and videos in multiple settings. Under most scenarios, the primary camera does a great job of capturing photos, which are brighter, richer in details and punchier in colors, a great upgrade from previous generation iPhones. The new camera featuring a larger sensor does a great job in low-light conditions, such as inside dim-lit cafes or restaurants. The following photos provide some evidence of its performance.

iPhone 14 Pro Camera Sample Low Light

iPhone 14 Pro Camera Sample Evening

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Seattle Low-Light Wheel

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Seattle Low-Light Space Needle

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Low Light 3

However, the algorithm needs to be improved and localized with respect to the varied human skin tones across different geographies. The HDR goes a little aggressive adding a slightly darker skin tone, especially in backlit scenarios. But otherwise, the 12MP front camera does a good job, especially when on video calls.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Selfie Skin Tone

For users who like to play around with RAW capture and edit it in post-processing, there is support for Apple ProRAW mode. The best part here is that you can capture RAW photos in both 12MP and 48MP resolutions. Below are a couple of photos shot in RAW and edited in Adobe Lightroom. But you can also edit the photos in other apps such as Snapseed.

The primary camera also comes with second-generation sensor-shift OIS technology. It helps in capturing blur-free photos, but most importantly it helps in capturing smooth, jerk-free videos, even at 4K 60fps and without needing a gimbal. 8K video recording is missing, and we hope the iPhone 15 series will bring this feature which has been available on the Android flagships for a few years now.

WATCH: Apple iPhone 14 Pro Video Camera Samples

The Action Mode works well in capturing stable footage with less camera shake, even when you are running behind a subject. The only catch here is that you can capture up to a maximum resolution of 2.8K, which is not bad either. The Cinematic Mode has also improved with its edge detection, and the best part about this mode is that it lets you change focus from frame to frame right on your smartphone. Apple has also added 4K video capture in Cinematic Mode, which is a good improvement. All of these features leverage the new A16 Bionic’s AI capabilities.

There are two more cameras – a 12MP sensor with an ultrawide lens of 13mm (120-degree field-of-view), and a 12MP sensor with a 77mm telephoto lens and OIS offering up to 3X optical zoom. All three cameras are consistent with their color science, which shows how Apple has worked on optimizing the algorithms barring skin tones. The following shots confirm the color consistency across the sensor and focal lengths.

Ultrawide

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Ultrawide

Ultrawide

Apple iPhone 14 Pro UltraWide Seattle

1x

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Wide Seattle

3x

Apple iPhone 14 Pro 3x Seattle

The ultrawide camera also doubles as a macro camera, allowing you to capture close-up shots from a distance as close as 2cm. Below are a couple of close-up photos.

iPhone 14 Pro Camera Sample Macro

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Macro

Lastly, the iPhone 14 Pro also comes with a ToF 3D LiDAR scanner for depth information, and it is probably the most underrated sensor on the iPhone. It may not have the everyday use case when clicking photos and videos but comes in very handy in Augmented Reality use cases, like using the camera as a measuring tape, which is in-built, or other third-party ARKit-based phygital interactive apps for design or learning.

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Snappy performance with powerful A16 Bionic SoC

The A16 Bionic SoC made on a 4nm TSMC process is one of the big under-the-hood upgrades in the iPhone 14 Pro series. The new SoC focuses on enhancing power efficiency, display and camera. With nearly 16 billion transistors, there is a new 6-core CPU, featuring two performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. The new 16-core Neural Engine is capable of 17 TOPS, enabling advanced computational photography experiences.

counterpoint iPhone 14 pro gaming review

The SoC also comes with a 5-core GPU with 50% more memory bandwidth. Whether running multiple apps in the background or playing graphics-intensive games, the A16 Bionic handles it all without breaking a sweat. However, there are times when the back of the smartphone gets a bit warmer when pushed to the limits.

Display enhancements such as dynamic refresh rate & AoD

There are other core experiences that the chipset unlocks. For instance, there is a new Display Engine that enables always-on display capabilities for the custom-built OLED screen, and a refresh rate as low as 1Hz when idle or when there is static content on the screen. This helps in reducing power consumption and offers a slightly better battery life even when the always-on display is kept on. However, if you turn on the wallpaper option in the “always-on” display (AoD) setting, the battery drain is faster. So, ensure that you keep it off, while notifications can be left on.

The 6.1-inch SuperRetina XDR OLED display also supports a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz, offering smooth playback of videos and a good gaming experience. The screen outputs a wider color gamut, supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and can attain peak brightness of up to 2,000 nits outdoors. We were not able to test the peak but never faced any legibility issues during the usage.

