OnePlus 3 Review

After more than 3.5 years of using my HTC One X, I finally bought a new phone — the OnePlus 3!

Why did I choose this phone?

I’ve been looking to buy a phone for more than a year and all the phones that I came across had one issue or the other. I wanted a phablet with the latest Android OS that didn’t cost a ton of money. This criteria of mine eliminated most of the phones in the market and last year’s OnePlus 2 came out with the dreaded Snapdragon 810 processor which suffered from heating issues. In fact, Snapdragon 615, 617, 808, 810 — all these processors suffered from overheating issues and so I had a hard time choosing a phone without any of these processors. So when I saw this phone being announced on June 14th in India, I knew that this was the one and ordered it the very next day. Amazon delivered this beauty as early as 17th.

Key Specifications:

Display: 5.5-inch Samsung-made 1080p AMOLED display with a PPI of 401

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (details given at the end of the review)

Primary memory: 6 GB!

Internal memory: 64 GB

OS: Android Marshmallow

Camera: 16 MP rear camera and 8 MP front camera (both from the house of Sony)

Battery: 3000 mah

First things first, this phone looks stunning! The full metal body and the build quality is as good as those premium phones made by HTC, Apple, and Samsung. I mean, this phone costs only 28,000 Rupees, but the build quality is that of an iPhone! The 5.5 inch 1080p AMOLED display looks great and I really have to appreciate OnePlus for not falling for the quad HD trap. Frankly, I can see no difference between quad HD and full HD displays. Quad HD screens are more taxing on the processor and it consumes more battery, and so naturally one might think that OnePlus 3 with its full HD display has a great battery life. It’s not great, but just good. This is something that I really don’t understand. Both this phone and the 5.7 inch Samsung Galaxy Note 5 have the same 3000 mah battery, but still, the battery life of the Note 5 is better than the OP3 in spite of having a QHD! What is OnePlus doing wrong? Or should I ask what kind of optimization does Samsung do? Both the Exynos 7420 processor, in the Note 5, and the OP3’s Snapdragon 820 processors are manufactured with 14 nm process, which means, their power consumption should be more or less the same. Even if the power consumption is different, it shouldn’t be a big difference. Maybe, if I root the OP3 and underclock the processor, will I get a better battery life? I’ll think about this when I see better custom ROMS out there. To be more concrete on the battery life, my SOT (screen on time) regularly crosses 4.5 hours (I don’t game) which is good; the phone solidly lasts more than 24 hours.  I am really enjoying the quick charging time of the “Dash charger” that comes bundled with the phone.

Audio: Call quality is crisp, clear and very audible. The volume of the speaker at the bottom is loud and good. To me, obviously, this phone is a fantastic upgrade over the HTC One X in every single way. Except one thing. Just one thing. The HTC One X, which came out four years ago, still beats the OP3 in one single area and that is the audio quality! Hearing music from the headphones is not as good as it is from the One X. I hear that OnePlus is prepping an update to fix this. It’s nothing serious, the audio is good, but I am so used to the superior audio quality of HTC phones. This makes me wonder how great the audio quality of the current generation HTC phones must be.

Known issues:

  1. RAM management: Much has been said about this and I didn’t feel this much on my day-to-day usage. I am not a heavy multitasker and I’ve seen a couple of reloads (mostly Facebook) now and then. But I am starting to suspect that this is a Facebook issue as I have not seen much reloads in the other apps that I’ve used. As I said, I am not a heavy multitasker and so the RAM management issue is not a big issue to me. The five or six apps that I use stays in memory without any problem. If you’re coming from a phone that has 3 or 4 GB of RAM, don’t expect a huge difference in performance. Having said that, the performance of the OP3 is extremely good. Applications open up quickly upon touch and the touch screen is silky smooth. If you’re coming from a phone that was powered by the Snapdragon 810 with 3 or 4 GB or RAM, the difference in performance would be negligible.
  2. The 5.5-inch display has been called “worst” by the people at Anandtech.com. This is exaggeration of the highest order. Not a single reviewer said this prior to Anandtech’s review and now a few reviewers are saying the same after reading about this. Anandtech’s review came out on June 20th. When you google for OP3 reviews look at the difference between the reviews that were published before and after June 20. That tells us a lot, doesn’t it? The display is good, but not as colourful and vibrant as Samsung’s Super AMOLED panels; but then, no other display is as good as Samsung’s. Gsmarena, which published its review on June 24th,  rightly said the following about the display criticism: “you really have to be nitpicking to go so far as to criticise it.”

Anyway, OnePlus’ CEO was fed up of the RAM and display criticisms (after explaining that these two were conscious decisions made by the company as most users will not find any difference) and promised an update to fix these issues. “What is the purpose of  6 GB RAM if the phone doesn’t use it all?” Some angry users have asked and it is a valid question. The answer lies in the upcoming update.

