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To start off I would like to address a question that I’ve been asked countless times.  “Does the monitor get that nasty yellow tint?” As I’ve mentioned in my first impressions, I have had no problems with any yellow tinting. My brother’s iMac has a slight yellow tint problem so no worries guys (and girls ;D ) I know what I’m talking about here.  If I open a blank word document and maximize it, it looks white as snow. (Without that yellow stuff you find time to time!)

Samsung SyncMaster SA550 With brightness max

The monitor has a refresh rate of 2ms and to this day I have not noticed once any ghosting problems.  But I have noticed some pixilation lag which I mentioned below in the Macbook Section; it’s more likely to be a graphics card issue rather than a monitor one though.

The LED backlit display has a crisp resolution of 1920×1080 and it is simply a pleasure to work on. ( As cliché as that sounds!) In my first impressions I said that the colors aren’t as vibrant than glossy monitors, while that may be true, I’ve noticed I’ve been watching more movies on this monitor than my glossy Macbook Pro’s. Not just because of size but I have noticed that after a long period of watching movies or shows on any glossy monitor my eyes start to hurt a bit. (My friends HP monitor) But with the Samsung, while it isn’t the most vibrant, it is a great companion monitor to watch movies on.  And I do watch plenty of movies! And whether I’m watching DVDs or simply watching youtube videos the Samsung SA550 gets the job done right.

When it comes to doing work such as photo/video editing this monitor is A-MA-ZING.  I can’t go back to editing on my Macbook Pro’s glossy monitor after using the Samsung for so long– again not because of size—but rather the colors aren’t as accurate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Mac guy and I love the Macbook Pro but when it comes to work the Samsung attached to it just blows it out the water.  At first glance, there isn’t much about the Samsung that separates it from your typical glossy.  However, I do a lot of photo editing and I’ve edited the same picture on the Samsung, the Macbook Pro, and the iMac. Once I’ve actually printed out the photo, I can easily say that the Samsung had the much more accurate colors; hence my opinion that the Samsung was the best to edit photos on.

NOTE: I am using an HDMI cable with this monitor which is NOT included in the box. Definitely get an HDMI cable if you’re planning to get this monitor for the best results.

I understand that looks don’t change but I had to bring it up again. As with a lot of new products that you buy the first impressions are always, “This machine looks incredible”. However about a few weeks later the looks seem to lose its lust. And I usually fall victim to this of course. However when it comes to this monitor I must say that it has not lost its appeal. It just sits nice and sleek next to my Macbook Pro and I CONSTANTLY get reminded by friends and family of how “Pro” it looks.

Setting up the monitor is a breeze. It has a few pieces that pop together in place. (Pieces are pretty much self-explanatory) The entire feeling hallow argument that I stated in my first impressions actually no longer bother me at all. I go to electronic stores often and I can say that as of 2011 a lot, if not all Samsung monitors, have the same hallowed feel to it.

Keep in mind that the actual display is plastic. (Including the what looks like a glass border around the display)

I stated in my first impressions that I didn’t like how the touch sensitive buttons felt unresponsive. I’ve tried tampering with it daily JUST to see if my opinions on it would change: it hasn’t.  I really never need to use them but for the sake of having my final impressions of it I had to give it some time.  I like physical buttons like my friends HP monitor. It feel faster to navigate through menus on my friends HP monitor with the physical buttons. On my Samsung I feel as if I have to be gentle with it to get the touch sensitive buttons to register. While not a huge deal it does slow you down. And of course I’m sure a lot of us won’t be changing the monitors’ settings hourly so it wouldn’t be a big deal regardless.

I think this monitor is a great deal. While it is a tad bit pricey at about 250 dollars, you do get what you pay for.  I know you can find many monitors online for a great bargain but don’t stump this monitor out yet. It’s hard to explain but you won’t notice how nice this monitor really is until you’ve used it for a long period of time and then try out another.  You not only appreciate it more but you also  really get the sense just how nice and accurate colors are. Thumbs up to Samsung!

Note: When using it in mirrored mode I did notice the resolution didn’t fit the Samsung’s monitor well.  So I had to use it in clamshell mode. Simply close your Macbook and use a mouse or keyboard to wake the machine up. (While the lid is still closed) And there you have it; the Macbook Pro on your Samsung SA550 with the monitors crisp maxed out resolution.

For those curious about the actual performance of this monitor being attached to the baseline 2011 Macbook Pro 13” look no further.  A lot of people have asked me whether the Intel HD 3000 was capable enough to run an external monitor smoothly. And my answer?  It works PERFECETLY fine when doing your basic task.  No lag, no ghosting, nothing.  However, I have noticed when I am doing work in Adobe Illustrator the Samsung Monitor pixelates. When I hover over the dock, a simple task such as adding a watermark to our TechShift pictures will cause the monitor to pixelate for a moment, which gets pretty annoying quickly.  (ONLY THE DOCK GETS PIXELATED) And yes, without the monitor there is no lag or pixilation with any of my software.

