Xiaomi 11T Pro review: Lightning-fast charging heads up a good-value specification

Xiaomi is known for delivering great value for money, and on the face of it, the Xiaomi 11T Pro should enhance that reputation. For £599, you get a 5G handset, a 6.67-inch 120Hz OLED display and a high-end Snapdragon 888 5G chipset with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage (256GB bumps the price up to £649). You also get a triple main camera setup that includes the same telemacro lens I liked so much on the Xiaomi Mi 11, a 5000mAh battery and 120W fast charging that claims to get the handset to 100% in just 17 minutes. 

The Xiaomi 11T Pro has a strong and sturdy construction, with the display protected by Corning’s top-end Gorilla Glass Victus. Xiaomi is confident enough to provide a free screen repair service for six months after purchase. However, the 11T Pro’s dust and water resistance only runs to IP53 (‘dust protected’, ‘spraying water’). In contrast, flagship-class handsets — including Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Ultra — offer IP68 (‘dust tight’, ‘immersion, 1m or more depth’). 

The handset is not distinctive on the screen side. A shallow bezel all around the 6.67-inch display, with a small central camera notch breaking up the screen’s continuity, is unremarkable. Rounded edges lead neatly into the backplate, which is where the Xiaomi 11T Pro differentiates itself. 

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The 6.67-inch Xiaomi 11T Pro runs on Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon 888 5G chipset with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of (non-expandable) storage. The screen is a 120Hz OLED with HDR+ support and 1000 nits peak brightness. There are three rear cameras: 108MP wide, 8MP ultra-wide (120˚) and 5MP telemacro (3-7cm).

Images: Xiaomi

The triple camera array sits in a large lozenge located on the upper left corner of the backplate, where it protrudes significantly, causing the phone to rock and roll around my desk when I jabbed at almost any point on the screen. The back of my Meteorite Grey review unit had a slightly etched design which at some angles reflected the light and looked like brushed metal. The Celestial Blue and Moonlight White versions may not share this feature.

The back of my review unit was a real fingerprint collector, and I was forever giving it a wipe to restore its appearance. Xiaomi provides a clear silicone bumper which removes the fingerprint issue, although it also dissipates the gleam of the backplate and the ability to appreciate that etched pattern.

The bumper has two other key functions. The backplate is very slippery, and the handset frequently fell off my armchair and, indeed, off piles of paperwork on my desk. The bumper is tactile and removes this slip hazard, and also flattens out the camera lozenge protrusion. No more rocking and rolling. 

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The bumper certainly has its benefits, but it does increase the dimensions and weight of the Xiaomi 11T Pro. Without the bumper, these are 76.9mm wide by 164.1mm deep by 8.8mm thick, and 204g — almost identical to the £499 (128GB)/£549 (256GB) 11T model, which is powered by the MediaTek MT 6893 Dimensity 1200 5G chipset rather than the Snapdragon 888 5G and lacks the Pro’s super-fast charging. 

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The 6.67-inch OLED screen occupies around 85% of the front of the handset.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Xiaomi doesn’t include a 3.5mm headset jack. The bottom edge houses the SIM caddy, which will accommodate two SIMs, and one of the two speaker grilles — the other is on the top edge. The power button, with an integrated fingerprint scanner, and the volume rocker sit in finger-friendly locations on the right side. Xiaomi likes its IR blasters, and there’s one on the top edge: the provided Mi Remote software allows for remote control of a wide range of devices, including TVs, set-top boxes, projectors, air-conditioning units and fans. 

The screen is on the large side at 6.67 inches, and one-handed use will be a challenge for many people. On the upside, the screen’s size, its poppy OLED, 2,400-by-1080 pixel resolution (20:9, 395ppi), 120Hz refresh rate, Dolby Vision support, 480Hz touch sampling and maximum 1000 nits of peak brightness make it fantastic for web browsing, text reading and video viewing. 

There are four preset colour schemes, the screen can be set to adapt to ambient lighting, and colour temperature can be set to warm, cool or default; you can also set a custom colour temperature. Delve deeper into the advanced settings, and you can opt for DCI-P3 and sRGB colour gamuts or fiddle with RGB, hue, saturation, value, contrast and gamma settings. There’s a lot to play with here, but this isn’t unusual for Xiaomi. 

There is a reading mode, but this doesn’t drop the screen into black-and-white; it just mutes the colour tones somewhat and reduces blue light. 

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Mi Remote (left) lets you control a range of equipment via the top-mounted IR blaster. There’s a range of audio presets available for the dual Harmon Kardon speakers.

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet    

The twin speakers deliver pretty good quality sound and to a high volume. Dolby Atmos is switched on by default, and I see no reason to turn it off as it makes for generally better-quality audio and beefs up the bass. There are various graphic equaliser presets, with settings for video, music and voice, along with a dynamic option that will try to work out what you’re listening to for itself, and some specific settings for earphones. There’s a Dolby Atmos toggle in the pull-down quick settings menu, but you must go into Settings to make more granular changes.  

My review unit had 256GB of storage, although this £649 model is not yet for sale in the UK. Instead, £599 buys you a Xiaomi 11T Pro with 128GB of storage. Whichever configuration you get, there’s no MicroSD card slot for storage expansion. On my review unit, 23GB was consumed with Android 11, the MIUI 12.5 overlay and a load of add-on software. I’ve already mentioned Mi Remote; there’s also a QR code scanner, a compass, a recorder, a calculator and a wireless sharing app. Third-party apps include the inevitable Amazon, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn and eBay, alongside WPS Office and a couple of others. The third-party apps can all be removed if they’re surplus to requirements.  

In the Xiaomi 11T Pro, the Snapdragon 888 chipset with 8GB of RAM delivered  Geekbench 5 scores score of 697 (single-core) and 3068 (multi-core). The £1,199 Sony Xperia 1 III, based on the same chipset but with 12GB of RAM, turned in scores of 1128 and 3629 respectively, while the more price-comparable Xiaomi Mi 11 (£749) managed scores of 1129 and 3704. It’s unclear why the single-core score is so much lower with the 11T Pro, but I found performance was never a problem in general use. 

SEE: 5G network infrastructure revenue to grow by more than $5 billion in 2021: Gartner

The 16MP selfie camera has a night mode setting and shoots video at up to 1080p at 60fps. There are three rear-facing cameras: 108MP f/1.75 wide-angle with OIS; 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle with 120° field of view; and 5MP f/2.4 telemacro with autofocus between 3cm and 7cm.  

You can record 8K (7680 x 4320) video at 30fps or 4K (3840 x 2160) at up to 60fps, along with a range of lower resolutions. Good luck finding somewhere to enjoy the 8K video in all its glory. The slow-motion options are also expansive, with 1080p available at 120fps, 240fps and 960fps. 

Among the many settings is a dual video mode that shoots from the front and rear cameras at the same time. There’s a lot to play with here, although point-and-shoot photography is very good may satisfy most people. The telemacro camera is a particular joy to use.

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Close-up cat, captured by the Xiaomi 11T Pro’s 5MP telemacro camera.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

The Xiaomi 11T Pro has a hefty 5,000mAh battery, and this kept the phone going for 16 hours precisely on the PCMark for Android Work 3.0 battery life test. When I asked it to play video for three hours from a full charge, the battery lost just 15% of its charge over that period, suggesting an impressive 20 hours on a linear extrapolation. 

Fast charging is not unusual, but Xiaomi’s implementation here is ground-breaking. You’ll need to use the supplied 120W power adapter, which is heavy. If you’re travelling with the handset, it might feel a burden for the bag, but the benefit of fast charging is simply wonderful. The charging speed is due in part to a clever battery design: there are two 2,500mAh batteries instead of a single 5,000mAh unit, which makes it possible to charge both cells simultaneously. As noted earlier, Xiaomi claims its HyperCharge technology will charge the battery to 100% in 17 minutes. 

My normal fast-charging test requires 15-minute increments, but here I had to reduce this to five minutes in order to measure charging speed. I started the test with the battery at 12%. After five minutes of charging it was at 50%, after 10 minutes it had risen to 73%, and after 15 minutes it was at 95%. Very impressive. 

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Image: Xiaomi

Conclusions

The Xiaomi 11T Pro is an impressive phone. At the upper end of the mid-range in price, it brings some high-end features along for the ride. Fast charging is undoubtedly the star of the show and may be enough on its own to attract many buyers.  

You also get 5G support, a superb 120Hz OLED screen, a flagship-class chipset and a very capable triple rear camera setup. It’s a shame the 256GB version isn’t currently available in the UK, and the ease with which fingerprints smear the back of this phone is annoying. 

Still, so long as you don’t need vast amounts of storage and are happy to put your phone in a case or to use the provided bumper, the Xiaomi 11T Pro has a lot going for it.

