nubia Z60 Ultra Review: Challenging Conventions

PROS:

  • Distinctive boxy design
  • Gorgeous, hole-less screen
  • Large, long-lasting battery

CONS:

  • A bit on the bulky and heavy side
  • “Metallic glass” material attracts dust too easily

RATINGS:

SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

Taking the road less traveled, the nubia Z60 Ultra’s unconventional rectangular design, flawless screen surface, and choice of camera focal lengths are sure to leave a lasting impression on consumers tired of the same old things.

Despite how smartphone manufacturers try to differentiate the designs of their products, most of them still jump on the same trends, like the curved edge screens of the past, today’s flat sides, or camera bumps of different shapes and sizes. The same is true even for features you don’t immediately see, like camera sensors and lenses that everyone is using, just advertised under a different marketing name. It’s almost too easy to just do what everyone else is doing, riding the waves in the hopes of making a large catch as everyone else. Fortunately, there are outliers that dare to take a different path, and the nubia Z60 Ultra easily stands out as a nonconformist, so we take a closer look to see if it has more to offer than just a different yet oddly familiar face.

Designer: nubia

Aesthetics

The design of the nubia Z60 Ultra is admittedly divisive. Some will appreciate a fresh break from the smooth curves of the current breed of smartphones, while others might scoff at the blast from the past. Anyone who still remembers the Sony Xperia of the past might indeed see some resemblance to this late 2023 newcomer, and it’s not exactly a bad light to be in.

The nubia Z60 Ultra is unabashedly flat and angular, giving off an air of maturity and hardness at the same time. Even the camera bump diverges from circles, squircles, and any other round shape found on most smartphones. Two of the three cameras sit on a strip, not unlike the Google Pixel 8’s visor, except it’s also completely flat and more like a thin block stretching across the width of the phone. This boxy aesthetic is going to be subjective, even more so compared to other phone designs, but there’s no denying that it will leave a lasting impression, positive or otherwise.

If the shape and back of the phone are what immediately catch your attention, it will be the large 6.8-inch display that will probably draw you in. Admittedly, it’s not the brightest nor the most colorful panel, but it’s the flawless, unbroken surface of this screen that will really impress you. Under-display cameras (UDC) aren’t exactly novel, but they’re so rarely used that you’d still be surprised to see one up-close. Even better, the nubia Z60 Ultra uses the company’s fifth-generation UDC technology that improves the pixel density of that spot above the front-facing camera. The result is a screen that is full from edge to edge, and thanks to its completely flat surface, also visible and usable in its entirety.

There are different colorways available, including a “Starry Night” that makes no effort to hide its Van Gogh inspiration. nubia introduces an “AG Metallic Glass” material that covers the rear of the phone, and for the most part, it does offer your hand a new sensation that almost feels like metal. Unfortunately, for some reason, it also seems to act as a huge magnet for dust. It may stay free of oily fingerprint smudges, but you’ll still want to put on the included clear case to keep it clean, among other reasons.

Ergonomics

There’s still an ongoing debate on which design is better for your hand and your grip. Curved edges are claimed to be gentler on the skin, but some claim it makes the phone slip more easily from your grasp. Flat edges and sharp angles add a bit more tooth to improve your grip, but there are those who feel uncomfortable with how it bites into their palm. The latter, of course, is what applies to the nubia Z60 Ultra’s sharp figure, and like its design, is going to split camps.

What everyone will agree on, however, is how bulky and heavy the phone feels in your hand. At 8.78mm thick and 246g heavy, it’s definitely going to give your hand a bit of strain when held up for long periods of time. Add that to the phone’s sharp edges, and you might indeed find your hand feeling a bit uncomfortable sooner rather than later, at least with the protective case that makes all those moot. Fortunately, that heft isn’t without good reason, but it’s still something that prospective buyers will need to consider if they prefer phones that are impossibly thin and light instead.

Performance

The nubia Z60 Ultra has been compared to its gaming-focused cousin, the RedMagic 9 Pro, and the comparison isn’t without basis. Both sport top-notch hardware available in the mobile market, starting with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 that can be paired with up to 16GB of RAM. In terms of raw performance, the nubia Z60 Ultra is pretty much a gaming phone, sans the bells and whistles like a tiny fan or extra buttons on the edges. In a way, this is the more subdued and stylish version of the RedMagic 9 Pro.

The phone’s extra-large battery definitely supports that use case and then some. Rated at 6,000 mAh, it’s definitely one of the highest capacities in the market today, and while you might not hit that advertised 47-hour uptime with average use, you’ll get pretty close to more than a day’s worth. Charging, however, won’t be blazing fast, given it only supports 80W wired charging, pushing the charging time to a little over 30 minutes. This chunk of power is definitely to blame for the nubia Z60 Ultra’s size and weight, but it’s a price worth paying for those who value battery life over comfort and thin profiles.

It isn’t only in design that the nubia Z60 Ultra bucks the trend. While it does put a heavy emphasis on its cameras like any other flagship smartphone, it’s the details that truly make it unique. In a nutshell, nubia has opted to adopt narrower fields of view compared to most smartphones in an effort to appeal to photography enthusiasts who would be more familiar with these focal lengths.

The main 50MP camera, for example, has that 35mm focal length used by classic camera lenses, which is great for taking sharp photos, especially with a natural bokeh effect. Unfortunately, this field of view will be too narrow for videos that will look cropped at the edges. That’s probably why nubia used an ultra-wide camera with a similar 50MP sensor (though from a different manufacturer) to make the transition to a wider view look more seamless. That said, this ultra-wide camera is also narrower than what you’d find in the market, using an 18mm focal length only.

In practice, the nubia Z60 Ultra’s cameras perform impressively, producing images with rich detail, at least in well-lit environments. The small exception is the 64MP telephoto camera with an equally narrow 85mm focal length, which makes close-up shots less doable. The narrow field of view might find fans among more seasoned photographers, but it is also an odd and awkward detail for those already used to the wider range of camera smartphones, especially when it comes to video recording.

Sustainability

So far, the nubia Z60 Ultra is proving to be quite the nonconformist, embracing designs already eschewed by most manufacturers as well as camera specs more popular among photographers than smartphone users. It would have been even more impressive if nubia also became a rebel and embraced sustainable materials and practices wholeheartedly for this smartphone. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

In this regard, the nubia Z60 Ultra is pretty typical when it comes to composition, durability, and repairability. It’s your typical mix of plastic, glass, and metal, none of which were made from post-consumer recycled materials, at least none that nubia is telling. The silver lining here is that the phone is IP68 rated, so it’s not going to join the masses of e-waste littering the planet after a slight splash or dive into water.

Value

The nubia Z60 Ultra is a premium flagship through and through, and its extra-large battery, hole-less screen, and pixel-dense camera sensors push it even higher among its peers. For all of that, you’d expect it to cost as much as your next late 2023 or early 2024 high-end handset, but here’s the clincher: it’s almost half that!

While it does start at $599 for a rather modest 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, the highest configuration with double that memory is only $779. And it’s not like nubia is a new, unknown, and unreliable brand, so such a price tag is downright crazy. Of course, there’s the matter of being able to buy one in the first place, since nubia isn’t available in all markets, but in those regions it does serve, the nubia Z60 Ultra is bound to make an irresistible proposition to go with its undeniable presence.

Verdict

While there is some wisdom in going with tried and true traditions, it’s never an excuse not to think outside the box. There’s no certainty that you will do better or worse, but what’s certain is that you will make some impact. That’s the kind of legacy that the nubia Z60 Ultra will have with a design that is both fresh yet classic, and features that have a clear purpose, even if it swings away from the mainstream smartphone crowd.

It definitely gets a lot of things right, like its impressive performance, its memorable design, and its blemish-free screen, but it’s far from being perfect. There’s no denying that part of its imposing character is its bulk and weight, and the narrow field of view will probably trip up some mobile shutterbugs. With a head-turning price tag, though, you might be willing to look past these flaws, especially if the flaws are features you actually value. Needless to say, the nubia Z60 Ultra is doing quite a difficult balancing act, and to its credit, it’s doing quite an admirable job in keeping on its toes.

SwitchBot K10+ Mini Robot Vacuum Review: Small Wonder, Big Benefits

PROS:

  • Compact size makes cleaning tight spaces a breeze
  • Replaceable mop wipes are convenient and hygienic
  • Packs plenty of smart features despite the size

CONS:

  • Light and limited mopping function
  • Can’t vacuum and mop at the same time
  • Disposable wet wipes can be wasteful and expensive over time

RATINGS:

SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

The SwitchBot K10+ mini robot vacuum cleaner challenges the status quo to deliver the same smarts and power in a compact and agile package.

They predated the craze that is now known as smart homes, but robot vacuums have only really caught on in the past few years as people started to appreciate the time and effort these intelligent machines save them. As time goes on, the humble giant pucks that were robot vacuums have evolved into more advanced species with more features and more intelligence to make life more convenient for humans and sometimes even pets. That said, all these smart robot vacuums have embraced the motto of “bigger is better,” which is definitely not the case when these rolling circles start bumping into corners or get stuck in between furniture. The SwitchBot K10+ tries to attack that problem from a different angle by offering a robot vacuum that’s smaller yet still just as smart, so we take it for a roll to see if size does matter or not.

Designer: SwitchBot

Aesthetics

When seen in isolation, it’s hard to point out what makes the SwitchBot K10+ robot vacuum cleaner special. Yes, it has a clean and minimalist design, but so do most machines in this market. Available only in white, the K10+ makes no effort to hide the sensors in front and on top, though it does give the otherwise plain appearance some visual flair.

When you put it in the context of other things in your house, however, that’s when you really appreciate the design of the SwitchBot K10+. It’s significantly smaller than other robot vacuum cleaners in all aspects, from the robot itself to its auto-emptying base station. The size difference is even more apparent when you compare it with a regular robot vac and see how much smaller it is. With small black markings on its face and on the top of its head, it almost looks like a cute toy.