If you’re not on a tight budget then this monitor is definitely worth considering.  There isn’t too much to complain about. It is able to connect to a computer or laptop just fine. It’s built, while it’s not the best,  isn’t too far behind from what other monitors have to offer. I have enjoyed watching movies and videos on this monitor but I’ve even more so enjoyed more editing on it. And, while the touch sensitive buttons aren’t my ideal, at the end of the day I must consider that this product is a monitor and it does exactly what it needs to do without any compromise to the actual display. So if you’re in the market, check out the Samsung SyncMaster SA550. The TechShift team and I definitely recommend it.

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Samsung Galaxy A8 Impressions: A New Design Can’T Hide What Lies Beneath

After spending roughly a week with the phone, I wanted to present to you my initial impressions of the device, with a full review to follow in coming weeks. Please be aware that while the phone has been announced for both China and India, this piece (including the specs themselves as well as the $615 price tag) all pertain to the Korean model.

The Galaxy A8 features a 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display, a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor backed by 2GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage and microSD expansion up to 128GB. It also has a 16MP rear-facing camera, 5MP front-facing shooter, and a 3050mAh battery. It runs the most recent version of Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay atop Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, and also comes with the same fingerprint sensor as seen in the S6. The device measures just 5.9mm thin and weighs only 151g, making this the thinnest smartphone Samsung has released to-date. It also retails, in Korea at least, for 714,000 won (about $610), though current pricing on sites like eBay has it going for around $800+


On paper, the phone seems like a fairly solid mid-ranger, even if still considerably less impressive than a flagship-level product. Unfortunately, after using the phone for even just a few minutes, its limitations become quite obvious. Between the Snapdragon 615, the 2GB of RAM, and TouchWiz, the phone is constantly lagging and stuttering. At times it takes seemingly ages for Swiftkey to load up or to open an application and, coming from the Galaxy S6, this is egregiously problematic. Even something as simplistic as opening the Settings menu has lag with the background loading up a pure white screen, followed by the actual listing. After many of these apps are running in the background, reloading them doesn’t take quite as long, but suffice to say from the software side of things, the A8 is probably not going to make any top-10 lists this year.

Running a benchmark test on AnTuTu, the device scored 45233 placing it on-par with some 2014 flagships. Curiously the app reported the SoC as a 32-bit variant, and didn’t prompt for side-loading of the 64-bit version.


Battery life is relatively good, with the A8 easily lasting throughout the day with moderate use including liberal web surfing, texting on several applications including Line and Slack, and a few phone calls. Tethering seemed to drain it quickly however, and I have opted to wait for the full review before evaluating it with respect to games and heavy-handed tasks. All-in-all, the battery performed better than that of the S6 and at no point during the day did I actively worry the phone would power down before getting home.

Sold in South Korea but aimed at Asia

In an almost comical way, the A8 doesn’t seem to be made for South Korea. Despite featuring the same “Dual SIM” set-up that is found in the Chinese model, the second slot is strictly relegated to microSD even though you can technically put a nanoSIM inside it. The primary tray is even labeled as “SIM 1”, clearly indicating Samsung didn’t bother to create an original part for this model. Likewise the software is puzzling given that the dialer has not a shred of Korean-language text on it, something that I had yet to ever notice on a Samsung device. In standard Korean models, the “ABC” markings are all replaced with Hangul characters, regardless of the device’s language setting.

This, coupled with the lack of LTE band support compared to the Korean Galaxy S6 model truly serve to emphasize the notion that this phone is literally an “Asian market” product. Through tinkering with a hidden menu, I was able to enable LTE support, but at the expense of any voice. Altering the band settings again, voice was possible but no data. Given that testing for this impression piece was carried out in Japan there is somewhat of a caveat, but in testing the Korean Galaxy S6 this troublesome problem didn’t occur at all.

An Acceptable Display

The display, while a Full HD SAMOLED panel, fails to have the same ultra-sharp, vibrant in-your-face colors and crispness that the Galaxy S6 has. The phone does support multiple screen modes, thus allowing for those who hate over-saturated colors to dial-back the concentration. It also has the fantastic auto-brightness “outdoor” automatic setting Samsung has championed as of late, where using the device in extremely bright conditions results in a high contrast color enhancement making it easy to see. This feature is definitely worth having and makes switching back to a standard phone all the more difficult afterwords.

Serviceable Sounds Troubled TouchWiz

It’s amazing that for all the positive or interesting changes Samsung brought to the table with the Galaxy S6, it has gone right back to the traditional comfort zone with the A8. Gone is the motion-sensitive background effect seen in the S6, and gone is the ability to select multiple lock screen backgrounds. Hybrid Download, a feature which allows users to download files over 30MB using both Wi-Fi and LTE, is missing. There is no setting menu for “Accessories” allowing for features like an “S-Window” type cover. There is no high-sensitivity mode for those who want to use the device with gloves.

This, in addition to the lag mentioned earlier, basically relegates the Galaxy A8 to the same type of user experience found in the original A-models. The only real exception is the presence of a full Theme Store.

The build is paradoxical

As mentioned earlier, the build of the Galaxy A8 is fantastic, especially at first glance. The sides in particular have a modified version of the “pointed oval” design motif seen on the Galaxy S6, but instead of being flat, curve along with the contour of the device. It is extremely thin as well, though for a device this large the lack of girth actually makes it a bit more difficult to hold than were it to be a bit thicker.

