OCBC Marketing Mailer: 0% Interest for 12 months with Apple proudcts
[PROMOTION] 2016 till date has brought in a fantastic haul of smartphones driven by an almost perfect SoC (System on Chip) in Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 as well a maturity of hardware and Android.  

From my current favourite flagship Samsung Galaxy Note 7 to very affordable One Plus 3 to my current daily driver, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, and as well a host of China manufacturers have produced some of the most impressive smartphones with amazing prices. 

The most glaring omission from the two paragraphs is of course, the iPhone. That's because Apple will probably be releasing their 2016 flagship, the iPhone 7, in September as you may already know. Meanwhile if the prototype iPhone 7 making its rounds on YouTube is anything to go by, iPhone 7 is probably unlikely to dethrone Samsung Note 7 as my favourite phone of 2016.   

My opinion of course isn't commonly shared by everyone, as iPhone 7 will sell well regardless. 

Hence perhaps in anticipation for iPhone 7, OCBC dropped in a mailer yesterday to remind me that I could get a interest free 12 months instalment plan for Apple product purchases over S$500 with OCBC Credit Card.

The instalment plan is only available by calling Apple at 1800 692 7753 to place your order. It is not available via any other retail channels including the Apple Online Store.

Good to know especially if you are a OCBC Credit Card customer and eagerly awaiting the new iPhone 7!

Link - OCBC 0% Interest Instalment Plan
Silver Samsung Galaxy Note 7: SingTel shop demo set
[NEW GADGET] On first look, I think it's more beautiful than its cousin, S7 Edge. Certainly not much bigger, in fact it has a slimmer outlook to it. In short, it is easy to say if the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has everything a S7 Edge can do and more, then essentially we are looking at the Android Smartphone of 2016.

September 2016 will belong to iPhone 7 but August 2016 will be Note 7's.

Glorious 5.7" OLED always-on display.
Note 7 features a 5.7-inch Quad HD (2560 x 1440 resolution - 518 ppi) curved-edge OLED always-on display, probably the best screen in the market at the moment. Inside Note 7 are Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 (or in Singapore likely to be Exynos equivalent similar to S7 Edge), 4GB ram and 64GB storage expandable via microSD slot. 

Despite skipping number 6 in the series, Note 7 continues to be a phablet so S-Pen is its most prominent feature especially given the lack of smartphones with stylus in the market. Note 7's S-Pen is, on paper, twice as sensitive of Note 5's. And the demo set certainly prove so. Note 7 is also IP68 rated and amazingly S-Pen will work underwater!  

Note 7 is 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.99mm big and 169g  heavy with a 3500 mAh battery, 100 mAh smaller than S7 Edge. 

Back of Note 7 is obviously a fingerprint magnet. 
Besides hardware improvement, Note 7 also comes with some new innovations.

Note7 is apparently one of the first smartphones armed with a mobile High Dynamic Range video streaming-ready display, which, when paired with HDR content, would provide a more cinema-like experience with brighter colors and deeper blacks. 

Then there is the highly advertised Iris scanner supporting unlocking of the phone with your eyes. Only gripe is that bespectacled users has to remove their glasses for the scanner to work well. 

Note 7 is also launched with a pair of lens kit, which isn't available on demo, certainly curious to see how the lens kit in reality.

Side view of a Black Onyx Note 7.
Note7 is available in Black Onyx (my favourite), Blue Coal (available at a later date), Gold Platinum and Silver Titanium for a recommended retail price of S$1,168 and depending on where you get it, a complimentary lens kit as well.   

And while the world celebrates another fantastic Samsung device, Samsung hints a ‘monster’ version of the phablet that sports 6GB of memory and a hefty 128 GB of internal storage would be available exclusively in China... 

Would you prefer that over the Singapore set? 

Regards, tsgts

Link - Samsung Singapore Galaxy Note 7
Logitech M280 on my desk
[USER EXPERIENCE] Simplicity as its best. Probably best describe my conclusion for Logitech M280, available everywhere in Singapore. It's a computer mouse and it does what I think a computer mouse quite competently. Essentially, ergonomic grip, quick, silent scroll and clicky buttons.

I like the Logitech font.
Decent build quality. Feels great in hand. The dot in the picture above lights up when the mouse is powered on. Afterwards it doesn't light at all. A fun thought, if it lights up for a while after a fixed interval of inactivity, might be quite cool.

Side view of M280.
It's marketing material say "10-meter reliable wireless range", good to know but I don't sit 10 meters away from my screen. Also says "Advanced optical tracking" and "18-month battery life", yeah its 1000 DPI, decent but the fastest mouse I have used. Not sure about the battery life though, its 2016, how bad can it be. A free battery (AA) is included in the package.

The part that I don't see often.
I am not a gamer nor a millionaire, so as much as I wanted Logitech MX Master, I settled for its distant cousin, M280. I hope 'M' here stands for the word "Master". ha. Till next time, bye.

