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2020 Holiday Gift Guide: Gaming Laptops
by Anmol Mehrotra
The year 2020 has been tough for everyone as they had to adjust to a new normal of working from home. This has prompted people to go out and buy laptops, furniture and other accessories that will help them improve their work from home experience.
This holiday season if you are looking to gift someone a laptop that can double as a gaming machine, then we have got you covered. While gaming laptops usually are not value for money when compared to their PC counterparts, but they have come a long way in the last couple of years. We have curated a list of gaming laptops that can be a perfect gift for someone you love.
Asus TUF A15
Asus TUF A15 is a budget-friendly gaming laptop that packs a punch. The laptop features the new AMD Ryzen 4000 mobile processors that are paired with Nvidia GTX 1660Ti GPU. The laptop has a sleek design as well as a full RGB keyboard.
Unfortunately, Asus has cut some corners to bring the price of the laptop down. For starters, the cooling is not adequate and the display has poor colour calibration. The colour calibration will not matter much while playing games but if you have a media-oriented workflow then the Asus TUF A15 won’t cut it. You can check out our detailed review here to learn more about the laptop.
Overall, the laptop, while lacking in some aspects, is a great gift for someone who occasionally games and wants a decent gaming laptop.
Buy Asus TUF A15 ($899) (Ryzen 5 4600H, 8GB RAM, GTX 1650) Buy Asus TUF A15 ($986.99) (Ryzen 7 4800H, 16GB RAM, GTX 1660 Ti) Buy Asus TUF A15 ($999) (Ryzen 7 4800H, 8GB RAM, RTX 2060) Dell G5 15 SE (2020)
The Dell G5 15 SE is another very capable gaming laptop. It is powered by AMD’s new Ryzen 4000 mobile processors and Radeon RX 5600M GPU. The laptop has an excellent display and a good build quality. However, like the Asus TUF, Dell has also cut some corners to bring the cost down. The build quality is subpar at best and the heat management is just 'okay'.
However, for work from home professionals on a budget, the Dell G5 would be a great entry level gaming laptop, provided you can add an external cooling fan.
Buy Dell G5 15 SE (2020) ($939) (Ryzen 5 4600H, 8GB RAM, Radeon RX 5600M) Buy Dell G5 15 SE (2020) ($1,048.38) (Ryzen 7 4800H, 8GB RAM, Radeon RX 5600M) Acer Nitro 5 (2020)
Acer Nitro 5 is another laptop that is powered by an AMD Ryzen 4600H processor paired with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. The laptop borrows its design from the 2018 Nitro 5 and comes with a red keyboard with no RGB support.
However, Acer dropped the ball when it comes to gaming performance as the GTX 1650 cannot compete against laptops with a GTX 1660Ti. To add insult to injury, the laptop has just 256GB of NVMe storage which is not enough to install recent AAA titles. That being said, the Nitro 5 has an extra M.2 slot as well as a 2.5-inch drive bay.
Overall, the Nitro 5 is a decent laptop and is recommended for someone who likes to game occasionally and does not want to drop thousands of dollars on a high-end gaming laptop.
Buy Acer Nitro 5 ($858.54) (Ryzen 5 4600H, GTX 1650, 16GB RAM) Buy Acer Nitro 5 ($958.43) (Ryzen 5 4600H, GTX 1650 Ti, 8GB RAM) Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020)
Predator is Acer’s premium range of gaming laptops and it has its own perks. The 2019 Predator Helios 300 was praised by almost everyone in the industry. Acer has taken the same design and refreshed the specs making the Predator Helios 300 one the best laptops you can pick right now.
The Predator Helios 300 has an excellent chassis, and it sports a 240Hz 1080p display. There is plenty of storage to install all of your games, as the laptop comes with two M.2 slots and a 2.5-inch drive bay. The laptop is powered by Intel’s 10th gen 10750H CPU and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU. Acer does have different CPU, GPU and storage combinations available so you can choose the one that suits your needs.
Unfortunately, the laptop is not perfect. The laptop gets toasty under load especially if you are using the Turbo mode that overclocks the CPU and GPU for better performance.