That diminutive size isn’t just for show, of course. We’ll get to the performance aspects later, but even just in terms of appearance, the K10+ has an edge over the competition. Its compact size makes it easier to place the vacuum and its base station almost anywhere, whether it’s in plain sight, hidden in corners, or in between shelves. Whether you want to show it off or have it disappear in the background, the SwitchBot K10+ gives you the choice and doesn’t force you like some behemoth robot vacuum cleaners and their overgrown stations.

Ergonomics

Some say big is better, but being small has plenty of benefits as well. It’s a size that’s often associated with agility and manageability, and the SwitchBot K10+ definitely checks those boxes off. At only 2.3kg, you can easily pick up the robot, and you’ll actually do that a lot if you want to mop the floor with it. That’s because the K10+ doesn’t have an independent mopping component and you’ll have to turn it over every time to put on or remove the mop wet wipes we’ll get to in a bit.

You might also want to bring it up or down stairs, in case you want to vacuum other floors. While the SwitchBot app can indeed store maps, the robot can’t climb stairs on its own. Because of its small size and lightweight design, you won’t break a sweat carrying the machine where it can do its job. Of course, you won’t be carrying the charging station with it, so you’ll have to be more attentive to the robot’s battery levels.

Operating and managing the robot vacuum is also easy as pie. Of course, most of the action happens on the SwitchBot mobile app, but there are still some things you have to do manually. The dustbin is automatically emptied, but you should clean it after a few months at least. You’ll have to also maintain the brushes, which is where the vacuum’s lightweight body comes in again. Most importantly, there’s a manual on/off switch under the top lid that you do have to flip to get the ball rolling. Fortunately, getting to all these parts is a walk in the park thanks to the K10+’s simple and smart design.

Performance

It’s easy to dismiss the SwitchBot K10+’s power after hearing that it’s the world’s smallest robot vacuum cleaner, but that would definitely be playing into the size trap. There is a saying that also goes “small is terrible,” but in this case small is a lot better in things that the big guys can’t even handle. This is especially true for the many areas you take for granted in your house, like between the legs of chairs, underneath low furniture, or that narrow space between the wall and the couch.

The SwitchBot K10+ possesses excellent LIDAR vision and silicon smarts to make short work of these cramped spaces. After the initial navigation of the floor’s layout, you are given a visual map where you can merge or separate areas, in the rare cases that the robot got it wrong. That same vision and intelligence is also what allows the K10+ to easily navigate the “in-betweens” with agility and precision, correcting itself if it does bump into a leg or corner wall. In other words, the small robot has plenty of brains to get around without a hitch and insert itself in places that regular vacuum cleaners wouldn’t even dream of fitting.

When it comes to the actual act of vacuuming, the SwitchBot K10+ is a bit of a mixed bag that’s leaning more toward the positive. Despite its size, its 2,500Pa suction power is plenty strong, able to handle most tasks on hardwood floors. Yes, it will fail on very thick and tall carpets, but short ones are no problem at all. It even has automatic carpet detection so that it knows to apply stronger suction when rolling over a mop. It’s not a complete clean on the first pass, but you can program it to do two passes every time. Interestingly, when it is programmed that way, it will alternate between horizontal and vertical routes to make sure that every inch of the floor is covered.

All of the robot’s functions can be reached from the SwitchBot smartphone app, which you need to set up before you can even use it. It has everything you need to control the K10+, from mapping to setting no-go zones to switching between four levels of suction strength. You can also schedule when and where the robot will do the cleaning as well as how many passes it makes in each area. The app, however, has also a few features you rarely find in other robot vacuums. For example, you can download a voice package to change how the robot sounds when it reports to you, personalizing the experience to some degree. There’s also an “accessory usage life” that uses a time-based counter to remind the owner to clean or change out certain parts to keep the robot performing at its best.

With a size this small, there are bound to be some limitations, and, objectively speaking, there are quite a few. As mentioned, 2,500Pa is not enough to handle tough dirt and thick carpets, but the SwitchBot K10+’s biggest weakness is its mopping function. There is no separate water tank or roller for mopping, and you have to use disposable wipes (included in the package) every time you want to wipe the floor. The upside is that you don’t have to deal with washing mop heads and the risk of gathering germs along the way. You simply remove the wet wipe and throw it away. The downside is that the cost of these wipes will accumulate over time, making it a rather expensive function.

The mopping function isn’t that great either, since there are no rollers or mop heads to really do a proper moping. It’s basically doing the equivalent of simply wiping off the floor with a damp cloth and nothing more, so tougher stains won’t go away using this method. Given the way it works, you can’t even vacuum and mop at the same time and have to switch between modes. It’s a very basic feature that you probably wouldn’t miss if it weren’t there in the first place, but SwitchBot seems to have decided to put it there just for the sake of having it on marketing material.

Sustainability

Although it’s quite unique in its size, the SwitchBot K10+ is very typical in its design, including its abundant use of plastic. That makes the product less eco-friendly, but there is another aspect that further pushes its sustainability grade down. The wet wipes for mopping, while convenient and hygienic, are pretty wasteful and environment-unfriendly. More advanced robot vacuum cleaners have automated washing and drying to solve the problem of cleaning mops, but there just isn’t enough room for the small K10+ for this feature. For some households, it’s not going to be a deal-breaker, just something they have to take into account when computing the total cost of ownership.

Value

The SwitchBot K10+ is a rather unique product that is full of surprises but also leaves potential buyers even more undecided about its value. With a standard $499.99 price tag, it’s not exactly the most affordable robot vacuum cleaner, despite its smaller size. It almost sounds like a niche product, but you might be surprised at how common that niche turns out to be.

The world’s smallest robot vacuum really shines in small places like apartments, one to two-bedroom suites, and similar residential spaces. Individuals and small families have long felt left out by the mainstream market because of large robot vacuums that couldn’t properly navigate their cramped floors. The K10+ surprisingly offers pretty much the standard set of features for robot vacuums, including decent suction power for most kinds of dirt and particles, so it gets the job done even when it involves squeezing into tight spaces. Yes, it might have been better off not offering any mopping functionality at all, but it’s at least there if and when you need it.

Verdict

Robot vacuum cleaners are becoming as common as smart home speakers and security cameras, providing the convenience of technology in a very palpable and almost mundane way. There’s a great deal of uniformity in the design of these smart machines, which means there’s very little variety in terms of style and form. The SwitchBot K10+ breaks free from those conventions by offering a smaller robot, but its small size isn’t just for show nor is it a disadvantage.

Thanks to its smaller radius, the K10+ can squeeze into tight spaces and reach floors that its larger rivals couldn’t. Despite its size, it has enough power to really suck the dirt off even from some short and light carpets. Sure, the mopping function is disappointing and wasteful, but you don’t always have to use it if all you need is a dirt-less floor. Even with just the basics, which it delivers with skill and proficiency, the SwitchBot K10+ can shave off hours from your busy day, freeing you to do the more important things in life like spending time with others or even with yourself.

Nikon Zf Mirrorless Camera Review: Vintage Design, Modern Strengths

PROS:

  • Beautiful vintage design
  • Dedicated Black & White mode switch
  • Fully articulated touch screen

CONS:

  • No proper hand grip
  • Outdated micro HDMI port

RATINGS:

SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

The Nikon Zf mirrorless camera finally gets the right mix of a classic design that photographers love and the modern performance that photographers need.

The powerful cameras inside our smartphones were touted to spell the end of dedicated cameras, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only are smartphones severely limited by their sizes, mobile photographers actually graduate into pros and switch to these more powerful and larger cameras. Digital cameras, both DSLR and mirrorless, have also been progressing in their designs, though some seem to have hit a wall in bringing classic aesthetics to present-day specs. Nikon has had a few hits and misses in the past, but that hasn’t stopped it from trying yet again. With the Nikon Zf, the brand makes another attempt at reviving its classic SLR aesthetic for the 21st century, and we give it a good look to see if it manages to finally pull it off.

Designer: Nikon

Aesthetics

Unless you count outliers inspired by Polaroid-style instant cameras, the basic design of cameras hasn’t changed that much in decades. Sure, there are new components like LCD touch screens, D-pads, joysticks, and buttons, but the shape, knobs, dials, and even the location of these elements have mostly stayed the same. There is definitely staying power in the classic camera designs, and Nikon has been trying to bring back those memories and grow a new appreciation for them with the new Nikon Zf, and to much success, we’re happy to say.

The Nikon Zf accurately captures the look and feel of the brand’s early SLRs almost to a fault. It has that all-black finish on a simple and almost featureless rectangular body, wrapped in leatherette covering, and topped by a collection of chunky dials made from brass. The back does have modern amenities like a touch screen, a directional pad to navigate certain options, and buttons as shortcuts to most-used functions, but the overall look remains classic and vintage to some degree. Unfortunately, Nikon opted to really stick close to the old design of cameras like the 80s FM2 to the point that it barely added a hand grip that has become a necessity in this day and age.

Unlike the camera maker’s previous attempt, namely the Nikon Zfc, the Nikon Zf feels just as premium as it looks. You can definitely feel the magnesium alloy body that gives it a solid build, and the brass controls add more to that heft, for better or worse. Unfortunately, the choice of materials may have limited Nikon’s color options, as there is no combination that uses a silver finish for the top section, though there are other leatherette colors available to match your preferred style.

Ergonomics

The Nikon Zf’s solid construction helps it feel premium, but that also works against it in one particular manner. The mirrorless camera has quite a bit of heft to it, which wouldn’t be a problem except for one design quirk. Unlike some cameras today, the Nikon Zf doesn’t have a substantial hand grip that would have improved the ergonomics of the design. It does have a small elevation on the right side of the camera body, but not exactly enough to offer confidence and stability. And that’s not even considering the weight of the lenses you will be attaching to the camera.

