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

Samsung Galaxy S23, S23+ and S23 Ultra Hands-On

Worthy upgrades!

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Samsung has finally Unpacked the newest Galaxy S23, S23+, and S23 Ultra in San Francisco.

This is actually Samsung’s first in-person event during the pandemic.

With all the design and hardware improvements, do you actually need to upgrade?

Watch our Samsung Galaxy S23 Series Hands-on video to help yourself decide.


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DISCLOSURE: GadgetMatch earns a commission from qualifying purchases from any of these links.

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Hands-On

HONOR X9a 5G Hands-On: Tough and capable

Strong 2023 start for HONOR?

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HONOR X9a

HONOR is determined to make some serious noise in the smartphone space in 2023. In the Philippines, they’re looking to start strong with the release of the HONOR X9a 5G. 

If you follow any tech publications and some influencers and endorsers online, you likely saw the drop test videos the company had literally everyone do. That includes GadgetMatch. 

For what it’s worth, the thing is really tough. During our quick shoot, we dropped it around 3 times on concrete. No major damages suffered. The 0.65mm ‘Deeply Reinforced Glass’ on the display is, for the most part, not just a gimmick. Still, don’t go dropping the phone carelessly if you do decide to get it. 

We’re already talking about the display anyway, so let’s dig into it a little more. 

Pleasant to the eyes

HONOR X9a

The HONOR X9a 5G sports a 6.67-inch OLED Curved Display. It has a 394 pixels per inch count with a 2400 x 1900 resolution and 800 nits of peak brightness. Marketing materials also tout its 1.07 billion colors and TUV Rheinland Low Blue Light Certification. 

For the most part, the phone is everything it says it is on paper. The curved display affects more how the phone feels on-hand than it does for your eyes. It makes the phone’s profile feel slimmer than it actually is. And it’s not too curved to the point that it distracts from whatever you’re watching. 

Colors also look great. We can confidently say that you’ll have a good time watching videos on the HONOR X9a 5G. Whether that’s one of our YouTube videos, mindlessly scrolling on TikTok, or catching up on your favorite series. 

It also delivers a buttery-smooth feel, it has a 120Hz refresh rate and a 300Hz touch sampling rate. 

Familiar look 

HONOR X9a

Going over to how the rest of the phone looks, it gives off a Magic-ish, Mate-ish vibe. The circular camera module on the back plays a huge part in that. We’ll get to the camera details later on. For now, let’s focus on the look. 

One glance and you could mistake it as an HONOR Magic or even a HUAWEI Mate phone. After all, they share a similar design language. 

All the buttons (power and volume) are on the right. 

And at the bottom, you’ll find the SIM Card tray, USB-C port, and speaker-grille. Pretty standard stuff. 

Globally, the phone comes in three colors: Titanium Silver, Emerald Green and Midnight Black. In the Philippines, it appears only the first two colors will be available at launch. 

Overall, it’s your standard slab with a signature look. That camera module is certainly doing a lot to separate it from the pack. 

Capable cameras 

HONOR X9a

Now onto the cameras. Here they are by the numbers: 

  • Main (Wide): 64MP, f/1.8, PDAF
  • Ultrawide: 5MP, f/2.2, 
  • Macro: 2MP, f/2.4, (macro)
  • Front (wide): 16MP, f/2.5

And since video taking seems to be all the rage these days, you might be pleased to know that both the front and back cameras can take 1080P at 30fps footage. 

Again, these are pretty standard numbers for midrangers. The same is true for the actual output. There’s nothing here that’s mind blowing. But for posting on socials and just capturing stuff on the daily, it’s more than serviceable. 

Take a look at these samples: 

Steady performer

HONOR X9a

The HONOR X9a 5G is powered by the Qualcomm SM6375 Snapdragon 695 5G processor. In the Philippines, it comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. It also has a massive 5,100mAh battery. Software-wise, it’s running Magic UI 6.1 based on Android 12.

In practice, all these components come together to deliver a steady performer of a smartphone. The HONOR X9a 5G is reliable in all the ways that matter. The processor, while not new by 2023 standard, still does what you expect it to do. That is to keep the stuff you need running in the background as needed. 

It also has a decent power efficiency, which, paired with the massive battery, delivers an overall battery life that won’t have you running to the nearest power outlet as the day winds down. 

We didn’t do much gaming on the phone, but given that it’s the same processor that was equipped on mobile gaming-inclined phones in the past, we’re confident it can steadily run plenty of the most-played games on mobile. 

Solid start for HONOR

HONOR X9a

The HONOR X9a 5G is a tough, capable smartphone that’s easy on the eyes. It’s the quintessential midrange smartphone. Everything we’ve come to expect from midrangers is present on this phone while also being extra tough and lasting extra long. 

With this being HONOR’s first offering in 2023 in the Philippines, the company is off to a solid start. 

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Features

HP Envy Laptop 16: For Creatives On The Go

HP’s new laptop is stylish yet powerful

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HP’s Envy line of laptops are designed for users who need a bit more power and performance, including creative professionals — like Michael Josh.

The HP Envy Laptop 16 is designed on the Intel EVO platform, which deliver superior performance when you need it most.

Watch Michael Josh’s First 24 Hours with the HP Envy Laptop 16 and more about the HP laptop here.

 

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