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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

ASUS set to launch its latest flagship Zenfone 5Z on July 4 in India: Specifications and Price Expectations

ASUS has started sending out media invites for its much awaited Zenfone 5Z Flagship smartphone. The smartphone is marketed with a tag line of "Flagship Redefined". The smartphone will be exclusively available on Flipkart .  The device is said to be running on Qualcomm's powerful Snapdragon 845 Chipset with Artificial Intelligence Engine, the same processor which powers mighty OnePlus 6 

ASUS Zenfone 5Z
ASUS Zenfone 5Z
What is known about device:

Apart from powerful processor, the device is known to be sporting a 6.2 inch Full HD+ display i.e. 2246x1080 resolution, with extremely thin bezels and having a notch as per latest trend. The display is protected by 2.5D curved Corning Gorilla Glass. The body is entirely covered with Glass, and is likely to attract more customers for its aesthetic appeal. 

In global market the device has three variants for RAM/Storage viz. 4 GB/64 GB , 6 GB/128 GB and 8 GB/256 GB. It is not known as of now about what variants will see the light of Indian markets. 

On the camera department ASUS is banking on with AIE engine of Snapdragon 845 which is utilized in imaging department as the device is also promoted with tagline "AI Cameras that Think for you". By now you might have already guessed that the device comes with Dual Cameras at rear. One Primary 16 MP sensor with f/1.7 aperture supported by 13 MP dual pixel sensor with f/1.8 aperture. The camera is also loaded with PDAF, OIS and LED flash support.  On front there is an 8 MP camera with f/2.0 aperture.

The device runs on ASUS ZenUI5 on top of Android Oreo and comes with a plenty of apps pre-installed. This is one thing which takes the device a step backwards to pre Zenfone Max Pro M1 era, where first thing to complain about ASUS devices was its own UI and bloatware apps. The ASUS Zenfone 5Z comes with 3300 mAH battery with AI and scheduled charging support for battery protection.

Price Expectations: As per the specifications and design language of the device it certainly comes in league of Flagship devices of today and expected to bear a starting price tag of 31000 Rs to 33000 Rs. 

Thursday, 14 June 2018

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review: The battery and performance you need

ASUS has launched its latest phone, Zenfone Max Pro M1 a couple of months ago. The Max Pro M1 is one of the most talked about phone from the company in recent times, thanks to its advanced processor, design aesthetics and battery prowess. The specification sheet of the device puts it into a pool of some  of the most valued smartphones in market, but does it live up to the expectations let's find out.

Specifications and Price: 

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is available in two variants namely 3GB / 32GB for Rs.10,999 and the 4GB / 64GB for Rs. 12,999 exclusively on Flipkart. 

Under the hood the device runs on Snapdragon 636 (one of the latest and fastest processors from Qualcomm) with Adreno 509 GPU. The device comes with two variants 3 GB/32 GB and 4 GB/64 GB. 
The device comes with a dual camera setup at rear featuring a 13 MP sensor with f/2.2 wide aperture and 5 MP camera for depth sensing which enables bookeh effect feature of the phone. On the front the phone sports a 8 MP camera at front for selfies. Both the cameras are supported by flash lights. 

The phone comes with a finger print sensor at back, 5000 mAh strong battery, and usual connectivity options. The device comes with a dedicated slot for SD card, along with slots for two nano SIM cards.

On the display part, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 comes with 5.99 inch FHD+ display (1080 x 2160) , the screen comes with 18:9 aspect ratio (no notch here). 

Build and Design:

The Zenfone Max Pro M1 comes with unibody metallic body, on the front almost all the space is covered by the display, thanks to narrow bezels. The curved edges makes it easier to hold in hand and make a grip, however the metallic device feels little slippery when using via one hand. A phone cover should fix the issue for those who think they are prone to drop their phones. 

The left edge of the phone hosts the slot for SIMs and memory card, while the power button and volume rockers are placed on the right edge of the phone. The feedback from physical buttons is good and we didn't faced any issue using the same.