Buy Acer Predator Helios 300 ($1,169.71) (i7-10750H, RTX 2060, 16GB RAM) Buy Acer Predator Helios 300 ($2,121.99) (i7-10750H, RTX 2070 Max-Q, 16GB RAM) Lenovo Legion 7i/ Lenovo Legion 5i
Lenovo has achieved great success with its Legion branded gaming hardware. The company’s Legion Y740 laptop was touted as one of the best gaming laptops of 2019. Lenovo has continued its streak with the Legion 5i and 7i laptops. Both the laptops borrow design elements from last year’s Legion laptops and have refreshed specs.
Like the Legion Y540 and Y740, Lenovo’s line up for 2020 includes the mid-range 5i and the high-end 7i gaming laptop. Both the laptops are powered by Intel’s 10th generation processors which are paired with GeForce RTX GPUs. Both the laptops come with beautiful displays and a premium chassis.
The laptops are priced differently but personally, I feel like 5i is a sweet spot for someone who plans to game at night and work in the morning. However, the Legion 7i has its perks including the RGB keyboard and the support for Thunderbolt 3. You can check out the review of Lenovo Legion 5i and Legion 7i to learn more about both the laptops.
Buy Lenovo Legion 5i (starting at $889.99) Buy Lenovo Legion 7i (starting at $1,229.99) Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is one of the more balanced offerings from Asus. At 14-inches, it is one of the smallest laptops on the list but it packs quite the punch. The laptop is powered by AMD’s latest Ryzen 4000 series CPUs which are paired with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650.
The laptop has a clean design with a great display but it is capped at 60Hz for the GTX 1650 model. There are other models available with 1660Ti and RTX 2060 Max-Q but the availability of these vary from region to region.
Like others, Zephyrus G14 is not perfect. The laptop lacks a webcam which can be a deal-breaker if you plan to use the laptop for meetings. This can, however, be solved with an external webcam. Another issue that might bug some users are the loud fans. While the laptop is quiet during normal operations, it tends to get a bit noisy during extended gaming sessions.
Overall, the laptop packs a lot of hardware in a relatively compact form factor making it a great choice for those who have to travel with their laptop. The inclusion of a dedicated GPU means this laptop can handle all sorts of games without breaking a sweat.
Buy Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 ($1,197.97) (Ryzen 7 4800HS, GTX 1650, 16GB RAM) Buy Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 ($1,599) (Ryzen 9 4900HS, RTX 2060 Max-Q, 16 GB RAM) Razer Blade 15 (2020)/Razer Blade 15 Advanced Edition (2020)
Razer has always been at the forefront when it comes to gaming and Blade 15 is no exception. The device again borrows design elements from last year’s Blade 15 but comes with new specs. The 2020 Blade 15 is powered by i7-10750H CPU and up to GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU. The laptop has a premium chassis which does a great job of keeping heat away from your palms. Razer has also introduced the Blade 15 Advanced Edition which is an incremental upgrade to the Razer Blade 15. Razer also gives an option between 144Hz FHD or OLED 4K display and 300Hz FHD or OLED 4K touch display.
While both the laptops are great to look at and can handle absolutely any game you throw at them, they are also expensive. You will need some serious cash to grab one of these and if you are on a tight budget then Razer might not be the one for you.
Buy Razer Blade 15 ($1,299.99) (i7-10750H, GTX 1660 Ti, 16GB RAM) Buy Razer Blade 15 ($2,099.99) (i7-10750H, RTX 2070 Max-Q, 16GB RAM) Buy Razer Blade 15 Advanced Edition ($3,199.00) ( i7-10875H, RTX 2080 SUPER Max-Q, 16GB RAM) Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is definitely one of the unique laptops on the list. The laptop features a second screen just above the keyboard and has a mechanism that tilts the display for a better viewing angle.
The laptop is powered by 10th gen Intel processors that are paired with Nvidia GeForce GPUs. Both the displays on the laptop are beautiful to look at and the keyboard is decent but the small size means you will need some time to get used to it. The trackpad is on the right side of the keyboard and it can be converted into a number pad with a press of a button.
One downside of the laptop is the 60Hz screen that does not do any justice to the powerful RTX GPU. Moreover, the unique design means you will be paying a premium for it making this one of the most expensive laptops on the list. Another major issue that professionals might face is the lack of webcam.
