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ZTE nubia My Prague Android smartphone. Announced Jun 2015. Features 5.2″ AMOLED display, Snapdragon 615 chipset
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Hands-on review: MWC 2015: ZTE Star 2

While ZTE has a big presence in Asia, it's yet to break into other markets in the same way, but at the Chinese's firm booth at MWC 2015 its latest handsets and edging closer to the standards expected from consumers in other territories.

A good example of this is the ZTE Star 2, a nicely designed handset with freshly update voice recognition for the English language - a clear signal of intent that it will be coming to Western markets.

I was told Europe could expect the Star 2 to arrive during Q2 (Apr-Jun) of this year, although exact countries are currently unknown, as is the price.

ZTE Star 2 review

The phone looks nice, with a rolling top and bottom edge and a silver rim providing a little bit of premium styling.

It's a plastic affair, but the Star 2 feels sturdy enough with its glass front and back, and it sits nicely in the hand.

At 6.9mm thick the ZTE Star 2 is suitably slender, and the limited bezel surrounding the screen keeps the proportions to a manageable 140 x 69.2mm.

ZTE Star 2 review

Power and volume keys reside on the right side of the device, while on the left you'll find trays for a microSIM and microSD. The handset's internal speaker is also located at the bottom of the left side, a placement which isn't the most inspired.

When held in one hand the speaker is usually covered by your palm, and in landscape a similar muffling occurs.

The 5-inch full HD display is excellent, it's bright and colourful which makes using the Star 2 a more enjoyable experience.

ZTE Star 2 review

It running Android 4.4.2 KitKat, which isn't the latest version 4.4, let alone Android 5.0 Lollipop. There's no word on whether it'll get a Lollipop boost in the future, but I'd say it's pretty likely.

You don't get stock Android though, with ZTE applying its own interface design - dubbed MiFavor - over the top of Google's creation. Sadly, it's not the best attempt I've seen.

It's very similar to Huawei's Emotion UI with its slightly childish icons, vibrant colours and lack of an app tray.

ZTE Star 2 review

Android purists probably won't like it, but all the functionality is still there and it is easy for first time users to pick up.

I found performance on the ZTE Star 2 was pretty good thanks to a 2.3GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM running the show.

It was disappointing to find the processor was a Snapdragon 801 chip, which has been replaced not once, but twice by the 805 and more recently the 810.

ZTE Star 2 review

The handset ran smoothly with general operation not causing any problems. I did find applications weren't the quickest at loading up, but it's a very minor point.

It's the voice control options on the Star 2 which ZTE is really pushing, with the ability to make calls, open and close apps, search locations while driving and take photos all with your voice.

Many people are still uncomfortable with speaking to their phone, especially in public places, so the appeal of these options will be limited - but in certain use cases such as driving they do have a clear advantage.

With no internet connection, SIM card or contact book and in a very noisy convention centre I couldn't put the voice features to the test, so I'll be interested to see how it performs in the full review.

ZTE Star 2 review

ZTE has equipped the Star 2 with a couple of strong cameras, a 13MP round the back and a 5MP option up front.

Performance was slick and speedy, with an instant shutter button and even under the bright lights of the convention centre I was able to take a couple of pretty decent snaps.

In terms of battery life the 2300mAh should at least see out a day, but you'll have to wait for the full review before we can say for sure.

ZTE Star 2 review

Early verdict

The ZTE Star 2 appears to be a pretty accomplished smartphone with a decent set of specs and good design.

It'll likely be limited by hit and miss availability, and there's no word on pricing just yet, but if you're looking for something a bit different the Star 2 could fit the bill nicely.








Insane flagship-killing specs listed for new ZTE phone

Thought the Samsung Galaxy S6 was powerful with its 2.1GHz octa-core processor and 3GB of RAM? Think again. Sure, it's arguably the most powerful smartphone around right now, but the ZTE Nubia Z9 has just been certified in China and the specs attached to it dwarf the S6.

The specs, which appeared on TENAA (China's certification body) and were spotted by GizmoChina, should be accurate as TENAA isn't in the habit of making things up, but they just seem too high to be true.

The phone supposedly has a 3.5GHz octa-core processor and 8GB of RAM. That's serious overkill if true, we weren't expecting to see phones with those sorts of specs for at least a couple of years.

Too good to be true?

As such we have a hard time believing they're true, especially when the rest of the listed specs are more reasonable, such as a 5.15-inch 1080p display, a 16MP rear camera, an 8MP front-facing one, 32GB of storage and a 3000mAh battery with Android 5.0 on board.

