Reviews

Apple iPhone XR review: By Android users

Will it entice us to switch?

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The iPhone XR is by far the most controversial Apple phone this year. It’s got a notch, a not-that-affordable price, and a few compromises here and there, but people are still flocking to buy them.

Wanting to investigate further, we rounded up our four most die-hard Android users of the team to take the iPhone XR for a spin and come together for a group review. The insights are both interesting and well… somewhat expected.

Let’s begin!

What surprised you most about the iPhone XR?

Dan: Battery life. It was able to last me the whole day and then some. I always charge in the morning before leaving for the office. Charging time is a different story, though.

Marvin: Having used the iPhone XR as a gaming phone, I can agree with this. It’s unlike any iPhone before. Right, Isa?

Isa: Imagine not having to lug around a power bank with the iPhone, haha. Aside from that though, I was surprised at how there was no learning curve or adjustment when returning to this iPhone. My last one was the 6S.

Rodneil: I agree the battery was pretty good but it wasn’t what caught my attention. I was surprised at how it would still play audio from IG videos I was scrolling through while I was also playing music from Spotify or listening to a podcast. None of the Android phones I’ve used could do this.

Isa: Why do you think all IG baby girls are on iPhones? They have the best IG integration, TBH.

Dan: I also appreciated the differences of the IG app on iOS. It was so much better in creating Stories and other social content on the go. I hope Instagram will do the same for its Android app.

Rodneil: YES! The snap-on guides on IG for iOS are super helpful! Especially if you’re a stickler for proper alignment.

With that, which feature did you miss most when going back to Android?

Isa: MEMOJI.

Marvin: Not much of a Memoji fan, but the fluidity of iOS is unlike any other. I wish Android could just copy this and apply more navigation gestures like what Xiaomi does for MIUI.

Dan: I wholeheartedly agree about swipe gestures. The best swipe gestures I’ve tried are MIUI’s, but iOS’ comes really close.

iPhone XR on NOMAD’s brown rugged case

Rodneil: Have to agree with Marvin and Dan. I didn’t really use Animoji or Memoji that much. However, I did enjoy making my Memoji.

Isa: One Mac user to another, Rodney. You have to admit the integration is pretty good. Makes me miss having an all-Apple setup.

Rodneil: The integration is cool and all but I have already built my personal workflow around Google so I didn’t use it as much. AirDrop was super convenient, though. Moving files from my phone to my laptop (since I’m a Mac user) has never been so easy.

Marvin: Same for me. Everything I own and use is on Google, so I’m good wherever I go.

Dan: The first apps I installed when I got the iPhone XR were my main Google apps (i.e., Maps, Inbox, Photos, Drive, YouTube, Home, Keep).

Many reviewers say the iPhone XR’s cameras are better than the iPhone XS’; for some, better than most Android flagships. Agree?

Marvin: I didn’t get to use the iPhone XS, but the iPhone XR’s single rear camera was enough for me. Portraits were great and the interface is so simple. The selfie cam… well… not so much.

Isa: Would it kill them to add selfie features on this camera, SMH.

Rodneil: I was only able to use it sparingly but I did love the portrait mode. I even took sample portraits of Isa one night and compared it side-by-side with the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro’s. The iPhone XR easily produced the better image.

Dan: Same with Rodneil, I wasn’t able to fully take the phone’s cameras for a spin. Although, they seem great aside from the hit-and-miss portrait mode.

Marvin: I think we can all agree that it has great cameras. Not the best overall, but at a level fitting for its asking price.

What did you dislike most about the iPhone XR?

Dan: SLOW CHARGING. Whenever I charge my OnePlus 6T and the iPhone XR together, the iPhone is still at around 50 percent while the OnePlus 6T is already fully charged. Good thing the iPhone can last long despite its small battery.

Isa: True! I was on the Find X Lambo and the R17 Pro with SuperVOOC — that’s zero to 100 percent in 35 minutes — so as you can imagine, switching to the iPhone XR made me a little impatient.

iPhone XR on NOMAD’s brown rugged tri-folio case

Marvin: I won’t even bother adding to the slow charging issue; too much has been said about that. What bothered me from start to finish were the bezels. The notch is fine, but why is there so much darkness around the screen?