Overall, Zephyrus Duo 15 is a great laptop to own as long as you are okay with its high price.
Buy Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 ($2,949.68) (i7-10875H, 32GB RAM, RTX 2070 Super) Buy Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 ($5,999.99) (i9-10980HK, 32GB RAM, RTX 2080 Super) As an Amazon Associate, Neowin may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
By Rich Woods
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold unboxing: The first foldable PC is here
by Rich Woods
It was May 2019 when Lenovo first announced that it was working on a new Windows-powered ThinkPad X1 device with a foldable screen. Some more details were unveiled at CES this year, when it was officially dubbed the ThinkPad X1 Fold. That's also when Lenovo said that it would come with Windows 10 Pro, with a Windows 10X version coming later. Of course, the fate of the Windows 10X version is unknown now.
But now, the ThinkPad X1 Fold is here, and so far, I have to say that Windows 10 Pro is pretty good. Lenovo built some custom software to get it up and running with window switching and such. Also, one thing that didn't work in earlier demos was having the UI automatically react to the keyboard being attached. That's something that's been resolved. It's a much smoother experience than when I went hands-on at CES.
It uses Intel's new Lakefield processors, specifically the Core i5-L16G7. That means that it uses Intel's take on big.LITTLE, something that's been used in ARM processors. Of course, Intel calls it big-bigger, because it's Intel and it won't ever admit that it has any small cores. Nevertheless, the idea is that a single powerful core can work on powerful tasks, while the four smaller cores can do tasks that require less power, all while using less battery life.
The foldable OLED display is 13.3 inches with 2048x1536 resolution, making it 4:3. When folded, that offers two 9.6-inch 3:2 displays, but it has a kickstand for full-screen use. It also comes with a Bluetooth keyboard, so it can either be used when magnetically attached on the inside, or externally when using it in full-screen mode.
Check out the unboxing video below:
By Rich Woods
Huawei Mate 40 Pro review: Another amazing camera
by Rich Woods
Huawei's Mate 40 Pro is yet another lovely device from the Shenzhen company. It has an inspired design, a beautiful 90Hz display, and one of the best cameras around. One thing it doesn't have is a surprise.
Last year's Mate 30 series was the one that ditched Google Play Services, so we've covered that. The P40 series was the one that got the big camera improvements, as the P-series does every year, so we've covered that too. Now, it's mostly about a new chipset and a refined design.
The sad part is that I couldn't run benchmarks on the new chipset. No really, I wasn't able to install any benchmarking app from any source. I couldn't even get AnTuTu from Huawei's own AppGallery. Everything said there was a parsing error.
CPU Huawei Kirin 9000, single 3.13GHz Cortex-A77, triple 2.54GHz Cortex-A77, quad 2.05GHz Cortex-A55 GPU 24-core Mali-G78 NPU Dual Big Core + Tiny Core NPUs Body 162.9x75.5x9.1mm, 212g Display 6.76 inches, 2772x1344, 90Hz, OLED, 456ppi Memory 8GB RAM + 256GB ROM Camera 50MP f/1.9 + 20MP f/1.8 Cine (ultra-wide) + 12MP f/3.4 5x Telephoto, Front - 13MP f/2.4 Video 4K - 60fps, Front - 4K - 60fps Battery 4400mAh, 66W SuperCharge, 50W Wireless SuperCharge Water resistance IP68 5G bands n1/n3/n5/n7/n8/n28/n38/n40/n41/n77/n78/n79/n80/n84 OS EMUI 11 (based on Android 10) Colors Mystic Silver, White, Black, Olive Green, Sunflower Yellow Price Starts at €1,199
For a few years now, Huawei has been innovating in design. In my opinion, it's been making some of the prettiest phones on the market. It started with the P20 Pro in 2018, which has a unique gradient color called Twilight. Since then, the company has been experimenting with all kinds of unique designs, from gradient colors to different finishes, to even different materials.
The Mate 40 Pro comes in glass, or you can get it in vegan leather. The glass one comes in Mystic Silver, White, and Black, while Vegan Leather comes in Olive Green and Sunflower Yellow. Huawei sent me the Black one, although as I said in my P40 Pro review, the Black still looks really cool. It seems to almost have a mirrored surface that I'd compare to hematite.
