Reviews

adidas UltraBoost 21 review: More boost, more fun

Casual and performance hybrid

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It’s a new year which means it’s time for a new UltraBoost and this one’s the best one yet. Today we’re checking out the adidas UltraBoost 21.

The UltraBoost 21 dropped globally this January 28th priced at US$ 180, with a full release of more colorways on February 4th.

Here in Malaysia, the UltraBoost 21 is now available in physical stores as well as our lockdown opens up slightly.

Brief Ultraboost history

Ever since they were announced in 2015, the Ultraboost has always been my go-to everyday sneaker because they’re just so comfortable to wear.

In the last two years adidas has been pumping out two different series of UltraBoost. On one side we have the older, UltraBoost 1.0 to 4.0 retro-ing and releasing in a few newer colorways under the “UltraBoost DNA” branding.

Initially, adidas just kept making small changes to the shoe every year from the UltraBoost 1.0 to the 4.0. They were mostly just changing the knit pattern of the upper which wasn’t really that big of a deal.

However, the DNA models are more for people like me who want the retro style of the OG UltraBoosts and want the comfort of the Boost midsole and Primeknit upper, but just as casual everyday wear sneakers.

But, on the other side we have the UltraBoost year models which are more performance oriented as running sneakers. This started in 2019 when adidas redesigned the Ultraboost to create the Ultraboost 19 which was a huge change in the line and created a lot of controversy with Ultraboost fans at that time.

A brand new change

This is because, initially, the Ultraboost was more of a casual lifestyle pair first, casual running sneaker second. But this changed with the UB19 when adidas decided to focus on making a more performance oriented running sneaker. It created a bit of drama amongt Ultraboost fans because the silhouette of the shoe really changed compared to previous UltraBoosts.

UltraBoost 20

So we saw the Ultraboost 19 in 2019, the UltraBoost 20 last year, and this year, 2021, it’s the UltraBoost 21.

And boy, has adidas really evolved the silhouette here, with even more Boost than ever before and a LOT of major tech improvements as well, including a new Torsion system, also making use of more sustainably sourced materials in the upper.

With all of that, you have to admit, the UltraBoost21 looks like an aggressive running sneaker through and through.

We got the launch colorway to check out which is Cloud White / Core Black / Solar Yellow. It’s a sweet colorway with these hits of neon yellow on the upper and pink on the sole.

PrimeBlue

Coming to the shoe itself and starting with the upper, adidas is using a brand new knit material called PrimeBlue —  a new version of adidas Primeknit which uses recycled materials like Parley Ocean Plastics in the yarn.

According to adidas, over 50 percent of the upper is made from textiles and over 75 percent of that textile is made up of the PrimeBlue yarn. adidas has also said that they didn’t use any new polyester materials on this shoe so this might just be the most sustainably made UltraBoost so far.

I love that adidas is focusing on using recycled materials more, we saw them work with Parley for years now but it was mostly for special limited edition sneakers or apparel. This is the first time we’re seeing adidas work with Parley on general release sneakers, so to see them stick to this sustainability philosophy for one of their most high-profile shoes, that’s awesome.

So every one of the UltraBoost 21s you buy will be using recycled plastics from the ocean. I love that adidas is doing this.

But of course, the next logical question would be — if the knit here is made out of plastics, how does it feel?

Honestly, it feels the same as standard primeknit. It’s just as soft and stretchy, and just as breathable. It  is a little bit thicker but I think that’s by design. It’s your usual sock-like fit UltraBoost upper.

Some design updates

Coming to the toe-box area, you’ll see the new knit pattern that is similar to previous UltraBoosts except that the knit pattern and the ventilation holes marked by the neon yellow here kind of extends along the upper towards the mid-foot of the shoe.

You’ll also see these heat-pressed details that outline the ventilation holes. I assume these are just aesthetic but they might also add some structure to the upper.

Coming to the midfoot area, you’ll see the semi-translucent TPU midfoot cage that looks similar to the one on the OG Ultraboost. It now has a more aggressive, updated design with these three individual opaque black stripes to make the adidas three stripes symbol.

Instead of being sown into the midsole, this time around the midfoot cage has been shown into the lower part of the upper instead. I’m not too sure why adidas decided to do this, but I do think it looks really cool, and hopefully we won’t see it affect the structure of the upper after a year or two of wearing these.

On-feet, it doesn’t really feel any different on the sides vs older UltraBoosts.

Lacing

Moving upwards, weaving through the midfoot cage are these flat white laces. What I thought was interesting is that out of the box, the laces come laced up through all but the top row of eyelets. I’m not sure why adidas did that, it does feel more comfortable laced that way, but my OCD made me lace them up all the way when I wore them.

I think the top row is for people who want a more snug fit. If you want a more comfortable fit, stick with the way it’s laced out of the box.

Underneath the laces, there’s the PrimeBlue upper. It’s a one-piece booty construction so there’s no separate tongue here. And at the top of the tongue area, is this white patch with the adidas Performance branding debossed in black.

