Gadget news
Facebook Messenger gets HD photos, shared albums, support for larger files
6:38 am | April 10, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Facebook Messenger is getting a bunch of new features, Meta announced today. First off, you can now send "HD photos" in Messenger, by simply selecting an image you want to send and then turning on the HD toggle which will now appear, before hitting Send. HD photos have recently appeared in WhatsApp, and it's great to see Meta's other huge messaging app finally following suit. HD photos that you receive in Messenger will have an "HD" tag in the top right corner, so you know your eyes aren't deceiving you. Next up, you can create shared albums with friends and family, where you can...

WhatsApp will finally let you send HD media automatically
1:09 am | March 27, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

WhatsApp introduced a feature back in August that lets you send photos in higher quality - the full resolution of the image. Users had to pick the good resolution manually and individually for each image, which was less than ideal. An inside look into the WhatsApp beta for Android revealed all images and videos could be sent in HD automatically with a new Media Upload Quality toggle in the Storage and data menu. When you select the “Standard quality,” the recipient will get the media in a compressed file for faster delivery while keeping the quality lower. HD quality is...

Infinix Smart 8 HD launched in India
12:42 pm | December 8, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Infinix launched its Smart 8 HD in India today featuring the same specs and design as the recently launched Smart 8 which shared plenty of similarities with the Tecno Pop 8. Smart 8 HD features a 6.6-inch IPS LCD with HD+ resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. The panel sports a punch hole cutout and a Dynamic Island-like overlay which brings system status updates and charging info. Infinix Smart 8 HD key specs There’s a Unisoc T606 chipset alongside 3GB RAM and 64GB storage which is expandable via the microSD card slot. The back features a 13MP main cam and an auxiliary AI module....

Peloton Row review: Perhaps the best connected rowing machine around
8:26 pm | December 1, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Peloton Row: Two minute review

Peloton Row

(Image credit: Danielle Abraham)

The Peloton Row is a beautifully designed and easy to use rowing machine that delivers a full body workout in the comfort in your own home. First released in December 2022, it’s the latest fitness equipment in Peloton’s high-end line up that includes the Bike, Bike+, and Tread, the latter of which made it onto our best treadmills list. Peloton is known for creating reliable, long-lasting products and pairing them with fun, motivating virtual class content, but all that greatness comes at a high price tag. 

To make the most of the Peloton Row, you’ll need to be ready to shell out another $44/month for an All-Access Membership, in addition to the almost $3,000 up front. From there, you’ll get access to all of its classes, from yoga and meditation to cycling, running, strength training – and yes, rowing. Compared to other fitness memberships, like iFit from Nordic Track or a Hydrow membership, it’s honestly right on par, and in my opinion Peloton’s offerings a slightly superior. For people who love the livestreamed classes, it offers a ton of value, but its rival’s equipment costs significantly less. 

Peloton offers Row and Row Bootcamp classes that range from five to 60 minutes, making it easy to fit a class into your daily schedule. The regular rowing classes include more basic music based classes as well as HIIT, endurance, Tabata, and interval options, while the Bootcamp classes mix rowing with strength training.  You can even check the schedule and take live classes, though I find the times often cater to those on EST.  Peloton is great with community building, using leaderboards to compete against others in your class, creating hashtags for more niche groups, letting you high five others in your class, and follow friends. The instructors are also all top-tier, fun, and motivating.  There are a few scenic rows available for those looking to explore some waterways around the world, but there are still a limited amount available at the time of writing. 

The build of the Row is equally as impressive as the classes. It’s definitely bulky and heavy like most other rowing machines, but Peloton makes it easy for you to store it upright, saving space when it’s not in use.  You also don’t have to lift a finger during setup as a the delivering drivers do that, and then coach you through getting connected and calibrating the machine. All its components are durable and sturdy, and after over a month of almost daily use, work just as good as when I first got it. The large, 23.8-inch touchscreen immerses you in classes and is extremely responsive, bright, and easy to use. 

I’ve found this machine especially caters those new to rowing. Beyond being easy to use, there’s a standout feature called Form Assist, which uses sensors to track your movement in real time and offer feedback to correct your form. It’s helped me significantly improve my stroke, and you’ll even get a handy performance score at the end of each class. There are also Form and Drills classes that beginners will appreciate. But even veteran rowers will love everything that the Peloton Row offers. 

Peleton Row review: Specifications

Peloton Row: Price and availability

Peloton Row

(Image credit: Danielle Abraham)
  • $2,995 US plus a $44 per month All-Access Membership
  • Not yet in UK or Australia
  • Significantly more expensive than its rivals

The Peloton Row is only available direct from Peloton for $2,995. That’s after a recent price drop from $3,195. It’s currently only available in the United States, though there are plans to release the machine in the UK and Australia, similar to the Peloton Tread and Bike.

With the most basic Peloton Row package, you get everything you need, including setup, the 23.8-inch display, and a mount to store the machine upright. However, you’ll need to shell out another $44 per month for an All-Access Membership to access classes for the Row and all of Peloton’s other classes, from strength training and cycling to yoga and meditation. 

Peloton offers a few other Row packages with additional accessories like mats, weights, and a water bottle. Given these bundles range in cost from almost $100 to just under $400 more, save yourself some money and pick these up elsewhere. 

Don’t get me wrong the almost $3,000 price tag is hard to digest. But given the Peloton Row’s simple delivery and setup,  impeccable design, exclusive features like Form Assist, and access to endless classes with motivational teachers, I can see the value. There are some much cheaper alternatives, like the Hydrow and Nordic Track RW900 Rowing, but they still don’t touch what Peloton has.    

  •  Value score: 4/5 

Peloton Row: Design

Peloton Row

(Image credit: Danielle Abraham)
  • Simple setup 
  • Functional design with wheels and handle for easier moving/storage
  • Large, responsive full HD touchscreen

To say setting up the Peloton Row was simple would be an understatement, as you literally have to do nothing except let the delivery people into your home and show them where you’d like the machine. They do all the rest, including carting away all the boxes, ensuring you’re connected to the Peloton platform over WiFi, and answering any questions. All in all, it took about 15 minutes for them to set it up and another 10 to make sure you were ready to take your first class. Talk about convenience. 

It’s a good thing the machine is set up for you because it’s big, about eight feet longtwo feet wide, and weighing almost 160 pounds. Peloton also recommends you leave two feet of clearance on all sides, which I’d also recommend to avoid running into things during your row. But if you plan on taking Row Bootcamp classes, you’ll need even more room. Therefore, those tight on space should stay away from this machine and rowing machines in general, as they all have bigger footprints. It just barely fits my spare room. 

If you want to move the machine around, Peloton attempts to make the process as simple as possible by placing two wheels at the heavier end of the machine, and the back end is a loop shape, making it more functional for easier lifting. I’ve tried moving the Row around, and it’s heavy but manageable to do alone thanks to the wheels. 

To save space in your room,  there’s the option to store the Row upright (as long as your ceilings are over eight feet high).  However, you need to install a wall anchor, which involves screwing the anchor into place. I couldn’t test this since I rent and can’t put holes in my wall. I still put the machine upright, and it wasn’t difficult; the display’s arm folds down, and you use the back loop and a handle on the rail to lift it. Peloton says you should be comfortable lifting 40 pounds to do this. If you choose to store upright, only do so using the anchor. instructors even mention this in many of the classes. 