On a final note, given the size of the device, it is going to be immediately compared with the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ when they launch next week. Perhaps Samsung’s timing was done to get the A8 out beforehand, allowing those with more meager budgets to “get in” on the big-screen action.

The pricing problem

The idea that Samsung Korea is charging 714,000 won (about $610) for this phone is truly an impressive proposition, and one that reflects the fact it’s sold on local carrier SKT. Ideally, those individuals living inside the country will purchase the A8 on-contract and thus receive subsidiaries and discounts. This is not unlike what goes on here in Japan, where devices are often sold at prices far higher than in the rest of the world, but with no down-payment and the potential of saving hundreds and hundreds of dollars via monthly discounts.

It looks nice, but with a price tag between $500-610+, is it actually a good value-proposition?

Even when considering the price in India (Rs. 32,500; $506) we are still talking about a sizable stash of cash to part with. How Samsung deemed this to be an acceptable figure is mystifying to say the least, with the upcoming OnePlus Two and even Moto X Play offering more-for-less. If the whole idea to create the Galaxy A-series was to better compete with top-tier offerings from Xiaomi, HUAWEI, OnePlus, OPPO, Micromax, or any number of other rivals, one might be forgiven in assuming the cost would be an area of concern.

Based on my impressions of the A8 however, Samsung has basically sought to justify a premium price tag simply based on the presence of a thin aluminum construction and fingerprint sensor. There is very little else inside (or about) the device that actually serves to elevate it beyond what would otherwise be a much cheaper, plastic packing product. At the very least without the lag present the experience would be much, much better.

Wrap Up

The Galaxy A8 is somewhat of a puzzling phone, to say the least. From all the press renders and pictures that had been leaked and later officially released, the device looked like it would be a truly stunning piece of kit. The new design flourishes for example: the way the side curves ever so slightly. Indeed the material itself looked to be of somewhat “better” quality, a belief perhaps fostered by use of the Galaxy S6/S6 Edge for the past few months.

The camera protrudes slightly less than the previous Galaxy A models.

Ultimately the only real problem with the Korean Galaxy A8 is the price, as charging $610 for a device that can’t even hold a candle to last year’s OnePlus One is a bit hard to swallow. Truth be told the experience with the A8 is quite similar to that of the previous installments in the A-series, and not unlike what we had with the HTC Desire 626 earlier this year. Unfortunately while HTChad enough Sense to price its product to better compete with rival offerings, Samsung has opted to charge above and beyond what some flagships retail for.

Even at the lower price points the device is being sold at in Asia unfortunately doesn’t compensate for the lag issues however, as there are undoubtedly cheaper local products with similar build quality and better performance. 

The Galaxy A7 certainly looks different than the A8, yet at this point is going to cost much less money despite having similar features.

It is highly unlikely that the Galaxy A8 will ever see release in North America, though given the release of the A3 in the UK, there is a possibility Europe might get it. While we suggest waiting for the full review, based on our initial time with the device, there are seemingly far better, cheaper products that can be purchased that offer similar (or better) specs at much more competitive prices, including Samsung’s own Galaxy Alpha -if you can still find it.

Samsung Gear Live Smartwatch Review



Our Verdict

I don’t want to be hard on the Gear Live because it is a decent smartwatch at a reasonable price. It’s well built and most comfortable, albeit I could live with a better watch strap. But, ultimately, I wouldn’t buy the Gear Live, principally because I wouldn’t want any smartwatch at this stage of their development. I’m just not sure it offers me much over a normal watch, and I can’t be bothered nursing the battery life of yet another device for relatively low returns.

Samsung Gear Live: UK price, value, compatibility

The Samsung Gear Live retails in the UK from £169.99 inc VAT. That makes it a little cheaper than rival smartwatches such as the  Moto 360 and the LG G Watch R. But is the Gear Live good value? Read our Samsung Gear Live review to find out.

The Samsung Gear Live is compatible with smartphones running Android 4.3 or later. Note: only phones, and not tablets. Pairing is a simple affair – you install Android Wear on your smartphone and it guides you through the rest of the process. We had some problems but only becuase our test Gear Live was paired with another phone in the vicinity and we had to tell it to forget the previous phone. See also: Best smartwatches and wearable tech of 2014 and 2023.

Samsung Gear Live: design, build, display

The most important aspect of any wearable is just how wearable it is. In our view the Samsung Gear Live is perfectly comfortable enough – although very masculine in look. We wore it for several days without feeling discomfort. It’s a chunky device, but very clean and simple to look at. A wide and curvaceous silver bezel wrapped around a square display that is black when not in use. It is solid, and feels robust. But we measured the Gear Live at 59g, and even for a smartwatch that is light.

Around the back of the watch face neither the charger nor the heartrate monitor will cause you any physical discomfort. And we like the way that you can easily swap out the thick black plastic watch straps. Southpaws are fine with the Gear Live. Those who wish to replace the relatively dull Samsung watch straps will be disappointed… and then pleased. (See also: Apple Watch vs Motorola Moto 360 comparison review.)

On the one hand (pun intended) Samsung itself has very little to offer beyond the black plastic/silver clasp combo with which the Gear Live ships. On the other wrist: you can – in principle – use any 22mm watch strap. That may not be a bad option – whenever we went out running with the Gear Live on, we found the clasp would come undone. Beyond annoying. A purple strap is also available.