Rodneil: I didn’t dislike anything too much but if I had to pick one, I’d agree with Marvin. I used the phone for some Netflix and YouTube sessions and the experience felt drastically different from the bezel-less goodness I got from most Android phones.

Isa: I didn’t really mind the bezels (I still pick phones with bezels over notched phones). I did notice, though, that the XR is pretty heavy. I know it’s a glass phone but so are a number of phones in the market and those aren’t that heavy.

Dan: I’d like to add that I am surprised that some apps I use daily are having trouble with the notch. My notch experience has been better with various Android phones (sans within the IG app), so I guess iOS apps are not as optimized as I thought they’d be. But, mobile gaming has always been better on iOS.

So, would you recommend the iPhone XR to long-time Android users?

Rodneil: No, haha. I enjoyed using the XR but if you’re a long-time Android user, there’s little reason to switch to iOS, especially if you’re not going to use it along with other Apple devices. I loved Instagram on iOS and the whole experience felt smooth, but I wasn’t convinced that this iPhone could make an Android user switch.

Dan: I’d say yes, but that’s before considering the price. I have the OnePlus 6T which is one of the best Android phones today, yet it’s one of the cheapest in the flagship segment. The iPhone XR is US$ 200 more expensive than the OnePlus 6T, and it’s not even the best iPhone available.

iPhone XR on NOMAD’s black rugged folio case

Marvin: I think the price is still too high for an “affordable” iPhone, though I can see Android users switching simply to enter the Apple ecosystem and receive timely updates. These are things Android’s fragmentation will never have.

Isa: Yes, but only if they’re willing to switch to the dark side, (i.e., the Apple ecosystem). Despite it getting flak for being called the expensive “affordable iPhone,” it still costs less than the iPhone XS options and it’s a solid phone.

Rodneil: I honestly thought this would lure me into the whole Apple ecosystem. I’m absolutely in love with macOS but I just didn’t feel the same way about iOS. I’m a little too comfortable already with my current setup and I love Android just as much as I love macOS.

Marvin: Rodneil has commitment issues. Whether you like or not, the iPhone XR is the cheapest entry into iOS without going back a generation. While it’s not exactly affordable compared to its more premium siblings, it at least has the same fast processor and stable firmware, but with stronger battery life and more colors to choose from.

iPhone XR on NOMAD’s black carbon case

Isa: I think we were all pleasantly surprised at how good this “lower-tier” iPhone turned out to be. Can I have it back? I wanna make more Memoji.

Marvin: No.

Isa: NO!

Rodneil: …

Dan: The phone is with me and I’m keeping it for a while. Good luck, Isa!

Reviews

Huawei MatePad Pro 12.6: A worthy pro tablet

Even more if you’re already invested in Huawei’s ecosystem

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MatePad Pro 12.6

Recovering from their dark past of being cannibalized by the growing sizes of smartphones, tablets have once again secured their spot in the market. From what had just seemed to be a bigger smartphone, tablets have gotten overhauled into a somewhat capable and more portable laptop replacement.

This is thanks to the few determined brands that persistently kept looking for innovative uses for these large devices.

Among the few is Huawei who once again brings us something very promising this year as they introduce their most powerful tablet yet – the new Huawei MatePad Pro 12.6.

Sleek design 

MatePad Pro 12.6

Faithful to the MatePad series’ design, the MatePad Pro is built with an aluminum body with a Matte Grey finish. On its front, we have the 12.6-inch OLED display framed with its sleek looking ultra slim bezels.

While the design isn’t something to marvel at, the incredibly thin 5.6mm bezels still manages to carry in it the front facing camera which makes it look a bit cleaner than the punch hole design seen on its predecessor.

MatePad Pro 12.6

For a 12.6-inch device, the MatePad Pro is relatively lightweight as it is lighter than Apple’s iPad Pro 12.9-inch at only 609g. Though you would still probably prefer to use this on your desk as hand holding it like you would with a smartphone would still feel tiring for your arms after a while. After all, you’re still carrying more than half a kilo.

Snappy performance with capable hardware

Running on flagship specs, the MatePad Pro is powered by a Kirin 9000E 5G SoC, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. If you’re unfamiliar with this chipset, this happens to be Huawei’s contender that goes head on with the also very powerful flagship from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 888.

