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Review: Samsung A34 5G

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Samsung’s latest addition to their mid-range A series is the Galaxy A34. It follows the popularity of last year’s model and hence, I was curious about the improvements brought by the A34.

Design and Build Quality
While it is similar to the A33 5G, the A34 boasts a larger and wider display with a faster refresh rate. Additionally, the phone features a new MediaTek chipset, making it slightly larger than its predecessor. Made of plastic with a glossy finish on the back panel, the A34’s curved matte frame is also plastic, with each camera having its own separate little bump. As expected from an A series phone, the Samsung A34 5G comes with IP67 ingress protection against water and dust.

Display
The A34’s 6.6-inch AMOLED display offers a 1080p resolution, Gorilla Glass 5 protection, and a 120Hz refresh rate, along with a slightly shorter 19.5:9 aspect ratio, making it more comfortable to use than the previous model. With a maximum brightness of 480 nits, which boosts to over a thousand nits in auto mode in the bright sun, the 120Hz upgrade from the previous model’s 90Hz makes for smoother swiping. The display is overall sharp and contrasty with excellent colour accuracy, though it lacks HDR support.

Specifications
The Galaxy A34 also features a pair of stereo speakers that deliver good loudness and sound quality. With an under-display optical fingerprint reader, it comes with either 128GB or 256GB of storage onboard, which can be expanded using a microSD of up to 1TB. The variant sent to us for this review came with 128GB of onboard storage. Running on top of Android 13, the interface is Samsung’s latest one UI 5.1 with a fair bit of optimisations.

Instead of Samsung’s in-house Exynos chips, the A34 is equipped with an octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 1080, a decent mid-range chipset built on an efficient 6-nanometer process. In benchmarks, the A34 holds its own, with scores not far off from the more expensive Galaxy A54 with its Exynos 1380. In practice, the A34 has enough power for casual gaming and runs smoothly for day-to-day tasks.

The phone is available in three colours – Awesome Lime, Awesome Silver and Awesome Graphite. The one reviewed here is the Awesome Graphite variant. The Samsung A34’s 5,000mAh battery capacity offers excellent battery life, with an overall endurance rating of 133 hours. The phone supports 25W charging, though Samsung does not include an adapter in the box. However, using Samsung’s official adapter, we were able to go from 0% to 51% in half an hour.

Cameras
The camera specifications on the A34 are very similar to those on the A33 5G. It has a 48-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a 5-megapixel macro camera, but no dedicated depth sensor. Due to pixel binning, photos from the main camera are 12 megapixels, and they have good colours and contrast, and reasonable dynamic range. However, they are not very sharp when viewed up close as seen from the samples below:

Despite the lack of a depth sensor, portrait shots from the main camera are decent, with good subject separation and nice colours and textures on the subject. The 8-megapixel photos from the ultra-wide camera have good detail, saturated colours, and boosted contrast. Close-up shots from the macro camera are all right, with enough detail, high contrast, and popping colours.

In low light, the main camera does a good job capturing plenty of detail and nice colours, with decent dynamic range and well-contained light sources. The night mode can be used for even better low-light performance, but it mostly just cleans up the noise, and the shadows seem a bit darker in this mode. However, the ultra-wide camera struggles quite a bit in low light, producing soft and noisy photos, and the night mode doesn’t do much to improve its performance.

Selfies from the 13-megapixel front-facing camera are very good, with plenty of detail and nice skin tones, high contrast, and a balanced dynamic range. Daylight videos can be captured with the main camera at up to 4K resolution and 30fps, with lots of detail, a wide dynamic range, and punchy colours. The ultra-wide camera is limited to 1080p resolution and produces videos with decent detail but a limited dynamic range and over-the-top colours and contrast.

Electronic stabilisation is available for all cameras but only in 1080p resolution, and it works pretty well. In low-light conditions, 4K video from the main camera is just okay, with good detail but dark, noisy footage and limited dynamic range.

Conclusion
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy A34 is a solid mid-range device with a large 120Hz AMOLED display, great battery life, and a solid chipset. The camera performance is also decent, although not a significant improvement from last year’s model. As a well-rounded mid-range option, it is definitely worth considering.