In terms of battery life, the iPhone 14 Pro lasts for a day, and even some more, depending on your usage. There is a 3,200mAh battery unit with support for fast charging and wireless charging – both using MagSafe (faster at 15W) and Qi (7.5W). While Apple sells a 20W charging adapter, you can also use third-party USB Type-C-based adapters with the bundled Type-C-to-Lightning cable to charge your iPhone.

It takes about 90 minutes to fully charge the iPhone 14 Pro. With a mixed usage of calls, browsing the social media timeline, listening to music, and clicking some photos and videos, we get a good six hours or slightly more of screen time. One thing to add here is that Battery Health has not held up well – it is already at 91% of its maximum capacity after 12 months of use. However, the good thing is that it hasn’t really affected the battery life in a major way. Faster charging is something that is on top of our wishlist and where Apple is falling behind.

Other useful additions: Crash detection, emergency SOS and more

There are other key features that the iPhone 14 series brings, such as crash detection, which uses a mix of high g-force accelerometer, gyroscope, and machine learning algorithms to detect when a user is subjected to a severe crash. It then automatically contacts emergency services. There is also an Emergency SOS via satellite feature that lets you send emergency messages and get help when a cellular or Wi-Fi network is unavailable. This feature can come in handy for users who go on treks and hikes where there is limited to no network connectivity. However, this feature is region-specific and not available across the globe.

Lastly, all iPhone 14 models support 5G connectivity. However, there is one major change in the US – there is no physical SIM card and these are eSIM-only iPhones. There may still be time before we see eSIM-only iPhones across all markets. eSIM and integrating iSIM in the future will allow Apple to save some board space to make way for more thinner form factor.

Wrapping up

The iPhone 14 Pro comes with a great build quality, beautiful display, great set of cameras and many other features that make it Apple’s best Pro yet. iOS updates have consistently improved the experience, right from software features to camera performance and optimized battery life. Even the Dynamic Island functionality has improved as more apps now support it. The Live Activities feature is quite helpful in offering important background notifications, from the live status of a cab you booked to food you ordered, and even smaller things like the status of a story upload on apps like Instagram.

There are areas where we hope to see some improvements with the new iPhone 15 series. Support for faster charging speeds will be a good addition. In the camera department, we often notice that the AI and HDR go a little aggressive on different skin tones. Maybe an option to turn off HDR could have been better. 8K video recording is another feature we would love to see in the iPhone 15 series as 4K 60fps is becoming a de-facto feature that would also warrant a base storage of 512GB and going up to 2TB for all the Pro models.

Jabra Evolve2 65 Flex Review: Unfolding Future of Hybrid Work with Personalized ANC, Comfort & Lightweight Foldable Design

COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to hybrid work models while transforming the technological needs of the new-age professional. For example, the need for good wireless headsets for working in home, office or cafe environments has become imperative. However, designing a versatile headset for these hybrid work scenarios becomes challenging if we add the growing business travel to the equation.

For the last over 10 years, I have been working in front of the PC either at home, office or while traveling, but my search for an optimum lightweight wireless headset with top-notch active noise cancellation (ANC) continues. I have used multiple wired ANC headsets from Plantronics to Sennheiser for my desktop PC or laptop at home for years. While they have performed well, most of them are USB-Type A and their wires often become entangled, besides limiting their movement and lifespan.

Since carrying these headsets during a business trip is not only impractical but now also leads to incompatibility issues with the new wave of USB Type-C-only laptops, I have been mostly relying on the TWS headsets from Apple, Samsung, Sony, OnePlus and Nothing. Though they do a decent job, most of them have average battery life and hit-or-miss ANC capabilities, and sometimes they pop out without permission.

However, a month ago, our test lab received the Evolve2 65 Flex, Jabra’s latest addition to its portfolio of professional wireless headsets, and it has left us thoroughly impressed! It addresses most of the needs of the hybrid workstyle.

Foldable, lightweight and comfortable design

The Jabra Evolve2 65 Flex sports a unique fold-and-go Danish design, which makes it very easy to carry the headset across multiple hybrid work modes. Further, to complement the foldable design, the headset weighs a mere 136 gm. It is made from high-quality PC/PC-ABS material, making it lighter, durable, flexible and rugged at the same time. As a result, the overall form factor is very compact.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 flex on the head right ear

The unique adjustable and collapsible headband design has layers of perforated foam, making it softer on the head. This along with rotating earcups with ultra-soft leatherette cushions helps the headset provide hours of comfortable usage. Jabra calls this new pattern, choice of materials and perforated design “Air Comfort” technology. The proof point for me was using it for 20 hours straight on a flight to the US, with ultimate comfort. There was no ear or head pain, or sweating, or the headset slipping off my head even when I briefly dozed off.

