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Who would have thought that such a simple game with some birds with anger issues would have become so big that ended up getting spin-offs, animated series, and even movies? I’m talking of course about the Angry Birds franchise, a simple game about birds trying to recover their eggs from a gang of piggies that want to eat them. Not the smartest plot, but it worked at the time.
Now, almost 10 years later, the birds’ franchise is still around. And with a sequel that no one asked for, to a movie that no one asked for releasing in theaters, I wanted to do something special for this occasion. That’s why we’ll be taking a look at Angry Birds 2.Angry Birds 2: Fun for almost everyone
Angry Birds 2 is a free-to-play game developed by Rovio Entertainment Corporation that released in 2023. Like mentioned before, the game is about hitting piggies that are on top of constructions with the help of your birds and a slingshot. It’s a physics-based game, so you’ll have to aim properly to cause as much damage as you can with your birds.
You’d think that after doing the same thing over and over again, the franchise would become boring. But this is a case of “don’t fix it if it’s not broken.” Kind of like Skyrim. The reason is that you don’t get Angry Birds 2 expecting something new. You expect to experience what you felt with the first game. And you do feel that way, just not entirely. Let me explain.
One of the best features of Angry Birds 1 was its simplicity. It was the first time I heard the term “easy to learn, difficult to master.” The game as a whole was simple. With Angry Birds 2, however, you get a lot, and I do mean a lot of features. To give you a few examples, you get chests, you can hatch eggs, you have daily challenges, events, hat events, tower of fortune, you collect gems, you and the birds have a level progression, you open chests, you collect items, and a lot more. You feel overwhelmed? Wait until you play the game.The experience: The F2P is strong with this one
If you don’t mind having all the extra stuff I mentioned before, the game is a great experience. The music is good, although a little repetitive and the graphics are as great as always. But the gameplay is the best feature.
You aim at your target, you pull the slingshot with your finger and you release to shoot a bird. While in the air, some birds have special powers you can activate. You can also use spells like a snowflake to make everything made of ice or a rubber duck to make rubber ducks rain. Makes sense!
One thing that I don’t like is the F2P aspect of this game. Starting with the fact that in this game you have a limited amount of lives. You have 5 hearts and if you lose them all, you need to wait 30 minutes. If you want you can refill all your lives with the help of gems. That really spoils your whole experience while playing.Conclusion
It’s not been that long since Angry Birds 2 released, so the game has stood the test of time. The gameplay, the graphics are the game’s best features and is still fun. If you get this game for the first time, you’ll actually feel like it’s a brand new game. It doesn’t feel old or outdated whatsoever.
Usually, I use the end of the review to recommend more recent games that are slightly better than the original. But in this case, I’m actually recommending older games. Games like Angry Birds Star Wars II and Angry Birds Rio are better experiences for a free-to-play game.
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– Struggles to recalibrate – 3rd party apps can cause issues – Tricky to use on the go
Cons: – Struggles to recalibrate – 3rd party apps can cause issues – Tricky to use on the go
Beeline’s Velo 2 offers an easy-to-use bike GPS for those who don’t like too much interference, but it isn’t without its faults.
Unlike the black cab drivers of London, destined to know every street, turn and dead-end in their own city, I have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to navigation, second-guessing how on Earth to get around the city I live in.
While there are plenty of dedicated sat-navs for bikes, one that particularly caught my eye was the Beeline Velo 2. Simple, easy-to-use and supposedly packed with smart features, I spent some time using this bike tracker to see if it could be the tool that would finally make me a successful city navigator.Design and features
The Beeline Velo 2 is simple in design and structure. It comes in two parts. The device itself features a rounded screen similar to a smartwatch, with four switches on the back. This can be attached to your bike via a piece of plastic.
While most devices of a similar nature attach to your bike via a grip, screw method or some other process, the Beeline uses rubber bands. They are sturdy and I was never concerned about the device falling off – but it isn’t exactly the most premium method out there.Using the device
Once the device was set up (which did not take long at all), I used the app to set my first destination. I rode a fairly simple 3km, heading to a nearby shop that I didn’t know the route to.
There is an easy ‘plan ride’ option on the bike. Through this, you are given a map that feels similar to Google or Apple Maps. Enter your end destination and the route pops up on the Velo.
I first used the route tracker, showing a more traditional map on the device with the road I was travelling on and where my turnings were. This was the more useful mode, offering exact turns, distances and a view of the upcoming route.
Thankfully I was able to keep to the route the majority of the time, so this wasn’t an issue. It did lead me to try the compass mode as well which I was a big fan of. The device shows a spinning arrow pointing you to your end destination. This allows you to take any road without losing track of where your end destination is.
Whichever navigation mode you use, the map is relying on your smartphone to process the route. For the most part, this is absolutely fine, but if you lose signal and go off the designated route, the Beeline won’t be able to recalibrate. This left me a bit stuck when I once hit a route with a dead-end of roadworks in an area with no signal.