Last year's Mate 30 Pro introduced the circular camera housing, which was beautiful with its metallic border. This year, it's evolving a bit. This year, the border is the camera housing, with the interior showing off the Leica branding. Personally, I always think a circular camera is a nice touch because so few companies do it. It's a welcome departure from the rectangular camera with rounded corners that we've seen from everyone else, including Huawei with the P40 series.
On the bottom is the USB Type-C port for charging, just like with seemingly every one. There's also a nano-SIM card slot. It also supports expansion with Huawei's NM cards, which are the size and shape of a nano-SIM.
Sadly, this year heralds the return of the volume rocker, which you'll find on the right side of the device along with the power button. You might recall that the Mate 30 Pro actually didn't have a power button; instead, the user would double-tap on the side of the screen to activate a volume slider. The natural downside to this was that it didn't work when the screen was asleep.
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is a lovely device that will get noticed, and if that's what you're going for, then look no further. In fact, the round camera housing is always a nice touch, because it's a way to make the device look stylish when it even has a case on it.
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro has a 6.76-inch 2772x1344 display, which Huawei is calling FHD+ for some reason. It's actually closer to QHD+, but since it's not quite there, I suppose it still qualifies as FHD. The screen is another one of Huawei's beautiful OLED displays, and it has a 90Hz refresh rate.
The curves on the screen are only on the left and right sides, and they're not as pronounced as they were on the Mate 30 Pro. The Mate 30 Pro has full-on waterfall edges, although the Mate 40 Pro still has the effect of appearing to have no bezel, with the screen just fading away at the sides. Note that the P40 Pro had curves on all sides of the screen; this device is flat on the top and bottom.
The screen has a hole-punch cut-out for the 13MP front facing camera, and it also has a 3D Depth Sensing Camera. Yes, you can keep that in mind the next time that you hear that Apple's massive notch is necessary.
The 90Hz refresh rate makes for a smooth experience, which is always nice. I'd just like to have seen a 120Hz refresh rate like OnePlus and Samsung are offering. Huawei would point out that the higher refresh rate would chew up additional battery life, and you won't notice as much of a difference between 90Hz and 120Hz as you would between 60Hz and 90Hz.
The main sensor on the Mate 40 Pro is a 50MP RYYB sensor, just like you'll find on the P40 Pro. If you're unfamiliar with RYYB, it's something that Huawei started using with the P30 series. It removed green subpixels and replaced them with yellow, finding that that allowed in 40% more light. In fact, it's safe to say that these phones can see better than your actual eyes can at night.
Along with that, there's a 20MP ultra-wide sensor and a 12MP 5x zoom lens. That makes for some serious lossless zoom, something that Huawei has definitely been focusing on over the last few years.
It has the modes that we're used to, such as portrait and aperture, the latter of which is like a portrait mode for objects. There's also night mode, which I don't even use anymore because the main sensor is just so good. Huawei was actually the first to do night mode, before Google ever shipped Night Sight in Pixels.
Gallery: Huawei Mate 40 Pro samples
The last phone that I reviewed was the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and while these both have amazing cameras, they're both very different. Apple doesn't really focus on lossless zoom in any meaningful way. It offers a 2.5x zoom lens, but that's it. Huawei has a 5x zoom lens, plus a high-resolution main sensor.
The way that digital zoom works is that it just sort of crops the image. If you have a 40MP image and zoom it 2x, you now have a 20MP image. High-resolution images work for that because even a 4K display is just 8.3MP, and a FHD display is just 2.1MP.
A telephoto lens on a smartphone works by just making a lens that's still high-resolution, but can see less. This can run into trouble at night with smaller apertures and smaller pixels. But combine a good telephoto lens with the high-resolution main sensor that's needed for lossless digital zoom, and you can do some solid hybrid zoom.
I took those pictures in a variety of lighting conditions, and they all came out pretty good. It goes from pitch black near the woods to indoors at night with dim lighting to daylight. It's impressive.