Cups your feet nicely

Coming to the inside of the shoe, you’ll see the exposed knit edge of the collar of the shoe which is surprisingly comfortable and doesn’t rub against the back of your ankle, even with low no-show socks.

This is mostly thanks to that padded neoprene portion at the back of the shoe. This extra padding around the heel feels great against your foot but also makes your foot feel more secure in the sneaker as it pushes it forward.

Apart from that your foot is up against the raw primeknit of the upper in a sock-like fit, which is in this neon yellow color here. Using a thicker primeknit material here means the shoe contains your foot a lot better. You won’t have any moments where your foot slips over the midsole.

At the bottom is a neon yellow insole, which says PrimeBlue in a hot pink color.

Ankle-friendly

Moving along, coming to the back of the shoe, the upper extends upwards to act as a pull-tab, just like we’ve seen on UltraBoosts previously. And just like previous versions, this is really comfortable and doesn’t rub against or irritate your achilles which is super appreciated.

Coming to the heel counter, this has also changed dramatically vs the UltraBoost 19 and 20. Instead of being just an outline, it’s a solid TPU element like on OG UltraBoosts, but it is much smaller and doesn’t spill over onto the Boost midsole.

On the lateral side you’ll see the new UltraBoost branding embossed in all-caps. Except for the “r” which is lowercase technically, which is definitely triggering my OCD.

On the medial side there’s no branding but you’ll see this “Primeknit” branding debossed into the upper material. I dont think I’ve ever seen adidas actually put their primeknit branding anywhere so that’s interesting.

More. Boost.

The UltraBoost 21 features a full-length Boost midsole, with this kind of speed-line running along the side of it. But, what’s new here is that there is 6 percent more Boost used than the UltraBoost 20. That already had 20 percent more Boost than the Retro UltraBoosts, so that’s a lot more Boost.

But if it’s just 6 percent more than the UltraBoost 20 from last year, why does it look so much more?

This is kind of a bit of visual trickery by adidas. With the UltraBoost 21, you’ll see that the back of the midsole curves up a lot more dramatically, which makes these easier to run in.

But when you slide your feet into this shoe, it actually sits deeper in the midsole, so that the heel of your foot is kind of surrounded by the Boost all around it. The Boost is not just under your foot but more like cupping your foot.

This is for just the heel area, while the midfoot and fore-foot of will still have Boost primarily underneath it.

So what does this mean? While there is more Boost used here than any UltraBoost before, don’t expect it to be dramatically more comfortable.

It’s definitely the most comfortable UltraBoost ever, especially because of the improvements to the upper and the shape of the midsole. The extra Boost does make a difference, but all I’m saying is don’t expect something a HUGE difference with these.

Just saying that because I know a lot of people are going to see this chunky midsole and the way the Boost is sculpted here, and they’re going to expect a LOT. UltraBoost is already one of the most comfortable sneakers out there and this takes it forward a bit, but don’t expect something crazy.

Boost is a must try

In case you haven’t tried out a sneaker with Boost yet, I encourage you to go on over to an adidas store and try one out as soon as possible.

The big deal here is the cushioning and energy return. You can feel it absorb the impact as you run, and then spring back to return some of that energy to help you take off.

It’s this reason why Boost, and the Ultraboost series in particular is so popular amongst runners and gym goers. It’s not only one of the most comfortable shoes around but it also really helps with casual running or just every day walking around.

Moving downwards, you still have a continental rubber outsole but it’s an entirely new design. The rubber panels are in the usual black, along with this translucent white, and pink panels made up of continental rubber,  which add a bit of pop to the outsole.

Instead of the usual Torsion Bar, adidas is using a new Torsion System called adidas LEP. This new redesigned ‘Linear Energy Push’ torsion system has a stiffer, reinforced material in the midsole to provide runners with less flex in the forefoot and increased responsiveness. You’ll see it here in this wishbone shaped neon yellow element.

This basically means that this shoe should give you more of a spring to your step than before and propel you forward on your runs.

Apart from that, you can see the exposed Boost, with the Boost branding towards the heel area.

I gotta admit, adidas did something pretty drastic with changing up the outsole and I love what they did with it.

Sizing

Coming to sizing and fit, the UltraBoost 21 feels like it runs true to size. If you have regular narrow feet you can go true to size, but if you have wide feet like I do, you might want to go up half a size.

That being said, I’m a size UK 11 and adidas sent me a size UK11 and it fits great provided I dont lace up the top eyelets.

It’s always best to try the shoe on in a store first to make sure you get the best fit possible.

Performance 

Coming to performance, I still think the UltraBoost is a great neutral running shoe. And the UltraBoost 21 is by far the most comfortable and responsive one yet.

Now, this is not really meant for elite runners, but if you’re looking for a comfortable pair of shoes to run in, or do any sort of workout that requires the cushioning and the responsiveness of the Boost midsole, this is a great shoe

The thing is, visually, it’s a huge difference in terms of design and materials but when you compare it to last year’s UltraBoost 20 in terms of performance, it’s just a marginal improvement in terms of cushioning and responsiveness.