Price: AED 1299

Samsung A34 5G AED 1299
  • Final Rating
3.5

Summary

Instead of Samsung’s in-house Exynos chips, the A34 is equipped with an octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 1080, a decent mid-range chipset built on an efficient 6-nanometer process. In benchmarks, the A34 holds its own, with scores not far off from the more expensive Galaxy A54 with its Exynos 1380.

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Huawei Pura 70 Review: A Feature-Packed Smartphone Experience

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Huawei’s Pura 70 lineup boasts a flagship phone for every need, and the base model Pura 70 stands as a compelling option for users who prioritise camera prowess without the extravagance of the “Ultra” version.

Design and Build Quality
The Pura 70 eschews the flamboyant curves of its pricier sibling for a more traditional, yet still elegant, design. The phone boasts a flat, high-resolution display protected by Huawei’s scratch-resistant Kunlun Glass. While not as visually striking as the curved panels on some flagships, this design choice offers a more secure grip and potentially less accidental damage.

The sleek aluminium frame adds a touch of premium feel, and the back, available in a variety of glossy or matte finishes, exudes a classic smartphone aesthetic. The phone is IP68 rated, making it water and dust-resistant, ensuring it can withstand everyday spills and splashes. Overall, the Pura 70 feels solid and well-built, catering to users who value practicality and a timeless design.

Display
The Huawei Pura 70 comes packed with a 6.6-inches LTPO OLED display, that offers a resolution of 2760-by-1256 pixels. You also get 1-120 Hz adaptive high dynamic refresh rates, 1440 Hz high-frequency PWM dimming, and up to 300 Hz touch sampling rate. The pixel density is rated at 460 ppi. As mentioned earlier, the display is protected by scratch-resistant Kunlun Glass.

Camera
The Pura 70’s camera system, while not quite reaching the heights of the Ultra model, still packs a powerful punch. The main attraction is a 50MP Ultra Lighting Camera that offers an aperture of F1.4~F4.0 and support for Optical Image Stabilisation. It delivers excellent image quality with sharp details and impressive low-light performance. While lacking the massive sensor of the Ultra, the Pura 70’s offering still excels in capturing vibrant colours and clear nighttime shots, as seen in the samples below:

Accompanying the main sensor is a 13 MP Ultra-Wide Angle Camera with an F2.2 aperture for capturing expansive landscapes without sacrificing detail. A dedicated 12 MP Telephoto Camera offering an F3.4 aperture and OIS. The 13MP front-facing camera boasts autofocus and a wide field of view, catering to selfie enthusiasts and video calls.

While the camera system might not boast the same headline-grabbing specs as the Ultra, it delivers excellent photo and video quality for everyday users and mobile photography enthusiasts alike. The lack of a 1-inch sensor might be noticeable for professionals seeking the absolute best low-light performance, but for most users, the Pura 70’s camera setup will be more than sufficient.

Software
The Pura 70 runs on Huawei’s EMUI 14.2 operating system. This homegrown operating system offers a clean and user-friendly interface with smooth animations and a focus on customization. EMUI 14.2 builds on the foundations of EMUI 14, introducing more dynamic and interactive elements such as touch-responsive themes and mini-games on the lock screen. It enhances the degree of personalization and interaction you can have with the Huawei Pura 70. Huawei’s AppGallery offers most of the popular apps and their alternatives.

Specifications and Performance
The Pura 70 boasts a flagship-worthy Kirin 9000S1 octa-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of onboard storage, ensuring smooth performance for everyday tasks, multitasking, and even demanding games. This combination delivers a fast and responsive user experience. The Pura 70 delivers a smooth and lag-free experience. The onboard storage, however, cannot be expanded further.

Verdict
The Huawei Pura 70 is a compelling smartphone for users prioritising a powerful camera system in a sleek, well-built package. The 50MP main sensor, versatile ultrawide and telephoto lenses, and capable front camera deliver excellent photo and video quality for most users. The phone itself is fast and responsive, with a beautiful display and a comfortable design. The Huawei Pura 70 boasts a top-tier camera system, making it a dream come true for mobile photographers.