You can add a hand grip courtesy of an official Nikon accessory, but that’s an added $40 on top of the camera’s already substantial price tag. There are Nikon cameras that do have such a large hand grip built-in, so it’s not like it’s an alien concept for the manufacturer. It just intentionally chose to stick to this old-school design that, unfortunately, didn’t have that kind of focus on ergonomics.

Fortunately, using the Nikon Zf isn’t that much of a difficult chore, with most of the important dials and buttons within easy reach of your right thumb. The analog dials give a satisfying tactile experience while switching modes, ISO levels, and more. The vari-angle LCD screen makes it possible to capture photos and videos even from difficult angles, though the mushy circular directional pad makes it a little less enjoyable to navigate the camera’s menus, at least compared to a joystick.

Performance

It might look vintage, but the Nikon Zf is definitely equipped to handle the challenges of modern photography. In addition to the tried and tested 24MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor that it has been using on well-received mirrorless cameras, Nikon has installed a newer Expeed 7 processor that opens up more possibilities for photographers, particularly when it comes to subject recognition and object tracking with autofocus. It’s quite an impressive combination that puts the Nikon Zf on par with many modern digital cameras these days. Admittedly, it’s not exactly a revolutionary new feature but at least it won’t be lagging behind its peers.

The images the Nikon Zf produces are definitely no joke, with clear and crisp details matched with accurate colors that are neither too warm nor too cold. The 8-stop in-body image stabilization makes short work of shaky hands, though you’ll still want to grab a tripod for features like pixel-shift multi-mode that composes multiple shots together for a higher-res image, or 14fps continuous shooting. The Nikon Zf has plenty of other interesting modes that let photographers flex their artistic muscles. Black and white modes offer basic Flat or red filter Deep Tone controls, and it even has a dedicated switch on the dial for this mode. You can also record videos, something the original SLRs couldn’t, at up to 4K 30fps (full-frame) or 60fps (1.5x crop).

The mirrorless camera, powerful as it may be, also has a few design quirks when it comes to hardware. Some of them look good on paper, while others might leave you scratching your head. There’s a second memory card slot that can be used for backup, for example, but it can only fit a slower microSD card compared to the main UHS-II SD storage. There’s also an HDMI port for an external monitor, but it’s of the older and somewhat rare micro HDMI variety, not even a mini HDMI port. Not exactly deal breakers, but something you might want to keep in mind when buying accessories.

Sustainability

The choice of magnesium alloy for the body and brass for the controls gives the Nikon Zf a bit of an edge when it comes to sustainable materials. Sure, there is still plenty of plastic inside, especially in places where Wi-Fi radio signals have to pass through, but the amount of plastics used is reduced to some extent.

Those materials also help preserve the camera’s longevity and long-term value. The solid construction adds to the product’s durability, while the magnesium alloy shell is advertised to be dust and drip-resistant. The brass metal components also gain character as the surface develops unique patinas over years of use.

Value

One of the biggest hurdles that aspiring photographers have to climb over is the seemingly insurmountable price tag attached to these cameras. You could easily buy two or even three of the most powerful smartphones for the price of a single mirrorless or DSLR camera and you’d be able to use those devices for more than just photography. Of course, this is comparing apples to oranges, but it’s a challenge that all budding photographers will have to overcome someday.

The Nikon Zf, for example, goes for a hefty $1,999.95, and that’s for the camera body alone, which you can’t use as-is. You’ll need to attach a lens, and if you’re scratching from scratch, you’ll need to throw in another $400 or more for a complete kit. Might as well add the $40 SmallRig to get the extension grip that will help prevent accidents that will flush that expensive investment down the drain. In the end, the Nikon Zf is exactly that: an investment. It definitely has the right mix of features that will let you capture stunning and potentially award-winning shots or videos, features that won’t become obsolete in just a few years, unlike smartphones.

Verdict

The digital camera market is far from dead, though some will definitely say it is crawling to a stop. That doesn’t mean there’s no more room or opportunities for improvement, especially when trying to find the right mix of design, performance, and price. We only need to look back to the past to see where we went wrong and what we did right, and the Nikon Zf is definitely putting those hard-earned lessons to heart in order to bring a fusion of the past and the present while looking toward the future.

It’s far from being the best mirrorless camera in town, even among Nikon’s roster, but it strikes a good mix of essential features that photographers from all ranges will be able to appreciate and utilize. It packs those in a design that embraces Nikon’s legacy wholeheartedly, as if trying to prove that those designs are far from being obsolete, even decades later. Sure, there are some things we wished Nikon did differently, especially with the grip, but those don’t detract from the fact that the Nikon Zf is one solid and stylish mirrorless camera that photographers need to take note of.

Nikon Zf Mirrorless Camera Review: Vintage Design, Modern Strengths

PROS:

  • Beautiful vintage design
  • Dedicated Black & White mode switch
  • Fully articulated touch screen

CONS:

  • No proper hand grip
  • Outdated micro HDMI port

RATINGS:

SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

The Nikon Zf mirrorless camera finally gets the right mix of a classic design that photographers love and the modern performance that photographers need.

The powerful cameras inside our smartphones were touted to spell the end of dedicated cameras, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only are smartphones severely limited by their sizes, mobile photographers actually graduate into pros and switch to these more powerful and larger cameras. Digital cameras, both DSLR and mirrorless, have also been progressing in their designs, though some seem to have hit a wall in bringing classic aesthetics to present-day specs. Nikon has had a few hits and misses in the past, but that hasn’t stopped it from trying yet again. With the Nikon Zf, the brand makes another attempt at reviving its classic SLR aesthetic for the 21st century, and we give it a good look to see if it manages to finally pull it off.

Designer: Nikon

Aesthetics

Unless you count outliers inspired by Polaroid-style instant cameras, the basic design of cameras hasn’t changed that much in decades. Sure, there are new components like LCD touch screens, D-pads, joysticks, and buttons, but the shape, knobs, dials, and even the location of these elements have mostly stayed the same. There is definitely staying power in the classic camera designs, and Nikon has been trying to bring back those memories and grow a new appreciation for them with the new Nikon Zf, and to much success, we’re happy to say.

The Nikon Zf accurately captures the look and feel of the brand’s early SLRs almost to a fault. It has that all-black finish on a simple and almost featureless rectangular body, wrapped in leatherette covering, and topped by a collection of chunky dials made from brass. The back does have modern amenities like a touch screen, a directional pad to navigate certain options, and buttons as shortcuts to most-used functions, but the overall look remains classic and vintage to some degree. Unfortunately, Nikon opted to really stick close to the old design of cameras like the 80s FM2 to the point that it barely added a hand grip that has become a necessity in this day and age.

Unlike the camera maker’s previous attempt, namely the Nikon Zfc, the Nikon Zf feels just as premium as it looks. You can definitely feel the magnesium alloy body that gives it a solid build, and the brass controls add more to that heft, for better or worse. Unfortunately, the choice of materials may have limited Nikon’s color options, as there is no combination that uses a silver finish for the top section, though there are other leatherette colors available to match your preferred style.

Ergonomics

The Nikon Zf’s solid construction helps it feel premium, but that also works against it in one particular manner. The mirrorless camera has quite a bit of heft to it, which wouldn’t be a problem except for one design quirk. Unlike some cameras today, the Nikon Zf doesn’t have a substantial hand grip that would have improved the ergonomics of the design. It does have a small elevation on the right side of the camera body, but not exactly enough to offer confidence and stability. And that’s not even considering the weight of the lenses you will be attaching to the camera.

You can add a hand grip courtesy of an official Nikon accessory, but that’s an added $40 on top of the camera’s already substantial price tag. There are Nikon cameras that do have such a large hand grip built-in, so it’s not like it’s an alien concept for the manufacturer. It just intentionally chose to stick to this old-school design that, unfortunately, didn’t have that kind of focus on ergonomics.

Fortunately, using the Nikon Zf isn’t that much of a difficult chore, with most of the important dials and buttons within easy reach of your right thumb. The analog dials give a satisfying tactile experience while switching modes, ISO levels, and more. The vari-angle LCD screen makes it possible to capture photos and videos even from difficult angles, though the mushy circular directional pad makes it a little less enjoyable to navigate the camera’s menus, at least compared to a joystick.

Performance

It might look vintage, but the Nikon Zf is definitely equipped to handle the challenges of modern photography. In addition to the tried and tested 24MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor that it has been using on well-received mirrorless cameras, Nikon has installed a newer Expeed 7 processor that opens up more possibilities for photographers, particularly when it comes to subject recognition and object tracking with autofocus. It’s quite an impressive combination that puts the Nikon Zf on par with many modern digital cameras these days. Admittedly, it’s not exactly a revolutionary new feature but at least it won’t be lagging behind its peers.

The images the Nikon Zf produces are definitely no joke, with clear and crisp details matched with accurate colors that are neither too warm nor too cold. The 8-stop in-body image stabilization makes short work of shaky hands, though you’ll still want to grab a tripod for features like pixel-shift multi-mode that composes multiple shots together for a higher-res image, or 14fps continuous shooting. The Nikon Zf has plenty of other interesting modes that let photographers flex their artistic muscles. Black and white modes offer basic Flat or red filter Deep Tone controls, and it even has a dedicated switch on the dial for this mode. You can also record videos, something the original SLRs couldn’t, at up to 4K 30fps (full-frame) or 60fps (1.5x crop).

The mirrorless camera, powerful as it may be, also has a few design quirks when it comes to hardware. Some of them look good on paper, while others might leave you scratching your head. There’s a second memory card slot that can be used for backup, for example, but it can only fit a slower microSD card compared to the main UHS-II SD storage. There’s also an HDMI port for an external monitor, but it’s of the older and somewhat rare micro HDMI variety, not even a mini HDMI port. Not exactly deal breakers, but something you might want to keep in mind when buying accessories.

Sustainability

The choice of magnesium alloy for the body and brass for the controls gives the Nikon Zf a bit of an edge when it comes to sustainable materials. Sure, there is still plenty of plastic inside, especially in places where Wi-Fi radio signals have to pass through, but the amount of plastics used is reduced to some extent.