That’s understandable because the UltraBoost 20 itself was also already a super comfortable, great neutral running shoe. And I’m not really sure what else adidas could have done to improve among it apart from the visual updates that the Ultraboost 21 brings.

There’s only so much Boost they can add before things get too bouncy and it feels like you’re talking on a trampoline, so I think adidas kept the balance well here with the 6 percent increase.

Is this your SneakerMatch?

At the end of the day, the UltraBoost 21 is an iterative but meaningful improvement to the Ultraboost performance line in comparison to the UB19 and 20 before it.

Visually, it’s a huge dramatic change while still looking like an UltraBoost, but also looking way more aggressive at the same time.

It is even more performance oriented, and even more comfortable at the same time. Honestly just go into an adidas store and try them on — I’m pretty sure you’ll walk away impressed. Maybe you’ll walk away wearing these.

If you have an UltraBoost 20, or a pair of UltraBoost 19 you might not see a huge difference when you try these on. But, if you have a much older pair of UltraBoosts or never tried on a pair of Boost shoes before, you will definitely appreciate how comfortable a shoe this is.

When it comes to casual running, or general exercise where you need to move a lot, I still think UltraBoost is a must-have shoe.

But even if you just want a comfortable pair of casual wear lifestyle shoes, these are just so darn comfortable that they’re perfect as all-day shoes as well.

And that has always been the beauty of the UltraBoost. It’s a shoe that adidas pitches as performance shoes for casual running and they work great for that. But, it’s also a shoe that’s just so comfortable that it just became a shoe people wore casually as well.

And the UltraBoost 21, checks all those boxes. Definitely recommended.

adidas Malaysia Tips from their adidas Running KL Captain

In case you pick up a pair or just need advice on getting started, here’s a few running tips by Awan, Captain of adidas Runners Kuala Lumpur.

For new runners

  1. Educate yourself on proper warm up & cool down steps through certified individuals. Warm ups are important to prepare your body and gradually increase the heart rate to propel yourself into the rhythm. Often mislooked by most runners, cool downs are equally important as it relaxes your muscles and lowers heart rate to return to your normal breathing rhythm.
  2. Start small by doing easy runs to build endurance over time and slowly increase your weekly mileage.
  3. Strengthen muscles and joints to improve race time and reduce risk for injuries by conducting simple body weights.

For avid runners

  1. Set a milestone for your training sessions, i.e setting a half year or full year objective and tracking your progress by monitoring running pace via device tracking systems.
  2. Understand one’s own running ability to improve performance by diligently doing running drills and weight lifting.
  3. Last but not least, follow a structured training plan to ensure a wholesome workout targeting each aspect of your body i.e nutrition, strength, recovery.

In case you’re a bit nervous about heading outside now, you can tune into the adidas Runner’s  ARKL FB Page, where the adidas Runners Kuala Lumpur Core Team will be conducting Virtual Live Workouts to help improve your running journey.

Each month they have different workouts to cater to the demand of the ARKL members, so do keep an eye out on the announcement posting!

Gaming

ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 review: A daring proposition

Bulky-sleek, with power you’ve relied on for years

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Strix Scar 17

Most gaming laptops these days are going for sleeker design options even with hefty internals inside. At first, you would think that it poses several issues with thermals and heat-filled components you can fry eggs on. Obviously, the benefit for it is a power-hungry machine for great gaming performance.

I’ve seen ASUS ROG’s previous STRIX SCAR laptops that follow a similar trend of producing sleek yet power-hungry devices. Unlike their other gaming laptops, these look and feel easy to bring around while equipped with the latest gaming-ready internal hardware. Again, with sleek form factors comes the thermal issues surrounding it.

So, when the latest version of the ASUS ROG STRIX SCAR 17 (G733) was launched, I wondered “what are these guys going for this time?” It arrived at my doorstep in a rather hefty packaging, with lots of freebies inside. Right out of the box, it doesn’t seem like it’s anything different from the other STRIX SCAR laptops they’ve had.

Wait, why does it look sleek but it feels bulky?

When I first removed the device from the box, it felt a little bulkier physically. Don’t get me wrong, I looked at it from all angles and it’s still quite slim and sleek compared to most gaming laptops. However, I felt that this gaming laptop has some heft to it in its sleek form factor at about 2.7 kg.

While we’re on the form factor, ASUS ROG manages to retain the same design features with one key difference. The review unit I received came in a pristine black finish, with the LED ROG logo on the lid. Of course, you can’t really take any of the RGB LED strips away from the bottom of the laptop. For ergonomic reasons, most of the ports are at the back, which is a great touch.

Unlike the previous models, ASUS ROG’s main gimmick here is the customizable Armor Caps for added customization. Essentially, they’re just a part of the hinge mechanism for the display that you can customize with any color or logo. Plus, you can 3D print your own cap if you’re not really a fan of the ones they have in the box. Personally, it’s not something I’d completely rave about but it’s nice that they extended the customization to that level.