The Gear Live’s square watch face has a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display at a 320 x 320 resolution. That gives a pixel density of 278 ppi, which is extremely good. It looks it, too. Bright, vivid, detailed. My only issue with the display is what it does to the battery life – of which more later.

Samsung Gear Live: performance and specs

You get 512MB of RAM and 4GB of non-user-replaceable internal storage. And the Gear Live’s processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 running at 1.2GHz. We were pleasantly surprised with how zippy was Android Wear running on this little beast. The Gear Live lacks nothing in terms of performance, if our user tests are anything to go by.

In terms of other specs there is no camera – fine by us – and the afforementioned heart rate monitor tucked around the back. Other sensors include gyro, compass and accelerometer. The Gear Live pairs via Bluetooth 4.0.

One thing we noted: when compared with our Jawbone UP24, we found that the Gear Live measured far fewer steps for the same activity. On occasion as few as half as many. I’ve tested a lot of activity trackers, and found the UP24 the most accurate when compared to GPS. To an extent it really doesn’t matter – activity tracking is about competing with your own scores, so as long as it is consistent all is fine. Bit weird though. (Even weirder when we note that other reviewers have said the Gear Live tracks way *above* the Jawbone. In short: I don’t trust its step measurement. At all.) (See also: LG G Watch R vs Moto 360 comparison.)

Samsung Gear Live: software and features

Just what is the Gear Live for, then? Like any smartwatch the principle benefit of the Gear Live is the way it extends your smartphone. It shows alerts from apps installed on your Android smartphone, alerting you to incoming messages, news events, and diary items.

It’s also a full-featured activity tracker. Water- and dustproof, the Gear Live tracks your activity and monitors your health, prompting you to do more. It’s also a portable Google device: you are encouraged to ‘Okay Google’ as you go, and once you get over the awkwardness it is kind of fun to be able to ask the big G semantic questions. You can of course ‘Okay Google’ to do things such as sending messages or taking notes, but in all honesty we never found this more easy than liberating the old smartphone from a jacket pocket and typing on a touchscreen. This is a criticism of the smartwatch concept rather than the Gear Live. And it may also be a sign of age, in your author.

There are Android Wear apps to install, although again the value is really in extending apps on your smartphone. Google Maps is fun and useful on your wrist. The Android Wear software itself is colourful. Similar to Google Now and the Google Glass UI, it is Android made simple. As such it’s reasonably intuitive although we found it occasionally irritating to have to think before we swiped upwards or sideways. Through gritted teeth we have to admit that the voice activiation is actually really good.

Other features are almost great, but consequently occasionally annoying. The contextually aware intelligent personal assistant attempts to understand your movements and relationships in order to volunteer you information as you need it. This is useful in that you always have a weather forecast to hand, and I can’t blame the Gear Live for not knowing that I was hiding from the 49ers score so I could watch the game as live. It’s pretty impressive that it knew I cared.

I used the Gear Live for only a week or so, and in that time it gleaned an impressive amount of information about me and my movements, and then used it to present me with contextually aware info.

Samsung Gear Live: battery life and charging

It was at this point that we really fell out with the Gear Live. I think everyone understands that the additional benefits of a smartwatch over a dumbwatch will cost you in terms of having to charge it every day or so. In the case of the Gear Live, we needed to charge it every day. Every. Single. Day. Even when we consciously didn’t use the watch as much as we might like, we still got to the end of the day requiring a recharge.

The 300mAh battery is simply too small. Smaller than that of the LG G Watch, for a start. We eeked out a little more battery life by dimming the display, but then we found it difficult to read text off of the Gear Live under even strip lighting. Which negates the whole point of a smartwatch.

And charging is in itself a bit of a faff. Not for the Gear Live the acceptable compromise of popping your smartwatch on to a stylish, bedside wireless charging cradle. This device comes with an ugly and clunky, thin plastic claw that wraps around the Gear Live and charges via a spindly USB charger. We didn’t like it aesthetically, aside from anything else.

That may not be important, but battery life is. And right now the poor battery life would prevent me shelling our for a Gear Live. (See all Smartwatch reviews.)

Specs Samsung Gear Live: Specs

1.63-inch Super AMOLED display at a 320 x 320 resolution

IP67 Certified Dust and Water Resistant

Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart Rate Sensor

512MB of RAM and 4GB of non-user-replaceable internal storage

Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 running at 1.2GHz

Bluetooth 4.0 LE

requires Android 4.3 or later smartphone


Android Wear

300mAh battery

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ Review

Our Verdict

With more memory and excellent battery life the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a powerful phone and a great choice if you want a large screen. However, it’s expensive, unwieldy and Samsung has dropped the IR blaster and hardly added anything to the edge screen. With the regular S6 available for less than £340 it’s a no brainer.

Samsung made a splash in the smartphone market with the curved screen Galaxy S6 Edge. Well there’s an even bigger model now so here’s our full Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ review. Also see: Best new phones 2023 and Samsung Galaxy S7 release date, price and specs rumours.

The S6 Edge+ was announced in August at Samsung’s Unpacked 2023 event along with the Galaxy Note 5. This would normally be launched in September at IFA but it was seemingly brought forward to avoid a clash with the iPhone 6S – and other rivals in Berlin.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ review: Price and competition

The original Galaxy S6 Edge was one of the most expensive phones we’ve ever seen at launch price. Well the Edge+ beat it with Samsung initially selling it at £749.