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Smartphones

First posted at Source

Jabra Elite 3 review: Forget AirPods, these $80 earbuds offer more for less

As I walk around the city and look at commuters on the train, it seems that Apple’s AirPods are the default for wireless earbuds. Don’t always settle for Apple’s latest as it often comes with a premium price, and its products aren’t always the best. Jabra has been in the headset business for many years and is well-known for high-quality audio experiences with amazing technology and design.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years with Jabra’s greatest headsets, and for the past couple of weeks, I have been testing its newest wireless earbuds and am still stunned they are priced at just $79.99. The Jabra Elite 3 exceeded my expectations and only compromises in a couple of areas when compared to the Jabra Elite 7 Pro that is priced at 2.5 times the price. If you are looking for a rock-solid, high-performing, and extremely comfortable pair of wireless earbuds for under $100, then go right now and pick up a pair of the Jabra Elite 3.

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Good earbuds aren’t just great for making and receiving calls when on the move. They can help you relax and even block out the hustle and bustle of the world around you.

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See also: Jabra Elite 85t review: Powerful ANC in an earbuds form factor, six mics for calls.

The Jabra Elite 3 will appeal to everyone with a compact earbud form factor that is engineered to fit well in every size of the ear opening. The earbuds are available in Lilac, Dark Grey, Light Beige, and Navy Blue, too, so you can even find a color to match your style. We tested out the Dark Grey color for our review.


Specifications

  • Microphones: Two MEMS mics in each earbud
  • Speaker size: 6mm driver
  • Dust/water resistance: IP57 rating
  • Audio codecs supported: Qualcomm aptX and SBC
  • Battery life: Up to 7 hours of play from each earbud. The charging case provides another 21 hours of battery life. 10 minutes of charging provides up to one hour of battery life.
  • Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
  • Earbud weight: 4.6 grams each

A couple of specs found on earbuds that are priced twice as much include ANC and a wireless charging case. As you can see, you don’t give up much for the Jabra Elite 3. Looking at the Apple AirPods, the Elite 3 offers a more ergonomic and customizable personal fit, longer battery life, newer version of Bluetooth, and advanced Android functionality.

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Hardware

The retail package includes the two wireless earbuds, a charging case with an integrated battery (weighing in at just 33.4 grams), a short USB-A to USB-C cable, and small/medium/large silicone gel earbud tips. You can charge up the earbuds case with any USB-C cable, which is nice when you have lots of USB-C mobile tech in your arsenal. The charging case is the same color as the earbuds.

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Magnets help keep the earbuds secure in the case while also helping to align the earbuds into the correct orientation in the compartment. The first thing I noticed was the large physical button on the outside of each earbud that works consistently well in playing/pausing and advancing your music. Pressing the button does not push it further into your ears either.

The Jabra Elite 3 form is designed to fit well in your ears with three silicone eargel options for the right size tip. I tried out the medium and large tips to see which fit best and then went running without experiencing even a millimeter of movement.

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There are two mics on each earbud, and callers said I sounded great on their side of the call. Jabra is known for its high-quality calling technology, and it’s nice to see it did not compromise much in this area to launch at an affordable price.

Jabra offers two more hours of battery life than Apple on the standard AirPods, with another 21 hours (three full charges) provided by the charging case. My experiences confirm the battery life estimate is accurate. With just 10 minutes of charging via USB-C, you can also get another hour of playback. Each earbud also works independently, so you can extend the battery life with single earbud use and coordinated charging with the case.

Large physical buttons compose most of the outside surface of the Elite 3, and the button works flawlessly and reliably. I’m not a fan of companies using a stem pinch or tap for audio controls, so I appreciate the simple and effective button solution on the Elite 3 earbuds. Button controls include play/pause, next track, restart track, answer/reject calls, mute, and volume down.

Jabra advertises the Elite 3 with a “Danish design”, referring to the styling of the earbuds that fit comfortably for hours and hours. The design was one of the first things I noticed about the earbuds, as they are unlike what you may be used to with other Jabra earbuds. They look and feel great.

See also: Jabra Elite 75t wireless earbuds review: Solid audio and call quality with long battery life.

Smartphone software

While you can certainly use the earbuds via Bluetooth without installing the Jabra Sound Plus application, you gain functionality and the ability to update the earbuds firmware, so you should definitely install the app on your iPhone or Android smartphone. The Elie 3 supports Google Fast Pair, so a pop-up should appear on your Android smartphone to facilitate pairing as soon as you open up the case.

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The Jabra Sound Plus app is used to manage all of your Jabra headsets; once the Jabra Elite 3 is connected, you will notice there are not as many options available as seen on the more expensive Jabra headset. HearThrough is supported so you can listen to audio around you with a tap on this toggle.

Preset equalizer settings are available, including bass boost (my default). These are the only two widgets available for the Elite 3.

To access more settings for the Elite 3, tap the gear icon in the upper right corner. Firmware updates, find my Jabra, product registration, manual access, and voice assistant settings are managed here. You can select to use a voice assistant (Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Siri) or Spotify on the Elite 3. A double-tap on the left earbud activates your selected voice assistant.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

When Jabra announced its new Elite line of products, I have to say I didn’t even think I would be interested in the entry-level Elite 3. I decided to try them out because the $80 price is very appealing, and after a couple of weeks of use, I am very impressed and am thankful I had the chance to take them for a spin.

I enjoy music when I run and never turn on the ANC while out on the road, trail, or track for safety reasons. I did not once miss ANC on the Jabra Elite 3, and even while using them on my commute or in the office, the sound isolation provided by the perfect fit and eargels kept sound out so I could enjoy the audio experience.

You might think Jabra had to give up a lot in the audio performance with such an affordable price. Thankfully, it did not, as these earbuds maintain a very good level of bass with clear, high-quality audio playback. Calls also sounded good on both ends, and I can’t wait to hear what others think when they put them in and test them out.

The Jabra Elite 3 remained in my ears while running at fast speeds with lots of sweat and a little rain. I have larger ear canals and also sweat a lot when I run, so if an earbud can stay in position without me touching it during a run, then it likely won’t fall out of any ears. The earbuds are not too large either, so people with smaller ears should find them comfortable too.

Jabra did an excellent job with the new Elite 3, and if you are looking for a high-quality pair of earbuds and want to stay under the $100 level, then I highly recommend these.

First posted at Source

Apple iPad Mini (6th Gen.) review: Unmatched portability and power

I’ve only ever owned one iPad Mini. I bought the first one, released in 2012, and I temporarily replaced my main iPad with it as a writing device. The experiment wasn’t long-lived. Sure, I enjoyed being able to put it in the back pocket of my jeans or safely carry it around in my inner coat pocket. But, after a couple of months, I missed the larger display of the iPad for work. 

However, for the last week, I’ve been using the 6th Generation iPad Mini, which is currently available for purchase for $499, with orders arriving as soon as this Friday, Sept. 24. 

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely fascinated by it. It’s smaller than the iPad Mini’s before it but has a larger screen — and it exists in a world where smartphone displays, such as the iPhone 13 Pro Max and its 6.7-inch display, are commonplace. 

Before the Mini arrived, I thought I had figured out where and when it would fit into my daily routine. My prediction ended up being somewhat correct — it’s an excellent device to sit down on the counter and tap or swipe around. But there are a few areas where the iPad Mini has surprised me. To me, it’s clear there’s a very specific type of customer who wants an iPad Mini. I also am starting to think those lines are becoming blurrier. 

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

A fresh but familiar (re)design

The iPad Mini has gone Pro, just like the iPad Air before it. That is, Apple has removed the iconic home button that’s been present on all five generations of the iPad Mini before it. The rounded edges have been replaced with flat edges on all four sides, and there’s now a spot to attach and charge the second-generation Apple Pencil magnetically. The Lightning port has been swapped out for a USB-C port. 

Removing the home button allowed Apple to expand the iPad Mini screen size, going from 7.9-inches to 8.3 inches, without increasing the size of the tablet itself. In fact, the new Mini is smaller than its predecessors, measuring 7.69 x 5.3 x 0.25-inches, compared to 8.0 x 5.3 x 0.24-inches, despite the larger display. 

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The new Mini is the second device in Apple’s lineup that features a Touch ID fingerprint reader embedded in what Apple’s calling the top button. It works just as fast and smooth as it did on the iPad Air. Just like the home button with Touch ID underneath it, the top button on the Mini doesn’t require you to press it in order for it to scan your fingerprint and unlock the iPad. That said, I’ve found myself pressing the button to wake the iPad while simultaneously unlocking it using Touch ID. 