Gaming performance, as expected, delivers well

One thing I would completely rave about the ROG STRIX SCAR 17 is its gaming performance. See, the device comes with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor and an NVIDIA RTX 3080 inside the bulky-sleek form factor. Ideally, what you’re getting is, quite simply, a power-efficient gaming setup fit for the competitive scene.

Most of the games I played through this machine ran quite well, all things considered. Part of the reason is also because the FHD anti-glare display also came with a 300Hz refresh rate, which is pretty smooth. Although, it does come with a 3ms response rate so you may have a little bit of difficulty reacting to somebody one-tapping you.

Now, because this device came with a more modern RTX card, I figured that I should look at some games a bit separately. Hopefully, I’m painting a good whole picture here:

Standard, old-fashioned, high quality gameplay

Without even turning any RTX setting on, most games fared more than well on the ROG STRIX SCAR 17. Here’s just a bit of a run down of how some of the games I played ran with their respective game settings:

Title Graphics Settings Avg. FPS
VALORANT Max. Settings Agent Select: 367 FPS

In-Game: 210 FPS

Fortnite Battle Royale Epic Settings 119-133 FPS
Apex Legends Max. Settings using all 16GB of VRAM Lobby: 125-130 FPS

In-Game: 155-170 FPS

Call of Duty: Warzone Max. Settings 107-110 FPS
Cyberpunk 2077 High Settings 67-74 FPS
Rocket League High Quality Settings 255-264 FPS
GTA V Max. Settings 91-103 FPS, depending on the environment
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Ultra Settings 91 FPS

Clearly, the RTX 3080 slayed in most competitive and casual games alike, while also providing accurate colors and details. There were some instances of momentary lag due to too many things happening — especially with intense gameplay. However, for the most part, it’s a gaming machine fit for every possible game you could throw at it.

Turn on the ray-tracing power

Admittedly, among all of the games I played, only four of them support any RTX functionality of any kind. Whether it was shadows or immense lighting effects, my assumption is that the RTX 3080 can simply handle all of it. My goal here was to, at the very least, achieve a playable frame rate given how beefy ray-tracing is:

Title RTX Compatible Graphics Settings Avg. FPS
Fortnite Battle Royale Yes Epic Settings

For RTX: set to Quality and all set to highest

50-57 FPS
Call of Duty: Warzone Yes Max. Settings 98-105 FPS
Cyberpunk 2077 Yes High Settings

DLSS on Quality

For RTX: set to Ultra

54-58 FPS
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Yes Ultra Settings

For RTX: no option for it, but there is RTX for Shadow Quality

94 FPS

While I was playing these games, it was a pleasure just taking in all the visual enhancements ray-tracing brings. Reflections and shadows are present and in roughly full detail, and I still got close to 60 FPS on games with the ray-tracing turned up high. Then again, I’m playing on a FHD display so I still prefer replicating this on higher resolutions.

Pumping the brakes for a little bit

With an AMD chip inside this machine, I was expecting that it would last quite well under significant load. During my entire usage of it, I got about 6-7 hours using it for productivity purposes and a little bit of gaming. When you’re gaming full time at 60 FPS, I only got about 2 hours worth of juice on it — right around most gaming laptops.

Although, when you do need to fill it up again, it doesn’t take that long. In my tests, it took close to 2 hours for one full charge provided you’re not doing anything else. While you’re using it while charging, it takes just an hour and 45 minutes longer on average. It’s still quite fast, but it’s probably also a reminder for you to take a break from intense gameplay.

Now, the package also came with a 100W USB-C charger that you can use for both your phone and laptop. Although it doesn’t charge your bulky laptop that fast, it’s something quite nice to include as a multi-device charger. 

Staying cool under pressure

I touched on this earlier about how most sleek gaming laptops have some thermal issues with it. If it comes with heavy-duty components, the devices tend to get pretty warm and uncomfortable to use for a lengthy period of time. Sometimes, it would feel like you could fry eggs on your keyboard, but please don’t try to do that.

In the ROG STRIX SCAR 17’s case, it does feel warm around the sides and rear end — where most of the ports are found. When you’re playing for longer hours or under all that ray-tracing workload, it heats up significantly. I mean, just the air coming out of the heatsinks at the sides feels enough to burn my hand. Also, the fans tend to get quite loud at times, so prepare your headphones.

However, for some reason, it wasn’t uncomfortable, especially around the keyboard. See, ASUS used its patent Liquid Metal cooling technology for the powerful CPU and GPU inside. Even while boosting the GPU to push out better performance, the device remained warm enough not to make the keyboard an uncomfortable, hot piece of equipment.

About the other assets in the package

Apart from everything I’ve mentioned above, I feel there are a lot of other things to highlight for this device. First off, I thoroughly enjoyed using the mechanical keyboard of the ROG STRIX SCAR 17. It uses optical mechanical switches that act a level of clickiness with every key press, and they’re also quite accurate.