Those materials also help preserve the camera’s longevity and long-term value. The solid construction adds to the product’s durability, while the magnesium alloy shell is advertised to be dust and drip-resistant. The brass metal components also gain character as the surface develops unique patinas over years of use.

Value

One of the biggest hurdles that aspiring photographers have to climb over is the seemingly insurmountable price tag attached to these cameras. You could easily buy two or even three of the most powerful smartphones for the price of a single mirrorless or DSLR camera and you’d be able to use those devices for more than just photography. Of course, this is comparing apples to oranges, but it’s a challenge that all budding photographers will have to overcome someday.

The Nikon Zf, for example, goes for a hefty $1,999.95, and that’s for the camera body alone, which you can’t use as-is. You’ll need to attach a lens, and if you’re scratching from scratch, you’ll need to throw in another $400 or more for a complete kit. Might as well add the $40 SmallRig to get the extension grip that will help prevent accidents that will flush that expensive investment down the drain. In the end, the Nikon Zf is exactly that: an investment. It definitely has the right mix of features that will let you capture stunning and potentially award-winning shots or videos, features that won’t become obsolete in just a few years, unlike smartphones.

Verdict

The digital camera market is far from dead, though some will definitely say it is crawling to a stop. That doesn’t mean there’s no more room or opportunities for improvement, especially when trying to find the right mix of design, performance, and price. We only need to look back to the past to see where we went wrong and what we did right, and the Nikon Zf is definitely putting those hard-earned lessons to heart in order to bring a fusion of the past and the present while looking toward the future.

It’s far from being the best mirrorless camera in town, even among Nikon’s roster, but it strikes a good mix of essential features that photographers from all ranges will be able to appreciate and utilize. It packs those in a design that embraces Nikon’s legacy wholeheartedly, as if trying to prove that those designs are far from being obsolete, even decades later. Sure, there are some things we wished Nikon did differently, especially with the grip, but those don’t detract from the fact that the Nikon Zf is one solid and stylish mirrorless camera that photographers need to take note of.

Lenovo Legion Go Review: Big Steps for Handheld PC Gaming

PROS:

  • Beautiful and spacious 8.8-inch 1600p 144Hz screen
  • Detachable controllers with innovative FPS (vertical mouse) mode
  • Great overall performance

CONS:

  • Large and heavy
  • Bottom USB-C port is unusable when using the kickstand
  • Short battery life

RATINGS:

SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

The Lenovo Legion Go pushes the envelope of what handheld PCs are capable of, paving the road for future innovation in this space.

award-icon

Although it was hardly the first portable gaming console, the success of the Nintendo Switch really inspired a new class of gaming devices. It pushed the boundaries of what you can accomplish with a handheld, offering a gaming experience that you can enjoy anywhere, including while sitting on a couch in front of a TV or table. Of course, Nintendo’s selection of titles is just a small part of the larger gaming world, and there have been many brands that have tried to bring the magic of the Switch to PCs. The Steam Deck proved that such a product would be popular, but it just stopped there. Lenovo, on the other hand, went all out with what is possibly the closest to a “Switch PC” to date. But is the Lenovo Legion Go just a Switch clone or is it offering a completely new gaming experience? We take this innovative gaming handheld for a few good spins to find out.

Designer: Lenovo

Aesthetics

Right off the bat, the first thing you’ll notice about the Lenovo Legion Go is that it’s huge, bigger even than the Steam Deck that’s already considered a giant. It’s slightly thinner than the Deck but only in the middle because the removable controllers almost add an inch to that thickness. It is definitely the larger and heavier of the three major handheld PCs, something that has repercussions for comfort and ergonomics, as we’ll see later.

Fortunately, you might forget the Legion Go’s size the moment your eyes settle on its large 8.8-inch screen, also the largest in this niche market. With a high pixel resolution and bright colors, it easily outclasses the competition, at least in terms of sharpness and visual impact. It doesn’t come without cost, though, but if you value a large, sharp, and fast gaming screen above other specs, this is the one to beat.

The Legion Go definitely carries itself well compared to its peers in terms of aesthetics. Unlike the more rectangular shapes of the Steam Deck and the ASUS ROG Ally, the Legion Go’s controllers taper a bit, creating a more interesting shape from the front. The back of the device is mostly flat save for the contoured handles of the controllers on each side. That back also features a full-width kickstand that lets you easily prop up the Legion Go on any flat surface for playing games or even for watching videos. The top edge has buttons and ports for controlling the device while the bottom has a lone USB-C Gen 4 port for both charging and data.

All in all, the Lenovo Legion Go presents a solid and distinctive design that doesn’t stray too far from the convention but has enough tweaks to make it stand out from the crowd. Its large screen plays in its favor, though the resulting large size is a bit of a double-edged sword. This niche market is still in its infancy and we’ll surely see more interesting designs in the future, but at least for now, Lenovo has pulled enough tricks to give the Legion Go a memorable character.

Ergonomics

There’s really no going around the fact that the Legion Go is a bulky and heavy device, bigger and heftier than its two closest rivals. For a device that’s primarily meant to be held in your hands, that can be a huge drawback. Even if its battery life lasts for hours (or if you’re playing it while charging), your hands and arms will undoubtedly tire after the first 30 minutes or an hour at most. It might be an artificial way to limit your gaming time, but the great thing about this kind of device is you don’t actually need to hold it up to play. Just like the Switch, you can simply set it down on a table or connect it to a large screen. Either way, you can just continue playing, at least as long as you have enough battery for it.

As mentioned earlier, this is as close as we’ve come to a Switch-like PC, and that’s primarily thanks to the detachable controllers. You can slide them off, though downward in the opposite direction compared to the Switch, and use them as normal Bluetooth controllers except split in two. There is, however, a special Lenovo-only mode that changes the narrative a bit. It’s called FPS mode and you stick the right controller into a base that makes it look like a joystick, except it’s a mouse that you drag across the table, not unlike those ergonomic vertical mice. As the name suggests, it’s meant to offer a more precise method of aiming with the right hand in FPS games and more fluid movement with the left controller. It’s definitely an innovative design but one that requires heavy muscle memory training to really get used to.

The Legion Go isn’t just a gaming device, however. It’s a gaming PC that runs a regular version of Windows 11, which means the user experience isn’t optimized for anything but a keyboard and mouse or, at the very least, a touch screen. This makes operating the non-gaming parts of the operating system a bit more tedious, though Lenovo thankfully included a small touchpad on the right-hand controller exactly for this purpose. There’s also a tiny scroll wheel on the back side of the same controller, but its location makes it difficult to reach. Along with the idiosyncrasies of Windows itself, this makes operating the device in handheld mode cumbersome and awkward.

Performance

Lenovo definitely pulled out the stops when it came to the Legion Go’s silicon muscles. Running inside is an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme with RDNA Graphics paired with 16GB of RAM and 512GB or 1TB of NVMe SSD storage. It’s not desktop-level hardware, not even a gaming laptop, but at this size, it’s currently the best that’s available for handheld computers. It can definitely handle most PC games at medium settings, and maybe a few at high settings. Of course, cranking up those options will drain the battery quicker, and there’s not a lot in the first place.

The real star of the show, however, is the impressive 8.8-inch 2560×1600 IPS LCD display with a 144Hz refresh rate. Not only is it the largest among handheld computers, it also has the highest resolution. It’s bright, vibrant, colorful, and sharp. And it’s also quite the battery drain. On paper, a high resolution such as this would be a huge boon for gaming, but only if you have lots of battery and power to spare. At full resolution, the only way you’ll get above 60fps in Fortnite is by setting the setting to medium (67fps) or low (79fps). Then again, 47fps with high settings isn’t so bad either. Dropping the resolution to 1200p made the gameplay experience much better during our test.

The real problem is the battery life, though the Legion Go isn’t alone in this regard. At medium settings, playing Fortnite (with voice chat on) drained the battery in around 79 minutes and at 1200p resolution only. Again, the sharpness of the screen is a huge advantage over the Steam Deck and the ROG Ally, but the price it entails is just too high. Sure, you can set a lower resolution by default, but then you’ll be paying for hardware you’re not able to fully utilize.

The Lenovo Legion Go has the bare minimum when it comes to hardware connectivity, namely two USB-C 4.0 ports, one at the top and another at the bottom. There’s also a headphone jack for good measure so you can connect your favorite wired headphones for more immersive gaming. Having two USB-C ports is great for connecting peripherals or a hub while still having one port free for charging the device. The catch is that the placement of the bottom port makes it inaccessible when using the built-in kickstand. Sure, you can use the top port for charging, but you still lose the other port for other accessories. To be fair, the Switch has the same problem but is worse by having a single USB port, but you’d hope that designers would have solved this problem by now.

Being able to set the Legion Go down on a table and still play using the controllers is also a Switch-inspired feature, but the actual implementation needs a little bit of work. In addition to the awkward way of pulling out the controllers, you apparently can’t use a different external controller unless you take the pair out and disable them from Windows Device Manager. It might just be a bug or a hidden setting, but the fact that it isn’t as straightforward as on a regular computer (or even the Nintendo Switch) makes it a less favorable experience.

When it comes to performance, the Legion Go spares no expense at using the best possible hardware, but having the most powerful isn’t always the correct solution. Power-hungry specs, especially a hi-res screen, drain the battery faster than it should, and owners are forced to tweak every aspect to squeeze out as much juice as they can from the device. Admittedly, PC gamers are used to tweaking settings left and right, but that’s a little less convenient and less ideal on a handheld form factor.

Sustainability

Impressive as the Legion Go’s design might be, there will definitely be concerns about its long-term viability. First-gen designs in this industry don’t always spark confidence, both in terms of durability as well as customer support down the road. Lenovo is an established brand, of course, so there’s an implicit trust in the products that it makes. This device definitely feels solid, despite its plastic body, so you can be assured that it’s not some flimsy product that will die out on you in the first few months.