On most of the rides I took, whether within the city centre or on the outskirts, I was given direct and easy routes without any major problems, even when I went off the route slightly and needed to wait for a recalibration.
One of the Beeline’s more interesting features is its rating system. When you take a route, you can rate a section of it as either good or bad. These ratings are fed into the company’s mapping algorithm which, in theory, will give better routes for drivers as time goes on.
For instance, when I took a ride into work, I came across a tight road up a hill which was not logical for bikes. After down-rating it, the route had been changed next time I took it.
While I mostly used the device for navigation, I also found it handy for quickly checking stats. Especially arrival time, how long I had been riding and my average distance times.Verdict
The Beeline Velo 2 ticks a lot of boxes. It is fairly affordable, easy-to-use, non-invasive when you’re riding and packed with plenty of features.
Whether I was following the compass or a more direct route on the map, I was consistently happy with the performance of the Velo, and rarely found myself experiencing major issues.
While it isn’t perfect and a heavy reliance on smartphones and mobile signal are reasons not to invest, for the average commuter or hobby cyclist, the Beeline Velo 2 is a great choice.Alternatives Garmin Edge 1040 Solar
A much more expensive alternative, the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is for serious bike-riders looking to get an edge in their rides.
Its big selling point is that it charges via solar, meaning if you’re taking your bike out on sunny days, you can go days without needing to charge it.
Along with being able to plan routes and show the best directions, this device can also show heatmaps from other riders, display your riding times, speeds and other statistics, and can even show where your weak points were on a route.
Sigma ROX 11.1 Evo
Sitting at a price nearer to the Beeline Velo 2, the Sigma Rox 11.1 Evo is an affordable yet feature-packed bike tracker. It is not a well-known brand but offers a user-friendly interface and some useful training data.
You can put in destinations to be tracked. It only offers small sections of the route like the Velo so don’t expect to be doing much forward planning.
There is also the ability to measure the cadence of your ride, check your speed, distance and over 150 other functions to track your performance.
The Asus Transformer Mini is a compact two-in-one priced cheaply enough to make some of its issues, such as anemic performance, forgivable.
Buying a cheaper Windows tablet always means answering the same question: Can I do as much as I want while still paying less? In the case of the $399 Asus Transformer Mini (T102HA), the answer is yes, but just barely.
Your first impression of the Mini will almost certainly be of an updated Microsoft Surface 3 (now discontinued), with a redesigned, sturdy keyboard and a stylus to boot. But that image is only skin-deep. Inside its thoughtfully designed exterior lies a number of mediocre components. It’s like buying a shiny Red Delicious apple at a supermarket. What’s inside isn’t usually the crisp, sweet crunch you’d hoped for. Mark Hachman
For desktop use, the Mini’s Surface-like kickstand suffices just fine.Beauty is only skin-deep
But let’s start with the positives. Asus clearly followed where Microsoft led: While the Mini adopts the same compact form factor of the Surface 3, the faux fabric backing the keyboard probably will remind you of the Surface Pro 4. The Mini measures 10.2 inches by 6.7 inches by 0.55 inches (13.9 mm) in laptop mode, and weighs a scant 1.74 pounds with the tablet and keyboard together. Asus claims that the tablet is made of a magnesium-aluminum alloy. The silvery material is both light and rigid.
On the rear of the tablet hides the expected kickstand, a Surface-like hinge that folds out midway down. The hinge sturdily supports the Mini across its full range of motion, with no discernible wobble. If you’d like to fold the kickstand further, it will recline the tablet to about 25 degrees, among the flattest we’ve seen. In all, it’s a great degree of freedom for such an inexpensive device.
You may not want to recline the Asus Transformer Mini this far back, but it’s there if you need it. Note the USB, charging, and mini-HDMI ports too.
Unlike the Surface tablets, Asus doesn’t bury the Mini’s SD card slot under the hinge. Instead, a USB 3.0 connector, mini-HDMI connector, micro-USB charging connector and the microSD card slot (up to 512GB) are all mounted along the edge of the tablet.
Asus clearly couldn’t budget in the type of front-facing depth camera that Microsoft embedded into its Surface lineup. Instead, Asus chose an inexpensive 2MP front-facing camera and mounted a decent fingerprint sensor on the back of the tablet. Fingerprint sensors sometimes require a bit of futzing, especially if there’s a rear-mounted camera lens that your finger may swipe instead. Asus does well here: A tiny ridge helps guide your finger where it needs to go, and the sensor is quick and usually accurate.
The Transformer Mini’s fingerprint sensor is pretty accurate, though you may need to tap or slide your finger once or twice to properly register.
Over time, though, I warmed to it a bit more. The 1.5mm key travel proved relatively comfortable, and each key was stiff enough to rest my fingers upon without triggering a keystroke, helping eliminate fatigue. Mark Hachman
It’s no laptop, but a lack of keyboard flex and decent key travel helps the Mini’s keyboard make a good first impression. Over time, though, the weak magnetic connection grows annoying.