One other thing I liked was the inclusion of more ROG peripherals within the package itself. When I took everything out of the box, the ROG STRIX SCAR 17 came with the ROG Chakram Core, the ROG Delta RGB Headset, and the ROG Eye. All in all, it feels like a complete package that you can also give content creation or streaming a go for this device.

Also, inside the package is the Keystone II in a nifty keychain. Essentially, if you’ve had any of your Aura Sync settings or you just need a ghost drive, this is one of ASUS’s technologies that will surely be useful.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 199,995, the ASUS ROG STRIX SCAR 17 has a daring proposition for the competitive gamer. On the outside, it’s a bulky-sleek gaming machine with a ton of RGB to go around and customization options galore. Inside, you will find one of the bulkiest and hottest sets of components assembled for competitive gaming performance.

Stream Like Water for better health!

It’s a package that ASUS ROG has delivered in many forms for years on end. Yes, they will come with the usual thermal issues and even a little too much RGB for others. Although it is at a hefty price point, it is still a device worth your hard-earned money in the long run.

Quite simply, the ROG STRIX SCAR 17 is a gaming laptop — to quote ASUS ROG on this — “for those who dare.” It’s something they’ve said for their ASUS ROG Phone 5, but I think it extends even further to their gaming laptops. 

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Reviews

Amazfit GTR 2e review: A very stylish fitness companion

Filled to the brim with features

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The wearable market is booming, and Amazfit is among the first to take full advantage of the affordable segment. The brand has rapidly developed its portfolio in a short span of two years. Today we’ve got the Amazfit GTR 2e for review, and it’s supposed to be a “lighter” alternative to the GTR 2.

Its new offering is sitting in a very competitive market as the sub-INR 15,000 (US$ 201) range has a lot of competition from bigger players Mi and realme. Amazfit has largely been focused on value-for-money fitness trackers with the Bip series but has expanded to midrange significantly in recent times.

With a new design, upgraded features, and robust battery life, is the Amazfit GTR 2e your GadgetMatch? Let’s find out!

It has an exquisite design

The watch has a surprisingly premium design that constitutes an aluminum alloy casing and 2.5D curved glass. The body of the watch is subtly curved and polished to give a very aesthetic vibe. The glass has a black outline that masquerades to be a bezel-less display. The outline also has small markings that go perfectly with analog watch faces.

Despite sturdy steel construction, it weighs just 40 grams. The body is also aptly sized, and it conveniently blends with a long-sleeve shirt. My unit has a soft silicone strap which is very comfortable for extended usage. You can also seamlessly wear it while sleeping, and you won’t feel a thing. The band measures 22mm, and you can swap any band of your choice from the after-market.

On the bottom is Huami’s in-house sensor called BioTracker 2. It’s capable of measuring heart rate and blood oxygen. Except for the touchscreen display, there are two physical buttons for navigation on the right side. The top-bottom takes you back to the watch face while the one beneath it opens the app scroller. You can customize the latter to open an app quickly.

An AMOLED display with more than sufficient brightness

The Amazfit GTR 2e sports a 1.39-inch AMOLED always-on display, and it does full justice to the sleek design. The panel is pitch black and produces zestful colors along with exceptional brightness. Everything is clearly visible under direct sunlight, even in a hot and tropical city like Mumbai. And auto-brightness works very accurately. Furthermore, you can manually set the brightness quickly, thanks to a quick toggle option.

Its body measures 46mm, and there’s only one size option. My wrists are significantly thin, so I had slight issues in keeping the watch firm. If you’re as skinny as me, a smaller tracker like the Fitbit Versa 2 would be suggested. Although, I’m pretty sure any average body figure will fit flawlessly.

There are many pre-installed watch faces, and if you need more, there’s a dedicated watch face store within the Zepp app. Over the years, Amazfit has done a solid job of encouraging developers to get creative. In the end, you’re left with many options that’ll always match your outfit and mood.

It’s got a ton of fitness features

I don’t generally work out but have a very active lifestyle. So there’s a lot of walking, running, and numerous football matches. In a nutshell, the pedometer measures your steps accurately, and the GPS plots your course without a glitch.

The Amazfit GTR 2e supports various high-intensity interval training exercises, and the usual presets like swimming and cycling. For the fitness freaks, there are more than 90 different modes that cover pretty much everything. To make it more interesting, there’s also a parkour option.

One of my favorite features is the altimeter which displays your altitude against sea level. I compared the results against my Casio watch’s readings, and it would usually tally. The sensor isn’t speedy in refreshing, so it may not function properly if you’re not stationary.

The heart rate scanner is pretty accurate, with a tiny margin of error. I’m sure it could be more accurate, but two to four beats up or down isn’t significant. The Zepp app offers deep insights like stress, altitude, stride, and even speed. It works round the clock and will keep recording the readings in periodic intervals.

Sleep tracking is also error-free, and it’ll detect you’re up within a minute. Sleep is also divided into light sleep, REM, and deep sleep. The graph is quite helpful, and it’ll also give you a breathing score. If you thought all of this was enough, there’s more.

