There’s a trend we’ve been noticing with Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 devices; they don’t just offer great all-round performance, but seem to be extremely efficient when it comes to sipping at battery reserves too. If you want a smartphone that can actually outlast your day, you’re in luck.
What stood out to us was the overall build quality and material choices found on the ZenFone 3. Its polished glass rear was a huge upgrade to the metalliclooking plastic cover it used before. In addition to appearance, the ZenFone 3 is the first phone with ASUS phone with a fingerprint sensor.
It uses a 5.5-inch, Full HD IPS display and it boasts a display brightness of 600nits.The combination of an IPS display, wide viewing angle, and above average brightness levels led ASUS to claim that they make the ZenFone 3’s display readable from any direction. It might be a tinge warm, but it’s not that obvious in day-to-day use.
The ZenFone 3 supports Hi-Res Audio output, which is a nice feature for a $500 phone. It means that you can play back audio files rated at 24-bit/96KHz or 24-bit/192KHz. To experience this audio feature, simply link the ZenFone 3 up with an external speaker or a pair of headphones that support Hi-Res Audio.
This phone uses a 16-megapixel rear camera that’s helped along with ASUS TriTech Autofocus. This autofocus system combines their laser, phase detection, and contrast detection abilities to focus on the subject in as fast as 0.03 seconds.
The camera quality is decent for a lowcost phone. It’s able to focus very quickly (as promised), and its colors are distinct and relatively vibrant.
The ZenFone 3 has an average 3,000mAh battery capacity, but battery performance is anything but so. Part of the reason could be the newer Snapdragon 625 processor, one that Qualcomm claims to be 35% more power efficient than its predecessor.
And as you’ll notice from the rest of this shootout, there is truth to this claim.
As a whole, the ASUS ZenFone 3 is an excellent all-round successor to the ZenFone 2 series. It has a highly attractive physical design for its price point, and it runs well for a $500 smartphone. We liked it because of how much the ZenFone has progressed over time and we usually don’t expect smartphones of this class to get everything right.
The Moto Z Play is the more affordable version of the flagship Moto Z. It’s aesthetically similar, (which is great for folks who value a premium appearance at a lower priced tier), and they share the same aluminum frame, though the Moto Z Play uses a plastic back instead. Despite the difference in materials, the Z Play still exudes a refined look.
The key feature of the Moto Z Play is its compatibility with the proprietary Moto Mods attachments.
The Moto Z Play uses a Super AMOLED Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution) display that’s 5.5 inches wide. The display comes with Standard and Vibrant mode options, which can be adjusted as required in the Settings menu.
Vibrant mode was selected by default, and it gives the Z Play a warm color temperature that’s commonly found in Super AMOLED displays.
The Moto Z Play comes with a 16-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.0 aperture lens and 1.3-μm pixel size on its sensor. Like the Moto Z, it has a colorbalancing Dual LED flash, but it lacks the OIS found on its flagship counterpart.
Images captured by the Moto Z Play had noticeably vibrant colors. Most notable is a strong presence of white which does stand out a little awkwardly, but it didn’t overexpose the images.
Here’s where it gets good. The 3,510mAh battery capacity isn’t just a meaningless number. Repeated testing showed that the Moto Z Play has a surprisingly long uptime of 18.5 hours. If a dying phone is one of your main grouses, the Moto Z Play should rank highest as your ideal device. Moto also has one of the cleanest Android interfaces outside of a Google branded phone. In fact, by the time you read this, the Moto Z Play would be one of the few phones launched in 2016 with an official Android 7.0 (Nougat) upgrade rolled out.
The R9s serves as an upgrade to the earlier Oppo R9. Although the one significant change is the use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 instead of the MediaTek MT6755. It makes a world of difference choosing this slightly newer device over its older sibling.
The R9s continues to be heavily inspired by the Apple iPhone series, making it nearly indistinguishable from its predecessors. Oppo has taken extra effort to show that they are different, thanks to their new ultra-fine “six-string” antenna lines. They represent the six network frequency ranges that the phone can operate on.
The Oppo R9s has a 5.5-inch AMOLED, Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) display.
The choice to use an AMOLED display gives the R9s a vibrant hue, albeit slightly oversaturated and warm.
Right out of the box, the Oppo R9s uses Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) skinned with Oppo’s proprietary ColorOS 3.0, which looks youthful and tidy. Some of the older, unique features are still around, such as the Screen-off and Screen-on Gestures that lets you draw symbols to start certain apps.
The R9s has a 16-megapixel rear camera with an f/1.7 aperture lens powered by an “exclusive” Sony IMX398 sensor. This simply means that the particular Sony sensor is only found on the R9s and R9s Plus. We found it to have very strong, stark contrast handling.
Otherwise, the images are well-colored at relatively low noise levels under indoor lighting.
All things considered, the R9s is one of the more expensive devices here at $679, especially when pitted against similarly configured and much more affordable Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 ($269) and ASUS ZenFone 3 ($498). The only oyher phone at this price range is the Moto Z Play ($699), but at least the Moto has a unique proposition with its Moto Mods, and a higher battery capacity.
The Redmi Note 4’s China-only version was powered by a deca-core MediaTek Heli X20 chipset. This slightly updated model with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 was released in January this year for the Indian market, only arriving in Singapore around mid-March.
Xiaomi retains much of the design of the Redmi Note 3 in the Redmi Note 4 although there are subtle changes to give a more premium look. You still get an anodized aluminum chassis with tapered edges and a bevelled frame, but the high gloss CNC finish lends a classier look for the Redmi Note 4.
The Redmi Note 4 is one of the few Xiaomi devices to ship with MIUI 8, the latest version of Xiaomi’s OS.
Some new features include Dual Apps, which allows you to run the same app in two different instances, useful if you want to have two WhatsApp accounts via its dual-SIM configuration for instance.
If you rely on the Redmi Note 4 for both work and personal use, Second Space will come in handy as it creates a secondary profile on the device. MIUI 8’s calculator app even does currency, temperature, speed, area conversions and can work out your mortgage loan payments too.
You get a rear 13-megapixel CMOS BSI camera sensor with 1.12μm pixels, 0.1s ultra-fast PDAF, f/2.0 aperture and dualtone LED flash. It generally delivers great images in normal lighting conditions.
There are plenty of details, but tend to look soft at times.
Although the Redmi Note 4 has the biggest battery capacity in this shootout at 4,100mAh, it wasn’t the longest lasting.
Perhaps it is the use of an IPS screen, which isn’t as power efficient as AMOLED screens used by other phones, or Xiaomi’s software optimizations itself.