When it’s time to get rowing, there’s a large 23.8-inch full HD touchscreen that’s both bright and perfectly responsive. Colors are vivid and lifelike, while the 1080p resolution ensures decently crisp visuals. The display can fold down slightly and tilt to the sides up to 45°, which is handy for different viewing angles, especially when taking the Bootcamp classes.

At the top of the display, there’s a large speaker that’s clear and gets plenty loud, along with two rear subwoofers. You get an easy-to-reach volume button on the side, though you can also adjust the volume on the screen, and there’s a power button around the back. A seemingly useless camera with a privacy cover is included, which at the time of writing this review, only takes pictures for your profile. 

Peloton Row

(Image credit: Danielle Abraham)

Moving on to the rail of the Peloton Row, it’s made of anodized and powder-coated aluminum that feels exceptionally sturdy. On top of that rail sits a lightly padded seat that slides along the length of the rail. At the base, there’s a footrest made of sturdy plastic with a movable shoe sizer. It’s simple to adjust the size options from one to seven and fits a women’s size five to a men's size 13.5. To secure your feet is a woven strap with velcro, and after a month of use, everything holds up great and performs the same as the day I got the machine.

Beyond the footrest, just under the display, is a molded plastic and TPE handle that’s easy to reach and grip with a simple docking knob. But be prepared to get a few calluses as you adjust to daily rowing. The Row uses electromagnetic resistance rather than water or air, making for a super quiet, but powerful rowing. 

Unlike adjusting the resistance of an exercise bike, the Row uses a Drag Factor, which gets increasingly difficult as you pull the handle faster. You can change the Drag Factor between Light (100), Medium (115), and Heavy (130). Though it’s possible to go out of this range, Peloton recommends staying within those limits.

There’s not much else to the machine other than a little hub to put your water bottle, phone, and other smaller accessories. Overall, the Peloton Row is functional and well-designed, making it a joy to use.

  • Design score: 5/5

Peloton Row: Performance

Peloton Row

(Image credit: Danielle Abraham)
  • Form Assist feature to perfect your stroke 
  • Motivating instructors and great community-building
  • Worked flawlessly throughout testing

I’ve been rowing on the Peloton Row for over a month almost daily to see how it stacks up to regular use and experience all it has to offer. Beyond rowing,  the Peloton All-Access Membership gives you access to a massive volume of live and recorded classes, including cycling, running, strength, and meditation. You can watch all those classes on the Row’s screen, but for this review, I focused only on the rowing classes: rowing and row bootcamp. 

Before your first row, you calibrate the machine to you. The Peloton instructors guide you through the process. It only takes about five minutes, and you’ll learn about and take all the different positions for a proper row stroke. From there, the machine should be calibrated to your stroke, letting you use the almost life-changing Form Assist feature. 

Form Assist is available in every class you take, appearing on your screen and following your stroke in real-time using sensors, not a camera. A gray human-figure icon moves with you, and when the feature detects improper form, it’ll highlight the area in red, telling you what the error is and how to correct it.  It was distracting at first because the icon was constantly red, as I was relatively new to rowing and had no idea how to do a proper stroke. But at least it told me I was doing something wrong. Otherwise, I don’t think I would’ve known I had improper form, potentially injuring myself. It’s possible to minimize the Form Assist feature on the screen if you just want to focus on the instructor. 

At the end of your classes, you’ll get a Form Assist score, which gives you an overall form rating percentage and a form breakdown percentage for each part of the stroke. I was lucky to break 50% during my first few classes, but now I’m closer to 90%. You’ll also get awards when your form is above 80%, a nice little incentive. Form Assist puts the Row a notch above all the other rowing machines on the market. 

Beyond Form Assist, there are Form and Drills classes available to help you with your stroke. Anyone new to rowing should take these classes, as the instructors do an excellent job of breaking down each part of the stroke. I had no idea rowing involved more leg work than arms until I took these classes. I’ll still take Form and Drills classes from time to time to help improve my form. As your stroke improves, you’ll also want to recalibrate the machine, which is just as simple as the first time you do it. Peloton even offers programs to help your Row performance. At the time of writing, there are only two Row programs available, but clearly, if you’re new to rowing, this is the perfect machine to learn on. 

Speaking classes, there are few to choose from, with the most common being a basic rowing class that often focuses on music themes like Classic Rock, 90s Hip Hop, etc. Each instructor chooses their playlist, and it’s always fun to hear the songs. You can even connect your Spotify or Apple Music account to save the songs, but I experienced some hiccups during connection.

Some other rowing class options include endurance, Tabata, interval, and HIIT. Each provides a slightly different experience. The classes last from 10-30 minutes, and I found them easy to fit into my daily schedule. Peloton also just added Extra 5 classes, which are handy five-minute classes to push yourself a little further after finishing a longer class. I love the short class structure; it makes me work harder since I know the pain will be over soon.

Peloton Row

(Image credit: Danielle Abraham)

During all the classes, the instructors give you a pace and stroke rate target to hit for a certain amount of time. Before or during a class, you set your pace levels from 1-10.  Within each level are easy, moderate, challenging, and max targets you’ll want to hit based on minutes to go 500 meters. So, at level two, a max pace should be between 2:40-2:20.  Pace timings will be different for everyone, and it took me a good week to figure out how to increase my timing. It mostly involves your drive at the beginning of your stroke, not how fast you row. Stroke rate is how many times you complete a full stroke per minute. 

Peloton is big on cultivating a community, so during class, there’s a leaderboard that ranks you based on output, another metric that’s basically the power behind each stroke. As you take a class, you can compete against other users, attempting to pass them on the leaderboard. It’s extremely motivating, and even more intense during live classes, as the instructors see your output and occasionally call you out, providing an in-person class vibe. Users also create hashtags for more specific groups within Peloton, and you can even virtually high-five people during class. 

The instructors are all fun and motivating. Though similar to running on a treadmill or indoor cycling, I find rowing a bit repetitive and boring day after day, no matter who is teaching the class. Row Bootcamp classes add a little variety to your workout by combining rowing with mat strength training workouts to build up muscles to improve your stroke, using the machine’s rotating screen. These classes last a little longer, between 30 to 60 minutes. I’ve taken a few and enjoy them overall. However, I have limited space where my Row machine is set up, making them slightly more challenging to complete.  

Pretty much all of the classes you take were “live” at one point, and you’ll even see the date and time of the class on it. Of course, you can take actual live classes, and Peloton provides an easy-to-use calendar to find them. My only issue is many of the live classes cater more to those on the East Coast of the US versus the West, as they’re filmed in the New York studio. That means there are a lot of excessively early classes or ones in the middle of the day that don’t work as well for those like me on the West Coast. It’s really a hit or miss, depending on the day of the week. Coming out late last year,  the Peloton Row is still relatively new, so I assume as more people get the Row, demand will increase, and we’ll see more live classes. 

