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    1. Cellphone review: Umidigi F2

      I was recently in the market for a cheap used phone. I was looking for an Android device, preferably less than 3 years old, preferably with an unlockable bootloader and rootable, for $200 or less....

      I was recently in the market for a cheap used phone. I was looking for an Android device, preferably less than 3 years old, preferably with an unlockable bootloader and rootable, for $200 or less. I was looking at used Pixel 2's when I came across this weird Chinese manufacturer I'd never heard of.

      The Umidigi F2 is a bizarre device. I was blown away by the specs, and the seller was only asking $200CAD for it, so I took a chance. I've got to say, so far I'm pretty impressed.

      Quick Specs:

      • 6.5" IPS LCD, 2340x1080px, bezelless, w/ hole-punch camera, no notch
      • 6GB Dual-channel LPDDR4 RAM, 128GB Storage
      • Mediatek P70 - ARM Cortex A73/A53 Octo-core 2.0/2.1GHz CPU
      • 5 cameras, 32MP front-facing, 48MP rear, 13MP wide-angle, 5MP depth, 5MP macro
      • Dual SIM, MicroSD
      • 5150mAh battery
      • ~40 frequency bands
      • 3.5mm headphone jack
      • Stock Android 10

      At this price I was initially skeptical. There must be something wrong with it, some glaring flaw I wasn't seeing, and/or those specs must be fake. I'm happy to say though, they're real, and the device seems much more solid than I expected.

      I've had the thing a little over a week so far, and have only charged it once. On the first charge it lasted 4 days before I charged it, and still had 30% battery remaining after I'd spent a couple hours surfing the web and two hours watching youtube (total screen-on time was ~4.5hrs). After charging it I haven't been using it as much, but it's currently been running 3 days and it has 70% battery remaining. I've used it to listen to the radio for 3 hours this morning. Oh yeah, did I mention? Bizarrely, it has a FM radio tuner for some reason.

      So far everything has been smooth, the device performs really well, which is not something I expected from a Mediatek CPU. Rooting it went smoothly, and I've been able to tweak a bunch of settings via the EdXposed framework, as much as you can in Android 10 anyway. I did remove some background bloat, but otherwise the default ROM is very close to vanilla AOSP.

      The build quality of the thing is honestly not bad. I've used mid-range Samsung devices that have felt cheaper and more plastic-y than this. I have read some reports of bad touchscreens, but so far I haven't had any problems. There's also a DIY solution to solve that. Unfortunately, if it dies, this is pretty much my only option, since the warranty and support is pretty much nonexistent. At a quarter the price of a brand-name phone with similar specs though, I'm willing to roll those dice.

      So, other than warranty, what are the downsides? Well, so far the biggest gripe I have is there is no notification LED on it. So if I go to the washroom and come back I can't just tell at a glance if I've missed a call or text, I actually need to unlock it. Luckily the fingerprint reader and face unlock are both pretty reliable. There is no wireless charging, which I'm more or less okay with. The main reason I'd want that is if the USB port died, but again, this is the sort of phone that if anything is wrong with it you're pretty much meant to throw it out. The speaker is a bit tinny, and unfortunately it's mono. The cameras are bad. The 48MP camera does take 8000x6000 pictures, but they're grainy to the point where even if you resize them down they still look worse than something taken with a good 6MP camera. This seems to be a software problem though. The camera module is apparently made by Samsung, and people have said it's gotten better with every OTA update. As for that, there's been an update this month, but a lot of people are expecting it might be the last update they put out. Umidigi apparently has a bad track record of only providing updates for a few months.

      In conclusion, this is objectively a decent phone, and for it's price, it's exceptional. You sacrifice warranty, updates, any kind of support really, but you get some very decent hardware for $200.

      Official site: https://www.umidigi.com/page-umidigi_f2_specification.html
      Purchasable on amazon for fast shipping, purchase on aliexpress to save $50.

      9 votes
    2. Laptop review of Acer A315-42

      So I bought this laptop mainly for web browsing, document editing, note taking and programming with perhaps light gaming although that's not something I've tried yet. So, really just for school...

      So I bought this laptop mainly for web browsing, document editing, note taking and programming with perhaps light gaming although that's not something I've tried yet. So, really just for school work.

