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Lets delve into the details, in the Landvo L200S review!

TL;DR

The Landvo L200S is a well made phone with a very recognizable chrome frame… support for 4G LTE is what sets the phone apart from other budget MT6582 phones besides the build. Decent battery life and great GPS performance make the L200S a worthy buy, but we feel that in this cut-throat market, the L200S could do much better with a price tag that’s closer to the $100 mark than the $150, as it stands right now.

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Landvo L200S Review: Specifications

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Landvo L200S Review: In the box

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Here’s what is shipped in the Landvo L200S retail box:

Landvo L200S smartphone

charging brick

USB to micro USB cable

earphones

user’s manual

Landvo L200S Review: Unboxing

Landvo L200S Review: Build and design

Right off the bat, the phone loses one point thanks to the design being lifted from the flagship killer of last year… aka the OnePlus One. It isn’t a 1:1 clone, like the No.1 Mi4 is of the Xiaomi Mi 4, but instead a downsized design with pretty much the same geometry. This also means that the 5-inch Landvo L200S is one-hand operable unlike the OnePlus One with its 5.5-inch screen.

The USB port makes a move from the bottom chin to the top edge on the Landvo L200S, when compared to the OnePlus One. It’s accompanied by a 3.5mm jack here.

The right edge makes space for both, the volume buttons and the power button. These are some of the most tactile buttons, and have enough feedback to make you realize you’ve actually pressed the button… and that it has been recognized. Nothing again on the bottom edge aka the chin!

There’s no squeaking or anything whatsoever, and the general build impression is pretty good. Landvo have tried to replicate the Sandstone Black finish of the OnePlus One, which is of course not possible when you’re talking about a phone that’s less than half the price. Yet, the L200S has a very grippy and satisfying rear case, with a touch of rubber to it for the added grip.

Like the OnePlus One, there’s a chrome frame around the screen which pops out to give a double edge sort of a feel. We’re not yet sure if its metal or plastic, but it does feel like metal (aluminium, perhaps).

In all, the Landvo L200S does look like a phone that can take a couple drops without breaking into pieces.

Landvo L200S Review: Performance

The MT6582 (and variants thereof) have been in the market for over a year now, so there isn’t a lot to speak of about the device’s performance. The MT6582 is a proven SoC, it even features on Google’s Android One phones. The SoC has a 1.3GHz quad-core Cortex A7 CPU, that seems to be tailor made for budget phones. When it was initially launched, phones with the MT6582 sold for around the US$160-180 mark, however with time prices hit rock bottom and such phones are now available for around US$80, one example being the tried and tested Cubto S168. Android One phones, although restricted only to select markets, go for about US$100 a piece. So, at US$130, the Landvo L200S isn’t particularly VFM especially when you’re strictly talking about processing prowess.

Other than that, the phone holds up extremely well. Multitasking can be a little laggy at times, but that’s because of the bottleneck caused by RAM more than anything else. Newer and applications that are heavy on resource usage such as Chrome, Facebook, etc. tend to lag a bit at times though (Chrome especially). Again, that’s more because of the RAM. Lollipop should make things better, but there’s no update in sight as yet so you’re better off not waiting for one, unless the L200S gets really popular, that is.

Landvo L200S Review: Display

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Landvo L200S Review: Camera

There’s an 8 mega-pixel sensor on the back of the Landvo L200S, which takes some decent photos in daylight but leaves quite a bit to be desired in darker conditions. In other words, its just another sensor in this world of inexpensive Chinese smartphones; generalizing isn’t the best thing to do but there’s so less that differentiates such phones that it’s tough to tell exactly what’s different.

Compare this to say the Cubot S168, we would prefer the latter even though it has only a 5 mega-pixel sensor compared to the 8 mega-pixel on this one, which goes to show (yet again) that companies are pretty much fooling buyers with bloated up pixel count, etc. There are 8 mega-pixel cameras, and there an 8 mega-pixel cameras.

Dynamic range suffers a little too, which is when its best to be patient and take pictures in HDR. This is again something very common for budget phones like the one in question here, but we’re certain its about time that OEMs get it fixed.

There’s a bunch of effects on the camera app, but you should probably only worry about auto, HDR and panorama (beauty mode too, depending on how you prefer to take your selfies).