Based on manual inputs like weight, water consumption, and diet, the watch can automatically calculate your BMI, body composition, and even muscle mass. While it isn’t as accurate as a full-fledged scanner, it does add a convenient reference frame.

Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, an oximeter or blood oxygen level monitor is a must-have. The Amazfit GTR 2e features a SpO2 scanner that’ll show blood oxygen levels on a scale of one to 100. Anything above 95 is considered safe, and the watch usually clocked mine around 98. It has the ability to alert you in case oxygen intake is dangerously low.

Lastly, it has PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence), which actively keeps track of your resting heart rate, maximum heart rate, and other fluctuations based on activity. Every week, it’ll give you a score out of 100 to show how healthy or normal your heart functioning is. It’s worth noting that this isn’t a certified medical product and should be relied upon accordingly.

How smart is it?

I wouldn’t call it a smartwatch because it can’t function as a standalone device. But it’s undoubtedly a brim-packed fitness tracker. There’s a weather app, music controls, alarms, events, timer, altimeter, compass, and more.

It can also display notifications from pretty much any app on your phone. But you can’t quickly send a canned message. Viewing a notification is the only thing you can do. The haptic feedback is powerful, and it comes in very handy when you’re driving or riding and need to be notified about a call. I’d say the feedback feels premium and goes hand-in-hand with the alloy design.

The Zepp app is overly complicated and desperately needs a makeover. In a bid to show as much information as possible, the brand has ended up with a cumbersome app that often becomes confusing. Thankfully, there’s an option to export all your fitness data to third parties like Google Fit, Strava, WeChat, and more. Many may find the detail-rich app a blessing, but subjectively speaking, it’s a mess.

Coming to the most critical aspect of a wearable, Amazfit claims the GTR 2e can last 24 days on a single charge. I initially thought it’s exaggerated, but it isn’t. After ten days, the watch was at 53 percent with the always-on display switched off. In one go, I was able to use the watch for 19 days. That’s a lot of runtime for a watch that weighs just 40 grams.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for a stylish watch that can be worn at a party or the gym, the Amazfit GTR 2e is made for you. With an elegant design, excellent battery life, top-notch display, and tonnes of fitness features, this watch is a no-brainer.

The brand has maintained a balance between features and looks. I don’t think there are any major compromises, and considering the price of INR 14,999 (US$ 201), it can perfectly complement any phone. The best part is, the watch is often available for INR 9,999 (US$ 135) in India, and that makes for a blockbuster deal.

I wouldn’t recommend the watch if you’re looking for a full-fledged smartwatch. The Amazfit GTR 2e’s elder sibling, the GTR 2, gets in-built storage for music playback and a mic for incoming calls. There’s also support for Amazon Alexa, which opens up a whole new world of connectivity.

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Gaming

Now Playing ROG Phone 5: Two player co-op review

Two gamers. One Gaming smartphone.

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Two gamers. One Gaming smartphone. We put the ROG Phone 5 on the hands of our two resident gamers Gab and Leez. Here, the two share their takes and overall experience using the latest and greatest in mobile gaming from ASUS ROG.

Thoughts on how the ROG Phone 5 looks and overall packaging

Gab: It’s sleek, and the interactive packaging was a nice touch. Essentially, you can create your own AR selfie from the little comic strip in the box. It’s pretty cool that they were able to incorporate something like this into the unboxing experience, plus the visual effects show off some of the camera’s capabilities to some extent.

For the most part, this is a wide gaming phone and the screen covers most of the front space. The ROG logo at the back lights up, and it’s customizable too so it gives you that bit of personalization similar to their ROG laptops and desktops. They retained the headphone jack and placed it in a position that doesn’t get in the way of your hands when you’re playing, so that’s considerate of them.

Leez: The packaging screamed gaming phone without doubling down on being obscenely gimmicky. It was good, sleek, and simple with instant feature brags. This isn’t the first iteration of the ROG Phone (obviously from the name alone) but it stuck to the line-up’s fundamental design–just with a little bit more bells and whistles.

There’s a lot of thought in the phone’s design besides just showing off being part of the Republic of Gamers with its flashy customizable logo. From the headphone jack’s placement to it’s improved Aero Active Cooler, the ROG Phone 5 feels pragmatically designed. It does get rid of miniscule discomforts when playing on an average phone.

What mobile games do you usually play? 

Gab: League of Legends: Wild Rift, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile, Fortnite BR Mobile, NBA Live Mobile, Superstar (JYP, SM)

Leez: I usually play League of Legends: Wild Rift, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, DOTA Underlords, Call of Duty Mobile, Cat Bird, and whatever indie game is available on mobile. Very Little Nightmares is the newest addition to my list of mobile game installs and play.

What game were you most excited to play on the ROG Phone 5?

Gab: Fortnite BR Mobile (to see what the experience would be), Asphalt 9, NBA 2K21.

Leez: The Gardens Between, Black Desert Mobile, and Sky. As you can probably tell, I love plot-driven games and stunning graphics. I can handle the usual mobile moba but, I sometimes like sticking to gripping graphics from indie games instead of fostering toxic team blaming.