Its unique design does bring a few complications, though, particularly with the removable controllers. These can be points for mechanical failure in the feature, or structural weaknesses that could lead to an early death for the device. There are a lot of custom parts used for the Legion Go as well, so repairs will have to be done by authorized Lenovo service providers only. That increases the risk factor in purchasing a device that could meet more accidents in your hands compared to a conventional laptop.

Value

Gaming handhelds are becoming popular again, both from the retro front as well as the PC market. Just looking at the growing number of options outside of major manufacturers shows there’s a sizable market for these devices. Not every PC gamer is a fan, though these would also admit dreaming of being able to play games anywhere, including in situations where they can’t use their bulky gaming laptops. As mentioned, there are plenty of options available now, but the Lenovo Legion Go offers the best-balanced set of benefits and drawbacks in the market today.

It has powerful specs topped by a gorgeous and large display that really makes games pop. The FPS mode might need a bit of getting used to, but the convenience of being able to detach the controllers when needed is a huge boon, though there are some rough edges to smoothen out. Battery life is pretty dismal by default, but that’s on par with other handheld PCs. The biggest clincher is that you’re getting this solid mobile PC gaming experience starting at just $699.99, which means you aren’t cutting corners for that juicy price tag.

Verdict

There was a time when analysts proclaimed the PC market to be dying, but that might only be true for desktops. Laptops flew off the shelves during the pandemic, and now handheld PCs are sparking interest and ushering in a new generation of PC gamers who are living the dream of playing anywhere. There are still only a few players in this market, and Lenovo, the world’s biggest PC maker, is making sure it’s leading here as well.

The Lenovo Legion Go definitely shows the brand’s expertise, combining decades of experience with a bold design and innovative features. It also proves that there is still plenty of room for improvement, whether for refining features or introducing new experiences. At this point, handheld gaming PCs like these are still considered a luxury, but with a tempting $700 price tag, the Legion Go is doing its part to make these devices more approachable and more usable for everyone.

Zero DSR/X Long-Term Review

PROS:

  • Capable in all conditions
  • Comfortable and easy to ride
  • Practical layout

CONS:

  • Lacking range
  • Expensive
  • Confusing interface

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

“In my initial review I called this bike a masterpiece, and now, at the end of this extended loan, I feel much the same way — but with some important caveats.”

It’s been an up-and-down year for riding where I live on the East Coast of the United States. We’ve had good weather and bad, repeated wind storms and record-breaking amounts of rain. That’s the kind of unpredictability that keeps many motorcycles sitting inside the garage, sipping slowly from trickle chargers.

It’s also the kind of conditions that are absolutely perfect for the Zero DSR-X. I’ve now spent a full year living with this dual-sport electric motorcycle, covering miles through all seasons to find out just what this bike is all about. After the first few months, I called this bike a masterpiece, and now, at the end of this extended loan, I feel much the same way — but with some important caveats.

Design

It’s admittedly only been a year, but I find the look of the DSR-X just as appealing as I did 12 months ago. Maybe even more so. Its upright, organic shape is still a welcome sight to me as I approach it in a parking lot. Far from the razor-thin shapes most commonly seen on sportbikes, the somewhat bulbous fairing of the Zero gives it a more friendly appearance.

I still love the green, too, a somewhat muted hue that feels like a nod to the nature that this bike craves getting out and into.

Beyond the visual appeal, there’s a lot of practicality here, too. The generous front windscreen lacks power but is so easy to adjust with its pair of chunky knobs that you won’t mind the absence. At its maximum extent, the windscreen was a bit too short for me, causing buffetting on the top of my helmet, but I sit rather tall, so this won’t be an issue for most folks.

The saddle, at 32.6 inches in height, felt a bit tall at first, but I quickly got comfortable. It’s far wider and softer than most bikes with dual sport aspirations, making it a treat for longer days in the saddle. And, when you need to stretch those legs or get some extra airflow between them, wide and grippy pegs make it easy to stand up, even in the rain and the mud.

The high positioning of the grips, too, makes it easy to operate the bike while standing. It helps for keeping good posture while seated, too. My only complaint with the controls is the rocker switch on the left. It’s used for controlling so many functions — toggling drive modes, heated grips, resetting the trip meter, etc. — that it’s easy to forget what to tap or press and when. A four-way rocker would have been less confusing and more intuitive.

My favorite part of the design can’t even be seen. It’s the cavernous storage compartment built into the tank. Though sadly not quite big enough for a helmet (at least, not one my size), it easily swallows all sorts of things. In my time with it, I’ve used it to carry food and drinks for meals on the go, a gallon of almond milk home from the shops, even a flower bouquet.

It also makes for a great place to keep your rain gear when not needed or to toss your gloves when the bike is parked up waiting for you. I only wish the cubby featured the kind of central locking you find on the Honda Goldwing or other high-end touring bikes. It must be unlocked with the ignition key, which often left me shutting the bike down, using the key to open the storage compartment, and then powering the bike back up again.

On the road

While I only spent a little bit of time trail-hopping this Zero, it proved itself to be an compliant and capable ride on loose gravel and dirt. That’s despite a set of tires that offer little in the way of tread for that kind of terrain.

It’s also despite a prodigious weight but the refinement of the controls in the DSR-X are what make it so sweet to cruise up a trail. Without a clutch to slip or a gearbox to manage, you simply worry about throttle and brake. More importantly, you’re free to enjoy the ride a bit more.

I confess I’m not much of a trail rider, so I didn’t get into too much trouble on the Zero, but it always felt willing and able to go adventuring.

That continued as the temperatures dropped. The standard heated grips are a delight on chilly mornings, helped by the brush guards that keep most of the wind from your knuckles. Meanwhile, that windscreen and fairing do a great job of keeping the worst of the weather from the rest of you, such that riding through the rain isn’t as soaking an event as it might be on other bikes.

Even so, much of my riding was in the dry on asphalt in various states of disrepair, ideal conditions for this bike. I found the traction control system subtle enough not to be a restriction, yet it smoothly and reassuringly cut power when needed to mitigate unwanted wheelspin on the road.

Likewise, I only experienced the ABS a few times, but it too smoothly kept the wheels turning and kept me upright during a few panic stops over the year, avoiding wildlife and wild drivers.

Bumpy roads did little to unsettle the DSR-X. At least, they didn’t once I got the suspension dialed in properly. The bike came to me with too much compression damping at the rear, which left everything feeling a bit too nervous over every little bump. But, after a quick consultation with the online manual, I had the rear shock dialed in for my weight. Everything was smooth from there.

Smooth is when I had the most fun on the DSR-X. Yes, it’s excellent in rough conditions, but Zero’s biggest bike is still a great corner carver on a freshly paved, twisty piece of asphalt. In these conditions, the Canyon riding mode is easily my favorite. That mode not only gives you the maximum throttle response with your wrist, but the maximum regen too. This means that you rarely need to reach for the brake lever. You can just roll the throttle on and off and swing through the twists and turns.

There are five separate on-road modes and five more off-road modes, plus a custom mode, all editable through Zero’s app. There’s an absolute wealth of configurability here, plus data management, making this among the most intelligent, most connected bikes out there. Data fiends will love the ability to download details from every ride. Perfectionists, meanwhile, will love being able to create a custom layout on the five-inch LCD gauge cluster.

Range and charging

If there’s one fly in this ointment, it’s the range. Though the DSR-X is rated for a maximum of 180 miles in the city, you’d have to rely on the most economical riding modes and keep your speed very low to manage it. I tried and couldn’t quite get there myself, at least not without feeling like a rolling traffic obstruction. If you’re exclusively riding on low-speed urban streets or crawling over trails, you might be able to manage that.

Me? I more often saw range estimates around 140 miles, but when I was feeling sporty (which, let’s be honest, was most of the time), I struggled to manage 120 miles on a charge. That is not a lot. Even if you exclusively head out on sunny Sundays for an afternoon cruise to your favorite taco shop, you may find yourself sweating that remaining range indicator on the return trip.

I never had any particularly close calls, but neither did I feel like pushing things. While charging is reasonably quick, the bike usually takes fewer than two hours to top up, that’s still too long to reasonably ride somewhere, enjoy lunch near a charger, and head home. You’ll need to do some serious route planning and budget lots of time for activities near plugs if you want to road trip one of these.

Pricing and Options

The bike you see here was priced at $24,495, with no options, and seemingly none needed.

However, were I buying one now, knowing what I know, I’d be tempted by either the faster charger or the bigger battery pack. Being able to charge faster or go farther would open this bike up to be the truly comfortable touring bike it’s otherwise capable of being. The only problem is that selecting either of those options fills up that tank storage compartment that proved so useful, but with generous mounting points on the back of the saddle, fitting a set of boxes wouldn’t be much of a chore.

For the 2024 model, the DSR/X actually becomes more attainable, with a starting price of $22,995. But there’s an even more affordable version with a smaller, 15.6-kwh battery and a starting price of $19,995.

At the end of 12 months, I’m still left enamored of the DSR-X. Its range meant my adventures were limited to those close to home, but then I live where I live because it’s an area full of adventure, and this Zero was always ready.

iQOO 12 Review: Checking Most of the Right Boxes, No More, No Less

PROS:

  • Impressive camera output
  • Outstanding hardware performance
  • Distinctive BMW “Legend” Edition design (not the review unit)

CONS:

  • Low IP64 water resistance
  • Mediocre 16MP front camera
  • Limited global availability

RATINGS:

SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

Designed for mobile photography and games, the iQOO 12 delivers a solid performance without much fuss or fanfare.

The year is almost over, but it’s never too late to announce new flagship smartphones, especially when there’s a new mobile processor available. Riding on Qualcomm’s momentum, a few phone makers have almost simultaneously revealed their newest wares in a race to be the first and the best. Of course, just because you’re using the latest hardware available in the market doesn’t immediately mean you’re able to deliver the best overall user experience. There are a lot of ingredients that make up the perfect smartphone dish, so we’re taking the new iQOO 12 for a taste test to see if it managed to get the perfect mix or if it just had too much on its plate to leave a positive impression.