Performance, battery life, and Huawei services
Huawei's Mate 40 Pro includes the first 5nm 5G chipset. Apple's A14 Bionic is actually the first 5nm chipset, but unlike its competitors, Apple doesn't have a cellular modem to integrate into it. Sadly, as I pointed out in the beginning of this review, I wasn't able to run any benchmarks on it.
I tried installing the suite of AnTuTu apps from the Huawei AppGallery, but they say that those apps don't support Android 10. This is, of course, untrue, as I've ran AnTuTu on plenty of Android 10 devices. I used Petal Search to try and get Geekbench and GFXBench, but no luck there either. They didn't even come over through Phone Clone when I set up my apps.
Performance with the Kirin 9000 is fine, as it is with all flagship chipsets. It's just frustrating that benchmarks are blocked.
Obviously, there are still no Google services on Huawei devices, at least for now. That means that for most of the apps that you want to use, you need to find workarounds, which Huawei is pretty dedicated to helping you find. First of all, Phone Clone brings everything over from your old phone except for Google apps. That makes things nice and easy.
If you need more apps, you can check AppGallery, but Huawei also has something called Petal Search. Petal Search checks trusted APK sites (it is definitely not perfect) and finds the app you're looking for. It even downloads and installs it for you. Unfortunately, it will not keep it updated for you.
Living life without Google isn't very hard, at least in my experience. Obviously, I'm more of a Microsoft guy anyway, and Microsoft's apps are pretty standalone. For notes, I use OneNote, for cloud storage I use OneDrive, and so on. If you're glued to using Google, then you should already know that this isn't the phone for you.
Battery life on the Mate 40 Pro is excellent, and I had no trouble getting through the day. The 4,400mAh battery gets the job done, but even if it doesn't, Huawei fast charging is just out of control. This thing supports 66W wired charging and 50W wireless charging. Even with the old 40W wired charging and 27W wireless charging, I was happy. At this point, you can get a lot of juice on just a little time charging.
Once again, Huawei has produced a winner in the Mate 40 Pro. However, it's a rare time that it doesn't have a key feature that would have me tell you to upgrade from its predecessor. The 90Hz display is new compared to the Mate 30 Pro, but the Mate 30 Pro had those beautiful waterfall edges. And besides, I'd like to see a 120Hz refresh rate in something this premium.
It's also a real shame that benchmarking apps were blocked. One of the key features of the Mate 40 Pro, or any Mate series device for that matter, is that it has the latest Kirin processor and we get to see how it measures up against what Apple and Qualcomm have to offer. Sadly, we don't get to see how it measures up this time. Obviously, Google services would offer an easier experience, although that's not a deal-breaker for me.
But overall, like I said, it's a winner. Benchmarking apps aren't what make a phone great. This thing has a beautiful 90Hz OLED display, even if I want 120Hz. It's also got a unique and bold design, something that Huawei is second to none at providing. And finally, it's got one of the best cameras on the market.
If you want to check it out, you can find it here.
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Samsung Galaxy Watch3 review: Stellar hardware, but I don't love Tizen
by João Carrasqueira
Samsung's summer Unpacked event brought with it quite a few new devices, including the Galaxy Note20 Ultra - which I just reviewed earlier this week - and the Galaxy Watch3. Samsung actually hadn't released a new standard Galaxy Watch since 2018, and in 2019 we only got the Galaxy Watch Active2.
The biggest difference between the standard Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch Active is that the latter is more so designed for a sportier lifestyle, while the former has more of a business look to it. Samsung's smartwatches are often seen as some of the best options available for Android smartphones, so I was excited to try out the Galaxy Watch3.
The most notable features added with this model are blood pressure monitoring and electrocardiograms (ECG), but these are only available in select markets, and that doesn't include Portugal - where I live. There are also things like blood oxygen monitoring and fall detection, and those do work regardless of region.
Chipset Exynos 9110 (dual-core 1.15GHz) Case 45mm x 46.11mm x 11.1mm, 53.8g, stainless steel case Display 1.4-inch Circular Super AMOLED, 360x360, Gorilla Glass DX Battery 340mAh
RAM 1GB Storage 8GB Strap 22mm, black leather Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Durability Water resistance up to 5ATM, IP68, MIL-STD-810G OS Tizen-based Wearable OS 5.5; OneUI Watch 2.0 Price $429.99/€447-€469.90/£419 Day one
Design and display
The Galaxy Watch3 is 14% thinner, 8% smaller, and 15% lighter than the previous generation of the Galaxy Watch, and I'm glad that's the case. Even with those reductions, the Galaxy Watch3 is significantly thicker than the OPPO Watch I reviewed in the summer, and I'd say that's a noticeable difference. It's not necessarily uncomfortable, though, and there are definitely bigger watches out there.
