OnePlus 6: Finally a notch phone that doesn’t look terrible.

OnePlus has always liked to call their phones “flagship killers”. There is no clear definition of what a flagship killer is, but to my understanding, a flagship killer must be: a) a phone that’ll make you think how crazy you are to cast a lot of money to buy a flagship, b) most importantly, NOT a flagship. Let’s get to the not-flagship part first.

The thing you’ll notice right away is that the promotion line changed from “Never Settle” to “The Speed You Need”.

That’s because this time, OnePlus settled, hard.

It settles with basic water-resistance. It is not water-proof, nor is it certified with an IP rating. I guess OnePlus doesn’t want to make any promises because that quickly piles up the service requests, or hell, maybe OnePlus doesn’t dare to make promises because the water-resistance ability varies from unit to unit. The thing about not having an IP rating is that I wouldn’t know if it’s safe to use the phone in a bathtub. I know I probably can safely use the phone wet-handed for the most part, but it’s the uncertainty of to what extend can I push it that makes me feel insecure.

Second, It does not have wireless charging. This was one of the grudges I had with the OnePlus 5T, but since that phone has a metal body, I wasn’t emphasizing it. The 6 moved to a glass back design which could be used to enable wireless charging, but for some reason this feature is still lacking. It is possible that OnePlus deems wireless charging not a popular need, but then again this is what separates a flagship from a budget phone: a flagship wouldn’t care if it’s worth it to have a feature, especially when it is cool.

Third, OnePlus 6 still doesn’t have stereo speakers. Technically every smartphone these days have two components that make sound: the loud speaker and the earpiece. But it’s up to the manufacture to decide whether the earpiece should sound as good as the loud speaker to form a stereo sound. We are seeing more flagships moving to a stereo speaker system, some of the even come packed with Dolby Atmos. But OnePlus settles with just one speaker, which sits in a position that’s easily blocked by the palm when playing PUBG mobile.

And the OnePlus doesn’t have an HDR display, which isn’t necessary, but coincidentally come packed with nearly every flagship phone. The buzzing also feels lazy and sluggish, falling short of what’s on the Pixel, let alone the iPhone’s Taptic Engine.

The thing that MAKES a flagship is the pursuit of high-end technology. And that’s why the OnePlus 6 is not a flagship.

The price has also been creeping up, from $299 of the OnePlus One straight up to the $529 of the OnePlus 6. If you look back a little, the first iPhone cost about $499. Granted the OnePlus 6 is in every way better than the original iPhone, but at that time the iPhone is a revolutionary device that changed how we utilize mobile internet. This is a statement I cannot make with the OnePlus 6.

Okay, now let’s forget about the “not flagship” part, and focus on the phone itself, and see if it’s worth buying.

I’m sure you already know what the OnePlus 6 looks like. Yes it’s got a glass back that is more prone to fingerprints. Yes it’s got a notch display, and yes you can hide it. But the best part about this design is that it feels symmetrical. Traditionally a notch phone either has a forehead that is too big (the iPhone X) or a chin that is impossible to ignore (Huawei P20 line). Unlike the iPhone, OnePlus didn’t try to make the four borders equally thick, instead, it built on a Samsung-like design while removing the useless side curves and stretching the display vertically, reducing the size of the forehead and the chin bar. The subtle curvature on the top and bottom of the body makes the phone feel seamless.

OnePlus didn’t even try to imitate the iPhone this time, and the result is something unique. The chrome of the phone isn’t as shiny as that on the iPhone, and the camera layout, although vertically aligned, is nothing like the ugly protrusion of the iPhone. OnePlus even went out and equipped the back glass with matte finish, which might feel even more slippery than a glossy finish, but is quite more recognizable than normal iPhone rip-offs.

Overall, the design of the OnePlus 6 is able to set it apart in this everybody-copying-apple age. And it is a notch phone that finally doesn’t look terrible.

The camera department is where OnePlus falls short traditionally, and this time it’s no difference. While the camera is able to automatically enable HDR in bright scenes to capture wider dynamic range, in low light, it is still prone to a lot of noise. Overall this is still a mid range camera, not up to the standards of a Pixel or a Galaxy.

One part the OnePlus does nail is the screen. It doesn’t support HDR, but it is very bright (460nits) and very accurate (iPhone level accurate) when you set the color mode to sRGB. If you’re a hard-core reader, you can also enable the Reading Mode which turns the screen into basically a kindle. Beware, however, that you don’t do extended reading sessions in lower brightness because all AMOLED displays use PWM to adjust the brightness, which causes the screen to flicker that may hurt your eyes.

So, the OnePlus 6, is it a good buy?

Yeah. Still.

Although $529 is not cheap, you’d be surprise to find it is very competitive in this price range. The smartphones are getting more expensive, the iPhone and the Galaxy Note line are ludicrously expensive at a thousand bucks. Imagine what you can do with that $471 you’d be saving if you chose to buy a mid-range “flagship killer”, and have 80% of the experience.

OnePlus 5T: You call this a flagship?