Also located on the top of the iPad Mini are the volume up and down buttons. The ride side of the housing is where the second-gen Apple Pencil attaches to the Mini, serving as an accessible spot to place the stylus when not in use while simultaneously charging it. 

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

On the bottom of the Mini is a USB-C port. The switch to USB-C on the Mini means only the entry-level iPad uses a Lightning connection. And, of course, all iPhone models. 

When holding the Mini vertically, along the top of the display is a new 12-megapixel ultra-wide FaceTime camera. When using the camera for video calls, be it on FaceTime, Zoom or WebEx, the camera will follow you around and make sure you’re in view at all times. If there are multiple people with you, it will ensure everyone can be seen, zooming in and out as people enter and leave the area. 

We first saw Center Stage on the 2021 iPad Pro lineup, and it’s starting to trickle down the lineup, making its way to the iPad Mini and 9th generation iPad. Leaving the iPad Air as the only tablet without the fun and very useful feature. On the back of the Mini is a 12-megapixel camera that can record 4K video. 

Something is refreshing about the design of the iPad Mini, even though we’ve already seen the same flat-edged approach on several Apple devices. Apple has standardized the look by using it on the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini. 

The new Mini comes in purple, pink, starlight or space gray. You have the option of either 64GB or 256GB of storage. 

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Fitting the iPad Mini into your workflow

Inside the iPad Mini is Apple’s A15 Bionic processor with a 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine for Machine Learning. That’s a lot of jargon, but it distils down to a performance boost, regardless if you’re just checking email, playing games or using the new multitasking tools in iPadOS 15. 

The 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display has a resolution of 2266 x 1488. It’s bright, colors are vibrant, and the text looks crisp. As for connectivity, you’ll get an 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 connection with a compatible Wi-Fi network at home, Bluetooth 5.0 and the cellular model comes with 5G. To be clear, the Mini’s 5G cellular connection will only work with a carrier’s Sub-6 network. That’s currently the most common type of 5G network here in the US, which most of the time is faster than 4G LTE. The lack of mmWave support in the Mini will surely disappoint and frustrate some users, especially those enterprise users who have mmWave coverage in an office or warehouse. 

While it’s important to talk about the components that make up a device, but the real story lies with actually using the device. Before I detail where and how I used the iPad Mini in my daily workflow, let me give you some background. I routinely switch between a MacBook Pro and iPad Pro, depending on what I’m working on. Recording podcasts, videos and some editing tasks are when you find me on my MacBook Pro. The iPad Pro is normally what I’m sitting in front of outside of those areas — often connected to an external monitor. 

I don’t often use my iPad Pro as a consumption device, be it to watch random YouTube videos or to read a book. It’s a work device, through and through. 

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

When testing the iPad Mini, I tried to use it in a variety of ways. I typed out a few long-winded emails for work, triaged Slack messages in work-related groups, and exchanged iMessages with my family. During all of those activities, the Mini felt fast, fluid and responsive. I struggled to figure out the ideal position and method to type on the Mini’s screen when holding the tablet horizontally. Still, I could type without issue when turning it into a vertical orientation when the Mini is narrower to hold. 

I have been using the GoodNotes app on my iPad Pro to make a daily task list or jot down notes during meetings and briefings. But the size of the iPad Pro lying on my desk is something that’s always frustrated me with the experience. It takes up too much room on my desk, and I can’t find a comfortable setup to use my iPad Pro as a note-taking device. With the iPad Mini, however, its compact size is more manageable. I don’t have to move my keyboard and mouse or trackpad out of the way to make room. Within a few hours, the iPad Mini quickly became my preferred device for taking notes. 

During my time testing, I naturally gravitated to the iPad Mini for tasks that I normally used my iPhone 12 Pro for. Things like reading a book in the Kindle app, or doing research in Safari about a new product, watching YouTube videos, or even streaming an NFL game on this past Sunday. With the addition of Center Stage for video calls, it’s also been what I’ve used for personal calls and meetings where notes weren’t needed. 

In the past, I preferred to use a Kindle for reading simply because it lacked any sort of distractions that come with using a device, like an iPad, that’s also connected to far too many communication tools. So with the iPad Mini, which ships with iPadOS 15, I set up a new Focus mode that automatically turns on whenever I open the Kindle app. It blocks all alerts and messages from showing up while I’m reading and then turns off once I leave the app. I think the focus will end up being one of the biggest additions to iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. 

With a larger display than my iPhone 12 Pro, but a smaller overall footprint than my iPad Pro, the Mini lends itself to being a device you pick up and move around with. I often went from the couch to the patio to the hammock with the Mini in hand. That’s something I’d never do with my 12.9-inch iPad Pro and would hesitate to do it with the 9th Gen iPad. 

Battery life has lived up to the promise that is every iPad’s battery life — roughly 10 hours of use. In my testing, I was able to get through a couple of days’ worth of use before I needed to charge it. 

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Who is the iPad Mini for?

From the moment Apple announced the new iPad Mini, I’ve repeatedly asked myself, “Who is the iPad Mini for? Who buys it? And do they use it for?” Do parents buy it for their kids? Do people buy the Mini instead of a Kindle? Or is it a laptop replacement device for some? 

My internal dialogue gets even more confusing when I start to analyze the iPad lineup as a whole. Looking at the iPad lineup without any prices, arranging the tablets in order of size, the iPad Mini makes sense. But when you arrange by price, the lineup starts to get confusing. 

The iPad Mini starts at $499, while the bigger 9th Generation iPad starts at $329. Granted, the Mini has newer hardware, both inside and out. That includes the latest processor, 5G support, an updated design, improved display and second-generation Apple Pencil support. On paper, it’s clearly the better tablet, and that alone can be used to justify the price difference. Where I got stuck in my line of thinking, and I’d imagine other consumers will as well, is only looking at the iPad Mini’s relative size compared to other iPad models. It’s smaller, so it should cost less. Apple uses that exact approach with the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 13 Mini. It’s the smallest in the lineup and also the least expensive. 

Ultimately, I think the type of person who buys the iPad Mini is a mixture of multiple use cases. It makes for a fantastic Kindle substitute. The Mini is a fantastic Nintendo Switch replacement, boosted by Apple Arcade. And for someone who prioritizes portability over a large display, it’s a powerful, if not modern version, of a netbook. 

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Bottom line

The iPad Mini is one heck of an upgrade over the previous generation. The new design is refreshing, while the upgraded internals and larger display combine for solid performance and battery life. The star of the show here, though, is how easy it is to take the Mini with you. 

If having the ability to put a powerful tablet in your purse, jacket pocket or carry-on without taking up too much space is a priority for you, then I can’t think of a single tablet better suited to fill that role than the iPad Mini.

First posted at Source

360 AC1C indoor security camera review: Low-cost security camera that is simple to set up and use

The 360 AC1C indoor security camera is a small, compact camera with a magnetic base that can be used to monitor people moving about your house or to alert you when your baby cries.

Inside the box, there is the AC1C camera, a USB cable and power adapter, a user guide and a round sticker for you to attach the camera to your chosen surface.

Set up the camera by plugging in the micro USB cable to the back of to AC1C, inserting a micro SD card, and plugging it into a power supply. The camera starts working immediately and displays a green light.

The AC1C has a 2K HD video display with 2304 x 1296px resolution, which gives good picture images even in the dark. Its 130 wide-angle lens has little distortion, and images are good.

The camera will alert you when a person is discovered in its detection zone, and the two-way talk function allows you to talk to the person at the other end. Extra noises are filtered out, and the sound is crisp and clear.

The AC1C has a magnetic base, so you do not need to use the sticker to attach it to magnetic surfaces — which is useful.

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A voice prompt indicates that the camera is awaiting wireless setup. The 360 AC1C camera uses the Botslab app, which, fortunately, I had on my phone after reviewing the 360 X3 video doorbell last week. It was easy to add another device to the app.

To add the AC1C camera, press and hold the set button on the camera’s back until it beeps and click next on the app. Then send the audible high pitched, and possibly annoying, sound wave signal to the AC1C.

The camera will respond when the sound wave is received, and the app will connect to the Wi-Fi network.

Unlike the 360 X3, the AC1C will only connect to Wi-Fi over 2.4GHz — and your signal to the 2.4GHz router needs to be good to maintain the connection to the camera.

Once connected, you can specify the location of the camera and configure its settings. If the camera is mounted upside down, you can invert the view, turn night vision on, off, or set it to automatic, set your time zone and display the status LED.

Other settings you can tweak include the detection events period, the sensitivity, and the area to be detected.

I had a few service errors when I tried to set detected zones, so I gave up and used the full screen for the detection zone.

Other settings include switching on crying and other sound detection, people only mode, and notification alerts.