For a while it was reduced to a cheaper price than the smaller Edge at £599 but it’s now £629 from the official Samsung store. That’s not too bad but it’s still one of the most expensive phones around. However, head over to Amazon and you can pick one up for just £519, a relative bargain.

That’s £100 cheaper than the iPhone 6S which comes with half the storage but you need to consider that the Galaxy S6 can be purchased for under £340 which can only be described as a bargain.

See also: Samsung Galaxy S6+ release date, price and specs.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ review: Design and build

There’s not a great deal to say about the design and build of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ since it is really just a bigger version of the original model. It retains the same look and feel compromising of a rounded metal frame and glass on the front and back.

It’s one of the most stylish phones around but we haven’t found it as comfortable as the regular Galaxy S6 due to the slightly sharp metal running down either side in order to house the curved edges of the screen – this hasn’t changed much on the Edge+. It’s still thin at 6.9mm but the Edge+ model being even larger makes it all the more unwieldy.

Despite increasing the screen size, Samsung has managed to make the Edge+ 0.1mm thinner than the Edge. There’s a larger battery too and yet the phone is only around 20g heavier. This is some impressive engineering from Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ review: Hardware and specs

As alluded to, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is larger than the original model. If you thought a 5.1in screen was a bit small, the Note range is no longer your only option if you’re a Samsung devotee. The Edge+ features a 5.7in display which matches that of the new Galaxy Note 5 – it’s quickly becoming the standard size for larger phones with the new Nexus 6P also offering this screen size. Also see: 100 funny things to ask S Voice

The display still uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology and uses a Quad HD resolution (1440 x 2560). This does mean a drop in pixel density from 577- to 518ppi but we’re talking seriously high numbers here so it’s still awesomely crisp.

Also see: Best smartphones 2023.

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is one of a handful of phones announced with 4G of RAM which is plenty of memory – an extra 1GB compared to the Edge which power users may find helpful. On the storage front you might be sad to hear there’s still no Micro-SD card slot and the 128GB model has been dropped from the line-up, leaving just 32- and 64GB choices. As mentioned earlier, getting 32GB as standard is good when compared with devices like the iPhone 6S.

What’s even more impressive than the above numbers is the battery life on offer here. In our test the Galaxy S6 Edge+ lastest a whopping eight hours and 39 minutes with a score of 5192. The nearest contenter to date is the Honor 7 which managed just over seven hours.

The larger physical size means there’s room for a 3000mAh battery inside and the Edge+ also offers wireless charging which is something we always want to see from a high-end handset.

We didn’t think Samsung would drop any of its usual extra features so while the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has a fingerprint scanner in the home button and a heart rate monitor, the IR blaster has been dropped with the firm promoting new features such as ‘Live Broadcast’ although we don’t really see the need for this with apps like Periscope. There’s also 11ac Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX, GPS and 4G LTE support.

With such high-end specs on the existing Galaxy S6 models, it’s not really a shock that things haven’t changed for the Edge+. This means there are still top-notch cameras at 16Mp at the rear with optical image stabilisation (it still sticks out a few millimetres but is one of the best on any smartphone), a single LED flash and support for 4K video at 30fps. There’s also still a decent 5Mp camera at the front.

With so many specs remaining the same, the key difference is the screen size and battery life (although more memory is welcome and it’s a shame to see the IR blaster gone) here so Samsung is delivering for all of you out there with a craving for an S6 Edge in a larger model.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ review: Software

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ comes pre-loaded with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop and Samsung’s own TouchWiz interface – as you would expect.

Unfortunately, not much has changed but you can position the tab with with to access the People Edge where is most comfortable on the edge. There’s also the added feature of accessing your most used apps with via the People Edge on top of contacts.

We were hoping for more.

There’s little in TouchWiz that’s stock Android, it’s really just the recent apps menu. Otherwise Samsung has opted for its own way of doing things. That’s fine for fans of the UI but others may be put off.

Bloatware is much less of an issue these days but the Edge+ comes with a number of apps which can’t be uninstalled. This includes a folder full of Microsoft apps and Samsung’s own such as S Health and S Voice.

Specs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+: Specs

Android 5.1 Lollipop

5.7in Super AMOLED dual edge screen Quad HD (1440 x2560)

Exynos 7420 Octa-core processor

32/64GB storage


16Mp rear camera with OIS

5Mp front camera

Heart rate monitor

Fingerprint scanner



11ac Wi-Fi

Bluetooth with atpX

3000mAh battery

6.9 mm


Huawei Mate 40 Pro Review: The Full Hardware Package

Read all about the HUAWEI ban here: The HUAWEI ban: Everything you need to know

HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro review: Who is this phone for?

Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

The HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro is for those who aren’t dependent on the Google ecosystem. This means Google apps like Gmail and Maps, but also the myriad of third-party apps that rely on Google’s Play Services infrastructure to work. Put in other words, Mate 40 Pro buyers should be prepared to live without any given app or jump through hoops to make it work.

The Mate 40 Pro isn’t for the faint of heart.

