Hands-On

Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus unboxing and hands-on

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Another year, another iPhone release. This year, as has been the case the past two years, we’re getting two models: the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

They’re basically two variants of the same phone — one bigger and more unwieldy than the other — except the Plus model is equipped with two rear cameras instead of one, and has upgraded software and hardware to showcase its new capabilities. The size difference and dual-lens system aside, both new iPhones share the same DNA across color and storage options.

The standard box isn’t too different, with the exception of the jet-black iPhone, which comes in a swanky, color-coordinated box. Inside the retail packaging, you’ll find the iPhone itself; Apple’s documentation just beneath the phone; a pair of Lightning earbuds but minus a case; a sync cable; a wall adapter; and a new adapter for connecting third-party earphones and headphones — it’s all pretty much par for the course.

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And, yes, the headphone jack is hitting the road in a bid to move the industry forward to wireless technologies. AirPods be (possibly) damned. According to Apple, the Lightning port was always meant for something more. Maybe now Apple can show us what it can do with the proprietary port. And let’s face it: Headphone wires, however colorful and thin and seemingly unobtrusive, are the devil, and we can live without them.

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Another thing we can all agree on: Those unsightly antenna bands on the iPhone 6/6s needed to go. For the most part, Apple has done a solid enough job of obscuring them this year, particularly on the black iPhones; it’s virtually impossible to pinpoint where they are on the jet-black model without taking a closer look.

And while we’re on the subject of Apple’s decision to go back to black, we don’t recommend you buy into the hype at all. It looks great, sure, but it also picks up fingerprints and scuffs easily. If the temptation is too great, then at least pair it with some decent protection.

What else is new?

The home button is touch-sensitive now, though we really should stop calling it a button. Technically, it’s a glass surface with a sophisticated array of sensors and vibration motors underneath. Apple says the technologies built into the hardware should simulate the experience of pressing a real button. While we agree to a certain extent, we do miss the mechanical click of the old button. Some will appreciate the switch, some won’t, and some will hate it.

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Another thing that’s changed about the iPhone is that its less prone to liquid damage. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are now officially dust- and water-resistant, though we still wouldn’t recommend getting one wet. In other words, don’t take it for a swim on purpose.

The displays, though just as big, have improved as well, now better at rendering colors. The new stereo speakers — one at the bottom of the phone, the other built into the earpiece — are noticeably louder and fuller-sounding in the treble frequencies.

The rear and front cameras of the iPhone 7 have been improved as well, with the latter getting a faster f/1.8 lens and image stabilization for sharper images in low light. The FaceTime camera has been bumped up to 7 megapixels from 5.

The biggest breakthrough, however, is found on the back of the Plus version. It adds another 12-megapixel telephoto camera with a f/2.8 56mm telephoto lens capable of real 2x zoom with just the tap of a button. An upcoming software update promises bokeh effects and shots with incredible depth of field.

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We’ll be posting an in-depth look at the iPhone 7 Plus’ rear cameras shortly, so do check back with us then for our analysis.

First impressions

Speed has never been an issue for new iPhones, and this year, it’s no different; these phones are relentlessly fast, maybe faster than the iPad Pro models. But then again, we’ll probably find ourselves saying the same thing next year when the new ones are out, with better internals than any other phone Apple has ever shipped.

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The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are also said to be more power-efficient, though we haven’t put one through its paces yet. We’ll have more to say about battery life in our review, so do stick around for that.

The pressure is on Apple to deliver this year, and with the iPhone 7, it has; they may not look like it, but the new phones are much improved across the board compared to what came before. They’re still fantastic phones, two of the best we’ve used all year.

But they’re also a bet on a future with few guarantees. Can I keep the jet-black iPhone in pristine condition? (Dollars to donuts, you can’t.) Will wireless headphones be cheaper and sound better two years from now? Is the forthcoming camera update going to be as good as Apple says?

Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus start at $649 and $769, respectively. Both are now available online and in stores.

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[irp posts=”11404″ name=”Apple announces red iPhone 7″]

Hands-On

realme 9i Hands-On

Solid as usual
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The realme 9i is the “little brother” in the realme 9 series. And while it doesn’t pack the same punch as its pro siblings – the realme 9 Pro and realme 9 pro+ – there’s enough here for anyone who just needs a reliable daily smartphone.

Here’s a quick look at the specs before we dive in deeper: 

Performance

  • 6.6-inch IPS LCD display with 90Hz refresh rate 
  • Qualcomm SM6225 Snapdragon 680 4G processor
  • 6GB RAM with Dynamic RAM expansion feature up to 5GB 
  • 128GB Internal Storage 
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 33W Dart Charge tech

Cameras

  • 50MP main camera
  • 2MP macro lens
  • 2MP depth lens
  • 16MP selfie shooter

Here are some samples for your appreciation.