Those specs aren't to be sniffed at, but they feel more like what you'd expect from a 2015 phone, so we have to assume that the processor and RAM are probably mistakes or typos. Then again if ZTE wants to make a splash it's always possible that it really has gone this overboard.

The phone is pegged for a May 6 announcement, so the truth of the matter will be known soon.

  • The OnePlus 2 could have some pretty tasty specs of its own.







UPDATED: All 38 Apple Watch designs: Every band, case and face so far

Apple Watch: watch cases and bands

Apple Watch features

This week was the Apple Watch launch day, but you can't try on the iPhone-compatible wearable yet since we're a month away from pre-orders and two weeks further from its official release date.

That's a problem for anxious early adopters who want it now. The April 24-bound smartwatch comes in a variety of colors and styles, way more than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

In fact, there are 38 different Apple Watch choices (up from the original 34) and nine default watch faces with millions of customizations, according to Apple.

Here's every Apple Watch face, band and case announced so far, giving you extra time to decide which "iWatch" should be your watch before waiting in line.

Cases: Apple Watch vs Sport vs Watch Edition

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr72v7Z7m4Y

All Apple Watches boast the same rectangular design with rounded off corners, but they're divided up into three different case "collections" based on build materials.

Starting at $349 (£299) and costing as much as $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), the names Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition, don't tell us a whole lot about those differences, so let's explain each watch case.

The regular Apple Watch

Apple Watch design and colors

Donning the "regular" Watch puts a highly polished stainless steel case on your wrist, one that comes in glossy metal colors of either space black or stainless steel.

Protecting the precious Retina display is sapphire crystal, which is the same glass that covers the Touch ID home button of newer iPhones.

Sapphire crystal is touted as the hardest transparent material on earth next to diamond. It'll stand up to dings every time your formerly-bare wrist forgets what it's like to wear a watch.

Watch Sport

Apple Watch design and colors

Sport is the the lightest of the three Apple Watch choices thanks to its anodized aluminum case that still manages to be 60% stronger than standard alloys.

It skips out of the expensive sapphire glass in favor of what Apple calls strengthened Ion-X or aluminosilicate glass. This further reduces the weight, making it fit for active lifestyles.

Sure, the iPhone-matching matte space gray and silver aluminum case appears less shiny vs the regular Watch, but Apple's 7000 Series aluminum and Ion-X glass makes it 30% lighter.

It's also the least expensive Apple Watch version at $349 (£299) for the 38mm size and 42mm for the $399 (£339) size.

Watch Edition

Apple Watch design and colors

Watch Edition will be the most expensive Apple Watch at $10,000 (£8,000) because of its 18-karat gold case. It may even be locked inside a safe within your local Apple Store.

It's been crafted by Apple's metallurgists to be twice as hard as standard gold, says the Cupertino company, and will come in two colors: yellow gold and rose gold.

Complementing those cases are color-matching bands made of leather or fluoroelastomer plastic.

Bands are the next step in deciding on the right Apple Watch.

Six different band styles, 18 colors

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch is all about personalization with six band types and 18 colors, all of which are easily interchangeable thanks a unique slide-out locking mechanism.

Yes, it's a proprietary watch strap - did you expect anything less? - but it looks to be a whole lot easier to switch out compared to the irksome hidden pins of the Moto 360.

I'm okay with that. I want the sport band at the gym and the Milanese loop for a night on the town without the hassle of digging into the watch case with a pair of tweezers.

Link bracelet

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch choices

Available with the regular Watch, the link bracelet is one of two stainless steel Apple Watch bands. This one matches the 316L stainless steel alloy of the case.

It has more than 100 components and the brushed metal links increase in width closer to the case. A custom butterfly closure folds neatly within the bracelet.

Best of all, you can add and remove links with a simple release button. No jeweler visits or special tools required for this stainless steel or space black-colored strap.

Milanese loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch bands

One of the classiest-looking Apple Watch bands is the Milanese loop, a stainless steel mesh strap that loops from case to clasp.

Emphasizing that woven metal design, there's hardly a clasp. Its tiny magnetic end makes the strap infinitely adjustable and tucks behind the band for a seamless look on one's wrist.

An out-of-the box option with the regular Watch, the Milanese loop is truly one of a kind in that it only comes in a stainless steel color.

Modern buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch leather

A modern buckle adorns the bottom the first of three leather options among Apple Watches, complete with top-grain leather sourced from France.