Apps situation aside, the HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro is the quintessential flagship smartphone. It’s a device for those who want one of the best smartphone experiences and are willing to pay for it. The Mate 40 Pro has top-shelf performance, powerful cameras, extended battery life, and robust, premium-feeling construction. At £1,099, this smartphone is not for the faint of heart.

Design: Balancing beauty and toughness

Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

162.9 x 75.5 x 9.1mm


IP68 water and dust resistance

Glass and metal build

Optical in-display fingerprint scanner

Stereo speakers

The Mate 40 Pro looks unique and feels premium.

This face-unlock option is made possible due to the dual cameras in the large pill-shaped cutout in the Mate 40 Pro’s screen. Unfortunately, to fit the two sensors in, HUAWEI has had to expand the punch-hole to be much larger than those found on the competition’s displays. It eats up a lot of room in the top left and can be a distraction.

The grilles at the top and bottom of the Mate 40 Pro output audio for a stereo effect. The sound signature is clear and loud, though unfortunately lacks bass. There’s no headphone jack present on the Mate 40 Pro, but the device does come with USB-C earbuds in the box.

Display: All you need, nothing more

Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

6.76-inch Full HD+

2,772 x 1,344 pixels


90Hz refresh rate

240Hz touch-sense rate

If anything, the Mate 40 Pro’s display stands out the most for not excelling. In a market full of 120Hz displays, it seems odd that HUAWEI decided to go for a 90Hz panel for its flagship device. Sure, it’s got a 240Hz touch-response rate which helps it feel zippy. However, it doesn’t feel as quick as a 120Hz panel. The Mate 40 Pro doesn’t have the most pixel-dense panel either.

HUAWEI Kirin 9000


256GB storage

The Kirin 9000 chip powering the Mate 40 Pro is a beast of a chipset, at least when it comes to its CPU. It was the industry’s first 5nm chipset with a built-in 5G modem. The smaller processor and the integrated model should aid in both battery life and speed. In terms of CPU performance, the Kirin 9000 can hang with the competition. However, in GPU performance, the Kirin 9000 still can’t match its Qualcomm counterparts, especially Snapdragon 888-toting phones.

4,400mAh battery

66W SuperCharge wired charging

50W SuperCharge wireless charging

The HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro’s 4,400mAh cell is 100mAh smaller than that found in its predecessor. However, don’t confuse this slight capacity shrink for poor battery performance. The Mate 40 Pro provided more than a day’s usage on a heavier day, which would include 30 minutes of video consumption, high brightness, lots of camera use, a mix of LTE, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connections. With lighter use — four hours of screen on time — I saw around two days of battery life.

The Mate 40 Pro has performance and power-saving modes that can be toggled on and off in the battery menu. The former will optimize settings to give the best performance possible. The latter will limit background activity and disable 5G, Always On Display, and auto-syncing to maximize battery life.

The Mate 40 Pro delivers superb longevity.

Huawei’s included SuperCharge 66W charging brick is simply rapid. In fact, it’s one of the fastest on the market, handily beating competing products from Samsung or Apple in this regard. It charges the device from cold to 100% in just 47 minutes. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test the 50W wireless charging since we didn’t have HUAWEI’s wireless charging pad. HUAWEI’s reverse wireless charging is limited to 5W, making it more suited to charging accessories like earbuds and smartwatches as opposed to other smartphones.

Software: Late to the party

Android 10


EMUI 11 isn’t massively different from EMUI 10. In fact, they seem cosmetically identical. A few notable additions to EMUI 11 include revised and beefed-up Always-On Display options. Floating windows are now available for more versatile multi-tasking too. HUAWEI also introduced a slew of air gestures that allow you to control the phone without touching it.

EMUI is far from stock Android, with its own aesthetic and layout, along with a handful of added features. Features like Smart Remote let you use the build-in IR-blaster to control your AV equipment. Find Device allows you to track your phone using HUAWEI’s online services in case you lose it. Health is HUAWEI’s comprehensive health-tracking tool.

EMUI 11’s standout new features are the new Always-On Display options.

Unfortunately, probably due to the ongoing HUAWEI trade ban, EMUI 11 is based on the now-outdated Android 10 operating system version. This means that the Mate 40 Pro’s software is lagging behind the latest Android release out of the box. It doesn’t look like that issue will be solved anytime soon either. That said, being stuck with Android 10 seems a tame sacrifice to make when your phone can’t access the Play Store.

HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro doesn’t come with Google services or Google apps pre-installed. There’s no official way to install Google’s services on the phone, either. YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail, and other Google apps won’t run on the Mate 40 Pro. This means you’ll be reliant on HUAWEI’s own App Gallery app store or third-party APK repositories to install your applications.

Camera: Simply fantastic

Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority


50MP, f/1.9, 23mm, RYYB, OIS

20MP ultra-wide, f/1.8, 18mm

12MP 5x periscope zoom, f/3.4, 125mm, OIS


4K 60fps, 720p 3840fps


13MP, f/2.4


4K 60fps

HUAWEI has taken the P40 Pro’s excellent core camera setup, centered on a huge 50MP RYYB 1/1.28-inch sensor, and tweaked it for the Mate 40 Pro. The camera systems are not identical between the two phones though — on the Mate 40 Pro, the ultra-wide and selfie camera’s resolutions have been cut down, for instance. However, the decreased resolution doesn’t mean you should expect poor image quality from the Mate 40 Pro’s cameras.

