The best phones of 2015 – 2016


Hi! A bit long time since I published an article, eh? My blog seems to be dead every now and then. PLEASE LOOK AT ALL MY PREVIOUS ARTICLES. THEY MIGHT BE UPDATED. With this, all doubts of a dead blog have been officially written off.

Now, back to the article. Every segment has been covered (following my own guide :P). I am here this time, and just like the expertise shown in all my previous articles, I am sure to pull off a great one again. (Shameless self-promotion ends here.)

We buy phones, only to regret later. We buy them, and change them every 6 months or 2 years. Why not have choices that help you prolong the 2 year time? Why should you make crappy choices? Why neglect important things? Why not future proofing? Why only more GHz?

Do you know what do you appreciate after the 1st month of buying that shiny phone?

  • Battery should last a day on heavy usage, and should recharge fast
  • Camera should be great in low light situations
  • Screen should be bright enough in sunlight and good for reading and videos
  • Phone must not slow down on OS upgrade
  • WiFi 802.11 ac or dual band must be there

We have the 7,000 INR or $100 segment, the 10,000 or $150 segment, the 13,000 to 17,000 INR or $200-$250 segment, the 20,000 INR or $300 segment, and then we have oh-so-great-shiny-duh flagships. Honestly, the 20,000 INR segment has slayed the flagships for people with sense, while fools continue to buy exorbitant metal-glass pieces.

So, why this guide? Why not any other popular tech site? After 5 minutes, you will get your answer. Please read on.

The el-cheapo phones (7,000 INR or $100)

Honestly, there are not many good options here. Camera will always disappoint, and fast recharging option is not there.

Moto E 4G (2015) –> 7,000 INR

This is easily the best phone (small screens). You ask why?

People: I can get 8 MP camera instead of 5 MP, and a better front camera. I also get flash in other phones. I can also get 2 GB RAM and bigger screen.

Now, this one is for those who prefer a small screen, as said above. 4.5” IPS and 540×960 pixels. Not the phablet choice of this category.

USP: Phenomenal battery life (2 days with moderate usage) and oleophobic (anti-oil-grease) coating. Also great build quality. And of course, OS updates. And stock/vanilla /plain bloat-free Android experience. And easy-to-get accessories and covers.

Lots of USPs! That is why it is great.

Lenovo Vibe P1M –> 8,000 INR

It is an excellent phone in all ways except one: the processor. 1 GHz quad core? 1.0 GHz??? It can’t power you through the heaviest game, but it sure can get Instagram, Whatsapp, Asphalt 8 and Chrome well and running all at the same time, thanks to 2 GB RAM.

Now the plus points: noise cancellation and fast charging. The now-standard 16 GB inbuilt memory is also here. And 5” IPS screen with 720p HD resolution.

YU Yuphoria –> 7,000 INR

Decent looks, CyanogenMod 12, 1.2 GHz quad-core, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB inbuilt, 8 MP and flash plus 5 MP cameras, fast charging (50% in 45 mins) and removable battery and just 143 g which is light. What’s not to love? Missing noise cancellation here…

Coolpad Note 3 Lite –> 7,000 INR

Slightly better than YU Yuphoria with better battery, scratch resistant glass, 3 GB RAM and 13 MP in rear. Also noise cancellation. What’s missing here? Fast charging and battery not removable. 

Damn man, this is getting ridiculous. See the next section for the perfect one.

The 10,000 INR or $150 segment

LeEco Le1S –> 11,000 INR

They have disrupted the Indian market, and shocked the world. SD801 with 3 GB RAM? Metal-glass body? Fingerprint? Fast charging? Seriously? It has got all things in place.

The problems? No card slot. Not guaranteed upgrade from Lollipop.

And brand trust. People will go for more popular names. They have to establish their name fast, and not just get the hype and follow others’ paths.

Huawei Honor 5X –> 13,000 INR

This is supposed to be competing with the Le1S. But apart from slightly better camera, the Le1S wins in all departments.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (SD650 version) –> 2 GB/16 GB @ 10,000 INR

                                                                                                 –> 3 GB/32 GB @ 12,000 INR

Great in all ways, and slightly better GPU here. Phase detection auto focus and WiFi 802.11 ac are great things to have. A card slot. Also fingerprint, fast charging and noise cancellation.