Did you play any game that you normally wouldn’t be able to play because of your current phone’s specs? If yes, did that game make you want to secure an ROG Phone 5 for yourself? 

Gab: On some of my devices, I normally can’t play the Superstar games, Fortnite, NBA 2K, and even PUBG Mobile. For the Superstar ones, it’s mostly on the delayed responsiveness of my inputs, especially when hitting the notes properly. For Fortnite and even PUBG, graphics settings are low on my devices so I was hoping that using the ROG Phone 5 would improve the experience.

When I played these on the ROG Phone 5, with the Cooler attached because of how hot the phone gets when trying to play at the best quality, I see the improvement. Sure, some of the delays I had were just because of me (lol haha) but I’ve seen the improvements in graphic quality and responsiveness. Although, for Fortnite it still capped everything at 30 FPS despite running at a 144Hz refresh rate display but it didn’t feel as jittery as it does on my own phone. At the very least, it made me consider getting the ROG Phone 5.

Leez: When I got the phone, I already had a list of graphics-heavy mobile games I wanted to play on it. My everyday phone conks out alot when I try to play Sky or The Gardens Between so, I was looking forward to a whole new clarity and detail on the ROG Phone 5 when it came to gaming.

I think graphics-heavy games aside, another component that gives me a bit more breathing space is storage. In the series line-up, you get to pick from 128GB with 8GB RAM, 256GB with 12GB RAM, or 256GB with 16GB RAM. All of which is more than enough and way beyond the storage I have on my regular phone.

Does this make me want an ROG Phone 5 of my own? yes and no. Yes, because I’d end up having a bunch of games on my phone like a regular Steam account. And, no because homegirl doesn’t have that kind of expendable money. With everything going on in the world, I’m more than likely to stick to subpar phones playing at the lowest setting unless I decide to dedicate my life to competitive mobile gaming.

Do you think having the ROG Phone 5 gives you a competitive advantage for MOBAs and Shooters? 

Gab: Personally, I felt that it does give me a little advantage for both MOBAs and shooters. Particularly for shooter games, increasing the detail to the maximum allowable quality settings allows you to see some enemy silhouettes from a mile away. It gives you that extra level of detail that will influence your decision to attack or avoid the fights. With MOBAs, there is just that added detail given to make the experience a bit better, plus less lag when the fights are intense in one lane of action.

Leez: Yes. Hands down; no cap; yes. The ROG Phone 5 delivers on details and specs that don’t necessarily improve your gaming capacity but gives you all the more leverage to play better.

This is going to be out of left field but hang tight. Gaming phones are like F1 cars. A better car gives you an advantage in a race but it doesn’t account for a bad driver. It’s like a balancing act. It’s the same for gaming phones. A gaming phone that delivers on no stutters, delays, and sharp smooth graphics won’t account for garbage gameplay. When you optimize non-human elements, it isolates and highlights both human skill and error. Basically, you have less excuse to blame the phone or your teammates with the ROG Phone 5–even if it won’t stop you from being toxic by finding other things to blame.

What do you think of the Air Triggers? Does it really elevate the mobile gaming experience?

Gab: The AirTriggers are pretty great and responsive, plus fairly easy to set up but I usually did it in game so I can map the controls out properly. I tried doing it across all the games I played — casually or competitively — and the AirTriggers elevate the shooter experience the best out of all of them. It actually frees your other fingers to either reload, jump, or crouch while you use the triggers to aim and shoot. Although, it takes a bit of a while to get used to the feel of using the triggers when you’re already used to touching the controls yourself.

With MOBAs, honestly it really depends on your play style and the champions you pick. I usually pick either ranged champions or those with blades, so the AirTriggers only really helped in me spamming the primary attacks. Same goes for some sports games that don’t have dedicated buttons for sprinting or dribble moves. You’re somewhat better off pressing and swiping.

Leez: Air Triggers are extremely useful for shooters but can be a bit of a strange feature to add to other mobile games. There’s not much use for it outside the first-person shooter (fps) genre since the air triggers are basically for quick and easy aim and shoot.

For mobile mobas, it’s a good second trigger for main attacks and gives you a quick view of the map. For League of Legends: Wild Rift specifically, the left trigger is your ultimate and the right, for your regular attacks. For mobile platformers like Dadish or Cat Bird, the Air Triggers are absolutely useless. They don’t work. Like, at all–which made me giggle in disappointment but, it is what it is.

The Air Triggers are built for competitive play but especially so for competitive mobile fps. I don’t see much use for it with a mobile moba since most people are used to having their index finger rest on that corner of the phone. It would just take a lot of getting used to. Whereas, for mobile fps, it mimics a console controller.

Did you experience any heating during your time with the device? 

Gab: As with any gaming device, this also heats up. Sometimes, it heats up faster than the usual smartphone would when you’re playing games at such high quality. It mostly has something to do with the gaming profile you set in Armoury Crate when you’re playing games, and this is something you normally expect anyway.