Another striking design element is that the external microphone stick folds back into the headset, transforming it into a cool personal headset for consuming music or entertainment on the go.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 mic in and out

The headset sports seven buttons on the earcups. Initially, I was confused about the alignment and functions of each button. However, after a week’s usage, these etched into my muscle memory and proved to be quite useful. The buttons cover functions including power on/off, Bluetooth pairing, switching between ANC and HearThrough, volume/pause/play, opening UC apps such as Microsoft Teams, call connect/disconnect, and mute/unmute/command voice assistant.

Premium audio, ANC and voice calls

The Jabra Evolve2 65 Flex sports two analog MEMS and four digital MEMS microphones. It also features unique algorithms to slice out the background noises with the help of an advanced chipset to deliver premium, stable and enterprise-grade voice calling with a hybrid ANC experience. The call quality is fantastic in any environment, whether a closed cabin, noisy subway or Uber taxi, and device type, whether a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 flex call settings

The different customizations and personalizations using Jabra’s Sound+ app make the sound and voice quality optimal for ANC, HearThrough, or ANC-off modes. The integrated 360° Busylight, which is visible from all angles, is a great feature to notify when one is on a call or busy working by acting as a “do-not-disturb” sign.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 flex app

The headset is certified for leading UC platforms from Microsoft Teams, CISCO Webex, Zoom, Google Meet, Amazon Chime, and others. The headset that I have been using is a Microsoft Teams variant with a dedicated button and the experience optimized for Teams calls.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 flex earcups front woith lights

The Sound+ app also helps set up the personal assistant on the device for enabling commands at the press of a button, and it works flawlessly on both iOS and Android. Also, it is recommended to set up your sound profile under “MySound” to optimize the headset to match your hearing profile.

The Sound+ app is also useful in optimizing the sound or audio depending on the type of content, like music or movies. The music presets are great along with the ability to save custom equalizer settings. The headset sports custom 28mm speakers with a full audio frequency range from 20Hz to 20KHz. After a week of “burn-in”, the headset is great for listening to music, especially classical, gothic rock, vocals and ballads, offering a much clearer and fuller sound, almost as good as a $200 in-ear headset.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 flex jabra direct

Longer battery life and stable connectivity

What stands out for me is that the Jabra Evovle2 65 Flex is a light, foldable and compact form factor, along with a tremendous battery life. I recently used the headset for 20 hours straight during a flight to the US, with a mix of movies and music. At the end of the flight, the battery dropped to only 63% despite a mix of ANC on/off modes. I charged the headset just once during my 10-day business trip and usage of close to 60 hours, which is about 30 hours of usage per charge, very close to Jabra’s claim of 32 hours per full charge. Further, the headset can be wirelessly charged with a beautiful bundled wireless charging dock stand. The overall charging time via USB Type-C is less than 90 minutes and slightly longer with the wireless charging dock.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 on charging pad zoomed

The headset can connect with two Bluetooth-enabled devices at the same time, like a laptop and primary phone, or primary and secondary phones. In terms of overall pairing, the headset can pair and remember up to eight devices. The headset also features Google Fast Pair for quick pairing with Android phones.

Wrapping up

The Jabra Evolve2 65 Flex ticks all the right boxes, from compact, collapsible and comfortable design to premium audio and voice call experience with unparalleled battery life, making it one of the best UC and on-ear headset in the market. It is great for someone who travels a lot or uses headsets for long calls and doesn’t want to worry about charging or comfort. The headset comes at a premium price point of $500 or ₹45,000. I would highly recommend the headset as it offers tremendous value for money and sets new standards in the premium professional wireless headset space.

JBL Tour One M2: Top 5 Features – From Studio Editing to Music and Gaming

  • The JBL Tour One M2 features Adaptive Noise Cancelling to block the ambient noise around you.
  • It also includes a Smart Ambient mode which helps you stay alert of your surrounding noise.
  • Personi-Fi 2.0 lets you customize the audio to match your personal listening profile.