Top edge just hosts a noise cancellation mic, while the bottom edge is home to 3.5 mm jack, a mic, USB charging slot and speaker grill placed left to right. 

Turning the device towards to it rear, and you will spot the dual rear cameras placed vertically (The camera glass has Dual Camera written over it, in case you have not observed that already) just at the top left corner with a round flash light just below the camera setup.  The finger print is placed just above the center of the device. ASUS branding is engraved on the back in grey color, which is hard to notice sometimes.

Overall we are happy with the build quality of the phone, especially with the fact that ASUS has managed to put a 5000 mAh battery in these dimensions and keeping the weight in check (though it feels a bit heavy than other devices, but that can be managed and doesn't feel difference when used the device for 3-4 days). 


Camera has been the USP of ASUS Zenfones , Zenfone Max Pro M1 doesn't disappoint here, the autofocus is quick, there is no notice able shutter lag, the colors are vivid in bright light and photos have details even in low lights. The bookeh mode is fine, but user cannot play with focus areas after the shot is taken.

The camera app comes with a lot of filters and modes such as Auto, candle light, beach, snow, flowers etc. There is beautify option as well in built.

Below are few samples taken from the phone for you to judge. (Click on pictures to enlarge)


We divide performance into three parts, the tasking ability, the software and the battery. As far as tasking ability goes, the device doesn't give much reasons to complain except the fact that the finger print sensor was found to be bit slow than what we have seen in other devices and sometimes the extra smooth touch display would not recognize the touch. The touch issue was not very prominent but yes in our 4-5 days of usage we observed this more than a couple of times. 

On software side, ASUS has really done a good job to ditch its Zen UI and provide users with stock Android. The device runs on Android Oreo and is expected to receive updates for Android P. The multitasking is good, multimedia consumption experience is excellent. The gaming experience as well is good. 

Now comes the favorite part and USP of the device the phone manages to give you a proper 2 days backup on normal usage. Average users can expect at least 1.5 days backup without needing to plug in the charger. Battery fall down graph was also pretty stead in our usage, except for the times when we used the device for gaming (Asphalt 8). 


If I am looking for a device in 10 to 13K price range, I would go for Zenfone Max Pro M1 for its Battery, performance, camera and stock android experience. Which means I am willing to accept the slow finger print sensor (in hope of an update which could fix it) and intermittent display issue we encountered for the otherwise balanced device.


ASUS has listened to the user's feedback and rolled out a new update on 14th June, 2018. This update resolves the slow finger print sensor issue. The response time for unlocking the device via fingerprint has certainly improved along with camera performance especially on depth shots. 

Friday, 8 June 2018

Inception of sub brands, who is the winner: You, Me or We

Smartphone market is a different world now from what it used to be in the good old days (read Nokia glory days). We had fewer number of players in market, devices were priced with relatively greater distance between each other, where each feature could cost you a couple of thousand rupees extra. You need just a calling phone you can get it for 4000 Rs, you need FM as well then it will be for Rs 5500/- , oh you want color screen too then pay 7500 Rs, and so on for MP3 player, Camera, touch screen etc. On top of that the names of devices were similar to what we have for breeds of crops seed. 3300, 6600, N-32 were the likes of today's One Plus6, iPhone X, Honor 7x etc. 

The Disruption 

Come Apple and witness the disruption in the market at level which was never seen before, not even when Martin Cooper made the first call to his rival with the first mobile phone he invented (that paved the way for today's smartphones, but landlines were in use for more than 3 decades after this invention).  Apple's iPhone changed the way we looked at a phone, we had seen most of the things earlier as well, like we have seen internet working on Nokia phones, music on Sony Ericsson or Motorola devices, Cameras, touch screen all were already explored areas, but iPhone brought them all into one device with exceptional user interface. 

"while Apple was seen as a status symbol, Android's were the necessity to keep up with the pace."