Landvo L200S Review: UI

Thankfully, Landvo have left the UI extremely untouched, save for a couple modifications with are actually desirable. This includes the customary scheduled on/off feature, and then the off-screen gestures (more on this later). What we also like is the fact that unlike a lot of other phones, we see stock, untouched icons on the homescreen and app drawer. Landvo haven’t gone for the ever-so-ugly rounded icon imitation look that almost every up and coming manufacturer appears to yearn for these days.

Another non-intrusive customization is the lockscreen ring which now bears the company name. Coming back to off-screen gestures, the phone has a predefined list which can be accessed at Settings – Accessibility – Smart Wake. Unfortunately, the gestures cannot be paired with applications of your choice, so you’re limited to the ones listed by the company.

Double tap to wake, swipe up to unlock and ‘v’ to turn on flashlight are the ones we think are most useful.

Landvo L200S Review: Battery

In a nutshell, battery life on the L200S is satisfactory. There’s a ‘standby intelligent power saving mode’ which surprisingly actually seems to work. The phone does lose a bit of power looking for signal while you’re on the move, but once you’ve settled on a cell tower there’s hardly any power loss in standby, given the signal is strong enough. So, if your daily commute is long, you might get different results. In other words, Your Mileage May Vary depending on how much you keep the phone on the move.

Speaking of numbers, it’s a 2000mAh battery. Other small-time makers may be putting up specs sheets listing larger batteries, but unfortunately most of that is blatant lie. Of course there’s no foolproof method to check battery capacity in this case either, but from our experience it is easy to tell this is indeed a 2000mAh cell.

Landvo L200S Review: GPS

It seems that either MediaTek has sorted its GPS issues, or manufacturers have realized that fooling consumers with a good-for-nothing antenna will take them nowhere… which is why we’re starting to see some decent GPS performance from budget phones. The L200S does extremely well on this regard as well, with a very quick fix and decent accuracy levels. However, the phone does not appear to have a compass; you’ll have to rely on your gut feeling to decide if you’re right about that.

Outdoors, the phone was extremely quick to latch on to a GPS lock (3 seconds), however it can be quite slow indoors.

Other points to note…

There’s not a lot we have to complain for this one, but a some niggles we faced were: (i) off-screen gestures take up more battery than normal, and also get triggered in the pocket at times. A simple fix is to keep the phone screen facing out, but you have to consciously do that. (ii) there seem to be network drops every now and then, which is a bit of a serious issue. We haven’t really faced this on any other budget phone in this category of late, and we hope its only a software issue which Landvo does take care of ultimately (fingers crossed). (iii) even though not a lot of MT6582 phones exhibit this, but the L200S does heat up around the camera module when used for long-ish durations. Nothing extraordinary, but again nothing which you can ignore without getting worried too. Lastly, (iv) the phone has a notification LED which again doesn’t really work except when you’re charging the phone, and when battery is low. We don’t really understand why manufacturers do this; an RGB LED is a minimum requirement as far as we’re concerned. What the L200S has gives the impression of a half-baked product, for something which otherwise is quite a decent device.

Landvo L200S Review: Verdict

In itself, the Landvo L200S is a good phone for anyone who’s looking to get fast LTE data on a budget device. Like every other product on the planet (save for the cheeseburger), there are some flaws on the device… which include, and are largely limited to, the ones listed above. If a phone like the Cubot S168 can be bought for around US$80, the Landvo L200S should go for not more than US$100-110. Yes it has an LTE modem, but then it certainly doesn’t cost half as much as the other components’ cost combined. You can expect to pay a premium for your want (read: high-speed data), but even then at US$125 the Landvo L200S is about US$15-20 over what it should be priced.

Thanks again to popular online store Geekbuying who made this review possible. The Landvo L200S can be bought from their store by visiting this link. As a special offer for GizChina readers, the coupon code BHDQPNEZ can be applied at checkout to avail a $8 discount!

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Doogee Shoot 1 Review – A Budget

DOOGEE Shoot 1 

Specifications

Processor Mediatek MTK6737T Processor

Display 5.5” SHARP® FHD 2.5D G+FF

RAM 2GB LPDDR3

Storage 16GB eMMC – microSD slot

Operating System Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Cameras 13MP + 8MP rear cameras, 8MP front

Battery 3300mAh

Physical Dimensions 168g, 156.6 x 77 x 8.7 mm

DOOGEE Shoot 1 

Unboxing

There isn’t really much to say about DOOGEE’s Shoot 1 unboxing. It comes in a quite ordinary box with a case, screen protector, USB charger 5V/2A, a micro USB cable and the SIM removal tool. There’s also an additional screen protector for those who will want to change it down the line.