Audio is paramount for content creation – for reels, short films, and, of course, podcasts – and a good pair of headphones makes a lot of difference. Without a good headset, playing competitive games or even casually listening to music or watching a movie is an incomplete experience. As an avid PlayStation 5 gamer and a multimedia editor myself, good audio is crucial as it can really enhance the gameplay and help refine the content that is being produced.

I tried out the new JBL Tour One M2 headphones to test if they can be more than just good premium Bluetooth headphones. It was used under different scenarios like editing multimedia content in our studio, while gaming, and also when commuting and traveling on a flight. The headphone cost about $300 and provide a bang for the buck as it is loaded with a host of features from which I have listed the top five attributes that I found to be helpful for my day-to-day use.

WATCH: JBL Tour One M2 Unboxing

Adaptive Noise Cancellation (ANC): Filter out ambient noise based on your surroundings

The JBL Tour One M2 comes with Adaptive Noise Cancellation (ANC), which is basically active noise cancellation, but has ambient features for different scenarios. We will talk about that in a bit.

counterpoint jbl tour one m2 top features edting

As working professionals, we have returned to an office environment, working with teams spread across different cities and nations. So, collaboration becomes important at such times. My colleagues sitting next to me in the office are in virtual meetings or on team calls will other colleagues almost all the time. There are several distractions and disturbances around you in an office space, which is why I found the ANC to be quite helpful. The feature cancels most of the surrounding noises and helps me focus on my video and podcast edits.

Also, while we have a studio room for recording audio and video, there are times when the audio sounds too hollow or there is an echo or reverb, not something that one can easily notice on a smartphone or a regular laptop speaker. This is where the JBL Tour One M2’s noise cancellation comes in handy to hear these things clearly, acting as a good monitoring headphone.

Smart Ambient mode: Helps you stay aware of your surroundings even with headphones on

The Smart Ambient mode lets you stay aware of your surroundings without taking off your headphones. I love listening to music during my daily commute to work. The headphone’s Smart Ambient mode allows me to be aware of my surroundings and listen to announcements when traveling in a metro. This is also useful at the gym where I listen to music while working out, to stay cognizant of what’s going on around me. The Smart Ambient Mode basically allows you to continue listening to music without being shut out from the world and is useful for those who want to maintain situational awareness.

counterpoint jbl tour one m2 top 5 features headphone anc and ambient modes

Personi-Fi 2.0: Calibrate headphones per your personal hearing profile.

The JBL Tour One M2 comes with a feature called Personi-Fi 2.0, which helps personalize sound levels according to your hearing profile. Not everyone has the same hearing ability, so it becomes important to customize the audio to make it a comfortable experience. There is an audio test that you can take from the JBL headphone app that helps calibrate the headphones when connected. It plays sounds of different frequencies and you need to tap when the frequency is audible. This will create an audio profile with a sound curve that best suits you.

counterpoint jbl tour one m2 top 5 features headphone personifi

I did not experience much difference with the headphones when watching movies on OTT apps or listening to music. However, it did make some difference when I was editing. Even when playing competitive games, it is important to hear every footstep clearly and other elements like gunshots and water sounds. With Personi-Fi 2.0 enabled, these sounds were clearer to me and helped enhance the gameplay.

Talk-thru: Media automatically mutes when you speak

Talk-thru is a good feature where you do not have to pluck out your headphones while talking to someone. The moment you start talking, the device automatically mutes the music, and starts ambient mode. Once you are done talking, the device unmutes the music playback after a few seconds. Through the smart talk option, you can set the mute timing between five to twenty seconds.

Though this is a great feature and helps a lot in a work environment, there is one small drawback – the ambient mode kicks in even when you start humming a song. Hopefully, this can be fixed with future updates.

counterpoint jbl tour one m2 top 5 features headphone auto pause and play

Auto Play and Pause: Media automatically plays when you put on the headphones and pauses when you take them off

Sometimes when you take your headphones off, the music or movie continues to play, which drastically drains the battery. With the JBL Tour One M2, the Auto Play and Pause feature kicks in when you take off your headset and automatically pauses the movie or song, and resumes playback when you wear them back. This neat feature conserves battery life and ensures you resume your music/movie exactly where you left it.

counterpoint jbl tour one m2 top 5 features headphone earcups

While those were my top five features in the JBL Tour One M2, I would also like to give a special mention to the comfort that the cushioning of the earcups and the headband. Comfort is important to me as I tend to use my headphones for long durations when working. So, I would definitely recommend this pair to those who like to have their headphones on for hours.

There are more features that the JBL Tour One M2 offers which we will highlight in our detailed review soon.

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