Out of the box, my review unit came with a black leather strap, but I exercise with my smartwatches, and I couldn't bear the guilt of ruining the leather with sweat, so I ended up buying a cheap rubber strap at a local watch seller. That's the big advantage of watches that use standard strap fittings, you can easily find a replacement strap and you're not stuck in an ecosystem of potentially more expensive straps.
Easily the thing that makes this watch stand out the most is the design of the case, particularly the bezel. Samsung uses a rotating bezel on its watches, which serves as a navigation method, and it's just so good. The precision of the clicks as you rotate the bezel make navigation feel natural, which is helped by the UI Samsung uses, and you don't have to smudge up your screen to do it. This is my favorite thing about this watch, it's just so cool to use this bezel and it has a premium feeling to it that's just great. I generally prefer rectangular displays, but this is the right way to do a circular one.
The right side of the watch has two buttons - one to go back and one to go to the home screen. You can also hold the Home button to summon Bixby, or double-press it to see your recent apps. Between the two buttons is a microphone which you'll use when taking calls.
On the left side, there's a tiny speaker grill, which you might think results in less than stellar sound, but it works just fine for calls, I had no issues whatsoever. The watch also has a feature to eject water out of the speaker if you take it swimming or something, which is cool.
On the back, you'll notice that there are no charging pins, and that's because the watch charges wirelessly, a very welcome addition for anyone who's had chargers malfunction because of sweat building up in the connectors. You can charge the watch off the back of the Galaxy Note20 Ultra too, though I explained in that review why that might not be a good idea.
The main attraction is, of course, the display, and as you'd expect from Samsung, it's pretty great. The 45mm variant of the Galaxy Watch3 has a 1.4-inch Super AMOLED display, though there's a 41mm variant with a 1.2-inch display. Both have the same resolution, so the pixel density is actually a bit higher on the smaller model. Like all AMOLED displays, blacks are truly black and colors look vibrant, everything is great here. The watch supports automatic brightness, so there's never any issues when I'm outside or anything. There's also an option for an always-on display, but I personally don't care about it.
Tizen and its problems
Like most of Samsung's smartwatches, the Galaxy Watch3 runs on Tizen, Samsung's own operating system designed primarily for wearables. What I hear most often is that people prefer Tizen over Google's Wear OS, but I have to be controversial here and say I prefer Google's offering.
Tizen has a lot of great things to it, though. The amount of options for watch faces on this watch is incredible, and not only were there some faces I really like out of the box, there are even more great ones you can get from the Galaxy Store. I love informational and colorful watch faces, and I could find a few without too much trouble.
Gallery: Galaxy Watch3 screenshots
Samsung has also made it very intuitive to navigate the UI with its rotating bezel, making everything work together perfectly. You rotate the bezel to the left to see your notifications, or to the right to go through your widgets, which can be for weather, exercise shortcuts, sleep information, and more. Opening the app menu, you also see the circular layout for how apps are presented, and this too feels natural with the rotating bezel of the Galaxy Watch3. Every time I get to use that bezel, using this watch is a joy.
Tizen offers some smart features I appreciate, like music playback controls (from your phone or the watch itself), and the ability to respond to notifications from the watch. I don't love the typing experience on the Galaxy Watch3, but it's nice to be able to do it if I want to, and not every smartwatch has that option. It also works especially well with Samsung phones, since apps like Reminder sync between the two devices, and you get access to Bixby just like on your phone. In fact, I'd say Bixby on Tizen works better than Google Assistant on Wear OS, in my experience.