Camera: Both the 8 MP front and the 16 MP back cameras are really good. Of course, the Galaxy S7 is still the king of cameras this year, but the OP3’s camera comes a little closer to the crown. S7 beats OP3 when it comes to low-light photography and macro shots; I noticed that the images lose a little bit of detail in macro shots. But for Rs. 28,000, the camera you get is more than worth the money. A similarly priced Samsung or HTC phone usually comes with a slow, subpar camera module. Having said that, I still haven’t explored the camera completely and will be testing it more. The good news is, the upcoming software update is supposed to improve the camera quality even further!

A note on the processor: The Qualcomm-made quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor has a custom modification — it is actually a dual-dual-core processor! It follows the Big.little architecture that Samsung introduced but employs two dual-core CPUs instead of two quad cores. The most powerful dual cores are clocked at 2.15 GHz and the less powerful cores are clocked at 1.6 GHz. More cores doesn’t mean more power, it is the quality that is important and the 820 performs! No overheating here.

For the price I paid, I am amazed how fast and fluid this phone is. Apps snap open with just a light touch and the whole interface is buttery smooth. The build quality is top-notch and the phone is near-perfect. Thank you OnePlus, for making such a great phone at such a low cost!

OP3, oneplus 3

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Why Brexit is a good thing

The Internet, as usual, has reacted in its exaggerated ways, or should I say, the Brexit “broke” the Internet. But let me assure you, all is going to be well. The economy will stabilize and Britain will find its way. This is Great Britain we are talking about. What goes down will come up, that is the way of the world, isn’t it?

European Union. Some say, like the Brexit supporters, that the idea of the Union is outdated and it is doomed to fail. The rest of the world think otherwise. Let me get outside all of this and think for a moment. A union. A union in which countries come together, work towards a common goal, help each other and solve problems in the most democratic way — this sounds good, doesn’t it? I did a quick google and found the following to be the objectives of the European Union:

  • an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers ;
  • an internal market where competition is free and undistorted;
  • sustainable development, based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment;
  • the promotion of scientific and technological advance;
  • the combating of social exclusion and discrimination, and the promotion of social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child;
  • the promotion of economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States.
  • peace;
  • security;
  • sustainable development of the Earth;
  • solidarity and mutual respect among peoples;
  • free and fair trade;
  • eradication of poverty;
  • protection of human rights (in particular the rights of the child);
  • development of international law (respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter).

As you can understand, the very idea of countries coming together to sort things out in a peaceful manner, and work towards growth and all of the above is certainly good. But alas, the European Union is not as good as it sounds! I hope it crumbles and falls apart. Why in the wide world would I have such a strong opinion? Read on.

The European Union is under the malign influence of the USA. America, when it wants to impose its will on a country, when it wants to sanction a country, it unleashes the EU as its chief attack dog. Not everyone in the Union is happy about this; most oblige as they have a lot to profit from the US, and some do it very grudgingly — they have no other choice. The world does not need this kind of an attack dog. It must go. Britain has always been the leader of this pack — coercing and influencing the rest of the pack to its master’s will. But this attack-dog-in-chief has shown its master that it has a mind of its own (much to the annoyance of the British elites and corrupt politicians) and I am very, very happy about it. The USA is a such a great country with such great people, but the country’s politicians are such a despicable lot. Unless a drastic change happens in US politics, things like Brexit should continue.

Let the games begin.

Oh, I almost forgot. The Scots. Those spineless people don’t deserve independence. You’ve had your chance and you gave it up for what?

The Mystery of the Hidden House

Ah, my Enid Blyton! How much have I missed you! After about three or four years, I’ve read an Enid Blyton book! For more than a week I was ill and bedridden and during the last few days of my recuperation I grew restless and pulled out an EB book from my bookshelf — The Mystery of the Hidden House, a Five Find-Outer’s Mystery! During the first few chapters, the plot moved at a snail pace, as is the case in many EB books, and I said to myself, ‘I used to enjoy all this, why is this appearing to be slow now?’ For a few frightful moments, I was afraid that I had grown out of Enid Blyton books. But thankfully towards the end, Enid came back strongly and showed me that she was still in charge! I guess I was a bit rusty from not reading her books in a long time. In fact, I haven’t read much fiction these past few years. The first time I read this book was about nine years ago. How time flies!

The Mystery of the Hidden House is one of the best of the 15 books in this series. This is the sixth book and EB introduces a major new character — Ern Goon! This is such a well-written, smashing book and rereading it after nine years reminded me how much I had enjoyed it when I first read it. In Chapter 14, page 96 (Mammoth publication), I found this Blyton gem and chuckled at it 🙂

‘Was there a boy?’ asked Bets. ‘A boy who would be a man now?’