Shortcomings? Privacy concerns and horrible camera. The screen and clicked photos also have a pinkish tinge (oversaturation).

Lenovo K4 Note –> 13,000 INR

It has all things, just like the Redmi Note 3 above. Except fast charging. And the covers not being available… that is a real pain there!

The 13,000 to 17,000 INR or $200-$250 segment

This is where things start to get real. Just there.. the performance we need is enough at this point. Heck, we need better camera and looks.

ASUS ZenFone 3 –> upcoming, 16,500 INR or $249 for 4GB/64 GB

This phone has got real hype around it, bogged down by bad OS update support (not security updates), bad ZenUI (can be replaced with any launcher) and QC check issues. All the problems associated with the Intel SOC have gone as it will be having Snapdragon 625 in it, which I see as much better than SD 650 and SD 652 in efficiency terms (performance-to-battery). This phone is going to give atleast 9 hours SOT with a 3000 mAh battery, just like Redmi Note 3 Pro, the current budget phone choice with a 4000 mAh battery.

People are skeptical, but I will recommend them to wait for it. No complaints have been there by reviewers and this might be the budget king of all cameraphones, dethroning the Moto G4 Plus and Moto X Play due to it having a 16 MP camera with OIS, EIS and AutoFocus combined, a first on earth.

The only shortcoming is that it might not have Quick Charge, but that is not confirmed. There should be Quick Charge of some kind on it.

 

ASUS ZenFone 2 –> 2 GB/16 GB @ $199 or 13,000 INR

                                           –> 4 GB/16 GB @ $230 or 17,000 INR

One of the phones I just can’t stop appreciating. No, seriously. I can’t. I love them. Great performance. They are gaming phones. PowerVR G6430 (yeah the one in iPhone 5S and the iPad Mini) is 2014-2015 flagship GPU.

Great low light photos, 1.8 GHz quad-core Intel chip (Wine for Android or Crossover. Endless possibilities?), 4 GB RAM, card slot, WiFi 802.11 ac, great brushed look, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, one of the fastest charging phones on earth (100% in 60 mins with fast charger). Also, the best signal receptions after the flagships and iPhones. This is the great phone in all terms. Except gimmicky fingerprint sensor.

NOTE: Wine for Android and Crossover are coming which can help run Windows programs and games in the ZenFone. Large compatibility list and fast enough (not slow emulation).

NOTE: Finding game mods can be difficult for Intel phones. That is reserved for MediaTek and SnapDragon. 😀

NOTE: I would recommend this to experimenting guys. Wait for the ZenFone 3 if you were thinking about this phone.

OnePlus X –> 17,000 INR

A faster processor than ZenFone 2, but less RAM, worser low light shots, and no fast charging. OnePlus X, anyone? And oh, no fingerprint scanner and smaller battery.

 

Xiaomi Mi4 –> 15,000 INR

It has everything. But no card slot? Worser low light shots? It ends there for me.

The 20,000 INR or $300-350 segment

Here, things get a bit nasty. Competitors are few, but the Ne… Seriously? Okay wait.

ASUS ZenFone 2 –> 4 GB/32 GB @ 20,000 INR

                                           –> 4 GB/64 GB @ 22,000 INR

This is again great. All the perks mentioned above. Now with a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel chip. Crushes most flagships. Wine for Android possibility. But in this segment it is not the best. Read on to know why.

 

ASUS ZenFone 3 –> upcoming

Wait for this wonder to arrive.

 

OnePlus 3 –> 23,000 INR, upcoming

Wait for this wonder to arrive. 
 

OnePlus 2 –> 24,000 INR

It has a SD810. HEATER!!! No card slot? No fast charging? I am not getting this. ZenFone 2 is much better.

Nexus 5X –> 23,000 INR

It has SD808 and slightly better GPU (Adreno 418). Also oleophobic coating. WiFi 802.11 ac and fingerprint are there. Really fast charge with USB Type-C port (4 hrs backup in 10 mins claim).

Fastest updates is its claim to fame.

Shortcomings? No card slot. What the..? And that damn USB Type-C port. Atleast give me legacy USB OTG option, Google.

