24 Hours Series

24 Hours in Hong Kong & Macau: Zenfone 3 vs Zenfone 3 Max 5.5

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While I love taking photos while traveling, soaking up the experience will always be my top priority.

I’m fine with quick snapshots knowing I can always go back and post-process my photos later. When you’re traveling, you don’t have the time to fiddle with manual controls, so when it comes down to it, shooting on auto is a compromise worth making.

For me a good smartphone is one that can quickly churn out photos that barely need any tweaking. This especially rings true when you’re on a holiday in one of the most fast-paced cities in the world: Hong Kong.

On a recent trip to Asia’s World City, I brought along both the ASUS Zenfone 3 and Zenfone 3 Max 5.5, to see how much the $200 premium of the former makes.

Morning walk in Tsim Sha Tsui

There are several hotel options for any budget in Tsim Sha Tsui, making it the perfect place to stay. If shopping is your thing, you will want to set aside plenty of time for perusing the numerous shops and malls the area has on offer.

Right from the start of the trip, it was clear that the Zenfone 3 produced more balanced highlights and shadows compared to the Max; see how bright the light hits the top of the bus on the right. The sky is almost washed out on the photo taken with the Max, although the clouds are barely visible in the Zenfone 3 photo, as well.

Avenue of Stars is one of Hong Kong’s must visits. It was under renovation during our visit, so we had to settle for this view a few meters away from the usual photo spot. The Max’s photo seems to have undergone VSCO editing with its natural greenish tint, but really it has #nofilter.

Zenfone 3 photos are generally brighter and much more balanced overall, but the way the Max processes the greens and blues is probably how I would want my photos to look like on Instagram. I like how rich the blues are, and the deeper contrast makes for a little dramatic effect.

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Ferry ride to Causeway Bay

By lunch time, we were hungry. For a change of scenery (or more scenery), we opted to take a quick (and cheap) ferry ride to Causeway Bay instead of the MTR. The Zenfone 3’s dynamic range is the star in this photo; you can even see the skyline!

While the Zenfone 3’s colors are more accurate, it needs to be pointed out that the letters HKT on the ferris wheel are legible in the Max photo, while it’s barely there in the photo shot with the Zenfone 3.

Macau street art

We took another ferry ride, although a much longer one to the autonomous region of Macau. While the city is famous for casinos, Portugese egg tarts, and to a certain extent, replicas of European landmarks, there’s a lot more to the discover in the place.

We took an afternoon stroll along the busy streets of San Malo, going from shop to shop to try every possible food sample. One turn and we found this esquina of Instagram-worthy street art.

The yellow-green tint produced by the Zenfone 3 Max is visible in these comparison photos from Macau.

Focusing was also difficult for the Max, even if these were taken in broad daylight.

The Zenfone 3 also captured more detail compared to the Zenfone 3 Max. You can clearly see the depth of the dents on the concrete in this mural.

What’s a trip to Macau without a visit to the Ruins of St. Paul’s? Fair warning: No matter how long you wait, your Instagram will have to settle for a shot with the thick crowd, or you can get creative and frame it another way.

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Celebrity sightings at Victoria Peak

After sunset, we decided to head back to Hong Kong and take the tram up to the famed Victoria Peak. I tried to take photos of the view from 500 meters up using the two Zenfones, but it was too cold and windy. Wax museum Madame Tussauds was just a few floors below though, so I didn’t let this chance pass to get closer to famous people and characters.

Check out how on fleek those eyebrows are on the left! The Zenfone 3 did a great job capturing the details, while the Max seemingly gave Holly Golightly unwanted jaundice.

Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit-slash-wax-figure was actually closed to the public, but I managed to sneak a photo of the renowned artist from the exit. The difference in the photos is negligible, but this is where I had the hardest time focusing on the Max. All photos except this one had Yayoi’s face blurred out. The Zenfone 3, meanwhile, gave me a lot of good options with minimum effort on my part.

Lady Gaga’s poker face aside, I like the way the colors turned out more on the Zenfone 3. While I tend to up the contrast when editing my Instagram photos, I’m not a fan of how pink my face looks on the Max selfie. I was NOT born that way.