Designer: iQOO

Aesthetics

The moment you see the iQOO 12, you will immediately appreciate its elegant design. After that first impression, however, you might suddenly feel like you’ve seen it before, especially with the black “Alpha” edition that we received for this review. Aside from the large and unconventional camera island, the phone’s Fluorite AG glass is quite common. Yes, it has a sandblasted finish that makes it sparkle when viewed from certain angles, but that, too, has been done before. It’s pretty, yes, but nothing to write home about.

On the other hand, the BMW “Legend” Edition is a bit more interesting from a design perspective. It uses a Porcelain Enamel Glass that gives it a unique texture, while the clean white motif endows it with a stylish classic appearance. The engraved signature BMW M Motorsport stripes are tastefully done, clearly marking its identity without being flashy. It has the right balance of branding and minimalism that paints a picture of a truly special design.

Although almost opposite in their appearances, both Alpha and Legend editions share a common design element that you won’t find on any other smartphone. Rather than a square or a circle, the iQOO 12 employs a “squircle” shape that the company describes as a nod to ship portholes that let light in and give a dramatic view of the outside world from within a ship. Of course, it stretches the camera metaphor quite a bit, but its unusual shape still gives the phone a distinctive appearance.

The iQOO 12 Alpha carries a simple and elegant design that gives it an air of being a premium phone. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exactly help it stand out from its peers, especially if you find the “porthole” camera design less appealing. The design won’t win fans, but it probably won’t attract haters either.

Ergonomics

Fluorite AG glass has become a favorite material for smartphones because of how it’s able to avoid smudges. Some are even able to pull off matte textures using it, or at least some semblance of matte texture. In practice, however, it’s still glass and the iQOO 12 feels quite slippery in the hand, regardless of what the marketing material tells you. If you’re not confident with your grip, you’ll probably want to put on the included clear case just for peace of mind.

The iQOO 12 is by no means a thin phone at 8.1mm, nor is it that lightweight at almost 204g. It’s a large slab of metal and glass and you can definitely feel it the moment you hold it in your hand. That means you’ll have to try and grip it harder to ensure a more stable hold, but that also means putting more strain on your hand in the long run. The phone is also a bit top-heavy, which isn’t surprising considering all the parts located there, though that means the position of the fingerprint scanner near the bottom of the screen makes it a little bit precarious to hold.

Performance

The iQOO 12 definitely has all the makings of a high-end smartphone. It is one of if not the first to launch with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, and that is paired with fast 16GB LPDDR5X memory and an equally fast 512GB UFS 4.0 storage. Those alone already mean that it can handle any task you throw at it with aplomb. The bright and vibrant 6.78-inch 2800×1260 AMOLED screen with 144Hz refresh rate is great for viewing moving content, both videos as well as games. It’s an all-around powerful workhorse, but it also has a trick up its sleeve.

While some brands have custom processors for photography or AI, iQOO’s Supercomputing Chip Q1 focuses on enhancing display performance without taxing the main Qualcomm processor. Its biggest achievement is boosting frame rates to 144fps to match the screen’s native 144Hz refresh rate for a smoother and more fluid visual experience. Even under all the stress, the phone gets only lightly warm and never too hot, all thanks to a new four-zone vapor cooling chamber.

On the software side, the iQOO 12 runs the latest FuntouchOS 14 that’s already based on the current Android 14 release, and it’s promised to still get three years of Android updates. There is surprisingly little bloatware, although it still exists, and the user experience almost resembles vanilla Android while still offering plenty of customization options. The UI is smooth and responsive, though that should be expected given all the hardware driving it.

1x

1x Night

10x

The phone’s triple camera system is living proof that you shouldn’t judge hardware by their brand. Eschewing the usual Samsung or Sony sensors (except for one), the iQOO 12 was made in collaboration with and showcases the best of what OmniVision has to offer, particularly with the 50MP OV50H main camera and 64MP OV64B telephoto camera with a periscope-style lens. The latter is able to achieve 3x optical zoom and 10x lossless zoom, though iQOO is advertising a 100x digital zoom that, in practice, isn’t really going to wow anyone. The third camera is a 50MP Samsung sensor for ultra-wide shots.

1x

1x Portrait

1x Portrait

10x Night

What all these translate to in practice are impressive images, both during the day and at night. Details are rich and colors are quite vibrant, though they tend to be a bit more saturated by default, as expected. The 10x lossless (a.k.a. hybrid) zoom is surprisingly good, though with the expected loss of detail. Combined with Night Mode, it even makes decent nighttime photos, though that largely depends on the subject as well. Thanks to that same periscope telephoto camera, bokeh or Portrait Mode comes out with pleasing blurs and accurate separation of foreground and background elements. All in all, the iQOO 12 delivers an excellent mobile photography experience, except for the 16MP front camera that brings only the bare minimum to the table.

Ultrawide

1x

3x

10x

Sustainability

The iQOO 12, unfortunately, doesn’t grade well when it comes to sustainable design and longevity. It has your usual assortment of unsustainable materials, and the brand isn’t as aggressive in promoting its eco-friendly strategies as its rivals (unless you consider its parent company, vivo). The phone is also only IP64 rated, which means it has very weak defenses against water and other liquids. Sure, it’s better than nothing, but you’d expect a much better guarantee from a premium phone such as this.

Value

From a holistic perspective, the iQOO 12 is quite a splendid high-end phone. It has the chops to cater to both photography and gaming enthusiasts and has a design that, while simple, is still stylish enough to not look cheap or dated. But no phone exists in isolation, and the iQOO 12’s value will largely depend on the competition.

At the moment, there are very few phones running on the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, but that’s about to change in a month’s time or so. But even now, those few devices, the iQOO 12 included, have very limited availability in the first place. The $600 price tag is tempting but pointless if you can’t buy one that is 100% guaranteed to work on your country’s cellular networks. There’s also the fact that the design, while pleasant, doesn’t have enough pull to make it stand out from the crowd unless you’re able to get the BMW Legend Edition. It’s definitely a strong contender, but not one that might leave a strong, lasting impression.

Verdict

The iQOO 12 feels like it has almost everything. It has the latest specs that breeze through the toughest demands, especially gaming. The cameras are generally impressive under the majority of situations, except for that disappointing 16MP selfie cam. It’s clearly iQOO’s best work yet, but it also feels like it lacks that final punch to knock everyone else out of the ring.

Despite its pleasant minimalist aesthetic, the Alpha Edition’s design is honestly a bit underwhelming. The porthole-inspired camera bump is new to our eyes and ears, but it’s simply just another take on the same old design. In terms of both style and materials, the BMW Legend Edition is far more interesting, though possibly also more limited in supply. Then again, not everyone will be buying phones just for their looks, and the iQOO 12 does make an enticing offer, but soon there will be others that will easily grab the spotlight from it.

iQOO 12 Review: Checking Most of the Right Boxes, No More, No Less

PROS:

  • Impressive camera output
  • Outstanding hardware performance
  • Distinctive BMW “Legend” Edition design (not the review unit)

CONS:

  • Low IP64 water resistance
  • Mediocre 16MP front camera
  • Limited global availability

RATINGS:

SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

Designed for mobile photography and games, the iQOO 12 delivers a solid performance without much fuss or fanfare.

The year is almost over, but it’s never too late to announce new flagship smartphones, especially when there’s a new mobile processor available. Riding on Qualcomm’s momentum, a few phone makers have almost simultaneously revealed their newest wares in a race to be the first and the best. Of course, just because you’re using the latest hardware available in the market doesn’t immediately mean you’re able to deliver the best overall user experience. There are a lot of ingredients that make up the perfect smartphone dish, so we’re taking the new iQOO 12 for a taste test to see if it managed to get the perfect mix or if it just had too much on its plate to leave a positive impression.

Designer: iQOO

Aesthetics

The moment you see the iQOO 12, you will immediately appreciate its elegant design. After that first impression, however, you might suddenly feel like you’ve seen it before, especially with the black “Alpha” edition that we received for this review. Aside from the large and unconventional camera island, the phone’s Fluorite AG glass is quite common. Yes, it has a sandblasted finish that makes it sparkle when viewed from certain angles, but that, too, has been done before. It’s pretty, yes, but nothing to write home about.

On the other hand, the BMW “Legend” Edition is a bit more interesting from a design perspective. It uses a Porcelain Enamel Glass that gives it a unique texture, while the clean white motif endows it with a stylish classic appearance. The engraved signature BMW M Motorsport stripes are tastefully done, clearly marking its identity without being flashy. It has the right balance of branding and minimalism that paints a picture of a truly special design.

Although almost opposite in their appearances, both Alpha and Legend editions share a common design element that you won’t find on any other smartphone. Rather than a square or a circle, the iQOO 12 employs a “squircle” shape that the company describes as a nod to ship portholes that let light in and give a dramatic view of the outside world from within a ship. Of course, it stretches the camera metaphor quite a bit, but its unusual shape still gives the phone a distinctive appearance.

The iQOO 12 Alpha carries a simple and elegant design that gives it an air of being a premium phone. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exactly help it stand out from its peers, especially if you find the “porthole” camera design less appealing. The design won’t win fans, but it probably won’t attract haters either.

Ergonomics

Fluorite AG glass has become a favorite material for smartphones because of how it’s able to avoid smudges. Some are even able to pull off matte textures using it, or at least some semblance of matte texture. In practice, however, it’s still glass and the iQOO 12 feels quite slippery in the hand, regardless of what the marketing material tells you. If you’re not confident with your grip, you’ll probably want to put on the included clear case just for peace of mind.