My chief complaint with the Mini’s keyboard, however, is how easily it separates from the tablet itself. Like rival tablets, the Mini uses a folding hinge that first connects the keyboard and its pogo pins to the tablet to establish a connection, then connects along a magnetic strip for added typing stability. It’s this strip that detaches too easily, often jarring the keyboard connection loose and prompting Windows to switch to tablet mode. As a result, working with the Mini on your lap can be a rather delicate proposition. Mark Hachman
The Mini securely stashes its stylus via a pen loop and a clip.
I was unreasonably pleased to find that the Transformer Mini incorporated one of the best features of the Surface 3, however: the pen loop. This smaller loop only allows the included stylus to attach via its pocket clip, but it’s a nice convenience, and it feels securely attached to the tablet’s right side.
The two-button pen generates 1,024 levels of pressure but is otherwise unremarkable, and lacks any sort of virtual eraser at the end of the pen. Just remember to remove the small black cap on the AAAA battery inside the pen before using it, or it won’t work. Mark Hachman
The Mini’s stylus is unremarkable, but at least the pen loop makes it hard to lose.
Inside the tablet itself, the Asus Transformer Mini is a step down from the older Surface 3. While the Surface 3 included a 1.66GHz Atom x7-Z8700 chip, the Mini has a 1.44GHz Atom x5-Z8350. (Both are members of the same 14nm “Cherry Trail” Atom generation—you can compare the two here. Note that while ARK indicates that the chip can only address 2GB of memory, that appears to be an error.) The Mini uses a 64-bit version of Windows 10 Home.
Otherwise, the Mini’s specs are equally bare-bones. Credit Asus with a bright, 400-nit (rated) 10.1-inch display, but the 1280×800 touchscreen just barely reveals individual pixels—and is way, way down from 1920×1280 offered by the the 10.8-inch Surface 3. The fact that the Mini can’t even deliver 1080p—and a competing product, the $210 10.1-inch Chuwi HiBook, can—may turn you off. However, this screen resolution is pretty common for most other tablets at a similar price point.
Fortunately, the Mini at least includes 128GB of eMMC storage inside it, though its transfer speeds are poky: about 140MBps reading data, and 68 MBps writing. That’s a bit slower than the original Surface 3, a bit faster than the HiBook, and about half the speed of a SATA 6GBps SSD.
The Mini’s speakers aren’t really anything to write home about, either, though they’re loud. There’s a nice little app for adjusting the audio properties for watching a movie or playing a game. It’s not quite an audio equalizer, but it’s something.
I also had no issues connecting the tablet via either its integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi or Bluetooth 4.1.
The Asus Transformer Mini works well as a cheap, on-the-go tablet.Performance: just barely enough for your needs
I was ready to call the Transformer Mini’s performance a deal-breaker, but that’s not quite true. In our series of benchmarks tests, the Mini fell to the bottom of the stack, yes. But I spent some time web-browsing, playing Netflix and YouTube, and digging through a Flash site or two. Beyond eight or so tabs in Edge, performance begins to deteriorate. But as long as you consider the Mini to be a single-purpose machine, you can watch video, use some of Microsoft’s Office Online apps, or surf the Web just fine. Even Minecraft’s UWP Windows 10 app ran surprisingly smoothly.
In standardized benchmarks, though, things differed. You’re going to see a theme here: bottom-of-the-barrel performance. Honestly, a Cherry Trail Atom chip is about the slowest you’ll find in the market today, falling way behind even the low-end Core m series. The key metrics here are most likely the PCMark benchmarks, measuring typical office use (Work), some light web browsing and graphics (Home), and some image and video editing (Creative).
On the Work portion of the test, the Mini underperfomed both the Surface 3 and the Chuwi HiBook—and I felt that the HiBook wasn’t really fast enough to serve as a daily driver. Just for fun, we’ve included some of the prices of other competing tablets, so that you can better evaluate the performance for the price.
We stress-tested the Atom CPU using our CineBench R15 rendering test, which asks the CPU to render a 3D scene, as well as HandBrake, which stresses the CPU via video encoding. (We throw a 30GB MKV file into Handbrake and convert it to an MP4 using the application’s Android Tablet preset.) Though the Mini’s performance struggled, at least I couldn’t detect any thermal throttling, and the tablet remained cool.
Finally, just for fun, we measured how the Mini would hold up in 3DMark’s Sky Diver benchmark, which measures 3D graphics performance. As the numbers prove, the Mini’s HD Graphics 400 core struggles during gaming. (For an idea of how a more expensive 2-in-1 performs, the Surface Pro 4 can play older AAA games at lower-quality settings.)
Inside the tablet is a 32 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery, powered by a micro-USB cord (just like the Surface 3). And you’re stuck with it, too: Unlike modern smartphones, there’s no quick-charging option here, so expect to charge the Mini for several hours if the battery runs down.
Fortunately, Asus more than makes up for it with true all-day battery life. When we looped our 4K test video (which rendered at only 1280×800, natch) in Windows 10’s Movies & TV app, the Mini lasted 9 hours, 43 minutes (583 minutes). That’s probably due to its low-res screen, but the Mini still obliterates recent battery test results for the HiBook (279 minutes), Huawei Matebook (333 minutes), HP Spectre x2 (375 minutes) and others.