Neat, simple, and elegant

The realme 9i is pretty understated in the looks department. The variant we got comes in blue and depending on how the light hits, you’ll see some lines to accentuate its back.

As for button and port placements, at the bottom you’ll find the usuas: speaker grille, USB-C  port, and 3.5mm jack. 

On the right side is the power button/fingerprint scanner. 

And on the left hand side are the two, tiny volume buttons. 

Overall, the realme 9i  looks neat. Simple yet elegant. The camera stands out, obviously. But you can say that for most phones these days. It’s light for its size and appearance. It’s already easy to hold as is, but it’s even easier if you’re the phone-case-and-pop-up socket type of person.

General usage

Switching from one app to the other, or going back to the home screen for that matter is seamless and fast. There’s no trouble opening or loading apps so far. 

The apps load from where I last left it, provided I haven’t closed all apps, cleared RAM, or optimized phone usage.

Media consumption and gaming

We enjoyed more than our fair share of watching sports highlights  on the realme 9i. It pays to have a great-performing phone to not miss any action. We didn’t have any problems watching on YouTube at the highest resolution settings and at 60 fps. 

Same is true for other types of content. The viewing experience was likewise seamless.

The speaker is really loud and complements the video. You don’t have to put it on max volume although it’s still of the best quality when put to max. It doesn’t break.

Playing Mobile Legends with friends and relatives on this phone is perfect even if it’s “only” a mid-level phone. The game’s graphics settings were set on default when opening from the phone. I tinkered it to HD mode with a high refresh rate and “Ultra” graphics, and it didn’t have problems throughout the game like lagging when I played.

Battery life

On full standby in power saving mode without having to connect it to Wi-Fi or turn on mobile data, the phone consumes just about 5 to 10 percent of its battery power in one whole day.

When charging, it takes less than an hour to charge from 30 percent to full with its 33W fast charging.

Solid as usual

realme 9i

 

The “i” variants in realme’s numbered series phones have consistently been steady performers and the realme 9i is no different. It’s not gonna wow you with raw specs, but the overall package and performance makes it worthwhile.

The realme 9i retails for PhP 11,990. Buy it here.

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Hands-On

ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED Unboxing and Hands-on

The dual-screen laptop of your dreams!

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The pinnacle of ASUS’ Zenbook is here!

Meet the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED, the third iteration of the popular Zenbook Pro Duo from 2019 and the follow-up to last year’s non-OLED-touting Zenbook Duo.

If you’ve been a fan of this type of Zenbook, chances are you would love the new version more with its host of significant improvements over the past.

Can’t wait to know more, head over to our Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED unboxing and hands-on in 4K!

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Features

What I love about the realme Pad Mini

A good companion gadget

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realme Pad Mini

I have been looking for a tablet that’s around 7” to 8” to compliment my already full stacked suite of gadgets. My primary intention is to make it a full-time media consumption device and a Zoom event partner. All the recent tablets of late came in 10” or over. Then realme reached out with an opportunity to try out the realme Pad Mini. So I jumped at it.

But why do I need an extra device? Need is a stretch for me. At this point it’s a luxury for me to add to my normal rotation of gadgets. That being a MacBook Pro, whatever Windows laptop I’m reviewing/working on, an iPhone 11 Pro, an OPPO Find X3 Pro, and whatever smartphone I’m reviewing. Regardless, I wanted to see if I can fit a tablet into my life all while checking on the current state of Android tablets in 2022. 

Before we dive into my take on the realme Pad Mini, here’s a quick rundown of its specs. 

realme Pad Mini

realme Pad Mini

  • Display – 8.7-inches, 1340×800
  • Processor – Unisoc T616 
  • Battery – 6400mAh, 18W
  • RAM+Storage – 3GB+32GB, 4GB+64GB, expandable up to 1TB via microSD slot 
  • Cameras – 8MP rear, 5MP front

As mentioned in the teaser article, the versions coming out at launch are both LTE-capable. A 3GB+32GB Wi-Fi variant will be released soon after. 

Aluminum alloy body design 

realme Pad Mini

Perhaps my favorite thing about the realme Pad Mini is its aluminum alloy body design. It looks pretty sleek, especially this blue colorway. It’s got a nice heft to it too. Nothing too heavy but enough to make it seem higher end than it actually is. 

There are two speaker grilles on the top and bottom (if you’re in portrait mode) or one on either side (if you’re in landscape mode). That’s a key design decision since I imagine anyone getting a tablet has media consumption in mind. 