I could not set any audible alarms as every time I tried to set this in the app; I received a service error; even after checking I was still connected to my 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. However, after updating the firmware to version 10908.0.2.5 significantly improved the connectivity. I would recommend upgrading the firmware before changing any configuration settings.

If you do not want to use the onboard micro SD card to store your images, you can subscribe to a cloud-based storage plan with either a 7 or 30-day video history from under $4 per month.

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I thought that the screen updates were slow with about a two-second delay, so configuring settings can be slow.

However, have patience, and you can rest assured that the device will monitor your space quietly and efficiently.

Another annoying feature was that although the camera received a signal from the app and pinged to indicate that the two devices were indeed communicating, I regularly received a notification that the device was unconnected.

I could see the live view of the room, yet I received a notification that the device was offline. Only by adding the camera again could I get access to all of its features.

All in all, for under $26, the 360 AC1C indoor security camera is is a small, low cost, unobtrusive camera which uses sound to connect and will monitor your home.

Make sure you have an excellent connection to your 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, or you will be disappointed with frequent connection drops.

First posted at Source

Fitbit Charge 5 review: Best fitness tracker with color display, GPS, elegant form factor

Regular readers know I wear at least one, often two watches daily with one usually some type of smartwatch and the other a model of GPS sports watch. While I wear two watches, millions prefer a more minimalist approach to activity tracking and still prefer the classic band form factor. Last year’s Fitbit Charge 4 brought integrated GPS to the band form and it was a fairly compelling $150 wearable.

This year’s Fitbit Charge 5 easily trumps the Charge 4, even with a $30 higher price. The Charge 5 is a much more elegant band with curved stainless steel, brilliant color AMOLED display, and shift away from unreliable capacitive buttons to a full touchscreen navigation approach. As soon as I pulled the Charge 5 out of the box I knew it was different and easily the best fitness band that Fitbit has ever released.

See also: Best fitness tracker 2021: Improve your health

Fitbit recently released the Fitbit Luxe with a color display and similar user interface. However, Fitbit was able to bring much of the detailed health and wellness features seen in the Fitbit Sense smartwatch to the smaller form factor Charge 5. The Charge 5 is to the band form factor what the Sense is to the watch form factor and for just $30 more than the Luxe it is clearly the best tracker available today.


Specifications

  • Display: 21.93 x 14.75 mm AMOLED color touchscreen with 326 ppi
  • Materials: Stainless steel with smooth silicone band
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC
  • Water resistance: Up to 50 meters and sweat, rain, and splash-proof
  • Sensors: 3-axis accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, vibration motor, relative SpO2 sensor, ECG sensor, EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor
  • Battery life: Up to seven days, 5 hours continuous GPS use
  • Dimensions: 36.7 x 22.7 x 11.2 mm (sensor unit not including band length), the weight of just 28 grams
  • Colors: Steel Blue/Platinum Stainless Steel, Black/Graphite Stainless Steel, Lunar White/Soft Gold Stainless Steel

Hardware

As soon as I opened the review sample package, I noted the much more elegant form factor of the Fitbit Charge 5 when compared to the Charge 4. The stainless steel material has nice curves with high-quality silicone bands that fit right up into either end of the Fitbit sensor module. Then when that lovely AMOLED color display is turned on you know you have a special tracker in your hands.

The display is small but feels large for a tracker with extremely crisp fonts and brilliant colors. It lies fairly flat against your wrist and the touchscreen is very responsive. Unlike some other devices, the touchscreen interface is also consistent and reliable so you can trust a tap or touch will perform the intended action.

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I personally cannot stand the touch-sensitive areas, rather than physical buttons, used by Fitbit on some past devices as I always found the response to be inconsistent with slightly misaligned positioning during a button press. With the Fitbit Charge 5 you simply interact with the touchscreen with taps, double taps, and swipes.

The default infinity band secures seamlessly to the sensor module with a secure loop and pin on the other side. It’s a very comfortable and high-quality silicone material, similar to the lovely Apple Watch Sport band material. There is also plenty of other Horween leather, fabric, and sport band options. I also tried out the Deep Sea Sport band, available for $29.95.

While the sides of the Fitbit Charge 5 are not buttons used for navigation, for the EDA scan you place your fingers along each side of the Charge 5 for the sensor to detect your electrodermal activity. The EDA scan results feed into your stress management and mindfulness measurements, which are important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The back of the Charge 5 has an optical heart rate monitor with sensors to measure your blood oxygen levels, skin temperature, heart rate variability, and breathing rate.

Charge 5 band software

After charging up and connecting your Fitbit Charge 5 to your Android or iOS device, the first screen that appears when you rotate your wrist is the watch face. There are currently 23 clock faces to choose from in the Fitbit app gallery. App selection is limited on the Charge 5 with notifications, exercise, alarms, timers, SpO2, EDA scan, and settings. ECG measurements and Daily Readiness score will come to the Fitbit Charge 5 with a future update.

Swipe down from the clock face to access quiet modes, settings, water lock, display settings, brightness, Fitbit Pay, and more settings. Once you swipe to bring one of these into view you can tap to access more information or control the toggles.

Swipe up from the bottom to access the Today app and view the date, battery status, steps, Active Zone Minutes, heart rate, distance traveled, calories burned, sleep score, completed exercises, and menstrual health tracking.

Swipe right or left to access the apps you have installed on your Charge 5. One app that I used on the Charge 4 that is missing on the Charge 5 is Spotify. I used this to control the music playing on my connected phone while running and hope to see this for the Charge 5 in the future.

Double-tap on the middle of the display to return to the clock face. You can also swipe left or right on most screens to go back one step or go back to the clock face.

In order to use GPS for your exercise tap the exercise option and then slide left or right to choose your activity. Swipe up to enable GPS for those activities that support GPS. You can also toggle auto-pause and heart rate zone alerts. Activities can also be auto-detected if you desire. This auto-detect option is also available to manage in the Fitbit smartphone app. You can choose to have the always-on display mode enabled during your workout, but this will impact the battery so keep that in mind if you are planning a longer workout and have limited battery remaining.

See also: Google’s $2.1 billion bet on Fitbit: What will it do with the corporate wellness business?

Fitbit Dashboard

The Fitbit Dashboard is available on the internet when you login to your Fitbit account. You can customize the various widgets that appear on your Dashboard and it provides a more consolidated view of what you find in the smartphone app. Dashboard elements include Today data, active minutes, resting heart rate, recent exercise, badges & trophies, weight loss progress, sleep status, calories, and more.

Within these various elements, you can view more and really dive down into the details of the data. There are a lot of options here for viewing your data and helping you track your progress towards achieving goals.

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The best smartwatch: Apple and Samsung battle for your wrist

It’s been six years since the first Apple Watch was released, and it’s pretty clear to most that Apple’s wearable is the best smartwatch available. It requires an iPhone, though, so Android phone owners need a different companion… and there are plenty of good options available.

Read More

Smartphone Software

There are iOS and Android apps for Fitbit. Google Fast Pair is supported so the Charge 5 should appear quickly right on a pop-up on your Android phone once it is turned on. The Fitbit app essentially mirrors what we see in the web interface with a slightly different user interface.

You can tap the edit button in the far right of the smartphone app to customize your Today screen. Pull down to refresh your sync with the Charge 5 to view your latest data.

In addition, you can setup your smartphone notifications for the Charge 5. Options include calls, text messages, calendar events, email and app notifications. On Android, you have full control over which apps have notifications appear on the Fitbit Charge 5 and you can also initiate quick replies directly from the Charge 5. The notifications are very basic and just provide you with the information in a few lines.

High and low heart rate notifications, move reminders, health & wellness reminders, goals, and up to six exercise shortcuts are available for your to customize in the smartphone app so I highly recommend you take the time to fully explore the powerful application and optimize your Charge 5 experience.

See also: Fitbit Charge 4 review: GPS, Fitbit Pay, and Active Zone Minutes make this Fitbit’s best band ever

Daily usage 

Over the past 10 days or so I have been walking, running, sleeping, and living with the Fitbit Charge 5. The GPS did a fantastic job with my walks, but I did have a couple of inconsistent experiences on a couple of runs. It turns out I had the Fitbit Charge 5 tightened down on my wrist just a bit too much so that seemed to have caused some GPS signal issues. Make sure to have it snug on your wrist, but don’t tighten it up too much.

When comparing the Fitbit Charge 5 to my GPS sports watches, the Cardio Fitness Score very closely matches the VO2 Max measured by those more advanced and more expensive sports watches. I look forward to testing out the Daily Readiness Score that is designed to provide you with a personal score based on your heart rate variability, sleep, and fitness fatigue. The score is designed to indicate what level of activity your body is prepared to take on with a high score indicating you can go ahead and challenge yourself while a low score may encourage you to prioritize recovery. This coaching and guidance is important on devices like the Fitbit Charge 5 that collect an amazing amount of health and wellness data on your daily activity.