You can say one thing for the Intel Atom chips: Their standby time is usually very good, and a quick tap of the power button flashes an Asus battery gauge that gives you an idea of the remaining battery life without needing to boot the tablet. That’s a nice little feature I wish other tablets had.Conclusion: It’s not so bad
Achieving a $399 price point doesn’t come without making some tough decisions about what components and features to include. With the Asus Transformer Mini, Asus includes necessary accessories like the keyboard cover, but cut some corners when it comes to hardware: the basic processor, sluggish flash, and low-res display. You can, of course, do better by paying more for a competing tablet. Personally, I prefer the flexibility of a Core m-powered tablet.
The fact remains, however, that the Atom chip powering the Mini will suffice for everyday tasks, and offer excellent battery life on top of it. Just keep your work on a desk, as the weak hinge makes lap work problematic. If all that works for you, congratulations! You just saved yourself a bunch of dough.
Waxwings: We don’t always drink, but when we do, it’s because we’re desperately stockpiling pre-migration calories and have no other choice. Depositphotos
For some midwestern birds, it’s been 5 o’clock all week. After overindulging on boozy berries, the winged residents of Gilbert, Minnesota have been flying into windows, bumping into cars, and generally acting dazed and confused.
But don’t say they’re on a lark.
Their funky behavior might look like harmless fun, but that’s only from our unusual perspective. Humans are one of a very small number of animals that regularly, intentionally use toxins to mess with our own mental functions. Despite widespread anecdotes of elephants buzzed on marula fruit, moose smashed on rotting apples, and Carribean monkeys three sheets to the wind after too many piña coladas, most animals refuse hooch under laboratory conditions. And those creatures that do choose to imbibe tend to be able to hold their liquor. When it comes to intentional boozing, we humans are odd ducks indeed.
Minnesota’s bird bender seems to be the result of an early frost. Usually, most birds are already headed south by the time freezing temperatures trigger fermentation in local berries, according to a report from the Gilbert Police Department. But this year the frost came early. While the police did not identify which specific species were getting into trouble, Bohemian Waxwings have behaved similarly in the past, thanks to berry cocktails coming at an extremely inopportune moment.
“These particular birds,” says Gregory Jenson, a professor of animal behavior at Columbia University, “they’re about to undertake what to a human would be something like running 15 marathons back to back.” And just as many marathoners enjoy a big pasta meal the night before the race, migratory birds of all varieties engage in a feeding frenzy before winging their way south. This year, weird weather just happened to spike their main calorie source.
Anecdotes abound of other animals accidentally getting drunk on fruit. After a few too many fermented apples, Swedish moose have reportedly ended up in trees, and even in a ménage à trois. Scientists are skeptical though. Sure, birds gorging on berries can get buzzed, but can a few dozen apples affect a hulking thousand-pound moose? Unlikely, say a dozen Swedish researchers.
It’s basically the same story for that towering lush, the elephant. The marula fruits of Africa do ferment to about 7 percent alcohol in the right circumstances, but an elephant would need to eat 1,400 in a day to get the 55 liters of hard fruit juice it needs to feel the effects. Other stories of the beasts breaking into moonshine reserves and going on drunken rampages rest largely on circumstantial evidence. In experiments, elephants begrudgingly accepted sugar water cocktails of 7 percent ethanol or less, but only after researchers deprived them of water for 12 hours. And the animals refused to drink anything stiffer than 10 percent, even when parched.
With the creatures too big to get drunk off fruit and too alcohol-averse to drink booze by choice, Jensen suspects that most of these rampaging elephant and moose stories come from people watching animals act in weird ways and jumping to conclusions. “They’re trying to understand the animal’s context with the limited tools of human circumstance,” he says.
While waxwings and elephants get drunk only when nature or experiment forces them to, some members of the animal kingdom do choose to regularly hit the bottle in the wild. The pentailed treeshrew of Malasia, for instance, lives on palm nectar, which tends to be slightly stiff at about half a percent ethanol. That’s no marula cocktail, but it’s apparently enough for the typical treeshrew to get buzzed (which researchers defined as having a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.05) about every third night. Nevertheless, the petite mammal shows few outward signs of intoxication.
If natural selection powers up the livers of animals that need alcohol, and treats drunkenness as a threat to those who don’t, why do humans drink at all? It’s something of a mystery, scientifically speaking, but one clue might come from the vervet monkeys of St. Kitts island in the Carribean, who slurp rum cocktails straight from tourists’ glasses.
A series of experiments in the ’90s tried to get to the bottom of the furry primate’s drinking habits, and found a breakdown in drinking patterns similar to those in humans. “Some systematically avoid it, some drink it a little bit and stop when they get confused and drunk, and there are others that become belligerent, blackout drunks,” Jenson says. One study of 1,000 wild monkeys found that distribution to be about 15 percent, 80 percent, and 5 percent, respectively.