Beyond typical classes, there are self-led scenic rows that let you row in different locations from Greece to  South Carolina, putting you in the driver's seat of the boat traversing different waterways. It’ll pick up pace as you do. However,  there are still only a limited amount of scenic rows. There are even a few scenic row classes with instructors rowing an actual boat on the water that you follow along with, but these are also limited. 

Peloton is beta-testing an option to watch Netflix as you row, which is ideal for those who get bored of the repetitive exercise. One final rowing option is “Just Rowing.” It’s exactly what it sounds like, and the only thing you’ll have access to if you don’t pay for the $44 per month All-Access Membership. So, if you buy the machine, be prepared to shell out extra dough because even though the Row is great, the classes make it. 

For those that have the Row in a communal space, there’s Bluetooth connectivity to connect wireless headphones.  It’s super simple to set up and works flawlessly. I had no problem connecting my AirPods, so the only sound others hear is the machine going through the motions and your heavy breathing, and the machine is whisper quiet, hitting only dB.  I also connected my Bose SoundLink Mini II speaker with no issue blasting the volume during class, giving you even more of an in-person experience. The built-in speakers can get loud, but the sound gets distorted at super high volumes.  

To get even more health data when using the rowing machine,  it’s possible to connect a heart rate monitor or smartwatch to see and save your heart rate data as you work out. I attempted to use this feature, but unfortunately, my older FitBit Sense is not compatible. 

As for the actual machine’s performance, I have no complaints. All the components work just as great as the day it came. The seat still glides with ease, and the footrest feels secure with every stroke. I have gotten a few small callouses on my hands from gripping the handle, but instructors warned me about this, so it wasn’t a surprise. The Full HD touchscreen attracts tons of fingerprints, but it’s perfectly responsive, working just like a giant tablet. 

Maintaining the Peloton Row is as simple as can be. It mainly involves ensuring the area underneath is clear and occasionally checking for damage, especially near the power cord, handle strap, and foot straps. Beyond that, you’ll want to wipe down the machine monthly with a damp cloth and mild household cleaner, or possibly more if multiple people are using it. I can attest that things get sweaty, so keeping up with this is essential. And as they say at the end of pretty much every class, “If you’re storing the Peloton Row upright, be sure you’re using the wall anchor.” 

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

Peloton Row: Scorecard

Peloton Row: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we tested

For over a month, I have used the Peloton Row almost daily. My usual workout routine consists of pilates five days a week and walking or hiking every day. It wasn’t difficult to incorporate rowing into this routine, as many of the workouts are short, making for an easy way to add an extra dose of cardio. 

I tried out every type of row class available including HIIT, endurance, and tabata. There are also Row Bootcamp classes that are a bit more involved, and I took several of those. Finally, I took a few live classes to see what the experience was like. 

First reviewed: November 2023

Oppo A78 review
9:53 pm | November 9, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Phones | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Oppo A78 two-minute review

The Oppo A78 doesn’t exactly make a glowing first impression – take it out of the box, tap its back, flick through its menus and you’ll find what seems to be your generic budget phone. But use the phone for a while and you’ll find that it’s surprisingly impressive for its price.

At £219 / AU$359 (roughly $280), this sits comfortably in the ‘cheap phone’ category, a smartphone sector that’s as competitive as it is devoid of brand-new ideas. And the Oppo doesn’t win its commendations by trying something novel and whacky, but by being solid with a few areas that reach above its position…

… and two areas that fail dramatically. More on those later.

The Oppo A78 is one of Oppo’s budget A-series mobiles, which sits below the mid-range Reno and top-end Find X families of premium devices. The A-series has often suffered from a lack of love compared to the Reno and Find lines. But like a forgotten third child, A-series phones can often surprise you; that’s the case here.

While the A78 has a few traits that immediately give away its budget status, like the flat-edge design and tear-drop notch that breaks up the screen, it feels a lot more premium than many rivals. There’s no cheap, tacky plastic casing, instead, you'll find a shiny textured rear and a fingerprint scanner that’s one of the best around.

The Oppo A78 being held in a hand

(Image credit: Future)

This Oppo A78 is surprisingly great at gaming too/ Despite having a low-end chipset and only 4GB RAM, in testing there were rarely stutters or issues playing top-end titles. If you’re a gamer on a budget, this mobile is well worth considering.

The stereo speakers here are genuinely impressive too, as they sound more balanced than you usually hear on a cheap smartphone. It was genuinely a treat playing games or watching shows on the Oppo, which is something it’s pretty hard to say about lots of its rivals.

But let’s put a pin in the compliments – you were promised criticisms too. Firstly, there’s the pre-installed app situation (that’s bloatware, to give it its less complimentary name). These are sadly commonplace in budget phones, but the A78 had a ludicrous number of them – including 18 different games.

The phone’s camera is pretty pathetic too, with the camera test snaps looking so much more pixelly and duller than they should; seriously, they're the closest thing cameras can create to impressionist paintings. Skip straight down to the ‘Camera samples’ section if you want to have nightmares tonight.

So it’s easy to recommend the Oppo A78 as a great budget phone if you’re not a big photographer, and if you’re happy spending some time deleting a load of random apps that come on the phone or automatically install themselves. 

While “you’ll like it if you ignore some of it” may seem like a very loaded compliment, it’s generally the case for all budget and mid-range phones, and more so than for many of its rivals, the Oppo genuinely does shine for most use cases. 

Oppo A78 review: price and availability

  • Unveiled in early 2023
  • Hard to find in UK, not on sale in US
  • Costs £219 / AU$359 (around $280)

The Oppo A78 laid down on a bench

(Image credit: Future)

The Oppo A78 was unveiled at the beginning of 2023, though you may find it hard to track down in the UK, as not many retailers appear to stock it. 

The handset costs £219 in the UK and $359 in Australia, where it’s a lot easier to buy. That roughly converts to $280 in the US, however, Oppo doesn’t offer its mobiles in the country.

You could have guessed that price from the name, though, as Oppo’s A-series is its budget family of mobiles, with the A78 one of the first of the AX8 family, replacing the AX7 line.

Some of the phone’s biggest competitors at that price are its own Oppo A siblings as well as Moto’s G53 and G73, the Redmi Note 12 and the Nokia G42, to name a few – all of these are budget mobiles around the same price point that offer relatively comparable specs and experiences.

  • Value score: 4 / 5

Oppo A78 review: specs

The Oppo A78 roughly matches your typical budget smartphone in its specs:

Oppo A78 review: design

  • Surprisingly premium feel in hand
  • Reliable fingerprint scanner
  • 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C port

The Oppo A78's fingerprint scanner

(Image credit: Future)

The Oppo A78 doesn’t vary much from the standard budget phone design template used for the majority of similar mobiles over the last few years: it’s a ‘chocolate-bar’ style mobile with flat and angular edges.

It’s not a small phone, measuring 163.8 x 75.1 x 8mm, so it might be a stretch to comfortably hold if you have a smaller hand, but weighing 188g it’s not that heavy. 

The glossy rear back looks surprisingly premium compared to the cheap feel of the plastic used for many budget phones. TechRadar’s test unit came in black, but depending on your region, you can also get your hands on a vibrant glowing lilac model. This version also has a glossy rear, broken up by a strip to the side that houses the two slim camera bumps, as well as the words ‘innovative AI camera’.