LG G3 –> 27,000 INR

This is the real deal. Proven time and again. It has all things I need. Except the gimmick fingerprint sensor. And oh, it also got wireless charging (gimmicky, but cool!)

The flagships

HTC 10 –> 53,000 INR

It is technically a better phone than the S7 Edge, thought to be the king by lot of people. Until now it was the smartphone king, but other than battery life, HTC 10 wins in all arenas. Plus, the build quality is too good in comparison to the S7 Edge, made up of glass which makes it really fragile.
Nearly matches Nexus firmware update speeds. There are no shortcomings with this phone. Flawless.  10/10.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 –> 54,000 INR

Great phone. Focused on business and productivity. The S Pen is a great tool, once you realise its power.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge –> 55,000 INR

It is better than the S6. The camera and few other things change in this case. The best camera phone for now (except low light).

Great battery life with the Exynos version. Don’t get the Snapdragon version.

Shortcomings? They are really bad at providing major firmware updates (OS upgrades), just like other OEMs.

Nexus 6P –> 40,000 INR

One of the best phones. Fingerprint? USB Type-C? All check. The best one at low light shots right now.

The fastest OS and security updates. The new kernel exploit (as of 18-03-2016) makes it an important aspect when buying a phone.

Shortcomings? It tends to bend even when in a case. A really bad thing.

LG G4 –> 40,000 – 45,000 INR

A great phone. Just not there at the top. Still a good bet for the money. With card slot and removable battery. Fast charging and all. Come on, it is still LG’s flagship offering till the G5 arrives.

LG G5 (to be released) –> 45,000 – 53,000 INR

Great competitor of S7 Edge. Again a proven phone. With card slot and removable battery. Plus Wolfson DAC audio and battery modules known as ‘Friends’ available. Perhaps a dig at it being a modular phone.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium –> 52,000 INR

4K.. no. Ultra HD screen. What? That’s a phone. That resolution should be on my TV, not my phone. Battery drains bit faster. One of the best cameras in a phone right now. One of those cases where the phone is actually great, but fails to impress me. Just not that oomph it should have.

NOTE: Zperia Z5 has 1080p screen. Z5 Premium has Ultra HD.

iPhone 6S –> 16 GB @ 40000 INR

                          –> 64 GB @ 51,000 INR

The list cannot be complete without it. The dethroned king used to sit at the top. But now.. it lost even in the camera department. That was its forte, isn’t it? The Apple vs Nokia camera days… Forget them. Only reason left to buy it: iPhone brand and looks.

USP: Oh, it is easy to use. Maybe not so more with the release of Marshmallow.

 

ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe –> $500, upcoming

This phone deserves a mention. It will have SnapDragon 823, the SOC above SD 820 that current flagships are carrying. With 4 GB and 6 GB RAM options along with 128 GB and 256 GB internal storage options and with special TriTech camera tech (OIS+EIS+AF, no gimmick), this could come really close to the best flagships,beating the Xiaomi Mi5, which has camera and audio issues.

Xiaomi Mi5 –> 23,000 INR

This is the current flagship killer sitting at midrange that has no competition right now. OnePlus 3 and ZenFone 3 are yet to come, and it is enjoying its time.

Problems? Camera worser than last year’s flagships and bad audio. Build quality isn’t that good anyways.

CONCLUSION

This article will help you make the right phone choice. Follow my choices and you will be happy in the long run. Choose the winner as suited.

My verdict

Best in low range: Lenovo Vibe P1M

Best in low-mid range: ASUS ZenFone 2, ZenFone 3 (upcoming)

Best in flagship-killer range: Nexus 5X, ZenFone 3 (upcoming), Xiaomi Mi5

Best in flagships: HTC 10

 

NOTE: Why is Nexus 5X in flagships? It is still Google’s premium offering in 5″ screen category.

Any queries or conflicts? Let’s sort them out in the comments.

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Posted in Android, Guides, Phones

Linux distros: a signal to the death of Windows


Hi! It’s been a long time since I wrote a post, and finally I got the time to do this one. I have written a few articles about how Microsoft will self-destruct itself, and Windows 10 perfectly seems to go into that direction. The forced conversions of Windows 7 and 8/8.1 users to Win 10, the privacy invasion that is inevitable (Privacy Protector for Windows 10 by SoftOrbits seems like a new way to make money!)