No one knows for sure why the vervets drink, but like humans, they may have just gotten used to ignoring the warning signs. The monkeys have lived near sugar cane (which often burns and ferments) for 300 years, the researchers wrote, and stories of locals catching monkeys with rum and molasses date back to the early 1900s. The common thread, Jensen speculates, is sugar. “They’re going to tap into the signals that these animals depend on for saying, ‘is this a high-calorie food?’” he says. “Evolution couldn’t have planned for sweet drinks.”
Larger, bi-pedal primates may indulge for similarly coincidental reasons. We could have developed our taste for ethanol because it signals ripe, nutrient-rich fruit, one theory goes. Or maybe because it makes us hungry, getting more calories into us. Either way, in a world where the booziest thing you’re likely to find is a slightly rotten apple, those instincts are fine. It was only after the prehistoric Chinese discovered homebrewing in the seventh millennium B.C.E that enjoying the products of fermentation became a health hazard. Someday evolution might catch up and grant us the drunk reflexes of a bat, but for now, some biologists consider alcoholism an “evolutionary hangover.”
Any Minnesotan birds who managed to get off the ground and are lurching their way south right now would likely agree. But for the sake of those who didn’t, we can use our 9,000 years of experience in dealing with our poor decisions to help the waxwings and their winged friends straighten out. There’s a precedent: The town of Whitehorse in the Yukon territory in Canada, which regularly gets birds flying under the influence, has an avian drunk tank made of hamster cages and equipped with flannel blankets.
Good ANC and transparency modes
Impressive audio with customisation
Affordable price tag
Long battery lifeCons
Some features exclusive to OnePlus phones
Slightly awkward case shape
Uncomfortable after long periods
No auto-pause featureOur Verdict
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 impress with decent audio, useful ANC and a long battery life that will last throughout the day – though some features are reserved for those with a OnePlus phone.
OnePlus is back in the budget audio game with the Nord Buds 2. These earphones offer active noise cancelling (ANC) and a decent battery life for a very attractive price tag.
The addition of ANC is a step up over the previous generation Nord Buds, but how do these headphones hold up in day-to-day life?Design and build
Choice of two colours
Prone to picking up marks
The Nord Buds 2 shares the same design language as its predecessor, with rounder and chunkier stems than models like the OnePlus Buds Pro 2.
You can get them in a choice of two colours: white or grey. I tested the former, which also features silver accents on both the buds and the accompanying case, as well as a speckled finish on the white sections.
Whilst the design looks rather premium, the buds are prone to picking up scuffs and marks – an issue also seen on the previous generation.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
The buds weigh 4.7g, and never felt heavy in my ear. There’s a choice of three silicone tips in the box – using the smallest option was the most comfortable for me, though my ears did feel a little sore after several hours of use.
The accompanying case is oval-shaped, and on the wide side – it’s not quite as compact as others I’ve used. However, it is lightweight at 37.5g, and feels stable and durable.
These buds are also suitable to wear for exercise, as they have a IP55 rating, so can stand some light sweat and even a spot of rain. They stayed nice and secure in my ear, even with me jostling about doing high knees and sit-ups.Software and features
ANC and transparency modes
Works with the HeyMelody app
Pairing the buds was a painless process, and will be even easier for OnePlus phone users, thanks to the inclusion of Fast Pair. Google Fast Pair isn’t supported for other Android devices, however.
Further control of the buds is done via the HeyMelody app, which is available on Android and iOS – however, the iPhone app doesn’t appear to support the Nord Buds 2 at the time of writing.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
There are four generic sound profiles: Balanced (which is selected by default), Bold, Serenade, and Bass. There is also a BassWave toggle, which when enabled cranks up the lower tones some more.
If you want extra customisation, you can also enable a custom sound profile and tweak the settings to your exact preferences.
Whilst Dolby Atmos support and a Dirac Audio Tuner are technically included on the Nord Buds 2 Buds, these features are only accessible on OnePlus phones – which is a shame for other users.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
Touch controls are used to play/pause your audio, skip tracks, and enable the voice assistant or game mode – though unfortunately, there’s no volume control option. Again, you can customise the command of your taps in the app.
The buds are just right when it comes to touch sensitivity. I don’t have to press very hard, but equally my hair brushing against them doesn’t accidentally pause a track. However, there is a nearly two second delay when you want to pause/play something.
Unfortunately the buds don’t come with auto-pause, so if you take out your buds a track will continue playing unless you manually stop it yourself.Sound quality
Punchy volume and decent bass boost modes
Custom sound modes for different genres
ANC impressive for the price
I tested out the various sound profiles on the OnePlus Nord Buds 2, but the standard setting out of the box is to have it on Balanced, with the BassWave toggle set to medium. The 12.4mm drivers produce extremely loud audio, meaning you rarely need to crank the sound all the way up.