The French tannery is said to have been established in 1803, but Apple puts a tech-savvy twist on the buckle. It's a two-piece magnetic clasp that only looks ordinary when together.

This leather option comes in black, soft pink, brown or midnight blue for the regular Watch and bright black, red or rose gray for the premium Watch Edition, all meant for the smaller 38mm watch size.

Classic buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch design and colors

Apple Watch models

If the Apple Watch modern buckle is a normal-looking watch band with a magnetic twist, then the classic buckle is an ordinary-looking variant without one.

No tricks here. It's just a traditional and secure band that feeds through a stainless steel or an 18-karat gold loop and matches the watch case.

The classic buckle's leather is from the Netherlands and the color choices are as simple as can be: it comes in black for the regular Watch or either black or midnight blue for Watch Edition.

Leather loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch design

This is the leather-equivalent of the all-metal Milanese loop because it tucks magnets into the soft, quilted leather Apple Watch band.

The more pronounced pebbled texture also stands out from the subtle finishes of the modern and classic buckle. Apple says its Venezia leather sources from Italy.

Apple Watch buyers who go with the leather loop band have four colors choices: black, stone, light brown and bright blue.

Sport band

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch sport band

Despite its name, the sport band is an out-of-the-box option among all three "collections," not just the Apple Watch Sport.

The band is made of smooth fluoroelastomer, so it's resilient for all activities and fastens with a simple pin-and-tuck closure. Hopefully it's easier to buckle than the Fitbit Charge.

The sport band is available in the most colors on the Sport Watch: white, black, blue, green or pink. Regular Watch and Watch Edition buyers can choose between black or white.

Apple Watch sizes

Apple Watch sizes

Less exciting, but equally important is the choice of among Apple Watch sizes. There are two case heights: 38mm and 42mm.

This opens it up to smaller and larger wrists. The 38mm size is more compact, but having that little bit extra screen space by way of the 42mm option may go a long way.

It should be noted that a few bands appear to be exclusive to certain sizes: the modern buckle is limited to the 38mm option and leather loop the 42mm size, for example.

No right-handed and left-handed Apple Watch decisions need to be made at the Apple Store, thankfully. This smartwatch is ambidextrous because the screen can be flipped.

Apple Watch faces

Apple Watch analog watches

There are nine different default faces from Apple, according to its official website, and likely a lot more to come from third-party developers currently testing out WatchKit.

The great thing about smartwatch faces is that none of them are permanent, something we were fond of when testing out Android Wear smartwatches.

Mickey Mouse is my favorite because I never got a Mickey Mouse watch as a kid. But maybe that'll be reserved for Disneyland visits now that I'm an adult.

Analog watches like Chronograph, Color, Simple and Utility can be swapped in for a more professional look that rivals today's best smartwatch alternatives.

Customizable watch faces

Apple Watch designs

Digital watch faces all have something unique to offer. Motion adds a bit of animal-inspired movement in the background, solar lets you follow the sun's path based on your location and the time of day and astronomy lets you explore space and a rotatable 3D Earth.

Modular, the grid-like ninth watch face, really defines what Apple means when it talks about complications. Most faces can be alerted to include pressing information like stock quotes, weather reports or your next calendar event, according to the company.

Apple Watch wrap-up

Apple Watch

With two sizes for most band designs, six band types, 18 band colors and three cases with two colors each, there's a lot of choice going into this smartwatch purchase.

Apple Watch is launching with a lot of personalization, echoing a time when the Cupertino firm introduced variety among its iMac G3 computers and iPod successors.

Which case and band combination I get has ultimately been determined by the price and availability. For such a new product that's bound to be outdated in a few months to years, I'm leaning toward the cheaper Sport Edition when the Apple Watch release date rolls around.








Is BlackBerry's first Android smartphone coming in August?

BlackBerry's first handset running Android could be arriving as soon as August, according to new rumours.

The device, which is currently codenamed BlackBerry Prague, is apparently a low-end smartphone that could be based on the BlackBerry Z3, a budget phone that was launched in 2014.

Although the specs of the BlackBerry Prague might end up being rather modest, BlackBerry is also apparently readying another handset, the BlackBerry Venice, which will come with a 5.4-inch curved QHD display and a six-core Snapdragon 808 chip – and could potentially run Android as well.

It looks like if you've been interested in BlackBerry's smartphones but not been too impressed with the software it ships with, then these two new phones might change your mind.








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