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Last stop: Mongkok

With its neon signs that light the streets, the smell of street food cooking from three feet away, the bustling crowd of tourists and locals alike, endless shopping options, Mongkok is probably the best place to go to for that authentic Hong Kong experience when you’re pressed for time.

The Zenfone 3 captures the red tiles of Mongkok station nicely while the Max’s yellowish greenish tint is quite prominent.

What’s a Mongkok experience when you can’t capture those neon Chinese signs the way they appear in real life? The Zenfone 3’s dynamic range makes a world of difference in these photos. In the Max’s case, the crowd is already too dark, and the signs don’t look very sharp because the lights are a bit washed out.

Verdict

The Zenfone 3 has a clear advantage over the Max. It’s faster, consistent, more reliable, has better dynamic range, and takes good photos you wouldn’t mind showing off online, even if it’s on auto mode. The photos that came out of the Zenfone 3 Max had a yellowish greenish tint making colors evidently inaccurate.

Although I wasn’t able to show it here, it took more tries for the Zenfone 3 Max to focus properly even when there was ample light on my subject. Its camera also launches much slower, so I actually missed a lot of great photo opportunities for the comparison.

While for its price it takes good photos — and in certain scenarios, even better than the Zenfone 3 — the Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 is built for people with a lot of patience and not a lot of cash to burn.

In several instances, it felt like the Max took forever to launch and took too long to focus, just to get decent shots worth comparing to the Zenfone 3. Although that shouldn’t really be a problem if you’re not in a hurry, I personally wouldn’t choose to use it on my next trip even if I had two weeks to explore a city.


24 Hours is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we showcase our travels through a smartphone camera’s perspective. It’s also a documented guide on things to see and do in a city in case you happen to plan a trip there.

SEE ALSO: 24 Hours on Sumilon Island with the Honor 6X

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24 Hours Series

24 Hours in Koh Samui with the GoPro Hero 7

Thailand’s second-largest island is to die for!

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Having been to Thailand on multiple occasions, I always thought I knew everything that the country had to offer — but that was until I met Koh Samui.

As Thailand’s second-largest island (right after the popular Phuket), it’s home to gorgeous beaches, lovely temples, and some of the most attractive resorts and spas this side of the coast.

My stay didn’t last long enough to cover all there is to see in Koh Samui, but I did get to take part in the more adventurous aspect of island — making the choice of using a GoPro Hero 7 to document the trip all the more fitting!

A selfie right in front of the beach is in order! My group’s very first activity was snorkeling south of Koh Samui. Boats are easy enough to rent from here, the size of which depends on how large your group is.

If you’re in a rush to enter the ocean, you’re better off going for a speed boat like this. At a speed of about 50 knots (or 92kph!), you’re sure to soak up lots of sea breeze — which I wholeheartedly appreciated. 👌

Near the coast of Tean Island, we snorkeled through reefs which weren’t that deep or had dangerous corals. I’d say it’s very beginner-friendly, especially for those who can’t swim that well or fear the deep blue sea, but want to see colorful fish in their natural habitat.

Since the sun was still high and we didn’t want to turn into fried seafood ourselves, we took shelter in a nearby island called Koh Mat Sum. It’s tiny in comparison to neighboring islands, and it’s inhabited by…

… these adorable pigs! Yes, the island is filled with them, and I saw more piggies than I did other animals. Not that I mind, but I wonder what their purpose is. 🐖👀

Koh Mat Sum is also home to well-formed sand bars with some of clearest, bluest water I’ve ever seen. It’s great to see such pristine beaches even in tourist hotspots — I can’t say the same for some islands I’ve been to in other countries. Please pick up your trash, folks!

I had to prove my existence on this splendid island, so I took a photo using the Hero 7’s ten-second timer. Not-so-fun fact: This is the brand’s first action camera to have the feature! Why did this take so long, GoPro?!

All good things to come to an end, but they also lead to more fun activities, like this off-road ATV adventure I was about to go on after riding these pickup trucks. Back in Koh Samui, the dense forests are home to not only unspoiled wildlife and lots of fruit, but tracks perfect for driving through, as well.