MatePad Pro 12.6

So how does it perform? Well, just as you would expect from a flagship – everything felt snappy fast. From gaming on graphically demanding games, like Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends to some light video editing with FilmoraGo, the MatePad Pro handled everything like a charm. It was a struggle playing FPS games because of its size though, but its hardware is more than capable rendering everything even at the highest graphic settings.

Vibrant yet accurate OLED display

There’s plenty of room to play with in this 12.6-inch OLED display as its screen resolution of 2560×1600 and the 16:10 aspect ratio makes it perfect for multitasking apps side by side.

I understand that many creative professionals are probably eyeing on using this for creative work. And here I say, this display is also perfect for such use. With its DCI-P3 color gamut, colors appear closer to what they would actually look like in real life.

That being said, taking breaks and watching videos on this screen is also a pleasurable experience as the deep blacks and the high contrast produced by OLEDs really makes images pop.

MatePad Pro 12.6

The screen brightness is also more than enough for indoor use but much like any other OLED device, viewing under direct sunlight is a struggle.

A multifunctional keyboard and the new M-Pencil 2.0

A magnetic keyboard that doubles as a protective cover isn’t something new for tablets. I do like how the keys are widely spaced, the relatively long key travel and its professional look. However, do take note that this does not come close to the same user experience as Apple’s Magic Keyboard for the iPad rather it is similar to their Smart Keyboard Folio.

For one, it doesn’t have a trackpad which is a bummer and the keys are placed near the edge of the frame. This leaves us no space to rest our palms on if we were to use this on smaller spaces.

The M-Pencil 2.0, on the other hand, is really good. With its 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, this new version of the M-Pencil is capable of simulating different strokes that artists do if they were using a brush or a pencil. It also has handy shortcuts like Double-tap Toggle which allows you to go back and forth selecting different tools. 

When left on its docked position, the M-Pencil 2.0 seamlessly connects to the tablet and automatically charges itself leaving it always fully charged and ready to use.

Powered by HarmonyOS 2.0

I had mixed feelings with HarmonyOS going into this review, and I can say, I still do. Yes, it does feel very polished and similar to Android but the app compatibility is still what keeps me away from fully investing myself in it.

While Huawei’s AppGallery may have a growing library of apps, it still lacks many of the familiar apps that we use. The good news is most of these apps are ones that can be accessed through the browser like Facebook, Youtube and Netflix. 

And here’s the thing. You’d probably use this tablet like how you’d use a laptop anyway and on our laptops, that’s exactly how we access these — on our browser.

I’ve also realized that most Android apps will actually work with HarmonyOS 2.0, you’d just have to install them manually. That’s where the new Petal Search feature comes in handy. You can simply type in the name of a third party app you’re looking for and it would look for an appropriate APK file for you from different sources.

Multi Screen Collaboration with Huawei devices

A feature you get access to if you’re living in Huawei’s ecosystem is the Multi Screen Collaboration. It’s also what I enjoyed most with this MatePad Pro. Paired with the MateBook D15 that I’m currently using, I was able to mirror and extend the laptop’s display to the MatePad as well as drag and drop my files between the two devices.

It certainly feels like you’re getting more out of your device as it opens up more possibilities of what you can do with this tablet. I was able to use the MatePad as a drawing tablet controlling the laptop as well as use it as an additional desktop workspace. This gave me much freedom for multitasking and an accurate reference monitor for photo editing.

Battery that’s built to last 

Back in the earlier days of tablets, I remember owning a tablet which struggled to last two hours on web browsing. That isn’t the case here. Huawei rates this device to last up to 9 hours straight web browsing with its large 10,050mAh battery. Long enough to last you a whole work day or even longer if you plan on doing work offline.

The included 40W fast charger should get you all juiced up for about a little over two hours which is pretty decent for such a big battery capacity. I also charged this with the charger that came with the MateBook D15 and that worked well too so less things to pack in case you happen to have both devices with you.

Cameras that may come in handy 

MatePad Pro 12.6

Kind of unique for a tablet, the MatePad Pro 12.6 comes packed with three cameras. A 13MP main shooter, 8MP wide angle and a 3D depth sensor.

You may kind of look weird doing mobile photography on such a huge device, but if that is really something that you prefer doing, the MatePad Pro can definitely get the job done.

I’d say decent enough image quality, but more than enough for a tablet since you’ll just probably use this to take photos of documents or references for work.