Around the edges of the chassis, you’re getting the standard phone fare: the bottom houses a USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack, the left side has a volume rocker, there’s nothing on top and the right edge has the power button with an embedded fingerprint scanner. This sensor was incredibly responsive, a surprise how much of a wild west this kind of tech can be in phones.

Another important thing to raise is the IP54 rating of the phone, which means the Oppo is protected from splashes of water or dust, but won’t survive immersion in liquid or blasts of many fine particles.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Oppo A78 review: display

  • Low max brightness
  • HD resolution and 90Hz don't match some competitors
  • Big 6.56-inch size

The Oppo A78 laid down on a bench

(Image credit: Future)

Touting a 6.56-inch LCD screen, the Oppo A78’s display could easily be called ‘big’, even if there are larger screens in use for top-end and even some budget phones. Still, the size is useful for gaming or streaming.

It’s an HD+ screen, with a resolution of 720 x 1612; some rival handsets at this price do boast FHD+ displays. You can also find 120Hz refresh rates on some same-priced mobiles, though the 90Hz here does trump many other rivals – and won’t matter to people who don’t notice the smoother motions that higher refresh rate displays provide.

If you’re not accustomed to other screens on modern phones, then you certainly won’t mind the Oppo A78’s display – it’s big and bold (though not quite as bright as you’d want, capping at 600 nits). 

  • Display score: 3 / 5

Oppo A78 review: software

  • Older Android 12 build
  • ColorOS has a colorful design but few features
  • The phone has staggering bloatware issues

The Oppo A78's home screen with its bloatware.

An illustration of the bloatware on the Oppo A78. Other than Ecosia (our chosen browser, as Android asks you to pick), PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile and City Smash 2, these apps all either came pre-loaded on the phone, or installed themselves during the set-up process. (Image credit: Future / Oppo)

The Oppo A78 doesn’t come with the newest version of Android, something that may irk software aficionados but that doesn’t have much of a functional impact on the phone. It comes with Android 12, which has been replaced by Android 13 these days.

Laid over the top of this is Oppo’s ColorOS, a largely aesthetically inclined fork that replaces stock Android with a colorful and punchy user interface. There aren’t that many unique features here, but the swipe-down quick settings menu is more attractive than most.

The phone has a truly jaw-dropping number of pre-installed apps, though, more so than other budget phones. As well as useful first-party apps there are a number of third-party ones that you might choose to delete like Netflix, Spotify, TikTok, LinkedIn and Facebook, but the egregious issue is the sheer number of games that come on the phone by default. 

These include big-name ones like Candy Crush Saga and Lords Mobile but plenty more dodgy-looking small ones too – in the above image, you can count 18 that either came on the phone by default or are automatically downloaded without a user clicking 'install' in the app store. Not a good look by any means, unless you like feeling alienated from your own mobile. 

  • Software score: 2 / 5

Oppo A78 review: cameras

  • 50MP main and 2MP depth-sensing camera
  • Photos are grainy and lack dynamic range
  • The 8MP selfie camera performs better

The Oppo A78 in its camera app

(Image credit: Future)

Is it a budget Android phone if it doesn’t have a 50MP camera? Oppo has opted to use the same type of camera that the vast majority of the A78’s competitors also boast. But that’s far from a bad thing, as the 50MP camera phone revolution has brought benefits to the photography of low-cost mobiles.

Somehow, though, the A78 takes worse pictures than basically any other phone using this kind of main sensor. Snaps looked grainy and fuzzy, as though the whole world was made of Lego. Plus there's poor dynamic range and a deficit of sharpness. This wasn’t even a resolution issue, with pictures defaulting to 12.5MP thanks to pixel binning – though at a glance you’d think snaps were 1.25MP.

Of course, you can’t expect premium-tier photography from a budget device, but the Oppo A78 really couldn’t be further from the likes of the Oppo Find X6, and isn’t recommendable to people who use phone cameras much. Let’s not even talk about AI optimization, oftentimes the saving grace of budget phones, because the A78’s designers seemingly didn’t either.

The phone offers the ability to capture 108MP snaps in its Extra HD mode – while the usefulness of this is deeply questionable, given the aforementioned resolution issues it worked as intended during testing, capturing high-res snaps that you could zoom far into. For some users, this may compensate for the lack of a dedicated zoom camera, letting you get closer to a picture without losing quality as standard digital zoom does.

Joining the main camera is a 2MP depth sensor for portrait photography, which presumably brings some benefits for artificial bokeh blur. But isn’t as useful for photo fans as, say, an ultrawide, telephoto or macro camera would be.

The phone has an 8MP camera at the front. Selfies weren’t especially detailed or sharp, though thanks to the AI processing (which makes a belated appearance!) they’re punchy and vibrant. Portrait mode though provided some pretty questionable bokeh, with a tendency to blur too much of the subject’s hair or face. Oppo would have done well to indulge in a better camera here, and as it stands the A78 isn’t ideal for people who want Instagram-worthy snaps.

Some standard photo modes are present on the phone, like Night or Panorama, and Night does give you a bit more detail for low-light shots, with most other modes performing exactly how you expect. There’s no macro mode, with Oppo dropping it with no macro or ultra-wide lens to use it with, but there is a Pro mode.

Video recording maxes out at 1080p on both the front and rear cameras (not simultaneously). And while there are time-lapse and slow-mo modes, they offer little control over resolution and frame rate.

Oppo A78 camera samples

Image 1 of 7

An Oppo A78 photo of London's Blackheath

While this isn't an artistic shot, zooming into the grass betrays all of the camera's issues. It looks more like an optical illusion than a grassland. (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 7

An Oppo A78 photo of London's The Shard

London's blocky architecture makes the phone's grainy style seem natural. (Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 7

An Oppo A78 photo of London's Blackheath at sunset

Golden Hour lets you forget camera issues to an extent, but zoom into the grass or buildings. (Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 7

An Oppo A78 photo of London's Greenwich Park

In this park shot, the trees look blocky enough to be in Minecraft, with dynamic range issues making them all look like similar species. (Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 7

An Oppo A78 photo of fowl in a pond

The natural quirks of low-light photography plaster over the Oppo A78's issues. (Image credit: Future)
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An Oppo A78 selfie in standard mode

Selfies on the Oppo A78 are sufficiently bright, but scroll along to Portrait mode next. (Image credit: Future)
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An Oppo A78 selfie in Portrait mode

As you can see, hair is a little blurry at the edges of the face in Portrait mode. (Image credit: Future)
  • Camera score: 2 / 5

Oppo A78: performance and audio

  • Dimensity 700 is relatively powerful
  • 128GB expandable storage plus 4GB RAM
  • Fairly balanced stereo speakers, plus 3.5mm and Bluetooth 5.3

Now from the Oppo A78’s surprising weakness to its surprising strength: the phone is a wolf in sheep’s clothing when it comes to performance.

The phone packs a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset, a piece of hardware that has a proven history of transforming cheap phones into worthy processing champs (well, compared to same-priced rivals, don’t expect iPhone power here).