Out ATVs were provided by the fine people of Samui Quad Motor, which provides vehicles of all colors and sizes, depending on what you need most. I obviously went for the larger model, and I’m glad I did, because the river parts needed more ground clearance to get through.

Because we had a lot of beginners in the group — myself included — we took a lot of breaks in between to let everyone catch up and brace ourselves for each leg of the trail. Having completed the most difficult part (check out that river behind me), I had to take another selfie because reasons. 🤳

The entire day was admittedly tiring and not what I’m used to — I’m just a work-at-home editor, after all — so getting back to our resort was a godsend. The Renaissance Koh Samui Resort and Spa is a spectacular place to stay in, albeit a little pricey, but you definitely get what you pay for.

I had this little balcony outside of my room with space for two. Since I was alone, I used this outdoor spot to air-dry my clothes from the day’s escapades. But I still wish I had someone to share this with. 💔

Blue Leaf is one of the restaurants found within the resort. It’s the place to be in when you want a quick order of Pad Thai, spring rolls, fresh fruit, or Pad Thai — it’s so good it has to be mentioned twice!

Walking past the restaurant, you’ll find this vast pool facing the ocean. There are rarely any people here, because the beach right in front of it is what everyone actually wants to experience. Wait for it…

Here they are! This area is certainly the most Instagrammable part of the whole resort. This alone is worth the price of admission! So what exactly were these two models seeing in the background? Check this…

One of Koh Samui’s famous sunsets! I’ve seen tons of memorable sunsets all my life, but this definitely ranks high on my personal list. The way the light bounces off the rocks and glistens on the ocean is like no other. Makes me wish there were more than one sunset per day. 🤷‍♂️

It gets better, though. Find a good spot before night falls on the island, because the sky’s twilight is equally Instagram-worthy.

And here it is! I love how the water is shallow enough to walk on for long distances; gives the picture an even more surreal look. Blue on blue is something you rarely see unless you find a spot as serene as this.

But the night had just begun, and we found our way to a nearby night market. Like Bangkok and other cities in Thailand, Koh Samui hosts several of these with food and drinks at every corner. The one we went to was along Bophut Beach, which is on the northern tip of the island.

Dinner is… about to be served! We ate at Krua Bophut, which is — you guessed it — a Thai restaurant. I certainly didn’t mind since I have my fair share of Thai cuisine even when I’m not in their country. Actually, I’m craving some right now…

Like any trip, leaving is the hardest part. Fortunately, Koh Samui makes it a little less painful. This is the island’s sole airport, and it’s designed like an outdoor mall! Not once did I feel like I was at an actual airport. But alas, it was time to go home.

Koh Samui, despite its relatively small size, needs at least a week to truly appreciate. There are temples to be visited, more beaches to swim in, and lots more food to taste. This may be only the second-biggest island of Thailand, but it’s definitely number one in quality for me.

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24 Hours Series

24 Hours in Los Cabos, Mexico with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Time for margaritas!

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From the busy urban jungle that is Manila, I hopped on a plane to California for some quality time with the boyfriend (the #LDR life). From Los Angeles, we flew to Mexico for a much-needed vacation and some bonding time with the boyfriend’s family. My first time in Mexico was filled with fun times by the beach, a lot of margaritas, and as many tacos as I could eat! Here’s a day in Cabo, Mexico, as seen through the Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s cameras.

Touchdown, Mexico!

Cabo San Lucas is a mere four-hour flight from Los Angeles. Finally arriving in Mexico was exciting and familiar for me — it had the same hot and humid climate! The first thing we did when we touched down? Local beers!

Cheers! The boyfriend Joshua got himself an amber ale and I ordered the raspberry ale which was sweet and fruity — I loved it! The beers were from Baja Brewery, a local craft brewery from Los Cabos. It was the perfect start to our vacation.

After leaving the airport and picking up the rental car, our first Mexican meal was in order. A short drive from the airport and on the way to the resort, we stopped for some snacks. Ordered seafood ceviche from a random Mexican restaurant and got to eating.

Served with a side of chips, salsa, and some guacamole, it was the first of many great meals we were to have in Mexico. Enjoyed best with more local beer or some margaritas.