The button placements felt a little off to me, though. Maybe it’s just me getting used to phone layouts but normally when you have the power button and the volume rockers on the same side, the volume rockers are placed higher.

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That’s not the case here since, in portrait mode, your fingers will grace the rockers first before the power button. And in landscape mode, you’ll more often have to use your left hand and grace the power button first before you get to the volume rockers. It’s a little disorienting at first and I’m personally still getting used to it. 

All things considered, it looks good, feels great, and doesn’t put a strain on your hand even after a binge-watching session. Granted, you switch hand placements every now and then. 

Perfect Zoom partner 

realme Pad Mini

Over the past couple of years, the only events we’ve attended were held online. Most of which via the video conferencing platform Zoom. During these events, I like to get other tasks out of the way too. So while tuning in to an event, I’m either writing, copy editing, or what have you. However, multitasking can be tough in my setup where I only use a laptop. Having the sound come out of the laptop with a minimized Zoom window isn’t ideal.

Enter the realme Pad Mini. I’ve done this with other tablets I reviewed previously. Having the Zom event come from a device, other than my laptop, helps ease the mental burden of having to intently listen to something while doing a different task.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it’s a type of setup I recommend especially for those who don’t have the space for full blown desktops with multiple monitors. 

Media consumption companion

realme Pad Mini

This is what most people would likely do on their tablets. At least, I think so. Binge-watching series, watching movies, and cycling through a YouTube or TikTok blackhole. For the most part, the realme Pad Mini does this pretty well. 

The display isn’t outstanding but it gets the job done. I normally get 720p and 1080p depending on which platform I’m watching on. 

Watching (G)-IDLE Miyeon’s fancams were a bit of a pain because of YouTube

One downside is it doesn’t work well for YouTube which prioritizes continuous streaming thus giving you as low as 360p sometimes when you first start a video. I can’t count the number of times I had to go into the settings and force the highest quality when I’m on YouTube. 

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Caught up with Soundtrack #1 because I love looking at Han So Hee’s face.

But that’s just one pain point. Every other platform delivers good, steady quality of streaming. I’ve been using it to catch-up on a few series on Netflix, HBO Go, and Chrome (if you catch my drift). The visuals aren’t mindblowing but they’re more than good enough and the speakers are just the right amount of loud without distorting the audio. 

It checks all the boxes for what I’m currently looking for in a tablet. It also helps that it’s relatively inexpensive. The 4GB+64GB LTE variant, which is the one I reviewed, retails for 11,990 and I think it’s just right. More pricing details later on. 

Quickfire Q&A 

Naturally, some of you might be looking to do more on your tablet and have a few questions. Turn’s out, there are a ton of questions on our teaser post so I’ll try to answer some of them. 

Is it good for gaming?

realme Pad Mini

Specifically, someone asked if the Unisoc T616 is good for gaming. I didn’t do a lot of gaming on the realme Pad Mini, only a few matches on Call of Duty: Mobile. And well, it’s… okay. There’s a bit of lag and the screen isn’t as responsive so it might not be the best for gaming.

If you really want to play on something around the same price range, you’re probably better off using the Redmi Note 11 or vivo Y21T. 

Call and text functions? 

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Texting and chatting are the two things I personally didn’t want to do on a tablet. I wanted it to specifically be a media device. But if you’re looking for call and text functions, make sure you grab the LTE versions. There are two available. 

Pen/Stylus support

Nope, it doesn’t come with a stylus. As for stylus support, that’s something we weren’t able to test, but it’s safe to assume this doesn’t have it given its set of specs. 

Price and availability?

realme Pad Mini

 

As mentioned earlier, two LTE variants will be available at launch. They are priced as follows: 

  • 3GB+32GB – PhP 9,990
  • 4GB+64GB – PhP 11,990 

But realme being realme, naturally there are early bird promos. Discounts will ber offered exclusively on realme’s official Lazada store.

  • 3GB+32GB – PhP 8,490 (PhP 1,500 off) | Buy here
  • 4GB+64GB – PhP 9,990 (PhP 2,00 off) | Buy here 

The realme Pad Mini will also be available at all realme official stores and partner dealers nationwide. Those who purchase from April 4-30 will get a FREE realme Mobile Game Finger Sleeves.

Is this your GadgetMatch? 

realme Pad Mini

As a budget tablet, the realme Pad Mini is okay. I don’t think it falls in the category of realme’s usual devices that punch up in terms of specs and price. Its overall performance is steady and really, that’s all you need for something at its price point.  

The realme Pad Mini is a great media device, good for binge watching sessions, taking a few notes, and being an extra device in your arsenal. If that’s what you’re looking for, then it’s definitely a match. 

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