In gaming tests, the Oppo performed much better than its same-priced contemporaries – it rarely stuttered in Call of Duty Mobile and powered through PUBG Mobile without any issues. Through an overabundance of caution the random pre-installed apps weren’t included in testing, but sticking to big-name titles, the A78 is thoroughly impressive.

The handset comes with 128GB storage, though there’s a microSD slot that lets you bump that figure up if you need more space. The RAM is at 4GB, a fairly low amount for a modern phone. Clearly, it didn’t matter much given the performance. RAM expansion, which temporarily uses the phone’s storage space as RAM, helps a lot too.

In terms of audio, the Oppo A78 has stereo speakers – but unlike many budget phones, which have a powerful down-facing but pathetic top-mounted output, these are two fairly equal speakers. This makes gaming and watching streaming services a much more enjoyable experience than on some rivals.

There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack for people who like wired headphones or aux cords, and Bluetooth 5.3 for those living the wire-free life. This latter is actually a fairly new standard, and many of the A78’s same-priced and even pricier rivals still use 5.1 – the benefit of 5.3 comes in the form of energy saving, better encryption and increased switching between low- and heavy-duty cycles.

  • Performance score: 3.5 / 5

Oppo A78 review: battery life

  • Reliable day-long battery power
  • Nice big 5,000mAh power pack
  • 33W charging powers to full in over an hour

The Oppo A78's sleek camera bump

(Image credit: Future)

Like 50MP cameras, 5,000mAh batteries are arguably synonymous with the budget smartphone in this day and age, and the Oppo A78 isn’t shaking anything up here. It packs this same heavy-duty power packet, and it performs just as expected.

That means that the phone will sail through a day of use easily, without needing to be charged mid-way through. Intensive tasks like gaming binges or photography sessions will tax it (though heaven knows why you’d want to do much of the latter), but in testing, it always managed to last through a day.

Don’t expect a two-day battery life though, unless you’re very economical with your use – just a reliable one-day battery life.  

Charging is done at 33W, which is a little slow given that 67W and higher are becoming used in low-cost mobiles. That means you’ll have to be charging for over an hour to get from an empty tank to a full one, though Oppo states that you can get to half-charge in half an hour.

  • Battery score: 3.5 / 5

Should you buy the Oppo A78?

Buy it if...

You're a mobile gamer on a budget
There are very few mobiles at this price point that are fun to game on, but the Oppo's big screen, decent speakers and processing power are a match made in heaven.

You like side-mounted fingerprint scanners
Different phone fans prefer their fingerprint scanners in different places, but if you like the phone's edge to house its sensor, then you'll love the A78, as it was really responsive.

You're not fussed about software
Some phone fans really care about having the newest Android build, but the A78 doesn't and likely won't see an update any time soon. This is one for those who don't even know what OS their current phone has.

Don't buy it if...

You're a photography fan
Unless you want to take photos that look like Minecraft screenshots, avoid the A78's camera.

You want a working phone out of the box
Given its huge number of bloatware apps, you'll need to spend time deleting these additions, which isn't great given how clean some rivals are.

You have small hands
With a big screen and bigger body, the Oppo A78 won't feel great for people with smaller hands, as you'll need to stretch to reach the screen or fingerprint scanner.

Oppo A78 review: Also consider

There are plenty of fantastic budget Android phones out there. If you want to see what the Oppo A78 is bumping up against, here are a selection of its close rivals:

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12
Costing the same as the Oppo, this Redmi phone has a much better display and cameras that aren't horrible, but has a weaker chipset and a bigger body.

Nokia G42
This Nokia is a touch cheaper than the A78, and it has very similar specs in the display, battery and camera departments. The lower cost gets a weaker chip and slower charging.

How I tested the Oppo A78

  • Review test period = 2 week
  • Testing included = Everyday usage, including web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
  • Tools used = Geekbench 5, Geekbench 6, Geekbench ML, GFXBench, native Android stats

The model of Oppo A78 I tested was the black one, in its sole configuration of 4GB RAM and 128GB storage, though I spent the majority of the test period using RAM boost to get 8GB effective RAM.

After receiving the Oppo A78 I turned it on to let the battery power settle (and to ready up all the apps I wanted), and it was activated for roughly a week when I was simply preparing it. This time isn't included in the aforementioned test period.

Lots of the test period was taken up with the phone simply being used as an everyday handset, for social media, music streaming and Google Maps. And I'm currently deep into Call of Duty Mobile, so that took up a lot of the use time too. Several camera test sessions were conducted, but it was pretty sad to spend time lining up the perfect snap only for it to turn out as a pixel art piece.

I was a writer and editor for TechRadar's phone team for several years so I've got plenty of experience testing mobiles like this, particularly in the budget end of the market – I've used low-cost devices from almost every major brand, and also focused lots of my efforts on Chinese mobiles like those from Oppo. I still review phones for TechRadar, especially budget devices, so have tested some of the Oppo's contemporary rivals.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed August 2023

Moto G53 5G review: an affordable phone with too many compromises
9:26 am | June 7, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Moto G53: One-minute review

Motorola’s Moto G series of wallet-friendly smartphones have always had the aim to offer the essential features you need from a phone without a sky-high price tag, and that is certainly the case with the Moto G53. While there are always going to be some trade-offs when comparing it against some of the best phones available right now, as an overall budget phone experience, Motorola remains unrivalled.

The main aim of the Moto G53 is to put 5G data speeds in the hands of many, while offering a perfectly usable smartphone experience. It’s a solidly built device, even if its overall design is a little uninspired, but the star of the show is its battery life, which should keep you going for well over a day. 

Motorola has also done well to include a 120Hz refresh rate screen, especially in a phone that costs as little as this, which helps to give general navigation a less-budget feel, but the display quality in general does live up to its low-cost nature.

Elsewhere, however, you are going to have to make some compromises. The camera, for example, isn’t as amazing as its specs would have you believe. A 50MP sensor sounds appealing but, in practice, it leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you’re trying to take photos in low light. It’s also not a phone to get if you plan on playing any graphically-intensive games, as the processor just isn’t up to the task. 

And while it may feel nice to hold and comes with a pretty responsive fingerprint reader for unlocking the device, its plastic build and lack of any worthwhile waterproofing means you’ll want to be extra careful with how you treat it. But you have to remember how little the G53 costs and, if you’re looking at spending as little as possible on a phone, we suspect you’re not going to be looking for flagship features in the first place. 

Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Price and availability

  • List price of £190 / AU$329
  • Available in some markets now
  • No US availability, equivalent phone costs $249.99

Availability of Motorola smartphones differs between the US, UK and Australia. The Moto G family of phones often has multiple members, but what you’ll find in the US, for example, may not be available in Australia and vice versa. 

In the case of the Moto G53 5G, it launched in the UK and Australia on March 30, 2023 for £190 / AU$329. The Moto G53 5G doesn’t exist in the US under the same name, but the Moto G 5G is the most closely matched model at $250, although this has a slightly different camera system and can accept a slightly higher charging throughput. 