The Fitbit smartphone software is powerful and captures a lot of data, including data gathered through external means, such as blood glucose levels, food, hydration, and weight (assuming you do not have a connected Fitbit scale). I would also like to see the option to record and monitor blood pressure as that is a very important metric that is key to helping prevent heart attacks and other heart problems.

My experiences with the battery closely matched what Fitbit advertises, 7 days in typical mode, down to 2 days with always-on display enabled, and about 5 hours with GPS tracking enabled. This is a solid battery life for such a small tracker with a brilliant color display.

One feature I love on Fitbit devices is the smart wake setting that wakes you up with an alarm during a light period of your sleep. However, I don’t like that the window for this is 30 minutes as I may be woken up 30 minutes earlier than I really want to if I hit light sleep at that time. I would love to see if a 15-minute window is possible as it would encourage me to use smart wake more often.

One data measurement I personally found useful on Fitbit devices was floors climbed, but I do not see that as an option on the Fitbit Charge 5. Fitbit doesn’t provide detailed specifications on the hardware, but this leads me to believe there is no altimeter in the Charge 5 as floors climbed is not an available metric.

The Fitbit Charge 5 comes with a free 6-month trial of Fitbit Premium and I highly recommend you take advantage of this service. This is a $40 value (based on annual billing) or $60 value (based on monthly billing) and provides a wealth of additional services over the free Fitbit ecosystem. Services include advanced health and wellness insights, 30-day and 90-day trends instead of just a 7-day period, upcoming Daily Readiness Score, more than 200 audio and video workouts, more than 300 meditations and soundtracks for mindfulness sessions, more than 15 guided programs, more detailed sleep breakdown, and more. It is clear that the Fitbit Premium service is worth the cost if you want to optimize your health and wellness experience.

The Fitbit Charge 5 is an awesome upgrade over the Charge 4 and clearly Fitbit’s best activity tracker ever. It provides a wealth of health and wellness data and an ecosystem to help you interpret and incorporate that data into improving your well-being. If you exercise outdoors and want to track the details of your activity, the onboard GPS receiver is a solid function for casual athletes. I highly recommend the Fitbit Charge 5 and the $180 price is just about right for the features, functions, and performance.

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First posted at Source

ZTE Axon 30 5G review: Second generation under display camera is better than Samsung’s

Late last year we had the chance to spend a couple of weeks with the ZTE Axon 20 5G with the world’s first under display camera. Samsung launched the Z Fold 3 with a UDC, but it’s just a 4MP shooter and should really just be used for video calls. ZTE launched the ZTE Axon 30 5G with its second generation UDC and it’s hard to even see the camera area on a light color display.

The ZTE Axon 30 5G is our best look yet at what a phone with a nearly full front display looks like. Unlike last year, even with a white background you can barely see the UDC as ZTE has done some magic with the pixels to make the camera nearly invisible. While there is no official screen-to-body ratio on the ZTE site, it has to be close to 100% with minimal bezels around the large, gorgeous 6.92-inch display.

Also: ZTE Axon 20 5G first take: World’s first under display camera may offer a glimpse of the future

Unlike the ZTE Axon 20, you will be able to order the ZTE Axon 30 5G in the US starting on September 9th. The 8GB/128GB model is priced at $499 and the 12GB/256GB model is $599. It will be available in Black (the one we tested) and Aqua.

Specifications

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 870
  • Display: 6.92-inch 2460 x 1080 pixels resolution AMOLED
  • Operating system: Android 11
  • RAM: 8/12 GB LPDDR5 options
  • Storage: 128/256 GB internal options with microSD card support
  • Cameras: Rear quad camera system with 64MP, 8MP ultra wide-angle with 120 degree view, 2MP depth lens, and 5MP macro lens. 16MP front-facing camera positioned under the display.
  • Wireless technology: 5G, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS
  • NA LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 20, 26, 28, 66
  • strong>NA 5G bands: Sub-6GHz 5G supported on bands n41, n78, n1, n28, n3, n66
  • Battery: 4200 mAh with 65W quick charging support
  • Dimensions: 170.2 x 77.8 x 7.8 mm and 189 grams
  • Colors: Black and Aqua

Hardware

The ZTE Axon 30 5G is a big phone with a 6.92-inch display and it feels even a bit bigger given that nearly the entire front of the phone is a massive viewable display with no interferences. The ZTE Axon 30 is an affordable phone with a $500 starting price that is packed with solid internal components that includes the fastest RAM and internal storage. 5G is still a bit of compromise in the US with limited band support on T-Mobile, but the LTE service is solid for GSM networks.

zte-axon-30-5.jpg

The large AMOLED display is lovely and made even better with the completely hidden under display camera. The display refresh rate has been improved over the ZTE Axon 20 with the available 120Hz option. You can toggle between 60Hz and 120Hz or flip on the Auto switch for it to be handled by the phone’s software. ZTE also offers triple eye comfort certifications for the display with blue light reduction.

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The resolution has been reduced from 32MP to 16MP, but this year’s version has a larger pixel size with 4-in-1 technology. Like the new Z Fold 3, the Axon 20 under display camera was visible on light backgrounds with lots of pixels showing in the camera area. Once you turn on the new Axon 30, you cannot even see where the camera is located. ZTE bumped up the pixel density over the camera from 200 PPI to 400 PPI and the improvement is considerable. Once you enable the front-facing camera then the pixels over it turn off and the dark circle of the camera is visible.

I took a few samples photos and the Axon 30 selfie camera is clearly better than the 4MP UDC on the Z Fold 3. It’s not as good as other dedicated front-facing cameras, but if you are looking for a full screen display experience for Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, enjoying movie content, or gaming then you may want to consider the ZTE Axon 30.

While viewing content on the large, unfettered display was lovely, there is also just a single bottom-firing speaker so listening through a headset is a better experience. The single speaker is loud and does a good job, but stereo speakers are better.

zte-axon-30-1.jpg

The power and volume buttons are on the right side with nothing positioned on the top or left side. The USB-C port, SIM/microSD tray, and speaker are on the bottom. Swinging around the back we see an interesting plastic composite material with the Axon branding and some design flair.

Also: ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G review: Affordable flagship with advanced triple camera shooting modes

In the top left corner of the back, we find a unique camera setup with two large circles. The top circle holds the main 64MP camera while the bottom circle contains the three other cameras. The flashlight is positioned below this circle. It’s an interesting look with the sides of the rectangular array having rather sharp edges.

Photos captured with this rear quad camera system have been competitive with other phones. The camera software is loaded with advanced features to help you be creative with the Axon 30 and capture interesting content. The software includes still and video effects, transitions, and features.

Software

The ZTE Axon 30 5G launches with Android 11 and the July 1, 2021, Android security patch. MyOS 11 is the UI that is used by ZTE, but it offers a fairly stock Android experience with no bloatware or extra apps. Most of the UI customization is in the settings and extra utilities.

Always-on display mode is available, you can toggle 60Hz or 120Hz for the refresh rate, a Z-POP utility lets you quickly launch your favorite apps (similar to Samsung Edge), face recognition can be used for less secure access, and other typical Android customization options are present.

Daily usage experiences

While the ZTE Axon 30 is launching in the US and does have 5G support, that is limited to band n41. This is the mid-band spectrum picked up by T-Mobile through the purchase of Sprint. T-Mobile’s broad low-band coverage is on band n71 (600 MHz), but support for n71 is not provided on this phone.

The phone is very responsive, the display looks amazing, battery life has been solid, and it has performed as well as other mid-range $500 phones I have tested out. The limited 5G support means it is not a phone for me personally, but if you don’t care much about 5G and want a big screen phone experience then you may want to consider it.

The ZTE Axon 30 is a big phone, but it is fairly light so it is not too heavy. There is no support for wireless charging or any level of dust/water resistance, but that isn’t common in a $500 phone either. The under display camera and under display fingerprint sensor provide you with a phone that has an uncluttered display experience and that’s really the only reason to consider the ZTE Axon 30 5G.

First posted at Source

Speck Presidio Perfect Clear for Z Flip 3 and Fold 3: 13 foot drop protection for Samsung’s latest

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3 are fantastic folding phones that have an IPX8 water-resistant rating and lower price than years past. These two phones are still very expensive and deserve some protection, especially when you manipulate them with a folding or flipping action to use their inner main displays.