The iQOO 12 is by no means a thin phone at 8.1mm, nor is it that lightweight at almost 204g. It’s a large slab of metal and glass and you can definitely feel it the moment you hold it in your hand. That means you’ll have to try and grip it harder to ensure a more stable hold, but that also means putting more strain on your hand in the long run. The phone is also a bit top-heavy, which isn’t surprising considering all the parts located there, though that means the position of the fingerprint scanner near the bottom of the screen makes it a little bit precarious to hold.

Performance

The iQOO 12 definitely has all the makings of a high-end smartphone. It is one of if not the first to launch with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, and that is paired with fast 16GB LPDDR5X memory and an equally fast 512GB UFS 4.0 storage. Those alone already mean that it can handle any task you throw at it with aplomb. The bright and vibrant 6.78-inch 2800×1260 AMOLED screen with 144Hz refresh rate is great for viewing moving content, both videos as well as games. It’s an all-around powerful workhorse, but it also has a trick up its sleeve.

While some brands have custom processors for photography or AI, iQOO’s Supercomputing Chip Q1 focuses on enhancing display performance without taxing the main Qualcomm processor. Its biggest achievement is boosting frame rates to 144fps to match the screen’s native 144Hz refresh rate for a smoother and more fluid visual experience. Even under all the stress, the phone gets only lightly warm and never too hot, all thanks to a new four-zone vapor cooling chamber.

On the software side, the iQOO 12 runs the latest FuntouchOS 14 that’s already based on the current Android 14 release, and it’s promised to still get three years of Android updates. There is surprisingly little bloatware, although it still exists, and the user experience almost resembles vanilla Android while still offering plenty of customization options. The UI is smooth and responsive, though that should be expected given all the hardware driving it.

1x

1x Night

10x

The phone’s triple camera system is living proof that you shouldn’t judge hardware by their brand. Eschewing the usual Samsung or Sony sensors (except for one), the iQOO 12 was made in collaboration with and showcases the best of what OmniVision has to offer, particularly with the 50MP OV50H main camera and 64MP OV64B telephoto camera with a periscope-style lens. The latter is able to achieve 3x optical zoom and 10x lossless zoom, though iQOO is advertising a 100x digital zoom that, in practice, isn’t really going to wow anyone. The third camera is a 50MP Samsung sensor for ultra-wide shots.

1x

1x Portrait

1x Portrait

10x Night

What all these translate to in practice are impressive images, both during the day and at night. Details are rich and colors are quite vibrant, though they tend to be a bit more saturated by default, as expected. The 10x lossless (a.k.a. hybrid) zoom is surprisingly good, though with the expected loss of detail. Combined with Night Mode, it even makes decent nighttime photos, though that largely depends on the subject as well. Thanks to that same periscope telephoto camera, bokeh or Portrait Mode comes out with pleasing blurs and accurate separation of foreground and background elements. All in all, the iQOO 12 delivers an excellent mobile photography experience, except for the 16MP front camera that brings only the bare minimum to the table.

Ultrawide

1x

3x

10x

Sustainability

The iQOO 12, unfortunately, doesn’t grade well when it comes to sustainable design and longevity. It has your usual assortment of unsustainable materials, and the brand isn’t as aggressive in promoting its eco-friendly strategies as its rivals (unless you consider its parent company, vivo). The phone is also only IP64 rated, which means it has very weak defenses against water and other liquids. Sure, it’s better than nothing, but you’d expect a much better guarantee from a premium phone such as this.

Value

From a holistic perspective, the iQOO 12 is quite a splendid high-end phone. It has the chops to cater to both photography and gaming enthusiasts and has a design that, while simple, is still stylish enough to not look cheap or dated. But no phone exists in isolation, and the iQOO 12’s value will largely depend on the competition.

At the moment, there are very few phones running on the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, but that’s about to change in a month’s time or so. But even now, those few devices, the iQOO 12 included, have very limited availability in the first place. The $600 price tag is tempting but pointless if you can’t buy one that is 100% guaranteed to work on your country’s cellular networks. There’s also the fact that the design, while pleasant, doesn’t have enough pull to make it stand out from the crowd unless you’re able to get the BMW Legend Edition. It’s definitely a strong contender, but not one that might leave a strong, lasting impression.

Verdict

The iQOO 12 feels like it has almost everything. It has the latest specs that breeze through the toughest demands, especially gaming. The cameras are generally impressive under the majority of situations, except for that disappointing 16MP selfie cam. It’s clearly iQOO’s best work yet, but it also feels like it lacks that final punch to knock everyone else out of the ring.

Despite its pleasant minimalist aesthetic, the Alpha Edition’s design is honestly a bit underwhelming. The porthole-inspired camera bump is new to our eyes and ears, but it’s simply just another take on the same old design. In terms of both style and materials, the BMW Legend Edition is far more interesting, though possibly also more limited in supply. Then again, not everyone will be buying phones just for their looks, and the iQOO 12 does make an enticing offer, but soon there will be others that will easily grab the spotlight from it.

GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite Review: Powerful Heat in a Small Package

PROS:

  • Compact, portable, and sleek design
  • Built-in basic thermostat for automatic temperature adjustment
  • Great safety features for households with children and pets

CONS:

  • Needs to be plugged directly into a wall socket
  • Touch buttons provide no tactile feedback

RATINGS:

SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

The GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite delivers quick, efficient, and safe heating wrapped in a compact and stylish package.

The holidays usually mean colder days, at least for those living in the northern part of the world, which also means rising costs in order to keep oneself warm and toasty. Fireplaces might sound and look romantic, but they’re not efficient, sustainable, or even safe. The same goes for gasoline-powered heaters, which also add an element of risk to people’s health. In this day and age, smart appliances play an important role in living a life of comfort without the downsides and expenses of traditional products, so it’s not really surprising that GoveeLife has launched a number of new smart space heaters for that very purpose. While Govee is probably best known for its smart lighting solutions, it established GoveeLife this year to focus on smart home appliances like heaters, humidifiers, smart kitchen appliances, and sensors, aiming to enhance convenience, optimize efficiency, and improve overall quality of life. In particular, the compact GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite piqued our interest, so we took it to the test to see if it’s really such a hot product or just hot air.

Designer: GoveeLife

Click Here to Buy Now: $29.99 $49.99 (40% off). Hurry, deal ends Dec 2nd.

Aesthetics

Air coolers, purifiers, and humidifiers have started to dress up and look more at home in our living spaces, taking on designs that blend well with the rest of the furniture or stand out in a pleasing way. Most space heaters, in comparison, look utilitarian and uninspired, making you think of them more like movable ovens or furnaces than a distinct class of their own. In that sense, the GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite sets itself apart with a design that is discreet and stylish, making it a fine addition to your room, no matter the motif you have going.

For starters, the smart space heater takes on a cylindrical shape with very minimal markings all around. The most distinctive part of the product is the silver grille in front where hot air blows out. It’s a perfect match for the black colorway, which is the review unit that we got, though the white version isn’t bad either, even if the grille does stand out more. The top holds the capacitive touch buttons and LED status indicators, though you might not look at those that much if you’ll be controlling the heater mostly through the Govee Home app.

The GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite, which is the smallest of its siblings, is only 9.1 inches tall and 5.9 inches in diameter. This compact size makes it ideal for any space, even in cramped corners or shelves. It’s also lightweight at only 3.63lbs, which means you can easily take it anywhere around the house. For bigger rooms and spaces, GoveeLife also offers the Smart Heater Pro and Smart Heater Pro Max. The only consideration you need to have is that the appliance has to be plugged in directly to a wall outlet, now through some power cord. That might be limiting for some, but the included 5ft power cable does address that issue to some extent.

Ergonomics

As mentioned above, the GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite is truly light on weight, so there will be no problem where you want to set it up. It doesn’t require a permanent installation either, so you can just lift it up and put it somewhere else if you’re not happy with the heat distribution. The integrated carrying handle on the back makes that easy, a clear sign that the heater isn’t meant to stay put in a single place forever. Of course, you’ll have to consider the airflow in the room and place the heater where it will have the best effect.

Setting up the appliance is just as easy as well, and all you need to do is connect the Smart Space Heater Lite to your phone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The Govee Home mobile app has all the functions you need to control the heater, some of which won’t be available via the physical controls. Those controls come in the form of very flat, capacitive buttons on the top of the device. This kind of control definitely looks elegant and minimalist, but it lacks the tactile haptic feedback that our fingers and brains need to register that we’ve pushed a button. That might throw a few people off, but not enough to make it a huge issue, especially if you’ll be using the mobile app or voice control most of the time anyway.

Performance

For such a small thing, the Smart Space Heater Lite packs quite a punch when it comes to heating. It uses a 1500W PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) ceramic heating element that only takes 2 seconds to rapidly heat an area. It works best for closed spaces under 200 square feet, so large living rooms might be a bit more difficult to heat up. The heater blasts hot air from the front, but its swivel feature allows that heat to spread across a wider range. You can even tilt the heater up so that it can reach higher areas.

Like air coolers, the GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite has four modes, five if you count “Auto.” These modes, which include fan, low, mid, and high, can easily be set with a single button that cycles through the modes or directly via the app. The more interesting mode, however, is “Auto,” which utilizes the heater’s built-in thermostat. To use it, you set the desired temperature in the app and the Smart Space Heater Lite will heat the room up to that temperature and then automatically switch off once it reaches that point. While you can switch to Auto mode using the heater’s buttons, you can only set the temperature through the app.

Since we’re dealing with heating elements and hot surfaces, it’s no surprise that GoveeLife loaded the heater with a lot of safety features, including a timer. For starters, the product itself is V-0 flame retardant to reduce the risks of fire and burning. There’s a control lock feature in the app that disables the on-device buttons, preventing anyone, especially children, from accidentally operating the heater. One of the best features, however, is the tip-over notification, which immediately alerts you through the app if the heater is knocked over by a person or a pet.

Of course, the Smart Space Heater Lite is “smart” for a reason, and it can integrate well with existing smart home platforms, including Apple Home, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa. That means convenient voice control, regardless of which platform you’re using. Not only that, but you can also add the heater to programmed scenes so that you can make sure your home is warm and toasty by the time you get home from work.