And after a long time, finally I see the Linux distros getting mature and stable for daily life use… just love the feels! Ah! The tech freedom we get with Linux.. Android makes a bold statement. Hence.. you know what’s the article about.

tux-linux-logo

There are many plus points to the world of Linux that it is: there is something for everyone. Thousands of distros… Linux nails it. Be it daily life tasks, privacy-centric, mobile, cloud, servers, enterprises, forensics and even gaming… Linux really is the next big thing. And it is all open source and free.

But before that, I want to explain some things people confuse often.. it is so noobish.. and my tech mission cannot allow anyone to remain noob. So, what is Linux? UNIX? GNOME? KDE? Ubuntu? Debian? Packages? Repositories? Bash? And on and on and on…

Linux: it is a kernel and not an OS. it is similar to UNIX according to POSIX standards. But it is a UNIX clone. Developed by Linus Torvalds and some other developers, the most important thing related to Linux is the kernel.

NOTE: Linux is not a derived OS.

UNIX: it is one of the first operating systems (1971) after the OS/360 and proprietary machine-specific OSes. We can say it is probably the first machine-independent OS. Derived from it was the BSD OS and the Xenix OS, from which came few others like NetBSD, HP-UX etc.

BSD: it is derived from UNIX OS. From it came the FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Sun OS and the famous Mac OS X.

GNOME: it is a desktop environment. It is just like the .NET framework, a framework for developing interfaces for OS and applications for Linux (and for some BSD derivatives).

KDE: it is a community, works of which are the famous framework itself, Plasma Desktop environment and cross-platform apps for Windows, Linux and BSD.

Bash: it is just like the PowerShell or well, maybe an advanced MS-DOS of Linux distros.

Packages: they are just like the setups of Linux distros.

Repositories: Unlike Windows or Mac OS X for which we need to find setup EXEs from file sharing sites, torrent or individual sites, for Linux distros, there is one specific point where all packages are stored waiting to be installed by 2-3 simple lines through Bash. All are categorised properly into stable, testing or bleeding edge. Some even categorise them into software types.

I want to make note of something: people think Linux is:

  • unstable: Debian and Linux Mint are solid ones
  • ugly (the command line): Linux Mint, Zorin OS, Ubuntu and Elementary OS is what you should look for
  • cannot play many games:  While it seems to be true, the scenario is changing with Android implementations for desktops (Android x86 and Remix OS) and the SteamOS.

 

The stars of the Linux world

Debian

debian-logo

It is the mother of most Linux distros (~70%). It is the top Linux distro used. It is also the mother of Ubuntu, of which I don’t know how many distros are based on. It is the perfect choice for servers and workstations. Extremely stable, and perfect by all means. Only that it is slightly complicated to use, as are many (not most) Linux distros. Ticks all boxes. Just you need to be bit proficient at using Linux.

Uses DEB package format.

 

Ubuntu

ubuntu-logo

The child of Debian, now under Canonical Ltd. It uses Unity interface right now, and has just ditched the obsolete Ubuntu Software Center and ads. Since it is part of a commercial company, the privacy concerns have increased. It’s popularity knows no bounds. Second to Debian only. Point and click… dead simple to use.

Uses DEB package format.

NOTE: Nearly 20% Debian packages DO NOT WORK in Ubuntu, even though it is a child of Debian.

 

Linux Mint

linuxmint-logo

It is identical to Ubuntu in every way. It’s just that it is more user friendly and more refined Ubuntu. That means stability at the cost of bleeding edge updates.

Uses DEB package format.

 

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)

redhat-logo

It is a mother of many distros just like Debian (though lesser). It was born end-1994. It is targeted at enterprises, workstations and commercial users, hence a less common one amongst ordinary users.

Uses RPM package format.

 

Fedora

fedora-logo

It is the child of Red Hat distro. A popular distro, it is used on all computers of the Linux creator Linus Torvalds himself. Offers many desktop environments, depending on scientific, gaming or other use.

Uses RPM package format.