Speck is one of my favorite case makers, primarily due to most of its cases offering 13-foot drop test certification and an enhanced tactile feel of the phone. Its latest case offerings, the Speck Presidio Perfect Clear Fold for the Z Flip 3 and Presidio Perfect Clear Fold for the Z Fold 3 are clear, one-piece, protective cases that provide drop protection for up to 13-feet. I expect most people may drop their phone from the three to four feet range, but it’s nice to know there is a margin for corner and back protection.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: Room for improvement

Both cases have similar design elements so we’ll cover the common features first. The Z Flip 3 case is priced at $59.95 and the Z Fold 3 case at $64.95. This makes sense given that the Z Fold 3 case is larger than the Z Flip 3 case, but the amount of material on the case is about the same since the Z Fold 3 front portion is mainly just a minimal frame to cover the large display.

The cases are available only in clear and Speck’s Perfect-Clear coating is designed to resist yellowing and discoloration. If you happen to have one of the new Samsung foldables in a different color then you may want to show off that color so it’s great to see these Speck cases support that desire.

Each case has a single-piece design and you simply slide the phone into the case and work the case around the edges. The two halves are connected at two edges with flexible material while the Samsung hinges remain open. It will be interesting to see how well this hinge connection on the case performs after months of use, but the case has a lifetime warranty so Speck believes it will hold up to all of the opening and closing. This flexible material extends around the entire top edge of the phone case so when the case is opened there is a tactile edge to it. This raised edge lets you set your phone face down when opened and relax knowing it won’t slide off of the surface. This design also then creates a quick-access groove along the edges of the closed phone so that you can much more easily flip open each phone.

One nice feature of Speck’s Presidio line is the Microban treatment. This means that the cases have Microban antimicrobial treatment that provides a 99% reduction in bacteria that can cause staining and odor on your phone. This treatment is integrated into the cases so it remains present in the case for the life of the case.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review: A stunning foldable

On the Z Flip 3 case, there are raised buttons for volume control with an opening for the power/fingerprint sensor. This design improves your ability to easily target the fingerprint sensor with your phone in the case. On the Z Fold 3 case, there is a long opening so that you press the native volume buttons and power/fingerprint sensor directly.

A perfectly designed opening is also present on the back for the rear camera array. There is a bit of hard plastic material angled from the back down to the camera array too. On the Z Flip 3, Speck has an extended opening that includes the space for the small cover display, but the angled design is the same. Openings are also present in the case for microphones, speakers, and the USB-C port.

While the raised edges help protect the display when open, this edge does not impact your ability to fully access and use the display. Wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, and Samsung Pay are all fully functional when your phone is mounted in the cases. There is very little weight added with these cases and Speck has done a great job with the design while offering a fairly reasonable price for protecting your expensive new phones.

If you are looking for a case to use with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 or Z Fold 3 then I highly recommend the Speck Presidio Perfect Clear Fold. You can even get 30% off your first order at Speck when you sign up for the newsletter. The case comes with a lifetime warranty and will easily outlast your phone while also helping protect it from accidental drops and bumps.

Samsung Unpacked

First posted at Source

InvisibleShield screen protectors for Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3: Keep your cover display free of scratches

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, see our full review, is my new daily driver and I continue to find ways to optimize my productivity with this fantastic device. Thanks to Samsung’s generous trade-in pre-order deals, I also ordered my own Galaxy Z Flip 3, see our review, and plan to install one of these on that device too.

Samsung Unpacked

ZAGG has InvisibleShield protectors for several models of mobile tech, including smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and Nintendo Switch gaming devices. I also just ordered a Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, stay tuned for our full review, and plan to add one of the available protectors onto that watch face when it arrives.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have used these new phones with both protectors and have enjoyed worry-free interaction with the displays. My fingers glide across the displays, there are no scratches on the protectors, and clarity is not impacted at all.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: Room for improvement

Ultra Clear for Galaxy Z Fold 3

Samsung includes a high-quality screen protector that is nearly invisible since it is so well incorporated into the large main display experience. I am not removing this main display protector and recommend you leave it in place. Samsung offers a service to replace that protector in case it fails, but I’ve yet to see any problems with it on past Fold devices.

zagg-invisibleshield-z-flip3-fold3-2.jpg

On the other hand, the included cover display screen protector is an extremely thin piece of flimsy, crinkly plastic so I couldn’t wait to replace it with something more durable and protective. On my Z Fold 2 this cover display protector scratched up within weeks and it looked terrible so I expect the same with the Z Fold 3.

The ZAGG InvisibleShield Ultra Clear with D3O is available now for $39.99. It is designed to provide shatter protection and scratch resistance while also offering an anti-microbial treatment to the cover display. The D3O technology is designed to disperse energy impacts on the display with the smart molecules acting to self-heal minor scratches and dings.

zagg-invisibleshield-z-flip3-fold3-1.jpg

After removing the terrible Samsung protector, I inserted the Z Fold 3 into the alignment tray and then thoroughly cleaned off the cover display. The alignment tray has studs on each end of the tray that are sized differently with different spacing so you can quickly and easily make sure you position the screen protector properly over the four studs with the four alignment openings on the protector.

Like other InvisibleShield protectors, make sure to watch the video or read the installation guide if you have not applied these before because there are a few key steps to get it right. There is an alignment and dust removal step, followed by removing the protector from the middle and working towards the end with a unique sliding removal/installation process for each end. After that you take off the top layer and then smooth it all out. I’ve installed many of these so was able to install it flawlessly with no bubbles and a perfect fit.

I did not realize how substandard the default protector was until I installed this InvisibleShield protector. There is now a much smoother feel to the cover display as my finger slides effortlessly across the high-gloss finish. The display seems to be more touch sensitive than before too, even with a thicker protector now in place. I look forward to months of use with this protector. If you pick one up, make sure to register it since ZAGG offers a limited lifetime warranty in case it gets worn or damaged.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review: A stunning foldable

Ultra Clear for Galaxy Z Flip 3

One of the best improvements on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the much larger cover display. It is a very usable display with notifications, widgets, and camera controls all available without ever opening up the phone. I’ve spent a lot of time using the phone with it closed and find the new cover display essential to the Z Flip 3 experience.

zagg-invisibleshield-z-flip3-fold3-4.jpg

Unlike the Z Fold 3, Samsung does not include a protector on the cover display of the Z Flip 3. It’s a small display, but it’s always exposed and with the compact form of the device you are likely to toss it into your front pocket where there could be coins, keys, or other objects that might scratch it. ZAGG offers the InvisibleShield Ultra Clear with D3O for this display for $39.99.

The price seems high for the size of the screen protector and since people aren’t watching videos or spending that much time viewing objects on the display then there may not be a strong desire to keep it free from wear and tear. ZAGG provides all of the same D3O technology and features that are found on the Z Fold 3 cover display protector, including the anti-microbial treatment and self-healing technology.

Installation of the cover display protector was simply with the black plastic alignment tray and EZ Apply installation process. The screen protector has two openings for the dual cameras and is also case friendly so it works well with cases you install on your Z Flip 3.

First posted at Source

The best OBD2 scanner and car code reader 2021

When your dashboard lights up, or your car starts running rough, any number of things could be wrong. If you’re mechanically inclined and have the right tools, you could save yourself a lot of money by diagnosing and working on your car yourself. One tool that can make the diagnosis easier and won’t break the bank is an OBD2 scanner and car code reader. 

A scanner and car code reader that plugs directly into the OBD2 port in your car to access the onboard computers and systems. The scanner will read the trouble codes put out by the vehicle to help you diagnose the problem so you can fix it and get back on the road. Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can still get a quality OBD2 scanner and car code reader, which could save you a trip to the mechanic. These are some of the best OBD2 scanners and car code readers at various price points and knowledge levels.

Best on a budget

hypertough-ht309-obd2.jpg
Walmart

The HyperTough HT309 OBD2 Scan Automotive Diagnostic Tool Code Reader is a simple, easy-to-use car code reader for vehicle owners on a budget. You can use this model to read and clear engine diagnostic trouble codes in all 1996 and newer U.S., European and Asian cars. The backlit LCD display screen shows generic, manufacturer-specific and pending codes to figure out why your check engine light is on. This device can also retrieve vehicle information like the CIN, CIN and CVN. If you live in a state with emissions requirements, you can also monitor and check the inspection maintenance (I/M) readiness status to see if your vehicle would pass the test.

There are no extra connectors or cables needed with this OBD2 car code reader because it uses a standard 16-pin connector. The reader also uses the car’s battery power to work so that you won’t need batteries. For $20 or less at most major retailers, the HyperTough HT309 is a great choice for a budget card code OBD2 reader and scanner.


Pros:

  • Easy to use

  • Inexpensive

  • Plug and play

  • Works with all cars 1996 and newer

  • No batteries, extra connectors or cables needed

Cons:


.