For the price you get impressive audio, a durable battery life and most importantly, decent ANC – a rarity at this price
Sebastian Böhm’s remix of ‘Blue Monday’ sounded great. Strings and synths were all clearly distinguishable from one another, and the bass had a decent thump. It’s not quite as powerful as what you’ll find on more expensive buds, but listening to rock tunes such as ‘Zitti E Buoni’ by Måneskin with the bass modes turned all the way up sounded strong.
Jazz track ‘I’m Not The One’ by Snarky Puppy feat. Malika Tirolien kept all its richness and colour, with vocals balanced well with the mids and highs. However, instruments such as cymbals had a sharp edge.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
Podcasts and Twitch streams had clear vocals above background sound effects. There also wasn’t any noticeable lag on the videos I watched, something that is quite common on cheaper wireless buds.
There’s a game mode in the app which is supposed to improve latency further. I tested this with Genshin Impact, but did find that there was still a slight delay even with this turned on – games are more sensitive to this latency than other content.
For the price, the ANC is good. It’s enough to block out some of the roar of the London Underground when commuting, and doesn’t have a low level hiss like the Skullcandy Indy ANC Earbuds do. Of course, if you want more effective noise-blocking, you should consider something more premium.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
The transparency mode is also useful. Providing your audio is turned below medium, you should be able to hear traffic around you or keep the buds in when ordering a coffee.
The Nord Buds 2 come with dual mics, which amplify your voice when on a call. I received no complaints from anyone when on the phone or chatting via Messenger – even when I was out and about.
Whilst Dolby Atmos support and a Dirac Audio Tuner are technically included, these features are only accessible on OnePlus phones
The Bluetooth range also impressed – I was also able to use the Nord Buds 2 in a different floor of my home to my phone, which is something I can’t say for other buds I’ve tested.Battery and charging
Up to 36 hours of use with the case
Single use battery life around six hours
The Nord Buds 2 have an excellent battery life. According to OnePlus, the buds can last around five hours with ANC on, and seven without. With the 480mAh case, this is then extended to 27 hours and 36 hours respectively.
Using the ANC, taking a long video call, and switching between podcasts, videos and music, I managed to stretch the battery to nearly six hours, which was a welcome surprise. Long story short, you should be able to use these earphones for extended periods of time – such as travelling on a long-haul flight – without having to worry about running out of juice.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
You can see the charge of each bud in the app, but it only shows it in 10% increments, not the exact number. This can be annoying if you know you’re low on charge and want to estimate how long you have left.
The charging case supports fast charging, which yields five hours of use from a quick ten-minute charge. The Nord Buds 2 do not support wireless charging, but that is standard at this price point.Price and availability
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 cost $59/£69 and are available now from the OnePlus website in the US and UK. You can also get them from Laptops Direct in the UK.
The price is excllent for buds with ANC, but there is similarly priced competition from the likes of the Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC and the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC.
If you have a OnePlus phone then the addition of Dolby Atmos and the Dirac Tuner are an extra incentive. However, if you have an iPhone, we recommend first checking to see if the iOS app is updated to support these buds before buying.
You can find more options in our chart of the best budget earbuds. We also have more premium options in our chart of the best earbuds overall.Verdict
There’s a lot to like about the OnePlus Nord Buds 2. For the price you get impressive audio, a durable battery life, and most importantly, decent ANC – a rarity at this price.
However, they aren’t without their faults. The case is a slightly awkward shape, and they can feel uncomfortable after long periods of time. Plus, only OnePlus phone users get access to the extra audio processing features that boost the performance.
Regardless, there’s no denying that the Nord Buds 2 offer excellent value for money. If you want a pair of true wireless ANC buds that won’t break the bank, these are a solid option.Specs
12.4mm titanium-coated drivers
4x microphones (2x per earbud)
Dolby Atmos (w/ OnePlus phones)
Dirac Tuner (w/ OnePlus phones)
AI noise reduction (calls only)
ANC (25dB depth) and transparency modes
Quick paired device switching
OnePlus Fast Pair
Android compatible (via HeyMelody app)
5 hours playback (buds only with ANC)
7 hours playback (buds only without ANC)
27 hours playback (buds + case with ANC)
36 hours playback (buds + case without ANC)
4.7g (per bud)
37.5g (case only)
Colours: Lighting White and Thunder Grey
Bezel-less smartphones are all the rage today. To earn the tag of being called a flagship device in 2023, any smartphone has to have a bezel-less display. We have seen that with the new Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8, the LG G6 and V30 and the much anticipated iPhone X. But, do you know which was the first smartphone which kicked the whole bezel-less display syndrome in motion? If you think the answer is Samsung, you would be wrong. Xiaomi, a China-based smartphone manufacturer was the first company to bring the bezel-less display onto a smartphone with its flagship Mi Mix which was launched last year. Mi Mix was truly the first smartphone to convert the dreams of bezel-less displays on smartphones into reality. However, Mi Mix was more about making a statement than being the one for the masses. This year, Xiaomi wants to correct that approach by bringing its successor; the Mi Mix 2. So the question is, did Xiaomi learned from its experiences with Mi Mix, or is the Mi Mix 2 still just about challenging the status quo? That’s what we are going to find out today, in our Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 review:Specifications
Dimensions151.8 x 75.5 x 7.7 mm (5.98 x 2.97 x 0.30 in)
Weight185 g (6.53 oz)
DisplayIPS LCD 5.99 inches (1080 x 2160 pixels ~403 ppi pixel density)
ProcessorSnapdragon 835 (Octa-core ~ 4×2.45 GHz and 4×1.9)
RAM6/8 GB RAM
Camera12 MP with IMX386 sensor, phase detection autofocus, OIS (4-axis), and dual-LED flash
BatteryNon-removable Li-Ion 3400 mAh battery (supports Quick Charge 3.0)
SystemMIUI 8 based on top of Android Nougat
SensorsFingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor, compass, barometer
ConnectivityDual-SIM, dual band 802.11 WiFi ( a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5.0
Price30~35 K INRWhat’s In The Box
The Mix 2 comes in a suave black box with Mix engraved in gold accents, just like the device. Here is the box’s content.