Exquisite audio quality for a tablet 

A total of eight speakers have been loaded into this body. With four woofers and four tweeters tuned by Harman Kardon, I was blown away by how good this sounded. This may just be the best sounding speaker setup I’ve experienced on a portable device.

Without exaggeration, this beats even most laptops I’ve used. I could really hear the details and the full range of instruments I’ve listened to. With deep kicks and crispy snare drums, nylon guitars and orchestrated string instruments sound heavenly. 

Is the MatePad Pro 12.6 your GadgetMatch?

If you’re just planning on getting something bigger than your phone for browsing and media consumption, the steep price tag of the MatePad Pro makes it hard to recommend.

This changes however, if you’re a graphic artist looking for an iPad Pro alternative especially if you consider that the competition is priced even higher. 

The solid specs, great display, large battery capacity and that stellar sound quality is absolutely worth the price. Even more if you’re already invested in Huawei’s ecosystem, adding the MatePad Pro really unlocks a range of handy features. It’s a very definite yes for me.

I’m really excited to see what’s in store for the MatePad Pro in the near future as more apps become available and grow more stable running on the HarmonyOS.

The MatePad Pro 12.6 retails at PhP 55,999.

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Huawei Watch 3 review: Apple of my eye, err, wrist

The Apple Watch of Huawei’s smartwatch lineup?!

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Huawei continues to mold its product lineups — particularly its wearables — shaping it to fit into the lives of its beloved consumers — Huawei fans and alike.

In a previous story, I listed a few reasons why the Huawei Watch 3 deserves to be on your wrist. Nearly a month later, I still stand by what I said about the Chinese company’s flagship wearable.

Of course, there are still factors to consider before deciding on a smartwatch. So let us help you figure out by tackling matters that you might be dying to find out.

In this review, we’ll detail my experience wearing this watch — the hiccups and the wonders encountered after wearing it for a few weeks. Together, let’s find out if the Huawei Watch 3 is really your GadgetMatch.

Comfort is key

The Huawei Watch 3 is beautifully designed, no doubt. While it exudes a classic appeal, the watch can suit different occasions. And it has a plethora of straps to choose from so you can mix and match. Although the availability depends on the region.

In my case, I didn’t have a choice aside from the black and plain fluoroelastomer strap. What I did was find a way to ship straps from China to get more designs that are apt for my style.

Anyhoo, let’s talk comfort. Regardless of the straps, comfort is key when it comes to smartwatches. It’ll be wrapped around your wrists for a long time, and it’s important to never have any issues with its heft and your skin.

Thankfully, the Huawei Watch 3 doesn’t feel heavy despite having a bigger watch case. What I find worrisome is how bulky it is for both my wrists and daily activities. It gets in the way sometimes — accidentally brushing metals, walls, and other furniture.

I appreciate not feeling any weight while wearing it, but it looks too big for me. Nonetheless, if you have thicker wrists, the watch case size won’t matter. And there are workarounds on how you can prevent your smartwatch from bumping stuff and from getting scratched.

Leave your phone behind

Like most smartwatches, you can connect the Huawei Watch 3 to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Just pair your devices and you can receive notifications, text messages, and calls.

But you can also connect the Huawei Watch 3 on a WiFi connection or a data hotspot. The smartwatch runs on HarmonyOS and comes with several apps; some are built-in and some are downloaded via AppGallery. Personally, I enjoy navigating Petal Maps — Huawei’s very own Maps — because frankly, it’s pretty much the same as Google Maps.

Wearing the Watch 3 made me use my phone less, seeing how I glance at my wrist to check who messaged me. And from those moments, I decide if the person is important enough to stop whatever I’m doing and pick my phone up to respond.

Receiving calls is also fun if you want to act like you’re a spy sent on a mission in whatever Sci-Fi film. Except, I don’t like it when people near me can hear the person on the other line.

If you’re looking for a different way to leave your phone and rely only on your smartwatch, the Huawei Watch 3 supports eSim technology.

Unfortunately, eSims are only available to postpaid plans on select carriers in my country, which I don’t have because I use a prepaid sim with large data allocation.  If you’re a postpaid subscriber, just ask your carrier for an eSim and they’ll help you set it up. That way, you can use your mobile number simultaneously — on your watch and on your smartphone.

If you still need more understanding of how eSim technology works, you better read our explainer.