Google forayed soon into the Arena and came up with its own Android Operating System, propagated to masses by open partnerships with minus Apple manufacturers i.e. Sony, Samsung, LG, HTC etc.  Android was gaining traction in countries like ours while Apple was seen as a status symbol, Androids were the necessity to keep up with the pace.

The Sub-Brand strategy

Un fortunately Nokia missed this bus and downfall started for the company as more and more consumers who were looking for features similar to that of an iPhone but were low on budget soon made these companies larger than they would have ever thought few years back. However, it was not only Nokia who faced the wrath of iOS and Android. Other big names in the industry like Huawei, Motorola and Blackberry(One of the last to kneel down to Android against their own OS) were also finding it difficult to cope up with the change. 

Well without any doubt Samsung understood the dynamics better than anyone else, they had their own OS for smartphones running on touch screen devices in 2010, they had the Project Tizen on the way to counter Android and iOS. Yet they didn't missed the business opportunity which Google's Android presented in front of them. They continued their work and pioneered the Android devices for different price segments, flagships to mid range device it was all there in Samsung's portfolio and it definitely made a dent in Apple's aspirations and market share atleast in India.

"It leads to a situation where OPPO has to come up with a sub brand RealMe and to counter that , the 'Real' Mi had to respond with "Real You". Meanwhile the 'Real' YU is not seen from a long time and our very own "Sharma G ka ladka" is in hibernate mode. "

The start of sub brands

The unexpected hero of the time was not Samsung, instead it was our very own Micromax (lost now a days), relatively unknown Indian brand who worked hard to get feature phones on low budget but a differentiated experience (qwerty phone, phones with lights, 30 day battery life phones etc). Micromax sponsored a few cricket tournaments ( a strategy which would be later adopted by OPPO, Vivo, Lava, Intex ) and became known to the cricket crazy nation in no time. Soon it started doing to Samsung, what Samsung did to Apple, i.e. provided higher specification phones at much lower price and this time both the competitors had the same OS as well. Micromax smartly played it with Canvas Series. All phones were Canvas where Micromax would draw an art piece and gradually it was the top smartphone brand in India by market share. For me it was deliberate attempt to distance itself from the earlier feature phones (known as chinese phones without reference to brand among common people), and start a fresh in a promising smartphone market. To start from a servicing company and becoming number 1 smartphone seller in country as big as India is something to proud of and would be there in Company's history in golden letters.

Similarly while some of the above said brands sticked  to their original identity, others like ASUS had different strategy. ASUS launched its new smartphones Zenfone 5, Zenfone 4 and Zenfone 6 in 2014. These devices were better than competitor's devices and priced much lower. The Zenfone sub brand worked wonders for ASUS, in last 4 years ASUS has launched numerous devices under Zenfone brand and has been successful with most of these devices in market. Courtsey upgrading themselves as per market and consumer feedback. 

The strategy adopted by ASUS or Micromax wasn't the most innovative or new in market. Nokia had its fair of success with its Xpress Music series, N-series, E-series etc phones. Motorola had done well with Yuva series, Sony had made well with walkman series. But this was different in terms of devotion, marketing, engineering and pretty much all aspects of the inception to market cycle of the devices. Unlike other examples given above there was no parallel series worked upon all the focus was on Zenfone series, to make it big in market share and consumer choice.

In parallel universe the decades old pioneer in telecom industry from China, Huawei also launched its sub brand Honor somewhere around 2011 in China and encouraged by its success back at home the subrand was expanded to around 74 countries in 2015 including India. Xiaomi was already a big name in China and entered India in 2014.

Xiaomi did much damage to brands which were popular in India smartphone market, Micromax simply lost the race and couldn't compete with further low priced devices but high on quality at that price level. The charismatic Hugo Barra led Xiaomi had made itself popular among fans in India. The flash sales were more grand even than the Moto G and Moto E (first editions). 