Sustainability

Unlike mobile devices and some gadgets, you’d expect appliances to be designed for the long haul. The choice of materials and their designs are made based on durability and longevity, though no device is immortal. Sooner or later, they get damaged or even broken beyond repair, which means a trip either to a service center or to a landfill. When this happens, the use of sustainable materials and the application of repairable designs play important roles in helping minimize their damage to the environment.

The GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite isn’t exactly an outlier in that regard, made from the typical mixture of plastics and metal. Self-repair is also out of the question, and you might find yourself striking out in finding a nearby service center, depending on where you live. Maybe the day will come when GoveeLife will be making easy-to-repair products that use recycled materials, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on this rapidly growing brand for that day.

Value

Space heaters are a bit less common than coolers and humidifiers, but they’re numbers are definitely rising. That’s especially true for smart heaters that are trying to ride on the smart home train. With so many to choose from, including from GoveeLife’s own catalogue, it’s only natural to ask what makes this Smart Space Heater Lite desirable enough to be worth your hard-earned cash.

In a nutshell, the GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite checks all the right boxes without going overboard with unnecessary features. The thermostat-driven Auto mode is a great money and power saver, and the rapid heating technology makes sure you get the desired warmth sooner rather than later. Its lightweight and attractive design makes it easy to place the appliance anywhere in the house, while excellent safety features ensure your kids and furry friends are out of harm’s way. Best of all, the $49.99 price tag isn’t too much to ask especially for something you’ll be using for a very long time.

Verdict

There has been a lot of focus on air coolers, purifiers, and humidifiers in the past year or so, but unpredictable weather and freak blizzards remind us that the other extreme is just as bad. Not many people give much thought to their heaters, at least until the electricity bill arrives. That’s when they need a smarter and more cost-efficient way to stay farm.

The GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite definitely fits the bill in that regard. It might not be sufficient for very large areas, but it’s more than enough for the majority of households and rooms. Smart and safety features take away most of the worry involved with appliances that generate heat, and integration with major smart home platforms means that you can be even more energy-efficient by only using the heater when it’s actually needed. More importantly, the Smart Space Heater Lite looks quite elegant in any setting, making it a potential centerpiece for your smart home decor.

Click Here to Buy Now: $29.99 $49.99 (40% off). Hurry, deal ends Dec 2nd.

GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite Review: Powerful Heat in a Small Package

PROS:

  • Compact, portable, and sleek design
  • Built-in basic thermostat for automatic temperature adjustment
  • Great safety features for households with children and pets

CONS:

  • Needs to be plugged directly into a wall socket
  • Touch buttons provide no tactile feedback

RATINGS:

SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

The GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite delivers quick, efficient, and safe heating wrapped in a compact and stylish package.

The holidays usually mean colder days, at least for those living in the northern part of the world, which also means rising costs in order to keep oneself warm and toasty. Fireplaces might sound and look romantic, but they’re not efficient, sustainable, or even safe. The same goes for gasoline-powered heaters, which also add an element of risk to people’s health. In this day and age, smart appliances play an important role in living a life of comfort without the downsides and expenses of traditional products, so it’s not really surprising that GoveeLife has launched a number of new smart space heaters for that very purpose. While Govee is probably best known for its smart lighting solutions, it established GoveeLife this year to focus on smart home appliances like heaters, humidifiers, smart kitchen appliances, and sensors, aiming to enhance convenience, optimize efficiency, and improve overall quality of life. In particular, the compact GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite piqued our interest, so we took it to the test to see if it’s really such a hot product or just hot air.

Designer: GoveeLife

Click Here to Buy Now: $29.99 $49.99 (40% off). Hurry, deal ends Dec 2nd.

Aesthetics

Air coolers, purifiers, and humidifiers have started to dress up and look more at home in our living spaces, taking on designs that blend well with the rest of the furniture or stand out in a pleasing way. Most space heaters, in comparison, look utilitarian and uninspired, making you think of them more like movable ovens or furnaces than a distinct class of their own. In that sense, the GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite sets itself apart with a design that is discreet and stylish, making it a fine addition to your room, no matter the motif you have going.

For starters, the smart space heater takes on a cylindrical shape with very minimal markings all around. The most distinctive part of the product is the silver grille in front where hot air blows out. It’s a perfect match for the black colorway, which is the review unit that we got, though the white version isn’t bad either, even if the grille does stand out more. The top holds the capacitive touch buttons and LED status indicators, though you might not look at those that much if you’ll be controlling the heater mostly through the Govee Home app.

The GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite, which is the smallest of its siblings, is only 9.1 inches tall and 5.9 inches in diameter. This compact size makes it ideal for any space, even in cramped corners or shelves. It’s also lightweight at only 3.63lbs, which means you can easily take it anywhere around the house. For bigger rooms and spaces, GoveeLife also offers the Smart Heater Pro and Smart Heater Pro Max. The only consideration you need to have is that the appliance has to be plugged in directly to a wall outlet, now through some power cord. That might be limiting for some, but the included 5ft power cable does address that issue to some extent.

Ergonomics

As mentioned above, the GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite is truly light on weight, so there will be no problem where you want to set it up. It doesn’t require a permanent installation either, so you can just lift it up and put it somewhere else if you’re not happy with the heat distribution. The integrated carrying handle on the back makes that easy, a clear sign that the heater isn’t meant to stay put in a single place forever. Of course, you’ll have to consider the airflow in the room and place the heater where it will have the best effect.

Setting up the appliance is just as easy as well, and all you need to do is connect the Smart Space Heater Lite to your phone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The Govee Home mobile app has all the functions you need to control the heater, some of which won’t be available via the physical controls. Those controls come in the form of very flat, capacitive buttons on the top of the device. This kind of control definitely looks elegant and minimalist, but it lacks the tactile haptic feedback that our fingers and brains need to register that we’ve pushed a button. That might throw a few people off, but not enough to make it a huge issue, especially if you’ll be using the mobile app or voice control most of the time anyway.

Performance

For such a small thing, the Smart Space Heater Lite packs quite a punch when it comes to heating. It uses a 1500W PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) ceramic heating element that only takes 2 seconds to rapidly heat an area. It works best for closed spaces under 200 square feet, so large living rooms might be a bit more difficult to heat up. The heater blasts hot air from the front, but its swivel feature allows that heat to spread across a wider range. You can even tilt the heater up so that it can reach higher areas.

Like air coolers, the GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite has four modes, five if you count “Auto.” These modes, which include fan, low, mid, and high, can easily be set with a single button that cycles through the modes or directly via the app. The more interesting mode, however, is “Auto,” which utilizes the heater’s built-in thermostat. To use it, you set the desired temperature in the app and the Smart Space Heater Lite will heat the room up to that temperature and then automatically switch off once it reaches that point. While you can switch to Auto mode using the heater’s buttons, you can only set the temperature through the app.

Since we’re dealing with heating elements and hot surfaces, it’s no surprise that GoveeLife loaded the heater with a lot of safety features, including a timer. For starters, the product itself is V-0 flame retardant to reduce the risks of fire and burning. There’s a control lock feature in the app that disables the on-device buttons, preventing anyone, especially children, from accidentally operating the heater. One of the best features, however, is the tip-over notification, which immediately alerts you through the app if the heater is knocked over by a person or a pet.

Of course, the Smart Space Heater Lite is “smart” for a reason, and it can integrate well with existing smart home platforms, including Apple Home, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa. That means convenient voice control, regardless of which platform you’re using. Not only that, but you can also add the heater to programmed scenes so that you can make sure your home is warm and toasty by the time you get home from work.

Sustainability

Unlike mobile devices and some gadgets, you’d expect appliances to be designed for the long haul. The choice of materials and their designs are made based on durability and longevity, though no device is immortal. Sooner or later, they get damaged or even broken beyond repair, which means a trip either to a service center or to a landfill. When this happens, the use of sustainable materials and the application of repairable designs play important roles in helping minimize their damage to the environment.

The GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite isn’t exactly an outlier in that regard, made from the typical mixture of plastics and metal. Self-repair is also out of the question, and you might find yourself striking out in finding a nearby service center, depending on where you live. Maybe the day will come when GoveeLife will be making easy-to-repair products that use recycled materials, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on this rapidly growing brand for that day.

Value

Space heaters are a bit less common than coolers and humidifiers, but they’re numbers are definitely rising. That’s especially true for smart heaters that are trying to ride on the smart home train. With so many to choose from, including from GoveeLife’s own catalogue, it’s only natural to ask what makes this Smart Space Heater Lite desirable enough to be worth your hard-earned cash.

In a nutshell, the GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite checks all the right boxes without going overboard with unnecessary features. The thermostat-driven Auto mode is a great money and power saver, and the rapid heating technology makes sure you get the desired warmth sooner rather than later. Its lightweight and attractive design makes it easy to place the appliance anywhere in the house, while excellent safety features ensure your kids and furry friends are out of harm’s way. Best of all, the $49.99 price tag isn’t too much to ask especially for something you’ll be using for a very long time.

Verdict

There has been a lot of focus on air coolers, purifiers, and humidifiers in the past year or so, but unpredictable weather and freak blizzards remind us that the other extreme is just as bad. Not many people give much thought to their heaters, at least until the electricity bill arrives. That’s when they need a smarter and more cost-efficient way to stay farm.

The GoveeLife Smart Space Heater Lite definitely fits the bill in that regard. It might not be sufficient for very large areas, but it’s more than enough for the majority of households and rooms. Smart and safety features take away most of the worry involved with appliances that generate heat, and integration with major smart home platforms means that you can be even more energy-efficient by only using the heater when it’s actually needed. More importantly, the Smart Space Heater Lite looks quite elegant in any setting, making it a potential centerpiece for your smart home decor.

Click Here to Buy Now: $29.99 $49.99 (40% off). Hurry, deal ends Dec 2nd.