Price: AED 2599 (12GB+256GB variant)

Huawei Pura 70 AED 2599
  • Final Rating
3.5

Summary

The Pura 70 eschews the flamboyant curves of its pricier sibling for a more traditional, yet still elegant, design. The phone boasts a flat, high-resolution display protected by Huawei’s scratch-resistant Kunlun Glass.

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Xiaomi Intros Redmi 13 Smartphone

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Xiaomi has launched the Redmi 13, setting a new standard for entry-level smartphones. Crafted for users seeking style and substance, it boasts a sleek design, a powerful 108MP main camera, and a large AdaptiveSync display with up to 90Hz refresh rate. With a stylish glass back and 33W fast charging, the Redmi 13 exemplifies Xiaomi’s commitment to value and innovation. Redmi 13 introduces the first-ever 108MP main camera in the Redmi series, featuring 3x in-sensor zoom for exceptional detail. With the advanced Samsung ISOCELL HM6 sensor and 9-in-1 pixel binning technology, it captures clear night shots and vibrant HDR images effortlessly, empowering users to capture stunning moments with ease.

In addition to its exceptional main camera, Redmi 13 appeals to selfie lovers with its upgraded 13MP front camera and soft-light ring for natural lighting. In addition, users can enhance their photography with vintage filters and frame designs, allowing for creative expression while documenting travels or sharing experiences. Redmi 13 presents a refined glass back design, elevating the Redmi series with its elegance. Available in Midnight Black, Sandy Gold, Pearl Pink, and the captivating Ocean Blue, it caters to users seeking sophistication. At just 8.3mm slim, Redmi 13 offers a lightweight yet quality feel, along with IP53 certification for protection against wet conditions. The device seamlessly blends style, performance, and reliability, complementing users’ lifestyles effortlessly.

Featuring a spacious 6.79-inch FHD+ display with AdaptiveSync, Redmi 13 dynamically tunes its refresh rate up to 90Hz according to usage, delivering smooth performance while conserving battery. Boasting excellent colour depth and a peak brightness of 550 nits, the screen ensures vivid, clear visuals, even in sunlight.
Designed with user convenience and durability in mind, Redmi 13 comes with a Corning Gorilla Glass display for resilience against bumps and knocks of daily life, and optimization for enhanced touch recognition and control, effectively preventing accidental triggers from water droplets. Users can enjoy a comfortable viewing experience with Redmi 13, which holds triple TÜV Rheinland certifications for Low Blue Light, Flicker Free, and Circadian Friendly attributes. With DC dimming, it minimizes eye strain in low-light settings, ensuring added peace of mind.

Redmi 13’s 5030mAh battery provides all-day performance, with 23 hours of calling or 28 hours of music after just 60 minutes of charging. A five-minute charge offers two hours of calling. With 33W fast charging, it reaches full capacity in 62 minutes. Powered by Xiaomi HyperOS, Redmi 13 offers an enhanced interface with improved home screen options and notification management. Its MediaTek Helio G91-Ultra platform ensures smooth gaming and multitasking, with up to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. Adding convenience, the Redmi 13 features a 3.5mm headphone jack, a side-mounted fingerprint reader, and Flash notifications via a rear LED light.

The Redmi 13 was launched in the UAE on June 8th and is available through all official Xiaomi sales outlets. It comes in Midnight Black, Sandy Gold, Pearl Pink, and Ocean Blue colour options. The storage variants are 6GB+128GB priced at AED 537, 8GB+128GB priced at AED 579, and 8GB+256GB priced at AED 619.

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ASUS NUC 14 Pro Review: A Compact Powerhouse?

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The ASUS NUC series has carved a niche for itself in the PC market, offering miniature powerhouses ideal for space-constrained environments or those seeking a minimalist desktop setup. The latest iteration, the NUC 14 Pro, boasts the latest Intel Core Ultra processors and promises desktop-caliber performance in a tiny footprint. But is smaller truly better in every situation? Let’s check out the NUC 14 Pro’s strengths and weaknesses, helping you decide if this pint-sized PC packs the punch you need.