• Value score: 4/5

Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Specs

Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Design

  • Good-looking handset, if a little uninspired
  • Lightweight and comfortable to hold in one hand, despite its large size
  • MicroSD expansion will please most users

Motorola Moto G53 5G rear panel with included case attached

(Image credit: Future)

The Moto G53 isn’t a bad-looking phone by any means, but it doesn’t quite have the wow factor of some other devices on the market. Having said that, I did let out a discernible gasp when I first took it out the box when I realized just how light it was.

At 183g, the Moto G53 5G is practically a feather and its lack of weight certainly helps with being able to hold it with one hand. Sporting a 6.5-inch screen, it is quite a large device – and certainly one of the largest phones I’ve personally held in a while. I do have fairly big hands, and was only just about able to use it one-handed, but it wasn’t the most comfortable experience ever, especially with no gestures available to bring the screen down, as you’ll find in iOS. I would expect most people will want to use it two-handed.

Its featherweight figure is afforded by its plastic frame and back panel, and while this can inherently make it feel cheap – which of course, in terms of price, it is – the G53 does feel like a solid device in the hand. The rear panel feels particularly lovely to the touch and, in the blue color of my review sample at least, does well to hide fingerprints. 

There’s no mention of Gorilla Glass being used on the front panel in Motorola’s official specs list, so you’ll definitely want to invest in a tempered glass screen protector, and while an official IP rating is not offered, the company says it has a “water-repellant” design that can survive the odd splash or spill, but you’ll want to refrain from submerging it in water at all costs. 

The rear dual camera system sits within its own little bump, and Motorola has managed to keep the extrusion to a minimum – it certainly sticks out less than the camera bump on the newer iPhones at least. Motorola also ships the G53 with a clear case already attached, and not only does this save you having to buy your own, it also helps the slight camera bump to sit fully flush with the rear of the phone. Overall it’s a slim device at just 8.2mm thick, meaning you should have no issue sliding into a pocket. 

On the right side of the phone you’ll find the power button, complete with built-in fingerprint scanner, which I found to be quick and responsive, and I liked the fact you don’t need to actually press the button for it to work. Instead, just touch your finger on it and the G53 will unlock. 

On the left of the G53 is where you’ll find the SIM card tray, which also houses a slot for a microSD card, allowing for up to 1TB of additional storage to go with the 128GB that’s already built in. Finally, on the bottom, there’s a USB-C charging port and a 3.5mm headphone jack, for anyone who still wishes to use wired headphones over the best wireless headphones

Design score: 3.5/5

Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Display

  • 6.5-inch LCD with 120Hz refresh for smoother motion
  • Lack of full HD resolution may put some off

Motorola Moto G53 5G display

(Image credit: Future)

A 6.5-inch LCD display dominates the front of the Moto G53, with a small punch-hole cutout at the top to house the front camera. Bezels around the sides and at the top are kept relatively slim, but there is a slightly larger one at the bottom. I don’t think this detracts from the overall viewing experience because, since the screen is so large, my eyes were never really drawn to the chin at the bottom. 

The screen has full HD+ 1600 x 720 resolution with 269ppi. It’s a bit upsetting that Motorola hasn’t fitted the G53 with a 1080p display, especially since you do get one with the Moto G62 (along with an extra camera sensor) without having to spend too much more money. 

Despite the lack of resolution, the G53’s screen does go nice and bright, with a peak brightness of around 450 nits. It’s not the most color-accurate display ever though, with the whole viewing experience feeling a little flat – especially when compared against an OLED screen or an LCD on a more expensive device – and blacks in particular fail to reach inky depths. Motorola gives you the option of choosing between Natural and Saturated modes in the display settings menu, with the latter being the default. 

I experimented using both modes and found Natural to be the better of the two. Saturated was just a little too ‘in your face’ and fake-looking for my liking.

To really test the G53’s ability to handle color, I loaded up a stream of The Incredibles on Disney Plus. Remembering once again just how little this phone costs, the Motorola does a fine job, serving up a perfectly passable image that demonstrates good contrast. The red suits of The Incredibles family stand out particularly well in a predominantly green forest-based scene towards the end of the movie, although as mentioned before, they’re not as vibrant as you’d get from a more capable display, or one that uses OLED technology. 

Perhaps the headline figure where the display is concerned is its 120Hz refresh rate. This is a rarity for devices in this price bracket – not even the iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Plus can lay claim to having it – and it’s certainly a welcome one. Motion when scrolling is definitely smooth, although the odd stutter can be seen when moving particularly quickly, likely spurred on by the underpowered processor. You have the option of setting the refresh rate to automatic, or you can choose to keep it locked at 120Hz or 60Hz, but doing so can affect battery life.

Display score: 3.5/5

Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Cameras

  • 50MP main, 2MP macro and 8MP front cameras
  • Takes OK-looking photos in good lighting
  • Struggling autofocus and lack of OIS means low-light photos suffer

Motorola Moto G53 5G camera module

(Image credit: Future)

Motorola has equipped the Moto G53 with a dual camera system, comprising a 50MP f/1.8 main sensor and a 2MP f/2.4 macro sensor. While 50 megapixels may sound like an enticing number, it doesn’t tell the whole story and it doesn’t necessarily equate to high-quality images. 

The sensor used by Motorola is a Samsung JN1, which is a relatively small sensor with small pixels and, as such, has a harder time drawing in light. This not only affects how vibrant and detailed images appear, but also means the G53 has a hard time autofocusing well on whatever or whoever your subject is.

If you find yourself in good, bright sunlight, then you are able to take OK-looking photos, although the best camera phones aren’t going to be quaking in their boots. Images do still lack any real vibrancy and clarity, and results suffer with worsening light conditions. This was proven when I took the Moto G53 to Sydney's annual Vivid event. Even with several bright light installations, the Motorola struggled to focus and a lack of optical image stabilization certainly didn't help matters. Results turned out blurred and lacking any notion of color or detail.

As for the macro lens, an on-screen prompt pops up telling you to get up close with the subject, but I struggled to get it to focus on anything. I actually had more success using the main lens up close instead.

In the gallery below, I've included images taken on the Moto G53 in good lighting, in low-lighting and some comparison shots of a leaf taken using the standard camera and macro camera.

Results taken on the front camera aren't overly terrible, although I did find I could look pale and overexposed in some instances. I also found that when I came to view the selfie I'd taken, some processing appears to take place on the image, which makes it look more blurred. I toggled the automatic HDR setting on and off, assuming this was the culprit, but the same effect was applied each time. 

Camera score: 2.5/5

Image 1 of 8

Still life taken on Moto G53 5G

(Image credit: Future)
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Picture of leaf taken on Moto G53 5G

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 8

Macro shot of leaf taken on Moto G53 5G

(Image credit: Future)
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Image taken at dusk on Moto G53 5G

(Image credit: Future)
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Image taken at night at Vivid Sydney with Moto G53 5G

(Image credit: Future)
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Image taken at night at Vivid Sydney with Moto G53 5G

(Image credit: Future)
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Close up image of speaker taken with Moto G53 5G

(Image credit: Future)
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Selfie take on Moto G53 5G

(Image credit: Future)

Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Software & performance

  • Android 13
  • Dated Snapdragon 480 Plus processor
  • Will struggle to perform any intense tasks

The Moto G53 runs the latest version of Android 13 and is kept largely free of any added bloatware. Motorola has its own app onboard, which you can use to customize various aspects of the phone, such as the color theme, the layout of the home screen (how many rows and columns of apps you can have displayed) and which gestures you want to use – if any – to open apps or enable features. 

On Geekbench 6, the Moto G53 5G returned a single-core score of 719, a multi-core score of 1743 and 979 in 3DMark Wild Life. These are all pretty low figures, and you shouldn’t expect to do any intensive gaming on it, but in comparison with some of its similarly priced peers, the G53 actually fares pretty well.

The Samsung Galaxy A23, which costs around $299 / £289 / AU$400 returned a single-core score of 522 and a multi-core score of 1669, along with a 3DMark score of 440, for example, making the G53 a better performer on paper. 

The TCL 20S launched in 2021 with a price of $249 (around £180 / AU$345) returned an average Geekbench score of 1343, compared to the G53’s 1231 (there isn’t a published 3DMark score for it).

But benchmark scores only tell some of the story and, in general day-to-day use, I found the G53 to perform well. Navigating through menus only incurred the occasional stutter and apps loaded relatively quickly. The takeaway is to not expect flagship-level performance, as this is a budget device that’s on par with its peers. It may come down to whichever costs the least for you, or if you have a particular affinity for a certain brand that will persuade you to part with your cash. 

Software and performance score: 3/5

Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Battery

Motorola Moto G53 5G lying on table

(Image credit: Future)
  • 5,000mAh battery lasts well over a day
  • Slow to charge with just 10W wired charging, no wireless

Motorola has fitted a 5,000mAh battery into the Moto G53 5G, which is something we’ve now pretty much come to expect in the G series. It’s a solid offering and one that should comfortably last you a day with moderate use, and with some battery life to spare. 

To put it to the test, I loaded up an 11-hour long YouTube video of various nature scenes, with resolution set to automatic – 720p in this case – and screen brightness set to 50%. I left the video playing on a loop in TechRadar's Sydney office, where lighting conditions were constant, so that the display wouldn’t keep adjusting its brightness level. 

I came back to the video still playing the next morning and the battery usage statistics said it had been running for 21 hours 35 minutes, and still had 8% battery left. This is mighty impressive and, despite the screen offering 120Hz refresh rate, the Full HD+ resolution, coupled with a large 5,000mAh battery unit no doubt helps the G53 to last for close to two days with average use.

Which is good news, because it takes a fairly long time to fully recharge the G53’s battery. The phone only supports up to 10 watts of maximum throughput from a wired charge, which meant it took just over two hours to top up to 100% from seven. 

Battery score: 4.5 / 5

Motorola Moto G53 5G: Score card

Should I buy the Motorola Moto G53 5G?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If you're looking at the Motorola Moto G53, then it's most likely because you're looking to spend as little as possible on a phone. But you're also going to want to get the absolute most bang for your buck. Here are some good alternatives that do cost a little bit more, but which don't scrimp on features. 

How I tested the Motorola Moto G53 5G

I used my review unit of the Motorola Moto G53 5G mainly for leisure during my testing period of a few weeks. I predominantly used it to browse web pages, scroll through social media and to take some pictures. I also attempted to play a few games on it to best mimic the most likely real-world use case scenarios. 

I didn't use it to replace my usual phone, an iPhone, but I was still able to send messages to friends via social media apps when connected to Wi-Fi. I also used my iPhone as a means to compare picture-taking abilities, being well aware that the iPhone was going to take more impressive shots due to its more capable camera system. 

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed June 2023]

Amazon Music Unlimited review
5:44 pm | June 9, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Audio Audio Streaming Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Amazon Music Unlimited: Two-minute review

Amazon Music Unlimited is a high-quality music streaming app to rival audiophile-grade services, like Tidal, at a good price.

If you’re a little confused by Amazon’s music streaming naming conventions, you’re not alone. There used to be Amazon Music Unlimited and Ultra HD and Amazon Music HD. But now you’ll find everything under the Amazon Music Unlimited umbrella.

What’s more, there are a few different tiers here, all offering different things. Amazon Music Free gives you free access to some top playlists and has ads. Then there’s Amazon Music Prime, this gives you access to 2 million songs ad-free and some playlists and stations. It’s included with Prime at no additional cost.

Then there’s the service we’re reviewing here, Amazon Music Unlimited, which is Amazon’s premium music subscription service. It has more than 100 million tracks, like most rivals, and brings you lossless FLAC audio qaulity up to 24-bit/192kHz, while Spotify, for example, only offers 320kbps. 

It’s arguably the best value music streaming service if you want lossless audio. And the good news is that if you already have a Prime membership, you’ll get the music streaming service for $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99, making it a cheaper option than all of the competition. 

If you have Amazon products there’s great Alexa integration and even the option to buy the streaming service so you can listen to it on just one smart device. But even if you’re not already bought into everything Amazon, this is still a good value option with hi-res audio and a solid library of tunes.

Amazon Music Unlimited review: Pricing and subscription

The Amazon Music Unlimited app

(Image credit: Amazon)
  • Discount for Prime members
  • A (sort of) free version with restrictions
  • A 30-day free trial

As a quick recap, anyone can access Amazon Music Free. But that has ads and restrictions. Amazon Music Prime is free for Prime members and that gives you access to 2 million songs ad-free. But if you want the premium subscription service, Amazon Music Unlimited, you’ll need to pay.

Prime members can get Amazon Music Unlimited for $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99 with a monthly subscription or $99 / £99 (roughly AU$190, although annual pricing isn't shown on Amazon's site) a year with an annual subscription. If you’re not a Prime member, you’ll need to pay $10.99 / £10.99 / AU$12.99 a month. If you sign up for the monthly subscription, you’ll get a 30-day free trial and, at the time of writing, those in Australia can get a free trial that lasts three months. 

For $5.99 / £5.99 / AU$6.99 month you can listen to Amazon Music Unlimited on a single Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Look, Amazon Tap or Fire TV device. This is a really nice option for anyone who knows they only really like listening on one device.

There’s also the option of a family plan, but only for Prime members and each person will need an Amazon account. This allows six different people to listen to music all at once and costs $16.99 / £17.99 / AU$20.99 per month or $159 / £179 (AU$242) a year. Amazon Unlimited for Students is available for $5.99 / £5.99 / AU$6.99 per month.

Amazon Music Unlimited review: Key specs

The Amazon Music Unlimited app

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon Music Unlimited review: Music library and content

Amazon Music Unlimited app screenshots on an iPhone

(Image credit: Future/Amazon Music)
  • More than 100 million tracks
  • Good selection of podcasts
  • Save for offline listening and local files

There are more than 100 million songs in the Amazon Music Unlimited library at the time of writing and these are a mix of HD and Ultra HD quality. This is the same amount as Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music

Amazon added podcasts to the streaming service a few years back, and a lot of my favorites are available. But do check your go-to podcasts are available before signing up, as the choice feels limited compared to Spotify.

You can download music to listen to later via offline playback. I found this to work very well, and it was good knowing if I lost a data or Wi-Fi connection, I could keep listening. But remember that those high-quality audio files take up more space on your device.