Mrs. Hilton felt surprised at these last questions. ‘Why all this sudden interest in the Hollands?’ she asked. ‘What are you up to? You’re usually up to something when you begin this sort of thing.’

Pip sighed. Mothers were much too sharp. They were like dogs. Buster always sensed when anything was out of the ordinary, and so did mothers. Mothers and dogs both had a kind of second sight that made them see into people’s minds and know when anything unusual was going on.

Leave it to Blyton to compare mothers with dogs!

The following is a fantastic dialog delivered by Fatty to Ern and it had an impact on me when I first read it nine years ago. I read it and reread it multiple times.

The setting: Fatty, Larry, and Pip go in search of Ern who has been kidnapped and is a prisoner in the hideout of a group of car thieves. Fatty rightly deduces this and sneaks in with the others and finds Ern. At this moment, Fatty realizes that a missing-Ern would alert the thieves and he decides to leave him behind so that he could alert the police first, who could then arrest these criminals and rescue Ern. But Ern is not so brave to stay behind. He is already mentally exhausted and scared and just wants to escape.

Chapter 15, page 154.

‘I can’t do that,’ said Ern, almost crying. ‘You don’t know what it’s like, to be a prisoner like this and not know what’s going to happen to you. I can’t even think of any portry.

‘Aren’t you brave enough to do this one thing?’ said Fatty, sadly. ‘I did want to think well of you, Ern.’

Ern stared at Fatty, who looked back at him solemnly.

‘All right,’ said Ern. ‘I’ll do it, see! I’ll do it for you, Fatty, because you’re a wonder, you are! But I don’t feel brave about it. I feel all of a tremble.’

‘When you feel afraid to do a thing and yet do it, that’s real bravery,’ said Fatty. ‘You’re a hero, Ern!’

Fatty, the leader, comes to the fore and with just his words gives Ern the encouragement he needed to stay behind. And, I didn’t misspell poetry, ‘portry’ is how Ern pronounces the word.

Mr. Goon’s misadventures are a riot to read and I often felt sorry for him. Sometimes Fatty goes a little too far.

Enid Blyton is pure magic. I’ve previously written about how much I love her. She passed away in 1968 and I still feel bad that she is not with us. How I wish I could meet her.

I’ve already started rereading The Mystery of the Secret Room! Here I come, Fatty and gang!

Twelve men in a room

Twelve men in a room,
Twelve men in a room
We looked at each other,
Puzzled and lost.

Twelve men in a room,
Twelve men in a room
Our minds expanded,
And horizons exploded.

Twelve men in a room,
Twelve men in a room
It was a moment of change,
As we stood there evolving.

Twelve men in a room,
Twelve men in a room
I can read your mind,
Can you read mine?

– dexternepo

Vladimir Putin — A Master Strategist

As most of the Western media churns out lie after lie about America’s intentions in the middle-east and about Russia and Vladimir Putin, occasionally, a few truths do come out. Daily Mail has been anti-Russia for a long time now, but the following assessment by John R. Bradley was fantastic and explains the brilliance of the master tactician Vladimir Putin.

As a craven West caves in to Putin, this could be the biggest shift in power since Suez, writes JOHN R. BRADLEY

The White House was caught off-guard by Russia’s shock announcement that it was declaring victory on its own terms in Syria. Remarkably, President Barack Obama, along with his Nato allies, only learned of this dramatic development in what is the world’s most strategically important war zone from an impromptu television appearance by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Perhaps we should not be surprised — both by Obama’s weakness and Putin’s fox-like guile. After all, when Putin first ordered his country’s vast military arsenal into combat in Syria five months ago, Western leaders (and their much-vaunted, network of intelligence agencies) were likewise caught napping.

There is, though, far more at stake here than the reputation of a soporific, lame-duck U.S. President as he staggers through his final months in office. For it is now clear that during those tumultuous five months, the Kremlin ran rings around other world leaders, consolidating its power and influence not only in Syria, but throughout the wider Middle East.

And it pulled off its Syria gambit on the back of its brazen military adventurism in Ukraine — something the international community was also unable, or unwilling, to confront in any meaningful way.
In light of Russia’s withdrawal from Syria, the contrast between decisive Putin and pusillanimous Nato leaders is starker than ever. The latter have merely repeated the tired mantra that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad must step down. They also watched as the biggest refugee crisis since World War II — brought on in no small part by the Syrian war — ironically created an unprecedented crisis of confidence among their own populations in the ability of their leaders to govern.