Mi Mix 2 (of course)
Charging adapter (Supports Quick Charging 3.0)
Type-C to 3.5 mm jack connector.
A nice case with great in-hand feel.
SIM ejector tool
PaperworkDesign and Hardware
Apart from the Display, the design in the original Mi Mix was the talking point of the device, and the Mi Mix 2 is no different. In short, the Mi Mix 2 is stunning. No manufacturer is using ceramic as Xiaomi is doing with its Mix series. The phone is beautiful and feels really good in the hand. However, the ceramic back is also a fingerprint magnet and a bit on the slippery side, but thankfully, the metal frame makes sure the device provides a lot more grip. Still, it is better if you use the device with the included case as it would add grip and keep your device free from smudges. If you plan to use it without the case, you better keep a cleaning cloth handy.
When compared to its predecessor the Mi Mix, Mix 2 is fairly comfortable in hand. A lot of that has to do with the fact that now the Mix 2 is smaller as it only houses 5.99-inches of the display as compared to the 6.4 inches of the Mix. This change makes the phone very handy. Looks like Xiaomi learned from its mistakes in the Mix’s design, and made the necessary changes in the Mix 2. There are other changes which mark a departure from the design of Mi Mix too. The rear camera is a bit protruded, the lower chin is smaller, and now even the base version of the Mix 2 comes with a ceramic back which I like. The top border is a bit thicker, but Mix 2 has a good reason for that.
You see, the original Mi Mix didn’t have an earpiece, rather it was utilizing a piezoelectric actuator which vibrated the front glass to convey sounds to your ears. However, when I extensively used the Mi Mix, the piezoelectric earpiece was a huge problem for me. It was just not good enough as the calls sounded a little choppy. Thankfully, the Mi Mix 2 is sporting a traditional earpiece which was the reason behind making the top border a little thicker. However, you won’t even notice that until you put both devices side by side. I am in favour of this decision choice by Xiaomi. I also love the fingerprint sensor at the back, which is well placed and by far one of the fastest fingerprint sensors I ever tested.
Now, let’s talk about that display which takes up more than 80% of the front. The Mi Mix 2 has a 5.99-inch Full HD Plus IPS LCD display. That’s a bit smaller than its predecessor which makes this device fairly easy to use. However, it still is a two-handed device. Of all the implementation of the bezel-less displays that we have seen in the previous year, Mi Mix 2 still remains my favourite. I am not a fan of the notch present on the top of either the essential or the iPhone X. Mi Mix has nothing of such sorts and looks incredible, to say the least.
The color reproduction is great and despite having an IPS Display, the blacks are really good. If you’d like more punchy colors, you can change the contrast in the settings. While the Mix 2 display is one of the best LCD displays out there, I would have preferred to see an AMOLED display on the device. Because at the price Mix 2 has landed, there’s the OnePlus 5 has a Full HD AMOLED display and I will take AMOLED over LCD any day. If not AMOLED, at least Xiaomi should have put QHD display. Seeing how both the Honor 8 Pro and the Nokia 8 offer a QHD display, it would have been possible for Xiaomi to do that too. However, if you don’t care about the resolution, I think you will find the Full HD+ LCD display on the Mix 2 good enough. The edge to edge to display is just a beauty to look at. The display still remains the biggest selling point for the Mix 2.User Interface
However, there are certain changes which I really love. Firstly, there’s the Smart Assistant which comes baked with MIUI 9. I use it for only one purpose, that is, searching for apps on my device. Since, MIUI 9 doesn’t have any app drawer, finding an app has always been harder, especially if you install as many apps as I do. The assistant helps me do that. Finally, the ability to reply to messages directly from notification is also here. The home screen has also been worked upon, and you will like the included changes. However, the good thing (or bad) is that the underlying structure of the MIUI remains the same. Basically, if you loved it before, you will keep on loving it, however, if you hated it, there’s nothing new here which will make you consider this otherwise.