Nice light. Too bad it doesn't light more often.
Photo from Press Release: Sennheiser store at Marina Square

[NEW STUFF] Sennheiser Asia announces the opening of their first fully-owned brand store in Singapore on the same day.

I am a little surprise as Sennheiser is one of the first names a Singaporean can think of when it comes to earphones. I mean Sennheiser has been around for the longest time even before the flood of Audio brands in the last couple of years.

Besides a broad portfolio of headphone models, the retail space at Marina Square will offer a selection of microphones for musicians and video journalists, as well as BYOD audio
conferencing solutions.

Sennheiser also debuted their first-of-its-kind service, Headphone for Hire programme. Consumers can pay a security deposit and take a Sennheiser headphone on trial for a week. Surely a comprehensive trial programme anyone would enjoy when considering a new headphone!

Also as part of the launch, the brand introduces their exclusive partnership with local artistes 53A and Jack & Rai, good stuff!

As well good stuff; check out the store for launch promotions until... 9th August 2016!

Source: Press Release from SG Story
Samsung Galaxy C5: In Shanghai store

[TECH IN CHINA] Shanghai always serve me interesting gadgets, this post is about Samsung Galaxy C5 and C7, China (soon India) only smartphones. Here are 3 things about these latest Samsung devices which I lay my hands on in Shanghai.

Samsung in China
China is of course probably the biggest consumer market that any manufacturer worth their salt cannot ignore. Samsung in particular is concerned that they have fallen out of the top 5 smartphone makers in market share for Q2 2016.

This is peculiar given Samsung is the current leader in global market share and its overwhelming success of Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge in 2016. Clearly, the Chinese has very different priorities and preferences for smartphones.

Which must have been a big question mark in Samsung's Chinese division. What exactly will sell in China if the Galaxy S7 doesn't? I think they created Samsung Galaxy C5 and C7 to answer their own question.

Not S7 but Mid-range smartphone
While C5 is not flagship class phones, they are still very good in their own rights.  Super AMOLED 5.2" 1080p display with 424ppi gives a competent display, nothing fancy but great nevertheless. Samsung C7 are very similar in specifications with the notable difference being the 5.7" screen.

Snapdragon 617 confirms it's non-flagship status. Android 6.0.1, microSD expansion slot, 32/64GB storage as well 4 GB ram ensures its relevance in the mid-range category. Rounding up the specifications are 16MP, f1.9 rear and 8 MP,f1.9 front shooter, home button with fingerprint sensor and a non-removable 2600mAh battery,

At RMB 2,199 for 32GB version. Samsung C5 represents the best the most value for money smartphones in Samsung's line-up today, along side the A series.

Galaxy C also has very similar market segment as Galaxy A series. Both metallic and both one step lower than the Flagship S series. One key differentiator is the compatibility of Samsung Pay in Galaxy C series though only NFC payments only.

iPhone look alike?
Really, the 2.5D glass and metallic unibody creates a solid and good-feel in hand. What's not so steady is the outlook of the phone that looks like a certain iPhone! A situation not limited to Samsung in mainland China where nearly every phone manufacturer you can think of are adopting very similar full metallic backs.

Samsung is probably adopting the if-you-can't-beat-them-join-them mentality with Galaxy C yet it is difficult to see how it would impact their market share in China. Even if Samsung have included their own iterations of localised apps such as WeChat Hongbao function as well as S-Helper for daily shopping and errands in the very well digitalise China.

Local manufacturers such as OPPO or Vivo just boast way higher specifications, features and even higher compatibility with Chinese apps at similar price points.

Link - Samsung C5 Specifications
Link - Samsung drops from list of top 5 smartphone-makers in China

[USER EXPERIENCE] Tablets has been boring for a long time now. Right now the tablet world is pretty much iPads, iPad Mini, Air, Pro... Excellent tablets all round. On the other hand, I am hard-pressed to pick an Android one. Samsung S2 is pretty solid but pricey given its plastic build.

Which makes my latest hoot in Shanghai more interesting. Introducing Nokia N1!

And here are three things to note from my user experience, 1 year after Nokia N1 is released.

Yes, you heard it right. It's a Nokia product, not to be confused with Microsoft's Nokia branded products. Nokia N1 is designed by Noka and manufactured by Foxconn. Launched in China, Taiwan, Russia and some parts of Europe in 2015,

Essentially, it is a Nokia one-off venture of consumer product thus it appears to be available only in limited markets. I think it is also unlikely that Nokia will by releasing a second iteration given that this Nokia N1 hasn't gotten Marshmallow yet.

A rare Nokia device with limited availability is a receipt for a collectors' item.

What's not working
Nokia delivered a really neat tablet in Nokia N1. Before we get to the good stuff, let's cover the problems. Starting with the most common complain on the net about Nokia N1 is how similar it is to iPad Mini. I cannot deny they look similar but so does many other tablets in the market today.

Then comes my personal complains during the 2 months I have with the Nokia N1. First of which is probably not a legit one as it stems from getting a China version. Essentially, the Chinese N1 does not come with Google Framework such as Google Playstore and Google Play Services thus making it impossible to have the likes of YouTube or Gmail working as normal.