DOOGEE Shoot 1 

Design & Build Quality

I give the DOOGEE Shoot 1 quite an high score as far as design and build quality goes. While it’s made of plastic it doesn’t feel cheap in your hands, it’s just lighter than its metal counterparts, which is definitely a plus.

Design wise, it’s the typical Chinese phone of 2024 and 2023: sleek, visible antenna lines, centered camera(s) on the back and a fingerprint scanner on the front accompanied by two touch buttons beside it.

DOOGEE Shoot 1 

Display

Viewing angles are good and the touch screen panel is accurate and fast, so there are no problems during every day use.

DOOGEE Shoot 1 

Hardware & Performance

The hardware on the DOOGEE Shoot 1 is mediocre at best. The phone is powered by a Mediatek MTK6737T CPU paired with 2GB of RAM, which is alright for a budget phone but to me it’s somewhat weird that a phone with a Full HD panel only comes with 2GB of RAM.

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That said, the phone is snappy for what it is and I haven’t had any problems during every day use. You’ll also be able to run most games without excessive drops in frames, although you should probably look for something else if gaming is your No. 1 priority.

The front-facing fingerprint scanner on the front works OK, it isn’t one of the most accurate on the market but it’s not too bad. I don’t like how the home button feels though and that’s probably because it protrudes from the glass, other smartphones only have the rim protruding, some not even that.

As far as connectivity goes, 4G LTE is good, the DOOGEE Shoot 1 supports bands 1/3/7/8/20 so no problems over here in Europe and most other parts of the world. The phone part is alright and sound is clear.

Battery life is average, you can get through a day of moderate use, albeit I’ve noticed standby times aren’t amazing, so you might find the phone will less battery even after not using it for some time.

The phone’s speaker isn’t very loud and sound quality is average at best.

DOOGEE Shoot 1

Camera & Photos

This is probably where the DOOGEE Shoot 1 disappointed me the most. I was really excited to try the dual camera setup as it’d be the first phone with this feature I ever used, other than a friend’s Honor 8.

And what is there to say? The dual camera setup feels more like a single camera setup with an additional light sensor. The bokeh effect (shallow depth of field) appears to be software, indeed if you look at the image you can see the foreground is still in focus even if further away.

Definitely disappointing as the main 13MP camera itself isn’t too bad, photos are sharp and color reproduction is on point, what’s bad is dynamic range and high noise even at low ISO.

Either way, have a look at the images and judge for yourself!

DOOGEE Shoot 1 

Gallery

DOOGEE Shoot 1 

Conclusion

For about $100 the DOOGEE Shoot 1 isn’t the best or worst phone in this price range. You can definitely get something better for your specific needs as this one tries to be good in everything but doesn’t really shine in nothing.

How the secondary rear camera works is a mystery to me, I’d rather preferred they had stuck with one but I understand phone manufacturers always want to get customers’ attention with the latest trend — dual camera setups.

Other then that, the DOOGEE Shoot 1 is still a great phone for the price, if you watch lots of videos, mostly use social apps and don’t play onerous games, then you’ll enjoy the 5.5-inch Full HD display and the phone’s performance. If you’re more of a heavy user and/or gamer you’ll have to look for something else, but that will cost you more, of course.

Xiaomi Redmi 4A Review: Redefining Ultra Budget

Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Full Review

“Redefining ultra budget”

Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Specifications

Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 425

Display 5.0″ 1280×720 px, IPS LCD

RAM 2GB

Storage 16GB

Operating System Android 6.0 with MIUI8

Cameras 13MP + 5MP Camera

Battery 3030mAh

Physical Properties 156g, 141.3 x 69.6 x 8.5 mm

Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Hardware

In all actuality, this 4A could pass off as a midrange or even high end device if need be. Design wise the Redmi 4A is identical to its pricier sibling but a tad thinner and shorter as well.

We again see a large bezel around the screen that is pretty much invisible in the black version of the Redmi 4 Prime but is clearly visible here. While I want to complain about this black bar, it’s a justified compromise at the incredibly low $70 price point.