Samsung also has its own Health app, which is responsible for tracking workouts, monitoring your heart rate, stress levels, blood oxygen, and so on. Exercise tracking is pretty good here, with detailed insights into your performance and all the information I could want. There's also a running coach exercise option, which lets you set a specific level of exercise and guides you to achieve it, including the ability to detect asymmetry in your running patterns. On top of that, Samsung provides a ton of health tracking features, like stress monitoring, blood oxygen measurements, fall detection, and, in some markets, blood pressure monitoring and ECG.
But there are some things about Tizen that just don't feel right to me for multiple reasons. Let's start with Samsung Health. Yes, it can track plenty of workouts, but one thing I was used to tracking with Google Fit or Huawei's LiteOS was my time playing Ring Fit Adventure. Since this goes over plenty of exercise types, I usually began tracking it as CrossFit, which both of those systems offer as an option. Tizen doesn't, and the only way I could track that kind of exercise would be if it individually recognized each type of workout, and even then I'd have to be switching between workout types constantly. There's also no high-intensity interval training (HIIT) option.
Another thing Samsung Health does is automatically track workouts, something I first experienced on the Honor Watch GS Pro. It's usually a cool feature, but here, not only does it sometimes detect workouts when I'm not doing anything, automatic workouts don't work like regular workouts. Once the watch starts detecting a workout, you can't pause or cancel it yourself like you would with a workout you start manually. At that point, I'd rather just disable automatic workouts. Also, as you'll see in the screenshot below, some of these workouts were recorded in the future.
But it gets even more annoying. Like most watches, this can track your heart rate, and like the aforementioned Honor Watch GS Pro, it can monitor your stress levels. Cool, right? Except that, out of the box, the watch measures your heart rate every 10 minutes, and for some reason, that doesn't allow it to measure your stress level automatically. To do that, you have to measure your heart rate continuously, which kills the battery in less than a day. You either have to constantly charge the watch or be limited to monitoring your stress levels manually. Coming from the no-frills stress monitoring of Honor watches, this just feels pointless.
There's also sleep tracking here, which is cool since not every Wear OS watch offers it, and it's more detailed than what I tried with the OPPO Watch. But for some reason, I've had multiple instances where the watch asks me to confirm if I slept at the times it thinks I did, which was odd. But not as odd as the fact that it just didn't record any sleep at all over the weekend, even though I always wear the watch to sleep. There's no clear indication as to why this happens.
Outside of Samsung Health, there are more things that bother me. One thing I've noticed is that sometimes the raise-to-wake gesture just stops working for no apparent reason. Disabling and re-enabling the gesture in the settings fixes it, so I don't think it's a hardware problem.
I had also hoped that connecting all-Samsung devices would enable some useful features, specifically using my Galaxy Buds Live to start a workout on my watch through the Galaxy Note20 Ultra. It doesn't work, and Bixby says that's due to privacy reasons, so maybe I can't blame that on Samsung. Also, as I mentioned above, Samsung Reminder can sync with your Samsung phone. But as I mentioned in my review of the Note20 Ultra, creating a reminder with the phone syncs it with Microsoft To-Do. If you use the Galaxy Watch3, it will sync to your phone, but not to Microsoft's service.
It's also worth mentioning that yes, connecting to a Samsung phone is required to enable Samsung Messages, which gives you the most complete SMS experience on your watch. But in reality, this just makes me feel like using a Wear OS watch would be much less limiting, since I can get a proper SMS experience on most Android phones. Samsung also says that you can see photos and emoji directly on the watch when using a Samsung phone, but using Telegram for instance, I could see images in my notifications when I connected the Honor 10X Lite. Weirdly enough, that doesn't work the same way when connected to the Galaxy Note20 Ultra.
This may not be the fault of Samsung necessarily, but I'll just lay out all my frustrations with this watch. I was really happy to see that my preferred maps app, HERE WeGo, is available on Tizen, and when I set it up, I got this notification on my phone saying that the apps were linked between the two devices. But when I actually tried to use it a few days later, I couldn't get the connection to happen again, and the watch told me that using navigation without connecting to my phone would use more battery. But the watch was connected to the phone, the app just wasn't recognizing it anymore, and there's no way to force it to connect between devices.