 

Slackware

slackware-logo

One of the three biggies, just like Debian and Red Hat. Though it is important to mention that it is a child of SLS (1992), bit older than Debian (1993). Provides simplicity, while being powerful enough for the likes of workstations and servers. Targeted at servers I guess. Does not come in GNOME flavour, but in KDE and Xfce flavours.

Uses TGZ (TAR.GZ) and TXZ (TAR.XZ) package formats.

 

openSUSE

opensuse-logo

Born out of SUSE in end-2004, it is often touted as one of the best distros for mature Linux users. It is targeted at server and workstation use. A fierce competitor to Debian and Ubuntu.

Uses RPM package format.

 

SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE)

suse-logo

This is a child of SUSE which was based on Slackware down the timeline. Top-class distro for enterprises.

Uses RPM package format.

 

Arch Linux

arch-linux-logo

One distro that holds its own against the competition. It seems to keep its edge over the others in all terms. Except that it uses a different package manager that goes by the name “pacman” and does not use the traditional DEB or RPM formats. It is tougher to use than the ones known for being difficult to use. You must be a pro at Linux to squeeze the potential out of it.

It is basically a barebones setup which you will transform into something you want. No presets.. sorry! For preset distros, others like Mint look upon you.

Uses “pacman” package manager.

 

CentOS

centos-logo

It is basically a free RHEL clone. Being a community-based distro, it gives a tough fight to Debian but eventually falls out. Depends whether user prioritises Debian or Red Hat.

Uses RPM package format.

 

Zorin OS

zorin-os-logo

It is a Ubuntu-based distro made to help users switch from Windows XP to Linux, since some users did not want to upgrade their hardware. Certainly a huge step forward to making users comfortable with Linux, especially when you see options to have Windows XP or Vista or 7 layouts for the OS.

Uses DEB package format.

 

SteamOS

steamos-logo

Valve Corporation really wants to help change the stereotype image of Linux, an OS that is supposed to be boring, dull and not for games. And they have got some success for sure. Boasts of over 1000 game titles in the Steam library and uses very less resources that Windows. A ray of hope for gamers in the near future (especially school and college students).

NOTE: The good thing is… it is Debian-based and has GNOME environment. Also, the Steam client in it is proprietary. Rest is open-source.

Uses DEB package format.

 

Android

android-logo

Do I need to say anything? Really? Okay.. well.. 82% share of the smartphone market. Android is not based on any major distro. It itself is a major one. It has really helped explode Linux into the world. And I really mean “explode“. It has Google’s proprietary components though. Not in the AOSP.

NOTE: There are hints of it not being privacy-centric.. all your data linked to the NS_ and it is not secure against malware.. the only selling point that iOS really uses till date.

Uses APK package format.

 

ChromeOS

chromeos-logo

The cloud OS. Not available for seperate download, though can be compiled from code. It has made a small dent to the Windows market, though Mac OS X (7% – all versions) is still more significant in the desktop market. Since it is Google’s creation, it is not privacy-centric. And the real market that developing nations are, house the adequate internet bandwidth problem.

It is kinda Google Chrome browser acting as the OS itself with its Apps and Extensions increasing its usefulness. Depends on internet connectivity for everything. Sad. Holds back its potential… seriously!

 

Tails

tails-logo

NS_ has declared Tor as the threat to spying. Its networking is entirely based on Tor. Plus many tools to to private stuff. It is the easy way to complete anonymity. Trust me on this… hardly better tools to achieve this. Though it has also helped boom cyber crime like easy weapon and drug dealings.

 

OTHER IMPORTANT ONES

other-distros-logo

Kali Linux (forensics), Elementary OS (easy to use), Puppy Linux (lightweight), Ubuntu Studio (media production), Mageia, Manjaro, PCLinuxOS, Lubuntu (lighter Ubuntu), Kubuntu (KDE-based Ubuntu), LXLE (lightweight), Tiny Core Linux (small distro), Bodhi Linux etc. are also minor ones but they hold their own significance.

 

 

CONCLUSION

I am sure this will help a lot in enlightening ordinary users about the crazy messy confusing world of Linux, and that it will help users transition into the Linux distros more easily.

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Posted in Linux
harsh0chaudhary

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