Xiaomi has emerged as the undisputed king in the sub-Rs 15,000 smartphone category, followed by Honor and Asus. Samsung has taken its time to enter the fray, but it has finally come up with a compelling device.
The Galaxy M20 features a bright, 6.3-inch bezel-less display with 2,439x1,080p resolution. There is a small v-shaped notch at the top and a sleek chin at the bottom, giving the M20 more screen estate. However, the rear and the sides have a plastic feel and attract finger impressions. The fingerprint scanner is quick to unlock and so is the face recognition but the latter is not as secure as Apple's Face ID.
The M20 has a neat user interface backed by impressive performance. Besides Google apps and services, Samsung has added a few more apps including a voice recorder, e-mail, My Files, Facebook, Samsung Notes and Game Launcher. The Samsung Max app helps users save mobile and Wi-Fi data and also offers privacy protection. But the phone is not secured by military-grade Samsung Knox. I liked its performance as there was no lag as I played games or ran multiple apps in the background. It is powered by Samsung's Exynos 7904 processor, comes with 4 GB RAM and managed to score 109506 on the AnTuTu benchmark. Of the 64 GB onboard storage, close to 50 GB is user accessible.
On the camera front, you will find a vertical dual-camera set-up at the rear (13 MP+5 MP) that captures good images and retains natural colours in good light. Other than the auto mode, which has an ultra-wide photo-capture feature, I was able to switch between live focus, beauty, Pro mode, panorama, stickers and continuous shorts. But unlike the live focus used for bokeh images in many flagship phones, this one works if you are capturing human faces and not inanimate objects. Moreover, I found the 8 MP selfie camera just about average.
The phone packs in a 5,000 mAh battery and lasted me a day and a half on heavy usage. The charger bundled in the box supported fast charging and took me a little over two hours to juice up the battery.
HP Sprocket Plus
Hassle-Fee Photo Printer
In the era of digital cameras, smartphones and image-sharing platforms, printing photographs is an old-school practice. But you will still find some niche printing solutions and holding the hard copies would take you on a journey down memory lane. HP's Sprocket Plus is an upgraded version of the original Sprocket and comes with some exciting features.
Portable and compact, this one is slightly big (141.9 mm/5.59 inches) but quite thick (17.8 mm/0.71 inches) compared to iPhone XS Max. It houses minimal controls - just a power button and a microSD slot (for charging) on the right panel and a slot for printouts at the bottom. Setting up the Sprocket Plus was a delight. After installing the printing sheets as instructed (upside down) and switching on the device, I had to pair it with the Sprocket app, available on both iOS and Android. I followed the instructions on the app and connected the gadget with my smartphone via Bluetooth in less than a minute. After that, I could access not only my phone's photo gallery but also the images on my Instagram, Facebook and Google accounts. But to do so, you must sign in to those accounts first.
The editing tools within the app make photo-printing more fun. I was able to adjust background brightness, add filters, include artworks and even scribble or add text to an image. The last two features can be used to personalise the prints. I could also zoom in and out and rotate the image using two fingers before hitting the print icon on the app.
However, prints sized 2.3x3.4 inch looked darker than what appeared on the screen. Unlike the traditional prints on a photo-printing sheet which offers some shine, these prints looked dull with visible lines. HP uses a thermal heating-based printing method called Zink (zero ink), and the paper used is water-resistant and cannot be torn easily. A set of 20 HP Zink (2x3 inch) photo paper is available for Rs 539 and a pack of 50 costs Rs 1,149.
Although everything sounds good about this pocket-sized and hassle-free photo printer, there is scope for improvement. If you are looking for alternatives, Fujifilm's Instax cameras with spot printing are worth considering. You will find a wide range of cameras starting at Rs 4,499 (offer price) where the printable image size is 2.4x1.8 inch. In fact, images printed on 2.4x2.4-inch film by the Instax Square SQ10 camera are quite impressive.