The bezels around the black bar are very big as well, and from the front this phone actually looks its price. Show the front first and they’ll tell you it’s a cheap phone. Present to them the back and many will mistake it for a high end device. The hardware buttons feel a little mushy, and we don’t find a fingerprint sensor on the back.

With all these “downsides” considered, the Redmi 4A is still a well made, durable plastic phone that feels surprisingly great for something made out of plastic.

“Metal like plastic”

Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Display

We have a standard 720p IPS display and screen is pretty standard. It does its job decently producing appropriate colours, contrast, and clarity. The 720p screen won’t blow anyone’s socks off but they’ll do the job. Max brightness is OK, topping out at around 400 nits which means you’ll have great difficulty seeing it in direct sunlight. Everywhere else and the screen performs just fine. There is no protective glass on the screen either.

Gizchina News of the week Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Audio

The speakers are located beside the MicroUSB plug, and they produce some very loud sound, not as loud as the Mi5s, but definitely more than loud enough. Quality is a little below average, with bass almost nonexistent and passable mids and highs.

However, I’m trying my best not to be harsh here as this phone has an MSRP of $70, which is almost 6 times cheaper than the Mi5s and 2 times cheaper than the Redmi 4 Prime.

Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Battery

With a reduced 3030mAh battery, we definitely cannot expect amazing battery life from this device the same way the Redmi 4 Prime completely blew our minds.

If it had the Snapdragon 625, then there is a slight chance it could match up to the Redmi 3, but it has the Snapdragon 425, and battery life is better than what I expected, I could get around 4-5 hours of screen on time over a 16 hour day which is very impressive for such a small battery. I performed two battery tests as well, and the phone died after 8.5 hours in the web browsing test and 10 hours in the video playback test.

While the battery results here are not completely spectacular, they are extremely respectable and will provide anyone who isn’t a complete battery freak (aka, me) an easy one day of battery life. There is also support for QuickCharge 2.0 as well.

“pretty good battery”

Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Software

We again have MIUI8 installed atop Android 6.0 and like all other recently released Xiaomi phones, it contains all the usual functions and customizations we have come to expect. There is one downside though, MIUI8 takes up a pretty chunk of space on the eMMC, something we usually don’t notice on a 32GB device, but here we have a small 16GB of space so you’re not left with a lot.

There is a MicroSD card slot to expand the small memory available to you. The Snapdragon 425 is surprisingly fast. I don’t notice any lag when swiping through home screens and opening “light” apps such as messaging, dialer, phonebook, and calculator.

However, move on to heavier apps (Facebook and Instagram would be considered as such) or heavier multitasking and it takes slightly longer to open the apps. The Redmi 4A is no powerhouse but it is respectable enough to perform in day to day use.

I did see quite a bit of stutter when playing intense games such as NOVA or Asphalt so if you are an avid mobile gamer, this device is not for you. However, playing games that are not as graphically intensive such as Clash Royale or Candy Crush and you see no slowdowns whatsoever. It obtained a low score on Antutu of 36,000 as well which is expected.

Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Connectivity

I found the choice of network bands strange for a company trying to sell them outside of China. There are actually less FDD-LTE bands and more TDD-LTE bands which are mostly useless outside of Asia. That being said, I was still able to get strong 3G and LTE connections here in Canada, but pay extra close attention to the network bands and make sure it works on your carrier.

WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS all work well, I found that Bluetooth range on the Redmi 4A is actually farther than the Lenovo Z2 Plus, my daily driver. There is also an IR blaster which at this point is kind of useless. There is a microSD card slot that supports microSD cards up to 128GB as well.

Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Camera

The camera here has almost the exact same camera quality as the Redmi 3, and that’s a good thing. In bright, sunny conditions it takes photos that are slightly less detailed than the Redmi 3 and in low light its photos are equally as bad as the Redmi 3. The front facing 5MP camera struggles with detail due to the low megapixel count and does not capture detailed photos even in great lighting. The 1080p video is quite decent, exhibiting better colour than the Redmi 3 and capturing sufficient detail. Not the best camera in the slightest, but definitely the best you can get for $70.

Xiaomi Redmi 4A 

Camera Gallery

Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Verdict

As of December 9th, 2024, reseller pricing of the Redmi 4A hovers around the $90 mark, a full $20 more than the original price. Even at that price, the Redmi 4A represents the best value for the price.

I would like to thank Gearbest for sending out this review unit, and if you would like to buy one, you can do so here.