Especially sobering is that, by any objective measure, Putin’s bold but subtly worded claim that his armed forces have achieved ‘general completion’ of their strategic goals in Syria is a pretty accurate assessment of what has happened. Because at this stage, it seems Putin has managed to pull off his immediate strategic aim: to turn the tide of the civil war in favour of Bashar al-Assad and his brutal but secular regime, and thus guarantee the survival of the only steadfast Russian ally in the Arab world. For Russia has succeeded in helping Syria’s armed forces, who were on the brink of defeat six months ago, to almost see off the so-called moderate Syrian rebels backed by the West and its allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

According to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, the short campaign managed to cut the supply of resources to these anti-Assad groups and kill more than 2,000 of them.
Syrian troops, meanwhile, liberated more than 400 settlements and more than 6,200 miles of territory, with the support of more than 9,000 sorties conducted by the Russian Air Force.
Russian claims of a limited victory are more credible than the vacuous and hubristic ‘Mission Accomplished’ declarations by our own leaders following the previous overthrow of the secular leaders of Iraq and Libya. Striking, too, is the contrast with our criminal lack of planning for a post-regime reality in those countries, which allowed for the terrifying emergence of Islamist terror outfits and which left our diplomatic standing in the region at a lower point than at any time in living memory.

Of course, our own policy towards Syria, too, looks equally shambolic. The thousands of Russian sorties against Islamic State strongholds over the past few months — which are to continue — brought into humiliating relief Nato’s relatively timid efforts in the country. While Putin’s forces were moving in for the kill against Assad’s enemies, our leaders were pathetically doctoring intelligence briefings in order to ‘sex-up’ our limited military successes while stubbornly sticking to a hare-brained idea of training an entirely new rebel army to topple the Assad regime and defeat the Islamic State. At a cost of billions of dollars, it predictably came to nothing. In contrast, Putin’s no-nonsense approach to Isis has not only weakened the group inside Syria but has also sent a clear message to other Islamic terror groups on Russia’s borders.

Of course, the fact that Russia’s withdrawal was timed to coincide with the new round of peace talks in Geneva is hardly coincidental. The wily Putin is able to cultivate the story of his military ‘success’ in Syria while promoting his own image as an international peacemaker. And in this way, Putin has not only demonstrated that the Russian military is to be reckoned with, but that it also has an indispensable role in determining the future of Syria and other world trouble-spots.

For, even if peace negotiations fail or if the Islamist rebels enjoy a resurgence, Russia has promised to return to the battlefield if necessary. Indeed, Syria’s Hmeimim airbase in Latakia and its Mediterranean port at Tartus will be protected by Russian warships and S-400 missile defence systems — on Europe’s doorstep. Western leaders, via Nato and their undemocratic Gulf allies, have been forced to soften their demands for Assad’s departure.

The result is that the thuggish Putin is viewed in parts of the world as someone who not only manifests diplomatic skills, but has the guts to confront the jihadist scourge come what may: a leader — albeit an autocratic one — who doesn’t show weakness under pressure. This impression has been reinforced by the web of alliances Putin has cleverly forged with other countries during the Syria campaign, further pushing Western leaders to the sidelines as Russia emerges as the new, power broker in the region. Perhaps most worryingly, he has been allowed to do this by Obama’s misguided decision to lift sanctions against Iran (a steadfast ally of Russia and Syria’s President Assad) shortly after Putin entered the Syrian war. There is another area where Putin has caught Western leaders napping. With the Assad regime propped up by the Kremlin and internal terrorist enemies seriously diminished, it seems that Russia’s long-held goal of building a lucrative and politically valuable gas pipeline through Syria to Europe looks like it will be achieved.

In addition, there are the billions of dollars to be made by the Kremlin from reconstructing Syria itself, a massive project that Assad will have little choice but to hand to Russian companies since the Damascus government owes the Kremlin an estimated $100 billion in outstanding debts. Meanwhile, Egypt, the most populous Arab country, has already thrown itself at Russia’s feet, signing arms deals worth billions of dollars and contracting a Russian company to build its first nuclear plant in the coastal city of Alexandria. Putin has even managed to forge diplomatic and military ties with the region’s two arch-enemies: Israel and Hezbollah.  Russia has been fighting alongside Hezbollah in Syria while co-ordinating with the Israeli air force — even, astonishingly, when it was attacking Hezbollah inside Syria.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that what Putin has achieved by helping the survival of Assad would represent the biggest shift in geopolitical influence in the Middle East since the 1956 Suez Crisis. For Assad would be the first Arab leader to survive Western attempts at regime change since Egyptian strongman Gamal Abdul Nasser.
Then, a failed attempt by Britain, France and Israel to seize Egypt’s Suez region — and its vital canal — marked the moment our commanding influence in the world came to an end, and pushed Egypt into the arms of the Soviet Union.
The Syria debacle may come to be seen as the moment the West conceded hegemony in the region to Russia.
It’s clear that in our post-nuclear weapon age, Putin understands that brash and unapologetic deployment of conventional forces is what gives countries military and economic dominance.

— JOHN R. BRADLEY (author of four books on the Middle East).

The original article can be found in this link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3494373/As-craven-West-caves-Putin-biggest-shift-power-Suez-writes-JOHN-R-BRADLEY.html