You may say that some of these things also can't be done on Wear OS, but I personally prefer it because it knows its limits. The OPPO Watch can only track sleep between 8PM and 10AM, so when I go to sleep at 5AM on the weekend, I know why the watch says I only slept 5 hours that night. On the Galaxy Watch3, I have no idea why no sleep was recorded at all. At the end of the day, these quirks just made me not enjoy using the watch, and it's heavily impacted my perception of it, even when it has some solid qualities.
Performance and battery life
Battery life on the Galaxy Watch3 is one of its notable upsides compared to Wear OS. Even with a relatively small 340mAh battery, the watch always lasts me two days comfortably, sometimes three days. That's not incredibly long, but it's much better than my experience with Wear OS, which only lasts me one day. Of course, that figure doesn't include using an always-on display and is based on heart rate monitoring once every 10 minutes instead of continuously. And because there's no great way to track CrossFit-like training, it's also not tracking exercise as often as other watches I've tried.
Like I mentioned at the start, the watch charges wirelessly, which is great, though it doesn't charge as quickly as I'd like. Placing it on the charger at around 10% battery means I'll be waiting almost two hours for it to charge completely, which is a bit longer than I'd like.
In terms of performance, there isn't much to say with smartwatches. For the most part, it works just fine, though I do find it a little strange that sometimes I'll raise my wrist and it takes a couple of seconds for the time to update from the last time I looked at the watch. Sometimes the watch will be quite a few minutes behind for a brief moment. It can also happen that some animations are laggy immediately after waking the watch, but that's not exclusive to this particular device.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 has some great qualities. The premium design is great and I absolutely adore the rotating bezel, it's easily the most unique thing about this watch, and also the best control interface for a smartwatch. It feels natural and prevents your screen from getting too dirty. It has a beautiful AMOLED display and solid audio for calls as well.
And Tizen isn't a bad platform necessarily. It has all the smart features I love to have on a smartwatch, like notification replies, music playback, tons of watch faces to choose from, and solid exercise tracking with cool features like the running coach. But there are many quirks to the software and decisions or errors that I just don't understand. I know Tizen is one of the older wearable platforms, but as someone who experiences Google's Wear OS and Huawei's LiteOS first, it feels like Tizen tries to take bits from one and add it to the other, but most of it ends up feeling undercooked.
With the Samsung Galaxy Watch3 being one of the most expensive smartwatches you can get, and with it requiring a Samsung phone to make full use of its features, it's hard to wholeheartedly recommend it. But it does have a stellar design, and while there are a few flaws, Tizen still offers a lot of what you'd expect and want in a smartwatch. It's still a fine choice if you're okay with its limitations.
If you're interested, you can find it on Amazon UK, where it's currently starting at £339 instead of £399 for the 41mm size. The 45mm variant in this review is going for £349 instead of £419. In the U.S., the 41mm variant is discounted to $339 instead of $399.99, and the 45mm version is $369, down from $429.99. Those prices are for Bluetooth versions, and can go up from there.
By Rich Woods
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 unboxing and first impressions
by Rich Woods
Announced at IFA this year, Lenovo's Yoga 9i is the company's flagship convertible, and it makes some really interesting improvements on an already-great laptop. For one thing, it's getting the improvement that pretty much all Intel-based laptops are getting: 11th-generation processors. Intel Tiger Lake not only brings faster CPUs and more powerful Iris Xe graphics, but it also supports Thunderbolt 4 and faster memory. It's pretty great.
It also comes in a new Shadow Black color with a leather cover, and I never realized how much I wanted this from Lenovo. I've criticized the firm for making laptops that are magnificent, but have designs that just feel bland. Seeing this in black is sexy, and then adding in the leather cover really gives it a nice touch.
That's not all though, because it has a haptic Smart Sensor Touchpad and an Ultrasonic fingerprint reader. The entire palm rest is completely smooth, and if you click the touchpad, it gives a vibration to make it feel like it's moving. Of course, if you power down the PC, you'll realize that there are no moving parts.
The Yoga 9i still has the other bits that make it an excellent convertible, such as the rotating Dolby Atmos soundbar. It comes with four 2W speakers, including two woofers and two tweeters. It's also got a 14-inch 4K touchscreen that supports Dolby Vision HDR. That touchscreen has pen support, and the pen is stored inside of the device, which has a pen garage.
Check out the unboxing video below: