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PaulOBrien

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Everything posted by PaulOBrien

  1. Samsung's SmartThings Starter Kit, which normally retails for £199 is currently £125 on Amazon and best of all, it's actually rather good. In the starter kit you'll find the hub, a plug, a multi-sensor, a motion sensor and a presence sensor. So why is it a good buy? In the smart home world, many devices run on the Z-Wave standard. Many others run on the Zigbee standard. SmartThings supports both of these, which makes it pretty unique in the market. If you want to mix and match devices from other manufacturers as well as those from Samsung themselves, it's an excellent choice. It won't work with everything, for example Lightwave has its own proprietary protocol, but for those devices, there's another option within SmartThings - custom integration scripts that let you integrate with other hubs and services. Written in a language called 'Groovy', they are incredibly powerful and work really well. Best of all, thanks to the popularity of the SmartThings ecosystem, there are lots of them already created and ready to go within the SmartThings community site. Let me talk about how I use Smartthings in my home. I have the hub plugged in, invisible, in a cupboard in the centre of the house. I have various plugs about the house with things like electric blankets, fans, home theater gear etc. Not all those plugs are Smartthings - Hive plugs use Zigbee so work fine with Smartthings and I prefer their design, so I've added some of those. The multi-sensor is on my garage door, so I can tell if it's open or closed, moving and what the temperature is out there. The motion sensor is in the house and can alert when my daughter comes in from school, or any unexpected movement while we're away, all configured using Smartthings' own smart recipes and also IFTTT integrations if needed. The presence sensor is in my bag so I can trigger things automatically when I get in from work. I have a water leak sensor connected up from a generic manufacturer, again using Z-Wave. I have our Hive heating added in SmartThings , plus our Harmony universal remote and a number of other third party services. I have our Hue lights added too, directly on the Samsung hub. Our UniFi cameras can be used to trigger motion detection events. Oh, and we have LIFX Wi-Fi bulbs too! Most connected things we have I have been able to get working, which is incredibly powerful. It's all controlled by the SmartThings app on Android which is actually pretty good, easy enough for anyone to use in the house and best of all, it's reliable. The real selling point of SmartThings is that it is easy to configure yet powerful, can be added to bit by bit and it just works. As an entry point to a connected home I think it's unbeatable. Tempted? Head on over to Amazon to grab the deal!
  2. Samsung's SmartThings Starter Kit, which normally retails for £199 is currently £125 on Amazon and best of all, it's actually rather good. In the starter kit you'll find the hub, a plug, a multi-sensor, a motion sensor and a presence sensor. So why is it a good buy? In the smart home world, many devices run on the Z-Wave standard. Many others run on the Zigbee standard. SmartThings supports both of these, which makes it pretty unique in the market. If you want to mix and match devices from other manufacturers as well as those from Samsung themselves, it's an excellent choice. It won't work with everything, for example Lightwave has its own proprietary protocol, but for those devices, there's another option within SmartThings - custom integration scripts that let you integrate with other hubs and services. Written in a language called 'Groovy', they are incredibly powerful and work really well. Best of all, thanks to the popularity of the SmartThings ecosystem, there are lots of them already created and ready to go within the SmartThings community site. Let me talk about how I use Smartthings in my home. I have the hub plugged in, invisible, in a cupboard in the centre of the house. I have various plugs about the house with things like electric blankets, fans, home theater gear etc. Not all those plugs are Smartthings - Hive plugs use Zigbee so work fine with Smartthings and I prefer their design, so I've added some of those. The multi-sensor is on my garage door, so I can tell if it's open or closed, moving and what the temperature is out there. The motion sensor is in the house and can alert when my daughter comes in from school, or any unexpected movement while we're away, all configured using Smartthings' own smart recipes and also IFTTT integrations if needed. The presence sensor is in my bag so I can trigger things automatically when I get in from work. I have a water leak sensor connected up from a generic manufacturer, again using Z-Wave. I have our Hive heating added in SmartThings , plus our Harmony universal remote and a number of other third party services. I have our Hue lights added too, directly on the Samsung hub. Our UniFi cameras can be used to trigger motion detection events. Oh, and we have LIFX Wi-Fi bulbs too! Most connected things we have I have been able to get working, which is incredibly powerful. It's all controlled by the SmartThings app on Android which is actually pretty good, easy enough for anyone to use in the house and best of all, it's reliable. The real selling point of SmartThings is that it is easy to configure yet powerful, can be added to bit by bit and it just works. As an entry point to a connected home I think it's unbeatable. Tempted? Head on over to Amazon to grab the deal! View full item
  3. There's a feedback and id sub forum in the classifieds forum.
  4. Unihertz, purveyors of the small but actually rather cool 'Jelly Pro' Android phone are back with a new and improved model on Kickstarter. The Atom takes the core concept of the Jelly (it's tiny) and adds a much larger battery (fixing the core complaint of its predecessor) and a degree of ruggedness that makes it perfect for the outdoors pursuits where the Jelly was so useful. Billed as 'the world's smallest rugged 4G Smartphone', the Atom can be purchased in a $219 basic package or a $249 'All in One' set which adds a clip, armband and bike mount. So the Atom is small, but how small? 96mm x 45mm x 18mm. Properly petite. Despite this, it doesn't skimp on features. The processor is TBC (expect an octa-core Mediatek), but the diminutive case does cram in 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, dual nano-Sim cards, a 2.45" 240x432 screen, a host of sensors including GPS, gyro and a fingerprint this time round, USB-C connectivity, dual band Wi-Fi, a FM radio and that 2000mAh battery, more than double the size of the battery in the Jelly, where stamina was the primarily complaint. Everything runs on Android 8.1 Oreo and surprisingly, Unihertz have a fairly good record on updates (the Jelly is currently on Nougat with an Oreo 8.1 build incoming). The device's ruggedness is courtesy of its IP68 rating and rubberised shell. I think it's a nice looking little thing, with a bright red programmable key on the side and red accents on each corner. The pessimistic £37,000 target of the crowdfunding campaign has been smashed with the fundraising currently at £660,000! Want in? Head on over to Kickstarter to sign up (I have!). View full item
  5. Unihertz, purveyors of the small but actually rather cool 'Jelly Pro' Android phone are back with a new and improved model on Kickstarter. The Atom takes the core concept of the Jelly (it's tiny) and adds a much larger battery (fixing the core complaint of its predecessor) and a degree of ruggedness that makes it perfect for the outdoors pursuits where the Jelly was so useful. Billed as 'the world's smallest rugged 4G Smartphone', the Atom can be purchased in a $219 basic package or a $249 'All in One' set which adds a clip, armband and bike mount. So the Atom is small, but how small? 96mm x 45mm x 18mm. Properly petite. Despite this, it doesn't skimp on features. The processor is TBC (expect an octa-core Mediatek), but the diminutive case does cram in 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, dual nano-Sim cards, a 2.45" 240x432 screen, a host of sensors including GPS, gyro and a fingerprint this time round, USB-C connectivity, dual band Wi-Fi, a FM radio and that 2000mAh battery, more than double the size of the battery in the Jelly, where stamina was the primarily complaint. Everything runs on Android 8.1 Oreo and surprisingly, Unihertz have a fairly good record on updates (the Jelly is currently on Nougat with an Oreo 8.1 build incoming). The device's ruggedness is courtesy of its IP68 rating and rubberised shell. I think it's a nice looking little thing, with a bright red programmable key on the side and red accents on each corner. The pessimistic £37,000 target of the crowdfunding campaign has been smashed with the fundraising currently at £660,000! Want in? Head on over to Kickstarter to sign up (I have!).
  6. It might not be generally recommended to start messing around in the developer settings on your device, but there is a little setting in there that can be used to slightly, but perceptibly, speed up general use of your device. The little known 'animation speeds' settings sit with the equally useful DPI settings. First up, you need to enable 'Developer Mode' on your device. This is easy - in the settings app, go to the about screen and find the 'build number'. Got it? Tap this 5 times in quick succession and you'll see 'You are now a developer!' on screen (if you are on Oreo you may also need to enter your PIN). Now that's done, when you go back a level you'll see a new menu for 'Developer Options'. In this menu, in the drawing section, you'll find 'Window animation scale', 'Transition animation scale' and 'Animator duration scale'. The first thing I always do on a device? Drop these down to 0.5x from the default 1x. The next thing I always do? Set DPI to 411 on the option below - this one is useful if you want more granularity than the standard Display menu gives you. Give it a go and see how you find it, you can easily change it back! View full item
  7. It might not be generally recommended to start messing around in the developer settings on your device, but there is a little setting in there that can be used to slightly, but perceptibly, speed up general use of your device. The little known 'animation speeds' settings sit with the equally useful DPI settings. First up, you need to enable 'Developer Mode' on your device. This is easy - in the settings app, go to the about screen and find the 'build number'. Got it? Tap this 5 times in quick succession and you'll see 'You are now a developer!' on screen (if you are on Oreo you may also need to enter your PIN). Now that's done, when you go back a level you'll see a new menu for 'Developer Options'. In this menu, in the drawing section, you'll find 'Window animation scale', 'Transition animation scale' and 'Animator duration scale'. The first thing I always do on a device? Drop these down to 0.5x from the default 1x. The next thing I always do? Set DPI to 411 on the option below - this one is useful if you want more granularity than the standard Display menu gives you. Give it a go and see how you find it, you can easily change it back!
  8. Android Go, the ultra light version of Android designed for low-spec devices, has found its first UK network home with the launch of the Vodafone Smart N9 Lite, alongside it's full Android Smart N9 sibling. The £85 device packs decidedly last-last-last gen specs, but promises a decent experience through optimisations to the Oreo 8.1 based OS. The Smart N9 lite is a slim, 4G smartphone with an anti-slip suede finish, designed 'for families and tweenies' (although I would argue they are some of the most demanding users). The device boasts (not sure that's the right word) a 5.3", 18:9 TN screen with a resolution of 960x480, a MediaTek 6739WA processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB storage and microSD expansion, 8 megapixel rear and 5 megapixel front cameras, all powered by a 2460mAh battery. It weighs just 155g. The £109 Smart N9 uses the same processor but upgrades the screen to a 5.5" IPS panel behind 2.5D Dragontrail glass, again at an 18:9 ratio with a 1440x720 resolution. Internals are improved across the board with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage with microSD expansion, 13 megapixel rear and 8 megapixel front cameras, a 2900mAh battery and full fat Android Oreo 8.1. It's actually even lighter than the lite model at 145g. Note that nly the Smart N9 includes a fingerprint sensor. Location sharing features, parental restrictions and an emergency mode are built into the phone's software. It's going to be very interesting to see if these devices are actually any good. The Vodafone Smart range has typically punched above its price / specs and although at first glance the N9 is a superior device, which one will actually provide the smoothest and most usable experience remains to be seen. I'm a little surprised the N9 Lite isn't a bit cheaper to put more space between it and the full N9. The Smart N9 Lite is available in Black Ice and the Smart N9 is available in Silver Aluminium and Black Titanium, available to order immediately. View full item
  9. Android Go, the ultra light version of Android designed for low-spec devices, has found its first UK network home with the launch of the Vodafone Smart N9 Lite, alongside it's full Android Smart N9 sibling. The £85 device packs decidedly last-last-last gen specs, but promises a decent experience through optimisations to the Oreo 8.1 based OS. The Smart N9 lite is a slim, 4G smartphone with an anti-slip suede finish, designed 'for families and tweenies' (although I would argue they are some of the most demanding users). The device boasts (not sure that's the right word) a 5.3", 18:9 TN screen with a resolution of 960x480, a MediaTek 6739WA processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB storage and microSD expansion, 8 megapixel rear and 5 megapixel front cameras, all powered by a 2460mAh battery. It weighs just 155g. The £109 Smart N9 uses the same processor but upgrades the screen to a 5.5" IPS panel behind 2.5D Dragontrail glass, again at an 18:9 ratio with a 1440x720 resolution. Internals are improved across the board with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage with microSD expansion, 13 megapixel rear and 8 megapixel front cameras, a 2900mAh battery and full fat Android Oreo 8.1. It's actually even lighter than the lite model at 145g. Note that nly the Smart N9 includes a fingerprint sensor. Location sharing features, parental restrictions and an emergency mode are built into the phone's software. It's going to be very interesting to see if these devices are actually any good. The Vodafone Smart range has typically punched above its price / specs and although at first glance the N9 is a superior device, which one will actually provide the smoothest and most usable experience remains to be seen. I'm a little surprised the N9 Lite isn't a bit cheaper to put more space between it and the full N9. The Smart N9 Lite is available in Black Ice and the Smart N9 is available in Silver Aluminium and Black Titanium, available to order immediately.
  10. Huawei's low to mid range device, the P Smart, is currently only £169.99 at Amazon in either black or gold. That's a bit of a bargain. That price gets you a single SIM device with a Kirin 659 octa-core processor, 32GB storage, a trendy 5.65" 18:9 screen, Android Oreo with EMUI 8 and dual rear cameras. You don't get 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 or USB-C, but they aren't terrible compromises at the price. Performance is good thanks to that processor and 3GB RAM, battery life is great too thanks to the 3000mAh battery and NFC is included for Google Pay. The device itself shares its internals with the Honor 9 Lite, but has a more subtle body that is less slippery in the hand. Interested? Head on over to Amazon to pick one up. View full item
  11. Huawei's low to mid range device, the P Smart, is currently only £169.99 at Amazon in either black or gold. That's a bit of a bargain. That price gets you a single SIM device with a Kirin 659 octa-core processor, 32GB storage, a trendy 5.65" 18:9 screen, Android Oreo with EMUI 8 and dual rear cameras. You don't get 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 or USB-C, but they aren't terrible compromises at the price. Performance is good thanks to that processor and 3GB RAM, battery life is great too thanks to the 3000mAh battery and NFC is included for Google Pay. The device itself shares its internals with the Honor 9 Lite, but has a more subtle body that is less slippery in the hand. Interested? Head on over to Amazon to pick one up.
  12. Like many things in life, phone contracts are frustrating because as an existing customer, you can't get access to the same deals as new customers. I suspect that at some point in the coming years this may be outlawed, but until then, if you want a new customer deal without losing your number, you need to switch network. Or do you? We recently assisted a reader who was currently on 3 but wanted to get a great deal offered only to new 3 customers. The solution? Surprisingly straightforward. Cancel the current contract, requesting a PAC code (porting authorisation code) Pick up a PAYG SIM from another network (most networks will send them out for free via a form on their website) Port your number to the PAYG account Sign up with your previous provider again, taking advantage of the new customer deal Request a PAC code from the PAYG provider Port the number back off PAYG to your new account Simple! View full item
  13. Like many things in life, phone contracts are frustrating because as an existing customer, you can't get access to the same deals as new customers. I suspect that at some point in the coming years this may be outlawed, but until then, if you want a new customer deal without losing your number, you need to switch network. Or do you? We recently assisted a reader who was currently on 3 but wanted to get a great deal offered only to new 3 customers. The solution? Surprisingly straightforward. Cancel the current contract, requesting a PAC code (porting authorisation code) Pick up a PAYG SIM from another network (most networks will send them out for free via a form on their website) Port your number to the PAYG account Sign up with your previous provider again, taking advantage of the new customer deal Request a PAC code from the PAYG provider Port the number back off PAYG to your new account Simple!
  14. I suspect most of us own a battery bank. It feels like device battery life is generally getting better, particularly in standby, but also we're using them more and with the odd exception (*cough* Lenovo P2 *cough*) batteries aren't really getting bigger. Having a backup option in your bag always feels sensible. So how do you choose which battery bank to buy? Getting the right one for you can be surprisingly complicated given the options available. So we'll help you choose! Cables or no cables This is one of my biggest things when I choose a battery bank. I really like to have all the various cables built in to whatever I buy. I don't want to actually have to carry the battery bank, a USB cable to charge it, maybe a USB cable or two to charge USB-C or microUSB devices and another one in case I need to charge my daughter's iPhone or iPad. If I can get it all built in, great - that's what I look for. An example of one such device is the iWalk Scorpion 12000mAh, which packs the USB charging cable, USB-C, microUSB and lightning cables into a slim form factor. Note: This device doesn't have a USB-A out, so that's another thing to think about (you can get a mix of the two). Status display It's all very well having a battery bank, but how do you know how much capacity is left in it? How do you know if you need to charge it? Most battery banks have an indicator of some sort, but they vary from a single LED to a fully featured OLED display. Check out the Omnicharge Omni 20 USB-C for an example of complete info overkill (but I love it). I find a happy medium is a LCD percentage display. Capacity (and therefore size) It's really tempting just to order the highest capacity battery bank you can find (and I've done this a few times!), but the flip side of doing so is that it'll be really heavy to carry around. When choosing a battery bank you need to balance capacity vs weight together with how you plan to use it. If you find out the capacity of your phone battery (e.g. 3000mAh) you can roughly extrapolate what the battery bank will give you. A 6000mAh bank isn't actually going to charge your phone twice (as there's some energy loss) and the numbers will also be impacted if you have your device on and in use while charging, but it's useful as a rough guide. I tend to have one monster and one small bank for different uses. Fast charging Not all, but a growing number of devices now support fast charging. There are a number of different standards - Qualcomm QuickCharge 2,3,4,4+, Huawei FCP (Fast Charge Protocol) and SCP (SuperCharge Protocol), OnePlus / Oppo Dash Charge plus USB-PD (USB-C Power Delivery). Find out which standard your device needs and try and buy one that's compatible (and pick up one that supports as many as possible). Don't just think about power-out, think about power-in too - battery banks can take a long time to charge, so if you can fast charge them too, that's really useful. [Note: some battery banks can do 'slow charging' too, to look after device batteries and to charge low capacity devices]. Pass through charging Not all battery banks support the ability to charge the bank and a connected device at the same time. This is really worth having, because if your phone and your battery bank are flat when you go to bed, it's super useful to be able to plug them into one charger and have them both ready to go in the morning. Safety Don't buy a battery bank from the pound shop. Just don't. Try and use a reputable supplier with positive reviews and look after your battery bank. Like any Li-Ion battery, bad things are going to happen if you abuse it, pierce it etc. etc. so just be careful. Bonus features Aside from the battery bank itself, some come with add-on items. A case of some description is nice if, like me, you're a bit obsessive about keeping things looking good as new. Many battery banks will ship with a short charging cable. Some very high capacity power banks can even take a 3 pin socket and output 240V. Share! Let us know which battery bank you've bought / are going to buy and what is important to you. View full item
  15. I suspect most of us own a battery bank. It feels like device battery life is generally getting better, particularly in standby, but also we're using them more and with the odd exception (*cough* Lenovo P2 *cough*) batteries aren't really getting bigger. Having a backup option in your bag always feels sensible. So how do you choose which battery bank to buy? Getting the right one for you can be surprisingly complicated given the options available. So we'll help you choose! Cables or no cables This is one of my biggest things when I choose a battery bank. I really like to have all the various cables built in to whatever I buy. I don't want to actually have to carry the battery bank, a USB cable to charge it, maybe a USB cable or two to charge USB-C or microUSB devices and another one in case I need to charge my daughter's iPhone or iPad. If I can get it all built in, great - that's what I look for. An example of one such device is the iWalk Scorpion 12000mAh, which packs the USB charging cable, USB-C, microUSB and lightning cables into a slim form factor. Note: This device doesn't have a USB-A out, so that's another thing to think about (you can get a mix of the two). Status display It's all very well having a battery bank, but how do you know how much capacity is left in it? How do you know if you need to charge it? Most battery banks have an indicator of some sort, but they vary from a single LED to a fully featured OLED display. Check out the Omnicharge Omni 20 USB-C for an example of complete info overkill (but I love it). I find a happy medium is a LCD percentage display. Capacity (and therefore size) It's really tempting just to order the highest capacity battery bank you can find (and I've done this a few times!), but the flip side of doing so is that it'll be really heavy to carry around. When choosing a battery bank you need to balance capacity vs weight together with how you plan to use it. If you find out the capacity of your phone battery (e.g. 3000mAh) you can roughly extrapolate what the battery bank will give you. A 6000mAh bank isn't actually going to charge your phone twice (as there's some energy loss) and the numbers will also be impacted if you have your device on and in use while charging, but it's useful as a rough guide. I tend to have one monster and one small bank for different uses. Fast charging Not all, but a growing number of devices now support fast charging. There are a number of different standards - Qualcomm QuickCharge 2,3,4,4+, Huawei FCP (Fast Charge Protocol) and SCP (SuperCharge Protocol), OnePlus / Oppo Dash Charge plus USB-PD (USB-C Power Delivery). Find out which standard your device needs and try and buy one that's compatible (and pick up one that supports as many as possible). Don't just think about power-out, think about power-in too - battery banks can take a long time to charge, so if you can fast charge them too, that's really useful. [Note: some battery banks can do 'slow charging' too, to look after device batteries and to charge low capacity devices]. Pass through charging Not all battery banks support the ability to charge the bank and a connected device at the same time. This is really worth having, because if your phone and your battery bank are flat when you go to bed, it's super useful to be able to plug them into one charger and have them both ready to go in the morning. Safety Don't buy a battery bank from the pound shop. Just don't. Try and use a reputable supplier with positive reviews and look after your battery bank. Like any Li-Ion battery, bad things are going to happen if you abuse it, pierce it etc. etc. so just be careful. Bonus features Aside from the battery bank itself, some come with add-on items. A case of some description is nice if, like me, you're a bit obsessive about keeping things looking good as new. Many battery banks will ship with a short charging cable. Some very high capacity power banks can even take a 3 pin socket and output 240V. Share! Let us know which battery bank you've bought / are going to buy and what is important to you.
  16. Let me know if you want your username here updated @mjjiva. P
  17. Weird, I get amazing battery which is still good if I turn all the EMUI battery stuff off! Agree it needs to be smarter still with its auto management tho...
  18. Nokia Steel HR 36mm white with 3 x genuine straps, the original black silicon, the lovely brown leather and the blue and brown cloth 'summer strap'. Boxed and in great condition, £90 inc RMSD.
  19. EMUI, aka Emotion UI - the custom UI layer for Android that features on Honor and Huawei devices - has always taken a lot of criticism. Of course, this is true for all manufacturer software versions that aren't 'stock Android', but EMUI has previously been particularly 'heavy', which means it taken more flak. There's a simple reason why these software layers exist and are 'fully featured' and that is that Google Play services don't officially exist in China. For Huawei / Honor, where China is obviously their home market, they need to build for a world where Google isn't king. The fully rounded experience has to be developed in house, and that experience is EMUI. As the market for the company's devices outside of China has grown however, EMUI has slimmed down to the point where today, I honestly feel that while it's not perfect, it does offer a number of improvements over stock and is close enough to still feel like 'proper Android' (particularly when you add your own stock-style launcher). One key criticism was the battery optimisations that used to lead to missing notifications. Thankfully, this isn't the case nowadays - we'll take you through what EMUI does include on the battery front and how to manage it. Android battery optimisation All Android devices feature 'Doze' mode. How doze works is complex and quite nuanced (and varies slightly on different versions of Android), but the gist is that applications are prevented from firing lots of 'wakelocks', draining power on your device in the background, and are instead limited to waking up at approved times, which can cause issues with certain types of apps. Apps can be excluded from Doze, but the options are well hidden away. Out of the box you'll notice that Google Play Services is excluded and certain apps will prompt you to make them Doze-proof after installation, one example being the Wear OS app. To access the Doze settings on EMUI 8/8.1: Open the 'Settings' app Select 'Apps and Notifications' Select 'Apps' Press the 'Settings' cog at the bottom of the screen Select 'Special Access' Select 'Ignore Battery Optimisation' The default view in this screen is 'Allowed'. These are the apps that are exclude from Doze mode. To exclude another app, you need to change the drop down at the top of the screen to 'All Apps', pick the app for which you'd like to change the configuration and then select the appropriate option as shown below. It's probably a good idea not to just change this en-masse because, of course, it will impact your battery life. EMUI battery optimisation If you're missing notifications or you're seeing weird things, it's more than possible that this is not caused by Doze, but by Huawei's own EMUI layer of optimisations. Now, let's be clear, I think this could be better from a novice user point of view but there's no denying that Huawei devices have epic battery life and this feature is one of the reasons. Previously, everything happened 'behind the scenes', but there's now at least a UI to refine what's going on. To access the EMUI battery settings on EMUI 8/8.1: Open the 'Phone Manager app Press the battery icon Press 'App Launch' You'll notice that 'Manage all automatically' is set by default. This is great, but I think I am better at knowing which apps I want to have battery draining permissions than the phone. Toggle the setting off, then select 'Manage batch manually'. You'll then see a list of all your apps, with particularly power hungry ones at the top, each with the option to prevent auto launch, secondary launch (being launched by another app) and even background running. Powerful, useful, and a great way to perfectly tune your device. Bonus features There are a couple of other useful battery related settings in EMUI too. Within the battery menu, you can enable 'Power Saving Mode', which will limit background app activity, disable auto-sync and sounds and reduce visual effects. 'Ultra power saving mode' takes things to the next level, limiting you to only a certain subset of apps. You can also manually lower the screen resolution or enable 'smart resolution' for auto switching. This is also where you can force FHD+. You can enable 'dark interface colours' to save a little power if your device has an OLED screen. If you want to see where all your battery is going, you can access all the standard Android battery usage graphs to help you eke out every bit of your battery life. In conclusion, EMUI provides powerful battery management features, which are more accessible than ever before, but perhaps at the expense of an ideal setup for non-expert users. Since setting my P20 Pro up manually I don't miss any notifications, battery life is still astonishing and overall performance is great too. Invest the time and effort - it's worth it! View full item
  20. EMUI, aka Emotion UI - the custom UI layer for Android that features on Honor and Huawei devices - has always taken a lot of criticism. Of course, this is true for all manufacturer software versions that aren't 'stock Android', but EMUI has previously been particularly 'heavy', which means it taken more flak. There's a simple reason why these software layers exist and are 'fully featured' and that is that Google Play services don't officially exist in China. For Huawei / Honor, where China is obviously their home market, they need to build for a world where Google isn't king. The fully rounded experience has to be developed in house, and that experience is EMUI. As the market for the company's devices outside of China has grown however, EMUI has slimmed down to the point where today, I honestly feel that while it's not perfect, it does offer a number of improvements over stock and is close enough to still feel like 'proper Android' (particularly when you add your own stock-style launcher). One key criticism was the battery optimisations that used to lead to missing notifications. Thankfully, this isn't the case nowadays - we'll take you through what EMUI does include on the battery front and how to manage it. Android battery optimisation All Android devices feature 'Doze' mode. How doze works is complex and quite nuanced (and varies slightly on different versions of Android), but the gist is that applications are prevented from firing lots of 'wakelocks', draining power on your device in the background, and are instead limited to waking up at approved times, which can cause issues with certain types of apps. Apps can be excluded from Doze, but the options are well hidden away. Out of the box you'll notice that Google Play Services is excluded and certain apps will prompt you to make them Doze-proof after installation, one example being the Wear OS app. To access the Doze settings on EMUI 8/8.1: Open the 'Settings' app Select 'Apps and Notifications' Select 'Apps' Press the 'Settings' cog at the bottom of the screen Select 'Special Access' Select 'Ignore Battery Optimisation' The default view in this screen is 'Allowed'. These are the apps that are exclude from Doze mode. To exclude another app, you need to change the drop down at the top of the screen to 'All Apps', pick the app for which you'd like to change the configuration and then select the appropriate option as shown below. It's probably a good idea not to just change this en-masse because, of course, it will impact your battery life. EMUI battery optimisation If you're missing notifications or you're seeing weird things, it's more than possible that this is not caused by Doze, but by Huawei's own EMUI layer of optimisations. Now, let's be clear, I think this could be better from a novice user point of view but there's no denying that Huawei devices have epic battery life and this feature is one of the reasons. Previously, everything happened 'behind the scenes', but there's now at least a UI to refine what's going on. To access the EMUI battery settings on EMUI 8/8.1: Open the 'Phone Manager app Press the battery icon Press 'App Launch' You'll notice that 'Manage all automatically' is set by default. This is great, but I think I am better at knowing which apps I want to have battery draining permissions than the phone. Toggle the setting off, then select 'Manage batch manually'. You'll then see a list of all your apps, with particularly power hungry ones at the top, each with the option to prevent auto launch, secondary launch (being launched by another app) and even background running. Powerful, useful, and a great way to perfectly tune your device. Bonus features There are a couple of other useful battery related settings in EMUI too. Within the battery menu, you can enable 'Power Saving Mode', which will limit background app activity, disable auto-sync and sounds and reduce visual effects. 'Ultra power saving mode' takes things to the next level, limiting you to only a certain subset of apps. You can also manually lower the screen resolution or enable 'smart resolution' for auto switching. This is also where you can force FHD+. You can enable 'dark interface colours' to save a little power if your device has an OLED screen. If you want to see where all your battery is going, you can access all the standard Android battery usage graphs to help you eke out every bit of your battery life. In conclusion, EMUI provides powerful battery management features, which are more accessible than ever before, but perhaps at the expense of an ideal setup for non-expert users. Since setting my P20 Pro up manually I don't miss any notifications, battery life is still astonishing and overall performance is great too. Invest the time and effort - it's worth it!
  21. Will consider interesting swaps!
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