Leez: Yes. But, it’s good to note that most phones heat up when you’re optimizing gameplay. And, while the ROG Phone 5 has separate peripherals dedicated for that, heating just comes with every gaming phone in existence.

Since the AeroActive Cooler 5 is now a separate purchase, would you consider it a must-buy to go along with the phone itself?

Gab: Given my sentiments on the previous question, I felt that the AeroActive Cooler 5 is indeed a must-buy to fully maximize your experience with the phone. Apart from the cooling it brings, it also comes with standard triggers at the bottom that you can also use in-game if you really want your thumbs to focus on other things. Plus, it comes with a headphone jack as well at the bottom, so nothing will get in the way of your hands at the side of the phone.

But obviously, you need this to keep the device relatively cooler and using up less battery power than usual. Without the cooler, the device uses up a ton of your battery power to keep games at the highest quality, so it depletes much faster. With the cooler, and based on my usage of it, the battery still depletes quite fast but doesn’t deplete at the same right without it. Like without the cooler, going from 80 to 20 percent while playing at the highest settings happened in a matter of an hour. With the cooler, 80 to 20 percent took an average of an hour and 45 minutes — still fast, but it still affords you another round before reaching for the charger.

Leez: What Gab said. Also, unless you want to buy baking gloves that work while you play, the answer is an obvious yes. It’ll help keep your ROG Phone 5 from literally imploding and frying itself while keeping your gamer fingertips from chafing.

On days you weren’t playing, how did the ROG Phone handle other tasks you did on the phone?

Gab: Truth be told, I used this phone for 80 percent gaming, 5 percent social media, 5 percent Netflix, and 5 percent YouTube, 5 percent waiting for Wendy’s solo stuff to drop (hehe). On the times I wasn’t gaming, it handled all of those quite well and I made sure to use a different gaming profile in Armoury Crate to maximize battery life. I did this mostly because if you plan on using this as a more all-around device, treat it like a gaming laptop: only go full throttle when you’re playing. You don’t need to go full throttle on tasks like browsing social media or watching YouTube or Netflix, so you’re better off preserving your battery life.

Leez: The phone managed well with everyday use. But to be fair, everyday phone use for me is mostly playing games, watching Netflix, and keeping up with friends and family. Gaming aside, the ROG Phone 5 is a great phone to watch Netflix on and have podcasts on speaker. It delivers on stunning graphics and speaker quality, giving you the best immersive experience in-game and out.

Otherwise, there’s just really no point in overclocking the phone when you’re doing little to nothing that requires the phone’s full potential.

Cameras were largely unchanged, but do you think they’re good enough for quick snaps and daily use? 

Gab: The cameras were pretty great in terms of producing high image quality without sacrificing details too much. Although, I don’t recommend this for macro images because for some reason, the images ended up completely grainy. But, for quick selfies or just images of your set ups, rooms, pets, or even the abundance of nature in the garden, it’s great!

Leez: The triple rear camera set-up and 24MP selfie camera deliver on quality photos. It’s good to note that you will struggle to capture stunning shots if you don’t have consistent and quality lighting. But, that should go without saying for most mobile phone photography.

Seeing as camera quality isn’t one of the main features mobile gamers necessarily gravitate towards, this is a decent set of lenses.

Any other thoughts on the ROG Phone 5 you’d like to share?

Gab: Honestly, if you want to have this much gaming power for you to be at your very best in mobile games, this phone suits you. As a semi-casual player, I often asked myself “Why would I need this much power if I’m not going to try and compete in the games I want to play?” I feel like this is what the ROG Phone 5 is all about: giving you the kind of gaming power to compete at such a high level. You can game on any smartphone out there, even the one you currently own; but if you want the full competitive experience and power, this phone changes the way you play, for real.

Plus, it is a gaming phone so don’t expect it to have long-lasting battery power when you’re in full-gamer mode. But, whenever you charge it for 30 minutes from 0 percent, it does give you about 45-48 percent back. It isn’t much when you have the device on X/X+ Mode when you use it, but it is enough to keep you playing for just a little longer.

Also, quick side note: if you have any ROG peripherals (headsets mostly) that connect via USB-C and are Aura Sync compatible, you can pretty much sync the lighting on X/X+ Mode. It’s a neat aesthetic that they brought in from their gaming PCs and laptops that some of you will enjoy — especially the RGB enthusiasts hehe

Leez: The ROG Phone 5 won’t save you from feeding or being bad at a game. It’ll help you get better at games but, it can only optimize the game for you. You still need to put in the work for it. So if you’re a competitive gamer or one who’s pursuing taking on mobile esports, this is a must-buy for you. If you’re a casual gamer who dabbles into try-hard plays now and again or just has expendable cash for a gaming phone, this is definitely something to mull over buying.

The phone delivers on all fronts and is the best buddy to help you get good. But, if you want a phone that captures stunning photos in low-lighting on top of everything else the ROG Phone 5 hits the nail on, you’ll be looking elsewhere.


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