Checking in

Next stop was San Jose Del Cabo which is one of Mexico’s resort cities. We were staying at Cabo Azul and let me tell you: It was beautiful. Our two-bedroom villa offered a beautiful view of the pool area.

There are a number of connected pools and even whirlpool bathtubs here — perfect for lazy afternoons in the sun.

The beachfront is right beside the pool area. Lounging chairs and umbrellas are set up here so you could actually choose to spend your day here relaxing, listening to the waves crash in. You can also get a massage by the beach or even go horseback riding to through this scene.

Unfortunately, there’s no swimming in the ocean because the waves are just too dangerous, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the beach. Time for some IG photos!

Yep, nailed it. 😂

The hotel bar is also right by the pool area and it offers a stunning view. They serve refreshing cocktails and even have a BOGO cocktail promo every afternoon — we definitely took advantage of that!

Visiting El Arco

We drove to Cabo San Lucas which is another city destination in Baja California. Together with San Jose del Cabo, this whole area is known as Los Cabos. More busy and bustling than the laid-back San Jose del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas offers tourists a number of bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops.

The port is the jump-off point for a lot of water activities here, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and even parasailing which we wanted to do but couldn’t because of the windy weather.

Instead, we ended up doing a 45-minute boat ride to see Cabo’s famous arch formation, locally known as El Arco. Bright skies and amazing views made up a great afternoon adventure.

What’s any vacation without a trip to a souvenir store? Like I said earlier, there are countless shops here and some even offer tequila-tasting activities!

All smiles after an afternoon in a boat. Selfie with the Note 9’s S Pen remote!

Unfortunately, we saved the shots for another day. But, that doesn’t mean we didn’t get our tequila fix…

Back to San Jose del Cabo

A ten-minute drive from Cabo Azul is a plaza filled with restaurants and shops that we wanted to explore. Coincidentally, we were there on Mexican Independence Day and though we weren’t there for the festivities the night before, the party that happened was apparent from the decors.

Walking around this colorful area is fun — if you can stand the heat! The area is also home to a number of art galleries and interesting establishments.

Of course, our walking around made us thirsty, and you know what that means: margaritas! We drove to Las Guacamayas which is a taqueria that serves giant strawberry margaritas. Just what I needed!

Of course, the great salsa selection, guacamole, and tacos aren’t to be outdone. It was a hearty Mexican meal after a long day of exploring.

The evening was spent back at the resort, by the pool as the sun set on Mexico.

It was a great first day in Cabo. I spent four more glorious days living on tacos, margaritas, and this view. It was a good life.


24 Hours is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we showcase our travels through a smartphone camera’s perspective. It’s also a documented guide on things to see and do in a city in case you happen to plan a trip there.

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24 Hours in Tokyo with the Vivo V11

Hustling and bustling

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I went to Tokyo, Japan to attend a press tour. I’ve always wanted to visit Japan and Tokyo is one of the cities I always wanted to see. I took the Vivo V11 (which I recently reviewed) with me during the trip and it was a great photo-taking companion.

I was able to roam in Shibuya and Shinjuku. I had no exact itinerary and I just went around and let the city take me anywhere.

Shibuya

Our first hotel was situated within the Shibuya area. It was just a couple of blocks away from the famous Shibuya Crossing so my first order of business was to witness what could be the busiest intersection in the world. I brought the Canon EOS R with me so I could also shoot with the full-frame mirrorless camera.

If you’re wondering what the Canon EOS R looks like, here’s a quick photo I took while climbing up the footbridge to get to Shibuya Station. Mine is coupled with the new RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens.

After the 10-minute walk from the hotel, I arrived at the crossing. As I approached the area, I already knew it was going to be a bit chaotic with people already swarming in from every direction. When the crosswalk signal turned green, the fun began!

To be honest, it didn’t feel as amazing as in the movies or anime but it was fun to be part of a crowd filled with people who knew where they were going. It was an experience that I don’t think I’ll be able to have again — unless I catch myself in a dreaded rush hour. After crossing for a few times to take photos and videos, I decided to go explore the area.

I found myself taking a lot of photos while loitering. I had no idea what the names of the streets and roads I walked through were. I didn’t even understand what the sign posts were saying. It was fun to be lost… as long as I knew how to get back to the hotel.