Counter sub brands

Micromax's Canvas was not generating any buzz or interest in the market. It was then, when Rahul Sharma came up with an exciting (but not bug free) device under a whole new sub brand to counter Xiaomi's Mi. While Xiomi's Mi is pronounced as 'me' , Micromax came with 'YU' the new sub brand which was supposed to break all the records, designed for the fans , by the fans. This was directly to compete with Xiaomi's Mi and both the brands claimed to have consumers in focus by looking at them as first person or second person. The counter strategy initially worked better than it was expected by some of our fellow bloggers in community, but that didn't lasted long due to lack of updates, quality and service issues in the devices from YU.

The irony

Here today we are in 2018, and OPPO launched its sub brand RealMe which offered really good devices for much lesser price. The brand which led to creation of counter sub brands in first place, i.e. Mi Came up with counter device and promoted it to be #RealYou device. CEO of Real Me , Mr. Madhav Sheth was quick to remind them that they had already registered the trademark "Real You" as well.

It leads to a situation where OPPO has to come up with a sub brand RealMe and to counter that , the 'Real' Mi had to respond with "Real You". Meanwhile the 'Real' YU is not seen from a long time and our very own "Sharma G ka ladka" is in hibernate mode. Interesting turn of events, marketing games and devices we are witnessing in this sphere. I hope in this game of You and Me, its us or 'We' the consumers who win in the end.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Mobiistar XQ Dual Review: Decent Selfie Camera, but is that enough?

Mobiistar is a Vietnamese smartphone company which recently announced its entry into Indian smartphone market with two budget devices. The CQ and XQ Dual, priced at Rs 4,999/- and Rs 7,999/- respectively. The later one is more talked about as it is placed with the likes of Honor 7C, ASUS Zenfone Max Pro or Honor 9 lite among the budget devices. No doubt XQ Dual has the price tag of least amount among all these phones, but does it really fits in with the competition lets find out.


The device's USP is its dual selfie camera which inspires the Dual in the name of the phone. The dual camera set at front includes a 13 MP and 8 MP 120 degree wide angle camera. The phone sports 5.5 inch Full HD IPS display with screen resolution of 1920x1080. Under the hood device runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 Octa-core chipset, supported by 3 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage which can be further expanded upto 128 GB via micro SD Card. The device comes with 3000 mAh battery.

Build and Design:

The XQ Dual is a well built device with unibody metal design which makes it one of the durable phones physically. However, the design has nothing new and its similar to what we see on other phones in this price range.

On the front the device sports two selfie cameras at top left of the device, ear piece in top left and proximity sensor and a selfie flash light at top right. Below that most of the front is dominated by 5.5 inch full HD screen. The bezels are pretty thin, but don't expect bezel less experience. On bottom of the device there are three physical capacitive buttons which are unfortunately the buttons are not backlit.

The volume rockers are on the left edge of the phone while the SIM tray and power button sits on the right edge of the device. On top edge we have a 3.5 mm audio jack and noise cancellation mic, while on the bottom edge of the phone you've got micro USB slot and speaker grill.

Turn the device towards its back and you will find the rear 13 MP camera which is very slightly protruding from the surface along with that there is a flash light just placed to the side of the camera.  Slightly above the middle of the rear we have a finger print sensor and mobiistar branding on the device. While bottom of the rear is plain with IMEI information sticker.


Camera of this device is most talked about feature by the brand, in fact the company states the motivation behind this device is to bring best of the camera features for budget segment. The camera doesn't disappoint here, specially the front ones.

On the front we have 8 MP f/2.2 + 13 MP f/2.0  cameras, the dual camera set up is utilized for selfie and groupfies. i.e. 8 MP sensor comes into picture when you need a greater field of view, the 120 degree wide angle increases the area swept by the camera thus making it suitable for taking selfies in larger groups as well. In bright light conditions the camera works pretty good and most of the time we were satisfied with the results, however like other smartphones in this category the images carry the extra noise, front camera flash comes handy but it doesn't help that much.