      Specifications

      Laptop Model : Acer Aspire 3 A315-42
      Laptop screen : 1080p IPS (with matte finish?)
      CPU : R5 3500U
      RAM : 8GB DDR4 (6GB available because of iGPU)
      Storage : 256GB SSD NVMe
      Wireless : Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377
      Wired : Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168/8411 (According to lspci)
      2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI port, Audio jack, 1x RJ45 Ethernet port
      Battery : 36.7Wh

      Linux compatibility

      Everything worked out of the box, gotta modify TLP to not kill the touchpad and webcam. The touchpad seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to being detected, It seems to be a kernel bug, unsure what I'll do about it concretely but rebooting a couple of times makes it work. Nothing to install thanks to AMD's open source mesa drivers. Might need a kernel higher than 5.3 because of general Ryzen 3000 issues but I've not tried, it was already higher than that.

      Operating system tested

      Basically never touched Windows, directly installed Fedora 31 Silverblue.

      My Silverblue configuration is :

      ● ostree://fedora:fedora/31/x86_64/silverblue
                         Version: 31.20191213.0 (2019-12-13T00:42:11Z)
                      BaseCommit: a5829371191d0a3e26d3cced9f075525d2ea73679bd255865fcf320bd2dca22a
                    GPGSignature: Valid signature by 7D22D5867F2A4236474BF7B850CB390B3C3359C4
             RemovedBasePackages: gnome-terminal-nautilus gnome-terminal 3.34.2-1.fc31
                 LayeredPackages: camorama cheese eog fedora-workstation-repositories gedit gnome-calendar gnome-font-viewer gnome-tweaks hw-probe libratbag-ratbagd lm_sensors nano neofetch
                                  powertop radeontop sysprof systemd-swap tilix tlp
      

      Kernel : 5.3.15
      Gnome : 3.34.1

      Body and Looks

      The screen back has metal, I believe it feels quite sturdy. The rest is reasonable feeling plastic. The material used just loves to imprint grease / fingers which kinda sucks - the keys being the exception thankfully. There was also stickers on the inside which well, are somewhat standard but I thought they were pretty obnoxious so I removed them.

      Typing experience

      It's nothing amazing but it's good enough. I'm not really knowledgeable on keyboards so that's as much as I can say on it, really.

      Performance

      Everything feels quite snappy but I don't game at all on this machine so I'm not pushing it too much other than while I'm compiling or doing other things. The temperature does go up to 75°C and the fans get a little loud but it's not that bad. It's mostly the bottom getting hot so it's not something you notice too much while typing. It also cold boots quite fast, in about 10-20seconds I want to say but I've not benchmarked that. It's my first computer with an SSD so there's that.

      Battery life

      I get about 5hours with tlp installed doing web browsing, some programming occasionally, listening to music on the speakers and chatting. Personally I was kind of expecting more from this considering it's an APU but it seems to be what other people are getting on similar setups so It'll do.

      Conclusion

      Overall, I'm pretty happy with this laptop considering how I bought it for 575$ on sale. I made this review mostly because I wasn't finding much information about this laptop on Linux and well, I don't know, I guess I felt like it. If you have any questions, ask up!

      11 votes
    3. I got my Huawei Matebook X Pro a few days ago and really like it. Here is a mini reveiw from a macbook air perspective and let me know any questions.

      I purchased the Matebook X Pro for 1350 from Microsoft with the student discount. Build: It is a very sturdy laptop and fits perfectly in a backpack. Trackpad: It feels just like the MacBook Air....

      I purchased the Matebook X Pro for 1350 from Microsoft with the student discount.

      Build: It is a very sturdy laptop and fits perfectly in a backpack.

      Trackpad: It feels just like the MacBook Air.

      Keyboard: Great typing. Switches are very similar to the MacBook Air but their noise is lower pitched.

      Screen: The screen is great and I love the thin bezels.

      Software: No bloat besides the driver manager.

      Gaming: People underestimate the mx150. It runs pubg at a playable 40fps at mostly low and a few medium settings and fortnite at 60 FPS

      with medium settings. I would never use it a a primary gaming machine, but it would be very useful for lan party’s.

      Battery life: average

      Dislikes: It can get very loud when gaming.

      Overall, It feels like the spiritual successor to my MacBook Air in design and size. It has a fantastic display and build quality and it is priced competitively. If you are willing to pay a premium for build quality and portability then I would definitely get this laptop.

      I have never done a Reddit review before so ask any questions that I left out.

      Pics:

      size comparison to MacBook Air https://i.imgur.com/xzcLiO0.jpg

      side by side https://i.imgur.com/B4FiTlD.jpg

      front view https://i.imgur.com/yDZCdqm.jpg

      top view https://i.imgur.com/2n0JNSs.jpg

      7 votes