“THe ultimate budget phone”

Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Video Review

Xiaomi Redmi 4A

Gallery

Sapphire Radeon R7 250X Budget Graphics Card Review

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

The R7 250X is a breath of fresh air compared to the cheap £45+ products. At a resolution of 1680×1050, it can effortlessly shatter the 30fps mark. Crucially, it’s never far away from the 50fps mark. If you’re getting close to 50fps, you should be having a very comfortable playing experience. The 250X is the fastest card at this price point, thanks mainly to its superior texture handling, and generally finishes ahead of the GT 740 by around 4-5fps. Pound for pound, it offers the best value of all the budget graphics cards we’ve reviewed.

Sapphire’s Radeon R7 250X budget graphics card is the best value graphics card you’ll find today. Read our Sapphire Radeon R7 250X review. (See all  budget graphics card reviews.)

£65 may not be enough to get you a top performer. But for that price you can expect a product that isn’t ferociously cutting corners in every department. Indeed, in terms of figures, a product like the R7 250X seems to offer a bounty of primped and primed specs, effortlessly batting away even the similarly-priced Asus GeForce GT 740 OC. As with the 740, the RAM is of the GDDR5 variety, so it has the technology to make the most of some enhanced clock speeds. In fact, the R7 250X doesn’t match the soaring clocks of the 740 OC, its memory speed topping out at 1125MHz – some 125MHz down on the 740 OC’s. Take into account the quadrupling capabilities of GDDR5, and the 250X has an effective rate of 4.5GHz – half a gigahertz down on the 740 OC’s 5GHz. That results in the R7 250X having a slightly inferior memory bandwidth of 72GB/sec – eight down on the 80GB/sec of the 740. (Also see:  How to upgrade your PC’s graphics card.)

Both the 740 OC and R7 250X have the same 128bit bus, but nowadays you’ll have to push your bank to considerably higher heights if you want more than 128bit – none of the sub-£100 cards can better that. Both products are also landed with just 1GB of memory, which might concern some users. The extent to which you’d make use of the extra 1GB at this level of gaming is highly arguable. However, if there’s one aspect of these cards we’d like to hike if possible, it’s the amount of RAM. (Also see:  What’s the best budget graphics card 2024.)

These £65 cards can also deliver more textures. The Sapphire Radeon R7 250X lost out to the 740 on memory clocks, and it also trails when it comes to core clocks – offering 950MHz in reply to the 740’s healthy 1033MHz. But here, at least, the Radeon R7 250X can fight back. That’s because it comes with 40 texture units rather than the 32 of the 740. The superior quantity of texture units means that the 250X overtakes its rival when it comes to the overall texture fill rate – scoring 38GT/sec against the 740 OC’s 33.1GT/sec – despite the 740 having a better clock rate. The £45 models, in contrast, produce paltry figures between 11.2GT/sec and 15.6GT/sec – much of this difference can be attributed to the £45 cards having far fewer texture units.

The 250X strikes another victory on stream processors, its 640 far outnumbering the 384 of the GT 740 OC. We expect Radeon GPUs to have more stream processors, and that doesn’t always translate into superior performance. However, it’s worth bearing in mind. The two cards are rather more equal in terms of ports and connectors, although the 250X’s DisplayPort outlet gives it more versatility. The 250X does put out considerably more power, offering a TDP of 95 watts against the GeForce GT 740 OC’s 60 watts. The actual difference between the two was around 20 watts, but if power output is a concern, the 740 will be a slightly better choice. (Also see:  What’s the best graphics card 2024.)

Specs Sapphire Radeon R7 250X: Specs

AMD Radeon R7 250X

1GB GDDR5 RAM

28nm manufacturing process

950MHz core clock

1125MHz memory clock

4500MHz DDR effective

128-bit memory bus

72GB/s memory bandwidth

640 stream processors

40 texture units

16 ROPs

38GT/s texture fillrate

1x DVI

1x HDMI

1x DP

1x 6-pin power connector required

95W TDP

2-year warranty

Moto G Pro Review: Galaxy Note On A Budget?

Pros

Surprisingly good camera

Great battery longevity

Unrivalled as a stylus-toting mid-ranger

Cons

Confusing branding

Generic design

Stylus lacks features

Our Verdict

An unassuming phone, for the most part, the Moto G Pro is accented by the addition of an integrated stylus that could do more. Beyond that, it’s classic mid-range Motorola – a well-rounded package with a clean user experience and great battery life.

Best Prices Today: Motorola Moto G Pro

Retailer

Price

$279.99

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The stylus used to be one of the defining features of ‘smart devices’, back in the age of the PalmPilot and its reign more or less continued until Steve Jobs famously berated the peripheral while introducing the touch-driven original iPhone in 2007 – changing attitudes towards smartphone interaction, forever.

Of course, since then Apple’s – and the wider mobile industry’s – opinion of the stylus has softened, to the point that it’s been able to enjoy something of a renaissance.

While today’s stylus-toting stars are namely Samsung’s Galaxy Note range and the pairing of iPad and Apple Pencil, there’s definitely room for more players in the space, especially at more affordable climbs; a region that Motorola is exploring with the Moto G Pro.

What’s meant by ‘Pro’?

Before we look at the hardware, there’s something to be said for that name – it’s confusing. Namely, because there’s nothing particularly ‘pro’ about this phone’s spec sheet compared to other 2023 Moto G-series phones, so we’re assuming that the ‘Pro’ here stands for ‘productive’ or ‘productivity’, rather than ‘professional’.

The G Pro’s US counterpart is actually called the Moto G Stylus – a far more apt title that didn’t stick when the phone travelled across the Atlantic, for reasons unclear. Mixed-up monikers aside though, what does the Moto G Pro actually bring to the table?

Same face, new party trick

While there’s something to be said for creating a consistent brand aesthetic, we’d wager that you’d have trouble telling most of Motorola’s Moto G8 and 2023 Moto G devices apart.

Place the Moto G Pro alongside the Moto G8 and the G8 Power, and there’s little beside from back colour to easily identify which phone is which. All feature 6.4in displays with a hole-punch front-facing camera in the top left and all employ a centrally-positioned rear fingerprint sensor with the Motorola ‘M’ logo sat within it, alongside a four-piece camera setup accented by a single larger sensor at the top.

The stylus

The G Pro comes with one obvious distinction, however – a stylus that slides neatly into the right corner of its frame (favouring right-handed users over lefties). The exposed end – that marries up with the geometry of the G Pro’s bodywork when docked – is colour-matched to its attractive Mystic Indigo finish (a pearlescent deep blue that fades to near black against the light), while the rest of the stylus itself is actually made of metal.

This came as a pleasing surprise considering both the Apple Pencil(s) and Samsung’s S Pen are predominantly plastic – there’s an obvious reason for this, though. Unlike these other styli, the G Pro’s offering doesn’t contain any internalised components. On the downside, this means no additional smart features – like air gestures, tilt or pressure control, or replaceable nibs – on the upside, it makes for a more resilient writing tool, that won’t flex under-finger.

Its oval cross-section sits nicely in the hand and while you’re unlikely to spend hours using it in a single sitting, it feels comfortable to use for extended periods, despite its size.

The rest of the phone

The G Pro comes with a case pre-fitted in-box and generally, there’s little reason to remove it (it’s a clear, flexible TPU offering) unless you hate the look, already have another case in mind or simply prefer your phones naked.

Case off, however, the phone sports pleasantly-thin bezels around its display (especially considering its price), a nicely-rounded plastic back for comfort, and a sturdy frame – albeit with some hard edges that aren’t quite as nice to handle.

A centrally-mounted fingerprint sensor is perfect for ambidextrous use, although it can be a little picky about getting a firm read on your print before unlocking.

Complex sound, simple display

Next to the USB-C port at its base, the G Pro also totes a 3.5mm headphone jack, which will likely appeal to those who aren’t yet ready to make the jump to wireless headphones.

Related: Best headphones 2023

Unlike older affordable offerings, the G Pro doesn’t require wired headphones in order for its integrated FM radio to function (although it helps) and as an extension of Motorola’s software offerings, you’ll find Moto Audio in the apps drawer.

This gives you Dolby-tuned audio profiles, suited to scenarios like ‘Film’, ‘Music’ and ‘Game’ that you can flip between, depending on the context.

It works across the phone’s own loudspeakers, remotely-connected speakers and headphones; granting you an optimised audio profile with a tap or the option to customise sound with an impressive level of granularity. There’s also a ‘Smart’ option if you’d rather not fuss with EQ settings at all.

It’s worth noting that the phone packs a pair of stereo loudspeakers that, although not earth-shattering (they deal out some pretty flat sound that shouldn’t really be pushed too hard during media playback) are a nice inclusion on such an affordable device.

As for the display, the 6.4in Full HD+ IPS LCD offers a pleasant amount of real estate on which to work when using the stylus, pushing out pleasing colours and solid overall brightness. It appears a little on the cool side by default, though, which can only readily be rectified by using the Night Light feature (intended to reduce eye strain during evening/low-light viewing) as a stand-in for proper colour temperature controls.

Contrast and brightness also suffer the moment the screen is viewed off-angle – seldom an issue when using the phone normally but a potential problem when you’ve set the G Pro down on a table to write notes with the stylus or, more importantly, attempt a bit of illustration.

A stylus experience that could have been more

The Moto G Pro is an Android One-based device, meaning it sports Motorola’s already-excellent near-stock take on Android 10 but also comes with the guarantee of prompt app, software and security updates direct from Google, without question.

Moto Audio is just one aspect of Motorola’s various software tweaks and additions; none of which make the user experience feel cluttered. You’ll find a myriad of handy gestures – called Moto Actions – to access things like the camera or torch instantly (all of which work reliably), as well as more nuanced experiences.

Moto Display’s adaptive on-screen media controls are always appreciated and additions like Moto Gametime offer control over notifications and companion apps that gamers might find useful while in-game, such as Discord. Then there are the stylus-specific additions, which could be described as ‘barebones’.

Motorola gets the fundamentals right, with quick access to the Moto Notes app by pulling the stylus to jot something down when the phone is locked, alongside a customisable shortcuts menu with room for up to four quick-access actions and/or apps.

One subtle alteration to Gboard – Google’s native Android keyboard – is that instead of featuring a button that takes you straight to your emojis, on the G Pro it defaults to a handwriting input field for use with the stylus. Better yet, handwriting recognition isn’t terrible – although not the preferred way to input text on a smartphone in 2023.

I just wish that Motorola had done more with the stylus to really make its inclusion worthwhile; additions that could have been powered by existing software. One of the fundamentals being handwriting-to-text, which would have added far more power to the G Pro’s note-taking capabilities.

Shape detection – to create recognisable forms from misshapen squiggles – would have been great for diagrams and illustration, and Google-powered translation using the stylus as a means to highlight foreign-language text, all seem like features that could have been implemented without the G Pro’s development team having to jump through too many hoops.

There’s a chance that Motorola could append new capabilities such as these to the software via future updates but considering the G Pro’s standing in the lineup, this seems unlikely.

Respectable longevity

Considering the pricing of the Moto G Pro, you need to temper your expectations with regards to the stylus’ performance. Latency is wholly useable but you’ll see and feel a notable delay between what you write or draw and its appearance on-screen, especially when moving the stylus quickly – an Apple Pencil this is not.

As for the wider phone experience, Motorola has ensured that the G Pro feels perfectly comfortable in day-to-day use. It isn’t going to multitask with lightning-fast responsiveness and demanding experiences like the camera app take a fraction longer to load than they would on something beefier, like the Motorola Edge, but such speed is above the G Pro’s price tag and it’s not a sluggish phone, considering its price.

Humble hardware usually results in respectable longevity and the G Pro is a great performer in this regard – clocking in just over 11 hours in our PCMark battery benchmark. It also supports 15W fast charging, which takes around two hours to fully replenish the phone’s 4000mAh cell – not exactly blistering but, like the phone’s general performance, comfortably liveable.

Surprising snapper

I was surprised by the abilities of the G Pro’s primary 48Mp sensor. Dynamic range is above what I’d expect for a phone at this price point and in natural light, both colours and quality bokeh can be found in most shots.

It’s interesting comparing the main sensor’s macro capabilities with the phone’s dedicated 2Mp macro sensor.

You can get much closer to your subject with the latter, which has value, but the image processing and degradation in quality, if you dare to crop in even a millimetre, is too severe for my liking. Capture a shot using the main snapper from further back and zoom in afterwards and you’ll likely get a better photo.

As for the 16Mp ultrawide sensor, it’s strange that there’s no dedicated way to switch to it when shooting stills but the ability to shoot decent wide-angle 1080p video while holding the phone in-portrait is a feature I wish more phones had.

Price & availability

The Moto G Pro costs £289.99 making it the second-most expensive member of the Moto G/G8 family right now after the Moto G 5G Plus. Based on its spec sheet it sits neatly between the Moto G8 and Moto G8 Plus.