Design and Build Quality
The NUC 14 Pro maintains the familiar compact design synonymous with the series. Its sleek black chassis is constructed from a lightweight yet sturdy plastic, making it both portable and unobtrusive. While some might yearn for the premium feel of metal, the plastic keeps the weight down to a mere 1.2kg, perfect for tight spaces or frequent travel.

The front panel provides easy access to two USB-A ports and a single USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4 support. The inclusion of Thunderbolt 4 is a welcome addition, opening doors to high-speed data transfer, external displays, and even powerful external graphics cards. The rear houses additional USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, two HDMI 2.1 ports, an Ethernet jack for wired connectivity, and a power port.

While the design is minimalist and functional, some users might find the lack of an SD card reader inconvenient. Additionally, the internal layout, while accessible for RAM and storage upgrades, requires some disassembly.

Performance
The NUC 14 Pro comes in various configurations, with the 12th Gen Intel Core Ultra processors ranging from the i5-1550U to the i7-1585H. In everyday tasks such as web browsing, document editing, and video streaming, the NUC 14 Pro shines. It handles these tasks with ease, delivering a smooth and responsive experience.

However, pushing the limits exposes some limitations. Content creation applications like photo editing and video rendering require more processing power. While the NUC 14 Pro can handle them, expect longer render times compared to bulkier desktops with dedicated graphics cards. The integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics are sufficient for casual gaming but struggle with demanding titles.

Upgrading the RAM and storage is a possibility, with the NUC 14 Pro supporting up to 96GB of DDR5 memory and two M.2 SSD slots. This allows for customisation based on your specific needs, but it’s worth noting that these upgrades can add to the overall cost.

Thermals and Noise
The NUC 14 Pro utilises a small internal fan to keep things cool. Under typical workloads, the fan noise is minimal and unobtrusive. However, under heavy load, the fan can become noticeably audible. While not a dealbreaker, it’s something to consider if silence is paramount in your workspace. Thermally, the NUC 14 Pro manages heat adequately. The chassis can get warm under heavy processing, but it never reaches concerning temperatures.

Connectivity and Features
As mentioned earlier, the NUC 14 Pro boasts a good selection of ports, including the versatile Thunderbolt 4 port. This allows for a plethora of connection options, from external displays and high-speed storage to docking stations and even external graphics enclosures for a performance boost.

Wi-Fi 6E ensures a fast and stable wireless connection, while Bluetooth 5.3 provides seamless pairing with wireless peripherals. The included Kensington lock slot adds a layer of security for those concerned about physical theft in public spaces. The lack of an integrated DVD drive is unsurprising given the miniaturized form factor. However, for those who still require a physical disc drive, external options are readily available.

Software and Upgradability
The NUC 14 Pro ships with Windows 11 pre-installed, allowing you to hit the ground running immediately. Bloatware is minimal, and ASUS provides its own utility for managing system updates and monitoring performance. Upgradability is a double-edged sword. While the NUC 14 Pro allows for RAM and storage upgrades, the process involves some disassembly.

Verdict
The ASUS NUC 14 Pro is a compelling option for users seeking a powerful yet miniature PC. Its sleek design, excellent port selection with Thunderbolt 4, and the option for powerful Intel Core Ultra processors make it ideal for space-constrained environments or minimalist setups.

The ASUS NUC 14 Pro succeeds in delivering desktop-calibre performance in a compact form factor. For those who prioritise a small footprint, powerful performance for everyday tasks, and excellent connectivity, the NUC 14 Pro is a strong contender, especially for those who can take advantage of the Thunderbolt 4 capabilities for further expansion.

Price: AED 2000 onwards

ASUS NUC 14 Pro AED 2000 onwards
  • Final Rating
3.5

Summary

The NUC 14 Pro comes in various configurations, with the 12th Gen Intel Core Ultra processors ranging from the i5-1550U to the i7-1585H.

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