The 2nd complain is a device hardware problem. After prolong usage, say 30 mins or running a high end game for say 10 mins, the bottom left hand of the tablet will be much warmer than a personal gadget should be. It's not a deal breaker especially with a cover on it though it is puzzling to say the least.

Value for money tablet
In a sentence, you can be assured Nokia N1, while is not your best-in-class device, is very competitive when placed in today's tablet market despite being a 1 year old device.

Its awesomeness begins when you see and hold, the build quality is extremely pleasing. 6.9mm in thickness the N1 is actually a little slimmer than an iPad mini 3 and an one-body aluminium stain finished housing really gives Nokia N1 a premium outlook.

Nokia N1 also has a brilliant display; 7.9 inch 4:3 aspect ratio IPS panel coupled with 2048x1536 resolution, its sharpness will rival most of the competition in 2016.

On the inside it where Nokia N1 probably is not as impressive. A 64-bit 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 paired with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage are decent for tablet. The 8-megapixel rear and 5-megapixel front cameras are performs less than average.

N1 even possess some cool features; the reversible USB Type-C port as well its Z-Launcher, Nokia developed, is a launcher that cuts away the regular way of using Android.

All of these above for just RMB 1099 or SGD 220. Comparatively a better deal against iPad Mini 2 at SGD 398. It's a matter of preference as it always is. If you need high end specs and functions, look else where!

Edited 22 August 2016: OnePlus has announced its closure of their Beijing and Shanghai stores effective 22 August 2016. Link - GizmoChina

[USER EXPERIENCE] I happen to be in Shanghai for a business trip right after the launch of the OnePlus 3 on 14 June 2016. And I also happen to have a Brother-in-law that wanted OnePlus 3. So that's it, I get to enjoy the excitement of purchasing the OP3! And here are the 3 things from my OP3 buying experience! 

It’s all calm and peaceful! 
The OnePlus 3 is officially unveiled on Wednesday, 15 June 2016. I made my trip to their Shanghai Flagship store, the only brick-and-mortar OnePlus store in China, on Friday night but I was told the last piece sold out 5 minutes ago! In case you are virtualizing iPhone-released like queue at the store, read on. 

The photo of the shop at the top of this post is taken right at that time. Yes, it’s just a regular crowd. Further proof that OP3 is not mainstream; I got out earlier to get it the next day. There is no queue at the cashier but again, a steady stream of customers at the store. 

iPhone in OnePlus Store?
I can't say for the rest of China but Shanghai is truly an Apple city according to statistics generated by number of iPhones I saw during my time there.

A more damning evidence is the OnePlus store assistant attending to me uses an iPhone instead of OP3! Not the best image to present!

Another unofficial statistics from the brain of mine, there are Apple Stores, not the fake ones, opened in major locations around Shanghai than the stores of Huawei, Samsung, Oppo and the rest combined.

Simple Choice
Since OP3 doesn't not offer colours or specs options, all I can say to place my order was "one unit please". I find this to be refreshing experience when purchasing a smartphone in today context. 

OP3 even comes with a film clear type screen protector applied. I also bought the tempered glass protector from the store but the store assistant advised I used the film protector until it wears out before replacing it. I suspect she didn't want to paste the glass protector for me...

Of course that didn't temper my mood of going back with one of the most value-for-money tech in the world today!   

[REVIEW] Having increasing my driving hours tremendously this year, too often I need Google Maps to guide me to my destination. So the search for a mobile phone car mount begins.

That's when GripGo Universal Car Mount caught my eye. Marketed by JML, I have seen GripGo on sale in sold in Sheng Siong and Cheers at approximately S$14.95. GripGo comes in short arm and long arm version.

I went for GripGo because most of the car mount didn't look stylo. Most of those are of clip design which hold mobile phone in position with a clip. Surely they looked sturdy. Somehow I managed to go the other way with GripGo.

I got it online from someone whom got it shipped from overseas hence it's not the JML version and also does not cost S$14.95.

GripGo also comes with a adhesive-backed disc for dashboard mounting.

On to the product itself. For the record, I stick on the Nexus 5, iPhone 5s and an iPad 2 and both stick on with strong grip. In fact to remove the devices itself required some strength and if anything, is one of the biggest problem with GripGo.

For instance in the case of my Nexus 5, not an unibody phone, it is important to get a firm grip on the phone before peeling it off the GripGo. Otherwise, while the back of phone is sticked firmly on and you are merely taking the phone apart. It is that sticky.

For me the best way to remove the phone from this car mount is to squeeze the handles by the side of the pad. This is also the recommendation on the instruction sheet.

What is not so sticky is the suction cap. In my weeks of experience with GripGo, it came off several times my windscreen.

In short, GripGo has its shortcomings. One, it works if you are using a uni-body with a flat back phone. Two, suction cap is just bad. It may look pretty cool initially to have your phone stick on so easily but actual experience is just not as good as it looks. Traditional clip-on car mount would be a better option.
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