See also: The best camera phones you can get

The main camera captures punchy images with lots of contrast and plenty of saturation. Images look sharp and detailed with heaps of dynamic range, despite the more contrast-heavy processing. I experienced some focusing issues with the main camera at times. The Mate 40 Pro would struggle to gain focus on smaller objects in the frame where other phones would succeed. It wasn’t all the time, but it was off-putting.

Huawei’s 20MP ultra-wide camera gives you a good amount of extra field-of-view over the main camera. It does well to maintain color and contrast characteristics when switching between lenses, though not completely. The ultra-wide lens’ images are noticeably softer than the main camera, but not soft enough that I’d avoid taking photos with it.

Huawei’s 5x optical periscope zoom lens provides pleasing images, though is far from the quality of the other two cameras. In low light, there’s a lot of noise reduction, which results in a watercolor effect. This becomes far more noticeable when you zoom in. Given plenty of light, the 5x lens shines. Sharpness is respectable and the colors were accurately captured. This lens would come in handy at a sports game or a venue in which you’re far from the subject.

Portrait mode shots have a pleasing focus roll-off, similar to what a DSLR or mirrorless camera would provide. This makes portrait photos look natural and realistic. The portrait mode allows you to change the shape of the bokeh. In the below photos, you’ll find both circular and swirl bokeh options. HUAWEI’s aperture mode gives you control over the simulated bokeh effect. You can change the virtual aperture between f/0.95 and f/16 to get more or less blur in your shots.

Edge detection isn’t always great. In some of these shots, you’ll see the camera getting confused with the background. This is a shame given there’s a whole sensor dedicated to depth on both front and back. However, eight times out of ten, the Mate 40 Pro gets it right. And when the system does get it right, portrait and aperture images look fantastic.

The Mate 40 Pro’s camera is a superb package.

The HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro’s cameras can see in the dark. I took some photos of the stars on a beach in the middle of the night and the device captured them pretty well, albeit with some artifacts. This is particularly challenging as the phone needs to distinguish stars from noise, which it does here rather well. This shot of a factory at night showcases the device’s ability to capture lots of light. The below shots were taken in some of the harshest possible conditions.

The main and ultra-wide cameras do well in low-light, though you need to keep completely still to get a sharp shot. However, the 5x zoom is simply a crop in on the main sensor when light drops below a certain level. This is why the below 5x parking lot shot is so blurry compared to the 5x gas station shot further up. With a little bit of illumination even at night, the Mate 40 Pro’s camera was able to utilize its dedicated zoom hardware.

The Mate 40 Pro’s 13MP selfies are pretty good. There’s a good amount of dynamic range, sharpness and color. Nevertheless, there are some denoising artifacts in very low-light conditions, which can make for unnatural-looking images. Given more light, the Mate 40 Pro’s selfie camera performs much better, with samples showing virtually zero artifacts.

The Ultra-Vision selfie camera allows you to take images in ultra-wide and standard field of view images with very few quality discrepancies since they come from the same camera. This is handy for if you want to get multiple subjects in your selfies. This field of view adjustment is also available in selfie videos.

The HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro’s Ultra HD 4K 60fps video is pretty good. It’s smooth, vibrant, and has quite a bit of contrast. There’s plenty of dynamic range, and the mixture of OIS and EIS creates jitter-free footage. There is some unnatural movement as the OIS moves to counteract hand motions, but this is only noticeable when you’re walking or moving awkwardly. In low light, there’s some skin smoothing at play in the selfie video which looks rather odd, but in daylight, this isn’t an issue.

As an overall camera package, the Mate 40 Pro’s setup is up there with the best of the best. It takes fantastic photos and videos with all four of its photography sensors. Nevertheless, it’s not perfect. The noise-reduction needs some work, and HUAWEI should make better use of its stabilization tech to create sharper images. However, I have no problem relying on this device to take the best photos that I can.

You can find full-resolution photo samples in this Google Drive folder.

HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro specs

HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro (8GB/256GB): £1,099/€1,199 (~$1,400)

HUAWEI is launching the Mate 40 Pro in the UK, Europe, and parts of Asia. The US will not be getting the Mate 40 Pro. If you’re a US resident and want to get your hands on one of these, you’ll need to import the device and pay the associated import taxes and shipping costs.

In the UK and Europe, the HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro is competing with ultra-premium flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (£1,149/€1,259), OPPO Find X3 Pro (£1099/€1,149), and the iPhone 12 Pro Max (£1,099/€1,259). Over those, the Mate 40 Pro has competing camera hardware, along with more powerful charging. That said, the Mate 40 Pro lacks Google services, with all the associated complications.

Bar GMS, the Mate 40 Pro holds its own against the competition.

I wouldn’t be able to recommend this device to most people in the West, as everyone I know uses Google services in one way or another. Whether through third-party services that use GMS, or simply the Gmail or YouTube apps. You can run some of these in a browser, but that’s a compromise that few people paying over £1,000 for their smartphone are likely to want to make.