It’s available to purchase from Motorola’s official website, as well as approved online retailers like Amazon and in the UK specifically, the likes of John Lewis too.

Verdict

For the price, the Moto G Pro is a well-rounded, affordable mid-range device; with a pleasant design, functional everyday performance and a considered user experience. Motorola could have done more with the stylus but it meets the basic needs of anyone after what is to be considered a niche feature.

In a strange sense, the Moto G Pro is effectively unrivalled; the most obvious alternatives taking the form of the newly-launched Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra – with their signature S Pen, but these are both flagship phones with price tags three-to-four times larger than the one attached to the Pro.

If you decide you don’t actually care enough about the stylus, after all, the aforementioned members of the Moto G8 family, as well as offerings like the Realme 6 Pro, will grant you a tad more bang for your buck.

Related stories for further reading Specs Motorola Moto G Pro: Specs

6.4in ‘Max Vision’ Full HD+ IPS LCD w/ 19.17:9 aspect ratio

Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC

4GB RAM

128GB storage expandable via microSD up to 512GB

Cameras: 48Mp wide, 16Mp ultra wide, 2Mp macro Front camera: 16Mp (hole-punch)

4000mAh battery

15W TurboPower fast charging

Android 10 (Android One)

Dual stereo speakers

Rear fingerprint sensor

Stylus

158.55×75.8×9.2 mm

192 grams

6000 series aluminium frame

USB-C

3.5mm headphone jack

Water-repellent design

Bluetooth 5.0

NFC

Colours: Mystic Indigo

Optoma Nuforce Be Live2 Review: Budget Earbuds With Premium Audio

Optoma NuForce BE Live2 Review: Budget earbuds with premium audio

Optoma has launched a new pair of wireless earbuds, an inexpensive model featuring a premium design and the promise of high-quality audio. As with the company’s previous BE2 earbuds, the new BE Live2 cost $49 USD, packing a more attractive design coupled with support for AAC audio, ultra-long battery life, and more.READ: Optoma NuForce BE2 Earbuds Review

The new NuForce BE Live2 features highly polished, oval-shaped ear pieces connected to a flat cable with a clasps and in-line remote control. The control unit includes a micro USB port for charging; when fully charged, the earbuds provide around 10 hours of run time per charge.

As has become common with wireless earbuds of all varieties, the BE Live2 have magnets in the ear pieces that enable the two components to snap together when not in use. This would be difficult due to the rounded, polished design, so Optoma elected to put an indentation on the end of one ear piece; the opposite ear piece’s rounded end nestles nicely within the indentation, preventing the two components from sliding apart.

The earbuds are controlled as any standard pair of wireless headphones: pressing and holding the power button puts the model into pairing mode, at which point they can be connected to a smartphone or other Bluetooth audio source.

In future instances, the model automatically pairs with the same device when the earbuds are powered on. Users have in-line audio control, the ability to play and pause audio, and support for summoning a personal assistant like Google Assistant and Siri.

This model is made from aluminum and polycarbonate; the cable is reinforced with Kevlar. Optoma designed the BE Live2 to be compatible with an active lifestyle, which means an IPX5 water- and sweat-resistance rating.

Optoma claims its design offers better noise isolation and stability versus other models. Though ambient noises are only muffled when audio isn’t playing, they are all but entirely eliminated once any level of audio is played.

Stability is excellent due to each ear piece’s slight inward angle. It sometimes takes a few tries to situation the ear pieces comfortably within the ear canal, but the fit remains very solid afterward, including during moments of frequent movement, such as while on an elliptical machine.

Optoma is targeting audiophiles and other discerning listeners with the new BE Live2. The company packed 6mm drivers into the newest model and paired them with “non-fatiguing” audio tuning. There is also support for AAC audio.

When compared to other wireless earbuds in the same price range, the NuForce BE Live2’s audio quality is indeed impressive. The company didn’t fall into the trap of excessive bass as a cover for lackluster quality; spoken content, such as podcasts, are offered with very balanced, crisp audio. There’s very little distortion during high volume levels.

The earbuds’ build quality and audio quality are both excellent — and that’s regardless of the model’s relatively inexpensive price. There are no apparent compromises in construction or audio, the end result being earbuds that sound and feel like a premium product.

Optoma is offering the BE Live2 through its website now for $49 USD.

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