There were a number of restaurants that had displays of fake food which always piqued my interest. Isn’t it nice to see what you’re actually getting in 3D? Unfortunately, they were quite pricey so I just waited for the sponsored dinner later on.

At last, I was able to find my way out of the inner streets. Another bustling intersection greeted me and I happily crossed it without knowing where I might end up again.

After wandering around, it was time to retrace my steps and head back to the hotel. Google Maps was always ready to help, but where’s the fun in letting the GPS do the work for me?

But first, I took a selfie at this mini scramble crossing. I was in a rush, hence the slight blur.

I passed by a superstore and the whole ground floor was dedicated to electronics. I went in and checked it out. There weren’t many new products to be excited about aside from Microsoft’s new Surface Go. Indeed, it looked like a tablet PC designed for students but I’d still love to have one for working on the go.

When I reached Shibuya Station, I thought of doing a slight detour since I still had a bit more time to spare. I went into the busy train station and stared at the network map. Unfortunately, there was no English version. I just wanted to hop on the train and go back after a couple of stations. So, I bought a single journey ticket worth JPY 140 and tried to memorize the name of the station (based on the writing) that was two stops away.

Thankfully, I didn’t get lost. I arrived at the station I chose and hopped off the train. I honestly didn’t know where I was, but I did know that I could get back by just going to Shibuya station. I transferred to the other side of the platform and made sure it’s the right line to get back to Shibuya. I got back to the hotel just in time for our transfer to the restaurant along with other media.

To my surprise, we were walking to the restaurant. It was another 10-minute walk to Sushi Gonpachi in Shibuya which is situated on the 14th floor of a building. There was quite a view while we feasted on delicious Japanese food. I wasn’t able to take photos because I was too busy eating!

After filling our tummies with great food, it was time to finally rest for the long trip the next day. Again, we walked. It was always nice to get around on foot. It’s good exercise for the body and it’s free.

The final leg of our night walk was a footbridge that crossed a highway. I stopped and let my colleagues head up to their rooms. It tested the Vivo V11 with the fast-moving vehicles. There was motion blur, as expected, that gave the image a sense of movement.

It was time to rest. I decided I’d go around again during the last day of the tour which will be in Shinjuku.

Shinjuku

Before flying back to Manila in the afternoon, I had the whole morning to roam around. This time, we were staying in Shinjuku. It was really not that far from our previous hotel, just three stops away from Shibuya. It was drizzling that morning so everybody was using umbrellas — mostly the transparent ones.

I am fond of watching locals go about their day. It’s fascinating to see how other people commute. Finally, I had a goal that morning: enjoy a full ramen meal at Ichiran Ramen. I let Google Maps lead the way, but I couldn’t help but deviate from the shortest suggested route to explore places I won’t be seeing again for a long time.

I love trains, so I passed by Shinjuku Station to observe commuters. I crossed a bridge again to get a better view of the road. The train station was surrounded by numerous shops and department stores with people going in and out.

I was not disappointed when I got lost while passing through a shopping mall. I wanted to get into the train station, but I had to buy a ticket to get to the platform. Good thing, while finding my way out since the GPS got wonky indoors, I saw this open space that seemed like a plaza for viewing trains that stopped in Shinjuku. I stayed there for quite a while then I remembered I had someplace to go.

I finally found an Ichiran Ramen restaurant! I was greeted by this ticket vending machine. Since it was my first time, I opted to get the recommended set menu for JPY 1,490. It included ramen, extra slices of meat, egg, dried seaweed, and strips of mushroom.

If you’re not familiar with Ichiran Ramen, it’s a popular ramen place where you have less interaction with people. It’s basically a self-service restaurant where you sit quietly and wait for your order to come out of the small window in your seat. Each cubicle has dividers separating you from other customers.

I didn’t take photos of the surroundings because that would defeat the purpose of the setup. I simply enjoyed my bowl of delicious ramen.

After that, I had to get back and prepare for checkout. It was fun going around Tokyo even for a limited time. When I get back, I’ll make sure to know where to eat again.


24 Hours is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we showcase our travels through a smartphone camera’s perspective. It’s also a documented guide on things to see and do in a city in case you happen to plan a trip there.

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