You can also store music you already own locally within the Amazon Music Unlimited app and import playlists from other streaming platforms with the help of a service like SongShift or TuneMyMusic.

Amazon Music Unlimited review: Apps and compatibility

The Amazon Music Unlimited app

(Image credit: Amazon)
  • Web browser, desktop app, and mobile app
  • Integration with home audio devices
  • Interface not as slick as Spotify

You can stream Amazon Music Unlimited via your web browser, but it works the best in a desktop app or mobile app on iOS, Android, Mac and Windows devices. It’s also integrated into a range of home devices, including speakers, amplifiers, and soundbars. As you’d expect, this includes all of Amazon’s Echo products, Sonos speakers, Fire TV devices, and more.

The desktop app isn’t as slick or good-looking as Spotify or Tidal. But it offers a very similar user experience with a grid-like design displaying album and playlist artwork in full color across the screen that allows you to swipe horizontally through playlists, tracks and albums. The color palette is simple, with dark grey and some bright blue accents.

In the menu you’ll find Home. This is where you’ll find recently played tracks, album and playlist recommendations, and sections dedicated to the latest tracks. The following section is Find, which is both a search and music discovery section where you can browse by genre and audio quality. Library is where your music is stored, including what you’ve listened to recently and your saved playlists, artists, and tracks. The final section is Alexa, and you need to grant Amazon microphone access to your phone for this to work – so be sure you’re happy with that before you agree. 

The bar that runs along the bottom of the screen has playback controls, and there’s the option to send your music to a connected device – like an Echo speaker.  There’s also a three-dot ellipsis next to playlists, albums and tracks that expands features and brings up menus. This keeps the interface clean and presents a range of options, including adding to queue, adding to a playlist, downloading or sharing – this opens up a link and social media with more options in the mobile app, including Instagram Stories.  At times I actually prefer the look of Amazon Music Unlimited’s app more than Spotfiy’s because it’s simply less cluttered and jammed with text and content. So even though it may not be as slick-looking as other services, its minimal design, easy-to-use controls, and menus make it straightforward. For that reason, this would suit someone who hasn’t dipped their toe into music streaming before. Unsurprisingly, Amazon Music Unlimited works with Alexa and it does work remarkably well to surface new music. You can ask Alexa to play tracks or playlists, or ask for specific genres and types of music, and Amazon’s voice assistant will access Amazon Music Unlimited to play a mix for you.

(Image credit: Amazon)

The bar that runs along the bottom of the screen has playback controls, and there’s the option to send your music to a connected device – like an Echo speaker. 

There’s also a three-dot ellipsis next to playlists, albums and tracks that expands features and brings up menus. This keeps the interface clean and presents a range of options, including adding to queue, adding to a playlist, downloading or sharing – this opens up a link and social media with more options in the mobile app, including Instagram Stories. 

At times I actually prefer the look of Amazon Music Unlimited’s app more than Spotfiy’s because it’s simply less cluttered and jammed with text and content. So even though it may not be as slick-looking as other services, its minimal design, easy-to-use controls, and menus make it straightforward. For that reason, this would suit someone who hasn’t dipped their toe into music streaming before.

Unsurprisingly, Amazon Music Unlimited works with Alexa and it does work remarkably well to surface new music. You can ask Alexa to play tracks or playlists, or ask for specific genres and types of music, and Amazon’s voice assistant will access Amazon Music Unlimited to play a mix for you.

Amazon Music Unlimited: Playlists and recommendations

The Amazon Music Unlimited app

(Image credit: Amazon)
  • Good playlist recommendations
  • Algorithm not as intuitive as Spotify
  • Create your own playlists

You can create your own playlists with Amazon Music Unlimited – just head to Library > Playlists. However, the service also makes many good playlists for you, too. Many aren’t personalized to you but do surface good suggestions, and you can find many of these recommended in the Home section of the app. 

The ones that are personalized are My Discover Mix, a new playlist delivered to you every Monday with fresh new tracks. Think of it like Spotify’s Discover Weekly. Then there’s My Soundtrack, a constantly updated radio station tailored to your tastes, this is like Deezer’s Flow feature. I liked this and felt it definitely got better the more I used the app, bringing me a mixture of tracks I already like and fresh new ones. 

Overall, Amazon Music Unlimited’s recommendations felt right for me and surfaced great new tracks in My Discovery Mix and provided a great soundtrack for me to work and not have to worry about moving between playlists with My Soundtrack. 

The playlists don’t feel quite as fun as Spotify’s recommendation engine and there are less to choose from and none that are updated daily – I say this because I’m a big fan of Spotify’s 'Daylist'. However, if you don’t need all of that and just want a couple of fresh ways to discover new tracks you’ll find that here with Amazon Music Unlimited.

Amazon Music Unlimited review: Audio quality

amazon music hd

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • HD and Ultra HD
  • Encoded in FLAC
  • Dolby Atmos and Sony 360RA

Amazon Music Unlimited brings two types of audio quality. There’s HD and Ultra HD, and both are hi-res audio quality in a FLAC format. You’ll also find some standard quality tracks of up to 320kbps, which matches Spotify.

The lossless High Definition (HD) songs on Amazon Music HD have a bit depth of 16 bits and a sample rate of 44.1kHz. This is what’s called CD quality. You can stream many other songs in Ultra HD on Amazon Music HD, with a bit depth of 24 bits, sample rates ranging from 44.1 kHz up to 192 kHz, and an average bitrate of 3730 kbps. This is better than CD quality and puts Amazon Music Unlimited in line with the audio quality on offer from Tidal HiFi Plus and Qobuz.

As a quick refresher, lossless audio allows you to hear the full range of sound from recordings that have been mastered from better-than-CD quality music sources. This means the sound you hear from Amazon Music Unlimited more closely replicates the quality that the musicians and engineers were working with in the studio when recording compared to the highly compressed versions you might find on many other services.

amazon music hd

(Image credit: TechRadar)

There are also songs – no word on the exact number at the time of writing – remixed in Dolby Atmos and Sony 360RA 3D Audio formats. However, you’ll need the right equipment to experience these formats – the Amazon Echo Studio smart speaker is one device that can handle both spatial audio technologies.

Spotify currently offers a bitrate of up to 320 kbps. These audio files are compressed, and won’t reveal as much detail as less highly compressed sources. When comparing the two streaming services, this difference in quality is noticeable. Expect more detail, immersion and better performance from Amazon Music Unlimited. 

This is because Amazon Music Unlimited brings you the original recording served up with a much higher quality sound. Or at least it’ll try to based on your network, which device you’re listening on, and whether you have the best headphones and speakers – they’ll need to support HD and Ultra HD playback to make the most of the sound quality on offer.

When you’re browsing Amazon Music Unlimited, you’ll see that every track is labelled with a quality badge. Click on this in the desktop or mobile app, and you’re shown what the quality of the track is, what quality the device you’re using is capable of bringing you, and what it’s playing at right now. If you’re not getting the quality you expect, take a look at your settings. 

This is a great way to prove you’re getting the quality you want – especially if you’re an audiophile and want to make sure you’re getting the best of the best consistently.

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