As far as the rear camera is concerned the device comes with a 13 MP rear sensor which does its job well in day light and well lit conditions. The camera actually is the only strength of the device. When compared to the other devices in this price range the camera actually surprises us given that we were not impressed by other aspects of the device. However in low light conditions we had to live with noise and graininess in the images.

Below are few samples to judge for yourself.

MobiiStar XQ Dual sample


The device runs on Android 7.1.2 and there is no word on the upgrade to Android P or even to Android O. The device does a good job with stock android and having just a couple of apps pre-installed other than usual Google apps. Another small customization which we liked were ability to action on items from notification drawer itself, specially user able to delete unwanted sms right from the notification area, given the sheer number of marketing SMS we get now a days.

The best thing done to the device on OS part is that not much is interfered with it and stock Android experience is by far the most simple and usable. As it is rightly said, speak only when you can better the silence.

Performance and battery:

The device runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa core chipset, which is outdated and misplaced for the segment , the brand intends to cater to. The phone's finger print sensor works almost every time without any noticeable lag, however opening simple apps like gallery, camera etc can be a sluggish operation on the device. The phone does ok with the day to day job, but this is not the winner of a phone in performance area. Apart of intermittent lag, the device fails miserably on power management. The phone comes with a 3000 mAh battery but was not able to hold the fort till end of the day, where we didn't used it for gaming. To give you some perspective, I use my Honor 6x with bluetooth on for full day, still it never goes down below 40% on average usage. 


If you have read the review from start then its a no brainer that the device caters only to those who are concerned about the images predominantly selfies in low budget. The performance users will be disappointed with the device. The device would have been a good seller if it was available offline in tier 2, 3 cities. As the 1000Rs lesser price than other competitors could have been the deal maker for many offline smartphone buyers.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Automation Anywhere Opens Bot Store to Developers with the Addition of Cognitive IQ Bot Technology

Automation Anywhere, the largest enterprise software provider in robotic process automation (RPA), today announced its recently introduced Bot Store is now open to artificial intelligence and machine learning developers with the addition of cognitive IQ Bot technology. Developers and partners can offer pre-trained cognitive bots that bring structure to unstructured data for complex business processes, like financial statements, purchase orders and invoices, to help accelerate automation in specific industries and geographies.

Bot Store, the world's first and largest online marketplace for off-the-shelf plug-n-play bots, has had impressive traction with the company's partner, developer and customer communities. In just two months since launch, the number of bots in the Bot Store has grown 100 percent. The most popular bot category is artificial intelligence with 24 bots and the speech-to-text bot leads the way in downloads. The most common business process is finance and accounting, with the "allocate payments against outstanding invoices" the most visited bot. SAP is the most prevalent application with 31 bots listed.

Until now, partners and developers offered bots that either automate repetitive business processes or provide API integrations with leading enterprise applications and AI platforms using the Automation Anywhere Enterprise RPA platform. With the addition of Automation Anywhere IQ Bot, developers and partners can now offer native computer vision, natural language processing, and machine learning capabilities. Several partners and developers have already contributed pre-trained, cognitive bots to automate document-centric processes. Examples of IQ Bot-enabled processes in the Bot Store include those that can automate utility bills, bank statements, standard settlement instructions, explanation of benefits, 1040 forms and W4 forms.

"We are excited to take our process automation expertise to the market through cognitive bots in the Bot Store," said Damian Jankowski, COO at Ataway. "Our clients in Latin America and the US will now be able to accelerate automation in areas like invoice processing and suppliers' management with IQ Bot."

"Since its launch two months ago, the Bot Store has seen unprecedented growth in both visitors and downloads," said Abhijit Kakhandiki, Senior VP, Products and Engineering at Automation Anywhere. "The ability to develop and offer cognitive bots now enable more business processes to be automated, further accelerating our customers' digital transformations."

The bots in the Automation Anywhere Bot Store run on the Automation Anywhere Enterprise platform and can be snapped together like LEGO blocks to automate complex business processes. The Bot Store can be reached at