Best for budget data collection

autel-autolink-al329.jpg
Walmart

For the vehicle owner on the budget who needs to record live data, the Auto AutoLink AL329 Code Reader OBDII Scanner is a step up from the HyperTough HT309. The Autel Autolink has all the same features as the HyperTough but includes the ability to graph, record and replay live data taken from your vehicle. This helps diagnose specific sensors that could cause your vehicle to set a check engine light.

While the HyperTough has only two buttons to enter or exit and scroll with a small display screen, the Autel has a larger display screen for easier viewing and comes with an additional button dedicated to checking emissions status. The LED indicator lights easily let you know if there is a problem with the car’s engine. The red indicator signals a problem, and a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) is present, while yellow shows there may be a problem, and green gives the all-clear.


Pros:

  • Able to graph, record and replay live data

  • Inexpensive

  • Large display screen

  • LED indicator lights for quick diagnosis

Cons:


Best for budget smartphone accessible diagnostics

actron-cp9600-u-scan-obd-ii-and-can-wireless-smartphone-interface-scan-tool.jpg
Amazon

For Android and iPhone users who don’t want to deal with a separate scanner, the Actron CP9600 U-Scan Smartphone Interface Scan Tool plugs directly into the OBDII port and uses your smartphone to display its findings. This scan tool works on all cars 1996 and newer with both Asian and domestic check engine lights. For 1996 to 2013 makes and models, the Actron CP9600 also reads and erases anti-lock brakes (ABS), airbags (SRS) and transmission codes. 

The Actron CP9600 also provides real-time engine data, including coolant temperature, RPM, sensor readings, mass air flow, oxygen sensor and more. Simply plug in the tool and download the app to your smartphone to get started. The vehicle activity log provides a history of the vehicle procedures and tests already completed, and the MyGarage feature helps you easily access and manage vehicles. With CodeConnect, fixes for the DTCs are reported and verified by Actron’s team of ASE-certified technicians to give the everyday driver the confidence in fixing minor repairs.


Pros:

  • Can be left connected to your OBD2 port at all times

  • Works with Android and iPhone

  • Read real-time engine data from your phone

  • Reads multiple car systems in newer makes and models

Cons:


Best for budget Bluetooth DTC diagnostic code reading and clearing

fixd-obd2-professional-bluetooth-scan-tool-code-reader.jpg
Amazon

If you’re only worried about check engine lights but still want the capability of using your smartphone rather than an OBD2 scanner, consider the FIXD Vehicle Diagnostic Device. This simple device plugs into the OBD2 port for most 1996 and newer gas-powered vehicles and 2008 and newer diesel vehicles, providing only the diagnostic trouble code without the data.

Simply plug in the device, start your vehicle and tap the scan button on your smartphone to get started. FIXD works with multiple vehicles using the same app, similar to driving tracking devices offered by car insurance companies. For a monthly fee of $5.83, you can get upgraded features like talking to a mechanic, knowing how much a repair could cost, predicting future problems and getting vehicle history if you plan to buy a used car in the future. 


Pros:

  • Can connect multiple devices with one app

  • Keep track of vehicle maintenance

  • Provides vehicle history for used cars (premium service required)

Cons:

  • It does not work for all makes and models

  • Only reads and clears check engine light

  • Must pay an additional fee for upgraded features


Best Bluetooth all-system diagnostics

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Amazon

If you’re a mechanic who does most of your own repairs and wants a Bluetooth option, the Autel MaxiAP AP 200M is the best without breaking your budget. While the app is free to use, it requires an annual upgrade fee of $19.99 to continue diagnosing all your car’s systems for another year. This multifunction scanner turns your smartphone into a vehicle diagnostic powerhouse and includes maintenance service features that rival a mechanics scan tool.

The Autel MaxiAP AP 200M is an all-system diagnostic tool that is capable of performing most of your regular maintenance services, including:

  • Oil life

  • Throttle angle reset

  • Diesel particulate filter (DPF) regeneration

  • Electronic parking brake (EPB)

  • Steering angle sensor (SAS)

  • Battery management system (BMS)

  • Airbag reset/deployment loops

  • Anti-lock brake (ABS) system bleeding

With the Autel MaxiAP AP 200M, you get OE-level system diagnostics with a high level of accuracy, which can save you thousands over visiting a mechanic for service.


Pros:

  • All-system diagnostic plug-in tool with a free smartphone app

  • Works with all 1996 and newer U.S, European and Asian cars

  • Records diagnostic data in real-time to generate repair reports

  • Inexpensive for the features offered

Cons:


Best for advanced DIY mechanic or new technician

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Amazon

With a price point under $200, this plug-in OBD2 scanner is a great option for a new technician just starting out or a seasoned DIY mechanic who knows their way around a car. The Launch CRP123X comes with a large 5″ color display HD touchscreen for easy viewing and is rechargeable, so it’s ready whenever you need it.

The scan tool works with over 57 car brands, covering OBD2/EOBD/JOBD vehicles. The Launch CRP123X also includes a battery voltage tester and automatic VIN technology to help you identify your car quickly without having to enter it manually. You can update the software anytime when connected to Wi-Fi with free lifetime updates with just one click. The updated battery is new in 2021, upgraded from 4000mAh to 6100mAh to provide an even longer time between charges. The 4-in-1 live data graph creates a diagnostic report that can be shared with a mechanic as needed.


Pros:

  • Free lifetime updates

  • Includes a battery tester

  • 5″ HD touchscreen display

  • Upgraded battery life in 2021 model

  • Supports 57 car brands

Cons:

  • Only works with Android 7.0 OS or newer

  • Check to make sure compatible with your vehicle

  • Support takes time to respond


Best for professional level functionality

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Amazon

If you have the budget and want a quality OBD2 scanner and car code reader that rivals dealership level diagnostic tools, the Innova FixAssist 5160RS is a great choice. With bi-directional control, this scanner can test the functionality of electric motors, clutches, and actuators. It performs all reset functions to complete repairs or maintenance like steering angle reset, DPF regeneration, and parking brake calliper resets for newer vehicles with an electric parking brake.

On top of scanning and clearing all systems, the FixAssist 5160RS can also:

  • Test hybrid battery cell voltage

  • Bleed the ABS system

  • Check and recalibrate TPMS/tire pressure

  • Relearn throttle body

  • Test for compression

  • Test cylinder balance

  • Relearn cam crank position

With an optional adapter, this model can also work on OBD1 vehicles from 1981 to 1995 Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota. If you’re unsure if your particular car is covered, you can enter your vehicle information or VIN at the Innova website to confirm it will work before purchase.


Pros:

  • Complete functionality of all vehicle systems

  • Optional OBD1 coverage with additional adapter

  • Perform dealership level relearn procedures

  • Can perform electronic parking brake service and ABS brake bleeding for newer cars

  • It can be paired with diagnostic app RepairSolutions2 for smartphone access

Cons:


How did we choose these products?

The criteria used to choose these products include the cost of the tool, functional features, smartphone access abilities, system usage and ability to use with multiple makes and models. I also spoke with a few mechanics in my local area who work at dealerships and independent shops to get their recommendations on brands and features they use and have had positive experiences with. The best OBD2 scanners and car code readers listed above come at various price points with different features and range from basic automotive knowledge to professional needs. 

Which is the right one for you?

When shopping for the best OBD2 scanner and car code reader, consider what you need the tool to do. If you only want the ability for checking an engine light, then one of the budget models may be enough. However, if you do your own mechanical work and need an advanced model similar to what a dealership has, consider the higher end scanners with more capability. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, make sure to check that the OBD2 scanner and car code reader will work with your particular make and model. 

With limited stock in new and slightly used cars, the average used car buyer is looking at cars seven or more model years old. While you may get a great purchase price, the likelihood of a problem is greater with an older model vehicle. Buying the best OBD2 scanner and car code reader for your make and model can help you save even more by diagnosing and fixing your car yourself.

Do OBD2 readers work on all cars?

Most OBD2 scanners and car code readers do not work on all cars. If you are looking for an OBD2 scanner or car code reader, you should check if it works with your particular make and model before buying it.

Is it worth buying an OBD2 scanner?

It may be worth buying an OBD2 scanner if you can do your own mechanical work and need a tool to scan your malfunctioning lights. Some of the more advanced models can check all the car’s systems, while the basic models only read check engine light codes. Performing your own diagnostics and repairs could save you thousands by not having to pay a mechanic to do the work you can do yourself.

Is it OK to leave OBD2 plugged in?

Yes, it is ok to leave the OBD2 scanner, and car code reader plugged in. While it won’t damage your car, it draws small amounts of power, so over time, it could drain and kill your battery if you do not drive your car regularly.

Are there alternatives worth considering?