I believer that MIUI ROM is one of the best Android ROMs in the market, as it adds a ton of customisability and brings an open boot-loader which you can unlock anytime without voiding your warranty. However, some people are not a fan of its looks, and I won’t blame you if you hate it too. Basically, the performance is not hampered by the MIUI, it just a question of personal preferences. The only resource that MIUI utilises more than the normal Android is the RAM, and since Mix 2 ships with either 6 or 8 GB of RAM, that takes care of any concern that users might have.Performance
Apart from the display and the build quality, performance is the biggest strength of this device. The Snapdragon 835 chipset coupled with either 6 or 8 GB RAM, makes this device scream. In my usage, the device has been fast, even when I have tons of apps installed. Switching between apps was quick and the gaming performance has been smooth too. Well, Xiaomi has definitely not compromised on the performance of the Mix 2. Plus, it helps that MIUI 9 is a well optimised OS and brings a ton of useful features.
Xiaomi has promised that the device will be launched with MIUI 9 in India on October 10th, hence we wanted to test the phone with it onboard. And quite frankly, the phone handled everything we threw at it. Although, I am not much of a benchmark guy, however, if you do care about such stuff, you will find the test results in the images below. Although, the scores should not come as a surprise seeing it packs the same Qualcomm 835 chipset as every other 2023 Android flagship smartphone.Telephony and Audio Performance
As I mentioned earlier, a welcome change with Mi Mix 2 is the addition of the standard earpiece instead of the piezoelectric one used last year. That makes a world of difference. I was not at all happy with the Mi Mix’s call quality last year, but this year, everything sounds like it should. The calls were clear, and both sides could hear each other without any problem. Calls made on speaker phone also didn’t disappoint much.
However, the speakers should not be used for media consumption as they are tiny and distort at higher levels. That brings us to the elephant in the room or lack thereof; the headphone jack. There’s no headphone jack on this phone hence you will have to either use the included USB-C to 3.5 mm jack adapter, or go completely wireless. Since the phone doesn’t come with a USB-C headphones, the switch feels a little harder. I am not much of an audiophile, so I can’t complain too much about the sound quality, but, I do hate the removal of the headphone jack.Battery Cameras
Moving on to the camera, the Mi Mix 2 features a 12 MP sensor on the rear, with f/2.0 aperture, 4-axis optical image stabilisation, and dual LED flash, which is somewhat disappointing, as the trend is moving towards dual cameras and wider apertures. All the phones in the Mix 2’s price range come with dual cameras, be it the OnePlus 5, the Honor 8 Pro or the Nokia 8, so it’s surprising that Xiaomi didn’t just use Mi 6’s dual camera setup in the Mix 2. That would have made the phone perfect.
However, if you can get over that drawback you will find that the Mix 2’s 12 MP camera unit takes some great shots, especially in the day time. The photos are sharp, have great detail, and the colors come out good too. The dynamic range could be a little better, but there’s not much to complain here. However, everything falters when it comes to the low-light photography. The pictures are just not that good. There’s a lot of noise in the photos taken in low-light. The OIS does help a little bit, but still, the low-light performance can only be deemed as below average. When it comes to video, the phone supports both 4K and slow-mo video recording, and the video quality is pretty decent too. The videos are stable and feature decent colors and details. However, it does lacks the support for 60 FPS recording at 1080p and above resolution. I also noticed a bit of a shutter lag at times, which I hope will be fixed with future software updates.
To conclude, the primary camera produces some really good results, if you are in good lighting conditions. In low-light, the camera fails miserably. I appreciate the inclusion of 4K and slow-mo recording. The OIS really helps in producing some really stable footage. But, the front-camera is really bad and is better left unused. Needless to say, like last year, the cameras are still the weakest point of this smartphone.
Both Mi Mix and Mix 2 are one of few devices in the world that support most of the major wireless bands around the world. So, doesn’t matter which country you live in, I am sure that it will support 4G-LTE there. When its comes to reception itself, the device maintains a constant connection even in areas with a patchy network. Other than that, the phone features dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac support, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB OTG support and GPS with GLONASS and Beidou. However, there’s no IR blaster or FM Radio support. Overall, the Mi Mix’s connectivity suit features almost everything that you’d expect from a modern-day smartphoneXiaomi Mi Mix 2 Review: A More Practical Mix
Let’s sum things up, shall we? It’s been a while since Xiaomi introduced a flagship device in India, one and half years to be exact, but well, they are finally breaking that trend and launching the Mix 2 in India. The Mix 2 is priced at INR 35,999 and
at this price range, it’s taking on some great competition, including the OnePlus 5, the Honor 8 Pro, and the Nokia 8. So, is it worth buying? Well, the biggest thing going in favour of the Mi Mix 2 is the bezel-less design. No other phone in the price range can match the design of the Mix 2. If you want a ‘truly’ bezel-less device in this price range, go for the Mix 2. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the Mix 2 is a great phone overall.
SEE ALSO: Moto G5S Plus Review: A Great Phone With A Few Annoying QuirksXiaomi Mi Mix 2 Review: Can It Beat Its Own Faults?
Buy on Flipkart (INR 35,999)
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