Its predecessor, the OnePlus 5 is a phone I loved the dearest. It was the fastest Android phone I’ve ever used, pretty much on par with a Google Pixel. It does come with a few flaws, unfortunately, one of which being the screen. Somehow OnePlus decided they should install the screen upside down, causing the content to stretch and squish when moving. This “jelly” effect is very visible during the day to day use and is kind of annoying. So when I heard that they launched a new phone, the OnePlus 5T, with the screen attached the right way to eliminate the jelly effect, I was very excited.

Or was I? 继续阅读OnePlus 5T: You call this a flagship?

About the CPU of the new 12-inch MacBook

Apple just released its Early-2016 iteration of the 12-inch MacBook. In addition to the new pink (rose gold =_=) option, they swapped the processor from Broadwell Core m to the new Skylake Core m, namely the Core m3, m5 and m7, as shown below.

One interesting point about this is that the price of Core m3 and m5 are identical, despite the ~$200 price bump when buying from Apple. Although it is possible that Apple managed to force Intel to drop the price of Core m3 when they were buying them from Intel, it is more likely a pure marketing strategy due to the irrelevancy between price and cost.

Also according to Intel’s ARK database, the base frequency of these processors (900MHz, 1.1GHz, 1.2GHz)  are different from what Apple claimed on its website (1.1GHz, 1.2GHz, 1.3GHz), but the Turbo Boost frequency stayed the same. Considering the massive Turbo Boost headroom of Core m processors, it is possible that Apple clocked them 100MHz higher due to its confidence on the MacBook’s thermal capacity.

Another interesting point is about the TDP. While the TDP and the maximum configurable TDP of these processors are identical, the minimum configurable TDP of Core m3 is slightly higher than its brothers.

One big feature of the Core m lineup is its variable TDP. The manufacture could change the processor’s target TDP to adapt to the product’s form factor and thermal design, thus altering the performance thereof. Because of this flexibility, the “Core m” brand couldn’t make any guarantee on the performance’s side, for a higher-clocked Core m3 with better cooling can perform well better than a poorly-cooled Core m7.

In this regard, although the minimum TDP of Core m3 is higher than m5 and m7:

  • it won’t affect shit,
  • actually this might just be a typo from Intel.

As Intel stated, all three of these Core m processors support video output at 2160p@60Hz via DP or eDP. But when using HDMI as the output tunnel, limited by HDMI 1.4, it can only output video up to 4K@30Hz.

But according to Apple’s tech specs, the 12-inch MacBook can only output video at up to 2160p@30Hz. It’s safe to say that the MacBook “can’t work with” a 4K monitor because almost no one want there screen refresh rate to be limited to 30 Herts. Here’re three possible causes:

  • It’s limited by the Intel HD Graphics driver in OS X,
  • Apple doesn’t sell USB-C to DP adapter. What Apple offers is a USB-C to HDMI adapter (along with a USB-A female port and a USB-C female port for power), which,  limited by the data rate of HDMI 1.4,  can only achieve 4K@30Hz. However technically, it is possible to achieve 4K@60Hz via the USB-C’s native support of DisplayPort 1.2. Although it remains to be tested.
  • The USB-C port that MacBook utilizes is of USB 3.1 Gen-1, with maximum data speed of 5Gbps, whereas a typical 4K@60Hz video signal (with overhead) is at about 15Gbps, far exceeding the capacity of USB.

A Tiny Glimpse on Android N’s Multi-Window Feature

With Google’s quiet announcement of Android N brings long-waited multi-windows feature for Android. Many considered Google’s implementation of multi-tasking is way superior to any other platforms, and that was true, and that is even more so.

Multi-window functionality, technically, is brought to the world by Apple with its original Macintosh launch, but the one who first brought the feature to mobile platform is Samsung. Samsung singlehandedly developed a multi-window multi-tasking feature for its Galaxy Note lineup in order to push sales, and the feature was later introduced to Galaxy Tab. Since TouchWiz is based on Android, many considered that this is the first sign that multi-tasking on Android is perfectly possible. 继续阅读A Tiny Glimpse on Android N’s Multi-Window Feature

The Stupid Android: the Status Bar

This is a series of articles about Android’s stupid design. Android is a mobile operating system packed with unpleasant design, unfinished features and a platform full of bugs and fragmentation. No wonder the dynamic layout system that Android is using is based on Fragments. Coding with Android is already a pain in the ass, designing for it is even more so.

And this article is particularly about dealing with status bar. 继续阅读The Stupid Android: the Status Bar

Adding Windows 8.1 Live Tiles to Your Website

This website now contain full support of Windows 8.1 / Internet Explorer 11 Live Tiles.

Live Tiles feature was firstly introduced when Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7, and later this feature was brought to Windows desktop and tablet platform with Windows 8. When developers are developing Windows Store Apps, they can choose to add Live Tiles to their Apps, which bring immersive and active feeling to the whole system. With Live Tiles pinned to user’s Start Screen, new content is showed right on the tiles and the user won’t even have to open the App. This feature, in many ways, acts like the Notification Center in other mobile systems (i.e. iOS and Android).

After upgrading to Windows 8.1, web developers like me can add Live Tiles to their websites as well. When the website has new content, it will automatically appear on user’s screen if they’ve pinned your tile. And the progress of adding a Live Tile is extremely easy. Notice that this feature is only available on Windows 8.1.

继续阅读Adding Windows 8.1 Live Tiles to Your Website