In almost every other respect, the Mate 40 Pro is fantastic. The cameras are among the best in any device. The performance is top-notch. The battery life is brilliant.

Update: Oneplus One Hands On And First Impressions

In just 4 months OnePlus have managed to build enough hype and excitement around their brand and first ever device to make even the likes of Xiaomi jealous! If you haven’t already read the full details of the OnePlus One and its amazing price you can see them here in our earlier post, if you are ready then keep reading for the first OnePlus One hands on and first impressions.

Keep in mind that the OnePlus One in these images is a pre-production sample and that some of the features of CM11S were not added yet.

Update: Added the OnePlus One video hands on below also so you don’t need to go from post to post.

OnePlus One Hands on

There are going to be obvious comparisons made between the OnePlus One and the Oppo Find 7a so let’s start with the similarities in design.

Picking the OPO up for the first time you can feel the difference in weight between it and the Oppo Find 7. The OnePlus One is lighter than the Find 7, weighing 162g compared to 170g, thanks to the magnesium frame but it is the distribution of the weight which is most notable. The OPO feels more balanced in your hands than the Find 7a and with slightly narrower edges and a flatter rear also feels a more comfortable in the hand too.

The white model shown in these photos has the Silk white rear panel. OnePlus tell us the finish is made from cashew nuts, the result is a soft to the touch finish that feels much better than the simple textured rear of the Find 7a.

Physical controls on the OPO are just a single power button and volume rocker, but these are on the opposite sides to the Find 7a. So the power button is on the right where as the volume rocker is on the left. This took a bit a re-learning, but once you remember it isn’t a problem and the actual location of each button seems to land beneath your fingers more accurately. Again a small detail but a nice one.

The stereo speakers are located in the base of the OnePlus One, either side of the USB. Sound was pretty good, but we were told that there will be some adjustments for the final production model.

This being an international version of the OPO the rear of the phone has a CyanogenMod logo (the Chinese version of the phone will ship with ColorOS). The camera and dual LED flash are surrounded by a metal place similar to that on the Oppo Find 5, and the OnePlus Logo is carved out of the shell material.

On to the front of the phone and you can see that we have a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 display from JDI, front facing 5 mega-pixel camera with 80 degree lens to the left of the receiver, an LED notification light between the two, and capacitive navigation buttons on the chin of the phone. Dimensions are 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm, so slightly wider and longer than the Find 7 but not quite as thick.

The screen on the OnePlus One sits away from the body with the bezels a few mm below. This creates a metal lip around the phone which is said to help protect the display if the phone is dropped on its edges. It also adds a nice design flourish to the already good-looking chassis.

If you saw the words “capacitive buttons” and decided that the OPO isn’t the phone for you just hold on as you can easily turn on onscreen buttons if you prefer, but doing so will disable the capacitive controls.

OnePlus One hands on – CyanogenMod 11s

The Cyanogenmod 11S build on these pre-production phones isn’t the final one so the icons aren’t the final ones and some of the features were missing. The production phone will have the icons seen in the press images here, and additional features will be added in time.

What we did learn though was that CM11s will be able to support themes designed for other ROMs so if for example you had a favourite MIUI theme you wanted to use there should be no problem using it.

Other features in CM11S include enhanced security, the voice command feature which activates when hearing “OK, OnePlus” and a new CyanogenMod camera application. The camera app has Normal, HDR, Night, Sport modes along with filters. Switching between them is simply a matter of sliding up or down on the screen, much faster and nicer to use than the menu options in ColorOS.

We’ll wait for our review unit to arrive and for the final build of CM11S to launch to make a full review, but what we could see on the phones we tested was a nice base, with snappy performance and happily uncluttered.

OnePlus One video hands on

OnePlus One first impressions

I had a good long time to play with the OnePlus One flagship and overall came away with the impression that this is the phone Oppo could have had as the Find 7.

From just $299 the OnePlus One has a better looking design, better balance and weight and is slightly more comfortable to hold than the Find 7. What makes matters worse is the OPO gets a 2.5Ghz Snapdragon 801 CPU, 3GB RAM, the same camera specs, optional covers and a larger 3100mAh battery than the Find 7 too!

Sure the OPO misses a removable battery, VOOC fast charging, memory expansion and cool LED notification beam, but for the price it represents amazing value for money, even more so than Xiaomi phones (for international customers at least).

But there are some important questions;

Is it worth buying the OnePlus One if you already have the Find 7a?

Is the OnePlus One the Flagship killer it was promised to be?

So do you need a Find 7 and OPO? I would say no. If you already have the Find 7 it would seem pointless to buy the OnePlus One, unless of course you have plenty of extra cash for phones or if you feel like being a part the OnePlus phenomenon. On the other hand if you are choosing between the Find 7 and Oneplus One, the OPO would be my personal choice.

Is the OnePlus One really the flagship killer it was promised to be? This is a difficult one to answer as different users want different things from their devices. If you want amazing hardware, great usability, Cyanogenmod all at an amazing price then there is really nothing on the market to touch the OnePlus One yet. If you need the best of the best i.e a 2K display, f1.8 aperture etc then there are other options out there, but are they really worth the extra cost?

What do you think of the OnePlus One? Is this the phone you imagined? Are you impressed or did you wish for more?

[ OnePlus ]

[ OnePlus ]

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