There are thousands of OBD2 scanners and car code readers to choose from. Consider your needs for a scanner or car code reader and your budget when researching the available options. Though the OBD2 scanners and car code readers mentioned are some of the best, there are still alternatives worth considering:

  • Cen-Tech OBDII Code Reader: If you have a Harbor Freight close by, this code reader is slightly more expensive than the HyperTough, but it has all the same features and may have a more durable case.

  • Launch CRP123: The next step down from the Launch CRP123X, this model is cheaper but does not come with the tire pressure monitoring reset tool.

First posted at Source

The best smart lock 2021: Business and home use

No longer do you have to worry about who has the keys to your home or business. With the best smart locks for business and home use, you can go digital for better accessibility and even greater convenience. A smart door lock can work alone or integrate with your smart home security system to ensure that the keys to your castle are always in the right hands. 

However, with so many to choose from, today’s market can be more than a little challenging to navigate. That is why we have put our proprietary methodology and analysis to the test, weighing each option to find the absolute best smart locks for your home and business use in 2021.

Best all-inclusive

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Amazon

At a Glance

August’s Wi-Fi Smart Lock Voice has remote access that gives you all sorts of additional benefits like remote locking and unlocking capabilities. You can check to see if the doors in your homes are locked without checking the physical locks, and you can also check the traffic at your door. There is the added ability to offer your guests access via virtual guest keys, so you do not have to worry about losing physical access to your keys. 

August’s Wi-Fi Smart Lock integrates with voice assistant programs like Google. There is just a simple installation required with no additional hardware required. Your new lock merely attaches to your existing deadbolt, which means that you do not even have to change your house keys. You can also access your August lock via the August mobile app or even your Apple Watch.


Pros:

  • Built-in Wi-Fi for remote capabilities

Cons:


Pricing

The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock costs $229.99. You can also purchase other products that will integrate with your Wi-Fi Smart Lock. These products provide more well-rounded security solutions for your home, such as the Connect Wi-Fi Bridge and Smart Keypad with matching hardware for better aesthetics. 

There are also smart door bundles, with August offering current discounts when you bundle multiple products.

Best for fingerprint scanning

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Amazon

At a Glance

Kwikset sells two types of Halo Wi-Fi Enabled Smart Door Lock, the Contemporary or the Traditional model, both of which are available in multiple finishes. With the Halo Smart Door Lock, you have the ability to lock and unlock your door using your custom fingerprint. This lock is also perfect for high-traffic areas, allowing you to store up to 100 different fingerprints for up to 50 users. It has an easy one-touch locking feature that utilizes a motorized deadbolt with a special tamper-resistant design. This smart lock is compatible with your smart home, including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and it connects to your home’s Wi-Fi, so no additional hub is needed. You can even set custom schedules to ensure that the doors are locked or unlocked after you. 

Kwikset incorporates Advanced SmartKey Security to safeguard against hackers. The Kwikset App can help provide added control when you download the app on your mobile devices from the App Store or Google Play.


Pros:

  • Dual key and fingerprint

  • Tamper-resistant design

  • Added security features

Cons:


Pricing

The Halo Wi-Fi Enabled Smart Door Lock is available for sale via three major retailers: Amazon, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. The Amazon price depends on the finish you choose, ranging from $203.84 to $229.

Best video doorbell

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Amazon

At a Glance

The Lockly Vision doorbell goes one step further to incorporate built-in HD video with your doorbell. It features an advanced 3D fingerprint reader with a touchscreen and built-in PIN Genie for smooth and easy remote locking capabilities. There is two-way audio to complement the live view provided by the built-in camera, and you can also access your door at any time in real-time. 

An added unique feature is dual storage, which is provided via the internal SD video and cloud storage options. To help manage your recordings, you can use the mobile app on either your iOS or Android device to access data. Your doorbell stores up to 99 different fingerprints, and there is also the option for offline access codes and e-keys for temporary use. To help keep your property secure, Lockly adds a tamper notification if your lock falls into the wrong hands.


Pros:

  • Live HD video

  • Built-in storage

  • Wi-Fi hub included

Cons:


Pricing

The Lockly Vision Smart Lock + Video Doorbell costs $399.99, but you can receive $20 off when signing up for the Lockly mailing list online. Lockly offers a free 30-day return policy and a two-year warranty for your equipment.

Best smart home integrations

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Amazon

At a Glance

The Schlage Encode features built-in Wi-Fi to give you instant notifications when your lock is accessed with remote locking capabilities and a low battery indicator to tell you when to give your locks a battery boost. There are up to 100 customized access codes for both temporary and permanent users, which is about average with the rest of the industry. You also have your choice of two apps to control your locks, including the Schlage Home app and the Key by Amazon app. Prime members in specific cities can also use the Key by Amazon app to set up and view in-home deliveries using your Amazon Cloud Cam. It also is compatible with systems like Alexa, Ring, and Google Assistant.

Available in multiple finishes and trims, you can pick your favorite Schlage Encode locks to complement your preferred design scheme.


Pros:

  • Multiple program compatibility

  • Expanded app support   

  • In-home deliveries with Amazon

Cons:


Pricing

The Schlage Encode is available for purchase via several retailers. It is offered at several different price points, varying from $221.61 to $295.

Best for full automation

wyze-lock.jpg
Amazon

At a Glance

The Wyze Lock latches onto your existing deadbolt for easy one-touch locking. The door automatically unlocks when you approach and locks when you leave, with additional remote locking and unlocking capabilities. For guests, you can create time-based guest codes so you can give the right visitors temporary access. 

The Wyze Lock is also wireless, featuring an LED backlight, and is weatherproof with an IPX5 rating. It integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control, but what is truly notable are the added security features. The Wyze Lock has advanced 128-bit encryption, hardware encryption, and two-factor authentication, plus Zigbee + Bluetooth.


Pros:

Cons:


Pricing

You can purchase the Wyze lock for $107.98.

Best for multiple users

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Amazon

At a Glance

The Yale Assure Lock SL is a completely keyless system that uses your choice of four to eight digits for your keypad code. It also accommodates the most user codes up to 250 possible codes for up to 25 users with the optional Yale Smart module. It has easy installation and is even easier to use. Functionality is simple: you can lock the door with a single tap, and there is an option for an Auto Relock feature, so the door automatically locks behind you. It utilizes a BHMA Grade 2-certified deadbolt and has a helpful blacklight on the touchscreen keypad. There is also a built-in backup charger for extra peace of mind, so your lock never goes down and you never lose access.

The Yale Assure Lock SL features a one-year electronics warranty with an unlimited lifetime warranty on the finish of your smart locks, as well as mechanical parts. When you upgrade to the Yale Network Module, you also gain Z-Wave Plus, ZigBee and iM1 capability for HomeKit.


Pros:

  • Slim design

  • Convenient touchscreen

  • Backup charger

Cons:


Pricing

The Yale Assure Lock SL is $169.99 for the standalone product. For greater protection, you can purchase an extended warranty via Extend that offers one-year protection for $17.99, $30.99 for two years, and $44.99 for three years. 

You also have the option to add installation for your smart home via its installation partner, OnTech Smart Services. Professional installation costs $99.99, and you can also purchase an OnTech membership for $199.99 per year.  

How did we choose these products?

To find the best smart locks for your home and business, there are a few factors to consider that will help you decide:

  • Type of installation: The ease of installation largely depends on the type of installation required. Most smart locks require either a full or partial installation, where you either replace the entire lock or affix a new lock onto an existing deadbolt.

  • The number of users: If you plan on having a lot of traffic out of your home or business, such as Airbnb property, you are likely to appreciate a smart lock that has multiple user capabilities. Be sure to consider how many codes you can use.  

  • Integrations: If you already have a smart home, it is important to ensure that your smart lock for your home or business integrates with existing technologies like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit.

  • Price: The cost of your smart lock for your home or business is another important factor. Consider your budget and which smart lock offers the best bang for your buck based on your specific needs.

Which is the right one for you?

FAQs

What is a smart lock?

A smart lock for your home or business incorporates Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities to work independently as needed or as a part of your bigger smart home security system.

Why is a smart lock important for my home?

A smart door lock can be an invaluable tool for your home and business, providing improved security, greater intelligence, and better automation. From automatically locking the doors to remote locking capabilities, there are many great features to benefit your home and business in 2021.

What if I have frequent traffic to my home and business?

Smart locks are uniquely built to accommodate heavy traffic in and out of your home and business. With remote and automatic locking capabilities, many models allow you to create and assign custom guest key codes for access, no matter where you are home or not. 

Consider how many people may need access to your property to find the best smart lock for your home and business use.  

Are there alternatives worth considering?

Many smart locks available didn’t make it onto our list for the best smart locks for your home and business in 2021. Other smart locks worthy of consideration include these models:

First posted at Source

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