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Samsung Galaxy J7 Core Hands-on Review

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If Samsung is playing favorites when it comes to phone names, the J7 moniker would be its first choice. Just about a week ago, the South Korean company brought us its newest budget phone — and you guessed it — it sports the J7 title.

Let’s take a look at the Galaxy J7 Core.

The front is a familiar Samsung face

Pretty thick bezels, though

There’s a front-facing LED flash up top

Shiny plastic chrome frame surrounds the phone

A physical button and two capacitive keys on its chin

It doesn’t have a fingerprint reader!

It has micro-USB and 3.5mm ports at the bottom

Standard ports for budget phones

Even the rear is a traditional layout from Samsung

The rear cover has a rubbery surface

Removable 3000mAh battery and dedicated microSD card slot!

You get two slots for SIM cards plus another for storage expansion!

Performs great, gaming is okay

The Galaxy J7 Core is currently the lowest-end and cheapest offering in the J7 series, although it sports similar specs like its siblings. It’s still powered by the aging Exynos 7870 processor paired with an ample 2GB of memory. Unlike the Galaxy J7 Prime from last year, Samsung blessed the phone with its gorgeous Super AMOLED display; however, the panel only has a 720p resolution. The display might not be the sharpest around (even for its price), but the color quality is top-notch. It perfectly shows the vibrant Samsung Experience UI on top of Android Nougat.

During its launch, Samsung said they positioned the phone to be a budget gaming device. The Philippine retail version comes with 10,000 battle points and three hero trial cards from Mobile Legends, plus a free 16GB microSD card to store your files and apps, because the 16GB internal storage will never be enough. Pre-loaded on the phone is Samsung’s Game Launcher app, which we first saw on flagship models. Basically, this gives users some tools for better gaming like silent alerts, option to disable the capacitive keys (we need this since we always tap the back key accidentally), screen recording, and more.

Performance-wise, the J7 Core is no slouch. The system runs smoothly and it has a comparable gaming performance to its siblings (they sport the same processor and graphics units), without the higher price tag. The lower memory is a bottleneck, but it’s necessary to keep its price low for a Samsung. Our favorite titles like Asphalt Extreme and NBA 2K17 run fine as long as you keep the settings in check. We manage to get smooth frame rates in low to medium graphics level.

Camera is okay and straightforward

If its Galaxy J7 Pro sibling is marketed to “capture the night” with its f/1.7 rear camera, the J7 Core is a runner-up with a 13-megapixel f/1.9 main camera. Those numbers are just on paper though, as we find the daylight images to be just okay. Low-light performance is pretty good, but the camera doesn’t compensate for the shake and slow shutter speed. Here are a few samples:

The selfie photo was captured with the front LED flash on. This helps fill up light directly onto the subject’s face, especially when taking a photo indoors. Not exactly a quality selfie phone, but the front flash is handy.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For the phone’s retail price of PhP 9,990, there are a number of options you can choose from. But, we get how some consumers like to stick to Samsung as a trusted brand. The Galaxy J7 Core has some unique offerings, including its Super AMOLED display, removable 3000mAh battery, and a triple-card slot. The budget segment has tough competition, but with a number of models you can choose from (and it continues to grow), you’ll never run out of options.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro Review: Looks good, feels good

Hands-On

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus Unboxing and Hands-On

Near-borderless with a large battery!

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It took a while, but we finally have ASUS’ first-ever near-borderless smartphone. And it’s not just a pretty face; it’s got a hefty battery and a pair of cameras at the back, too. Is there any more to the ZenFone Max Plus? Find out in our unboxing and hands-on video.

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ASUS ZenFone Max Plus Hands-on

ASUS’ first 18:9 near-borderless phone

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Phones with 18:9 displays became the norm last year, and it wasn’t a premium feature that’s exclusive to flagship devices. We’ve seen a few midrange near-borderless phones, and here’s another one from ASUS.

If you find the ASUS ZenFone Max Plus familiar, it’s because it’s virtually the same phone as the Pegasus 4S which was launched exclusively in China last November and landed in Russia shortly after.

Another factor that will make you think that you already saw the phone before is its identical design to its smaller sibling — the ZenFone 4 Max. Basically, the ZenFone Max Plus is a taller and more modern-looking variant of the ZenFone Max family.

What makes this phone modern is its 5.7-inch Full HD+ panel. This is ASUS’ first phone with an 18:9 display or Full View as ASUS calls it. While it’s not as edge-to-edge or borderless as premium phones, the taller display gives the phone a fresh trait among budget smartphones.

On the right are the physical keys of the phone: a long button for volume up/down and a shorter one for power/screen lock. Both have the concentric circle pattern for texture, but we wish the power button were more distinct.

At the bottom are the good old micro-USB port and symmetrical holes for the microphone and loudspeaker. Like its non-Plus sibling, ASUS opted not to bless the phone with the reversible and future-proofed USB-C port.

Up top are the 3.5mm headphone port and the noise-canceling microphone. It’s worth noting that the top and bottom portions of phone’s body are plastic to allow radios to pass through, while the main back panel is aluminum.

Thanks to its fantastic paint job, both materials blend well together as can be seen on the back. The phone has a dual-camera setup with an ultra wide-angle secondary camera. The phone’s fingerprint reader is also found on the back which is easily reachable by the index fingers.

Wide-angle dual-camera setup

The phone’s dual rear cameras are a combination of 16- and 8-megapixel shooters. The main shooter has an aperture of f/2.0 and shoots the usual photos like this one:

The secondary 8-megapixel camera is for taking action camera-like shots with its ultra wide-angle lens:

As with any wide-angle cameras, there’s a noticeable distortion or fish-eye effect from the camera, but that’s already expected.

To show the big difference between the main camera and wide-angle secondary camera, check out these photos:

As for selfies, there’s an 8-megapixel shooter accompanied by ASUS’ feature-rich camera app. It has multiple modes including, of course, “beauty” which boasts a number of beautification features.

There’s also portrait mode which applies an artificial bokeh effect. With a single front camera, the effect is somehow unimpressive.

We’ll be taking the phone for a full spin in the coming weeks. Check back soon for more sample shots from the dual wide-angle rear shooters and selfie camera.

Initial impressions

The phone is powered by a MediaTek MT6750T processor. Our model has 4GB of memory and 32GB of storage, but the configuration is region-dependent. Some countries have either 2GB or 3GB of memory and 16GB of storage. There’s a dedicated microSD card slot for additional storage along with two nano-SIM cards.

Android 7.0 Nougat runs on the phone with ZenUI 4.0 on top. We’re not yet sure if the phone will receive Android 8.0 since it’s not named as a member of the ZenFone 4 family, which ASUS promised would get Oreo.

As for the battery, it’s disappointing that it has a smaller 4130mAh cell versus the 5000mAh of the ZenFone 4 Max. But still, ASUS boasts long battery life and fast charging features. The phone can also act as a power bank for other devices through reverse charging with the use of a USB OTG cable. Full battery tests will appear in our review soon.

Official Philippine pricing is PhP 11,995 while in Malaysia is MYR 899.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ZenFone 4 gets Android 8.0 Oreo update

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OPPO F5 6GB Hands-On

It looks absolutely stunning in red!

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The highest-end model of the OPPO F5 family is here.

This is the OPPO F5 6GB. The 6GB RAM is great for gaming and multitasking. It also has 64GB of storage so you can take more photos and selfies!

Speaking of selfies, this one still has that AI Beauty mode. Plus, it’s available in stunning red. What an eye-catcher!

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