Matches with everyone else

No, I’m not talking about how the smartwatch can match anyone in terms of style, appearance, and personality. Although, that could be the case because it could. But that’s not the point here.

The Huawei Watch 3 is perfectly compatible with all kinds of smartphone users — whether you’re a Huawei loyalist, a Samsung fanboy, a die-hard Xiaomi bunny, or an Apple-ogist.

Thing is, even though the Huawei Watch 3 runs on HarmonyOS, all you need is the Huawei Health app. And it’s downloadable on AppGallery, Play Store, and the App Store.

I paired the watch with several devices in my arsenal. From the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, and even the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2. It easily syncs important data from your watch, and then you can preview it through the Health app.

More importantly, it’s uncomplicated to navigate even if you use a different ecosystem. As an Apple-ologist pointed out, the Huawei Watch 3 looks the same as the Apple Watch with only minor iterations from its design.

Although, we’re not surprised. Huawei openly expressed how they look up to Apple for inspiration… and probably imitation. But, whatever. Apple’s products are always user-friendly and won’t fry your last three brain cells — perfect for himbos like me.

As long as Huawei makes their products user-friendly too, I’m down with all of it. Based on experience, they make fantastic hardware and it’s a sweet treat if their software and user interface follows one of the best.

From swag to sweat

The Huawei Watch 3 can be a smartwatch for any occasion, assuming you have the perfect strap to suit different settings. During my stint, I used my China-bought Milanese strap when I met with friends and hop on a date. A silver accent works for me since I wear silver rings and earrings.

I have a fashion savant in my life who’s always advised me to match my metals. And I wore that principle to my heart. You don’t need to wear expensive jewelry and accessories to look expensive. Your watch should just go well with every other metal on your body.

On Huawei’s official website, the Steel and Leather straps work perfectly for your casual settings. You might want to consider those when you try to mix and match your outfits.

Coming home, I switch to my black, fluoroelastomer strap. It’s a durable yet comfortable rubber apt for physical activities and humid weather.

As I’ve said earlier, comfort is key and that’s the case for the Huawei Watch 3. Despite the bulky size, surprisingly, it doesn’t get in the way of my workouts. Not once did I feel anxious about my watch brushing off with my weights and other metals.

Speaking of weights, the Huawei Watch 3 accompanied me in my strength and conditioning training. All the essential tracking and features helped me complete my program, prompting me to change my habits to make fitness a sustainable activity and eventually, a lifestyle.

From sweat resistance that pushed me to continue with my routines, timers and stopwatches that aided me in measuring my tempo, the sports tracking mode that helped me understand my patterns, to all-day monitoring with blood oxygen, heart rate, temperature, and even sleep — the Huawei Watch 3 has it all.

Health features

Packed with salient health features apt for the current era, the Huawei Watch 3 might make you wonder: Do they really work? And do we even need them?

At first, I was cynical with all the mumbo jumbo presented in smartwatch campaigns. But after my experience, I had a change of heart. Wholeheartedly, I would say yes — they work and we need it.

Starting with the basics, it has the usual features found on any smartwatch. You can track your step count, calories burned, and your heart rate. It also reminds you to get up and move after a period of inactivity.

There’s also a feature where you can track your stress levels, and probably help you cope and manage your stress. As for me, it didn’t particularly help but maybe someone out there can benefit from it. The important thing is there’s a tool that could possibly help.

What I loved the most is the sleep report I receive every morning. Tracking my sleep helped me understand my patterns — which is a key factor I consider before going on my day or performing an exercise routine.

Checking my reports helps me decide if I’m going for two cups of coffee throughout the day, if I’m well-rested enough to execute intense forms during training, or if I need to take more naps.

While all of these reports are summarized and can be previewed using your smartwatch, the intensive details are listed on the Huawei Health app.

Since it consistently tracks and monitors various data, the Huawei Watch 3 constantly consumes the battery life, just like any device that’s connected to Bluetooth, WiFi, and performing background activities.

True to its promise, it has a 3-day battery life that accompanies you in your daily activities. Switching it to ultra-long battery life mode extends it up to 14 days, except I don’t really see myself using this mode in the future.

Charging it is fairly quick. I left it charging after an hour of napping, and when I woke up, I saw it fully charged — ready to be slapped on my wrist again.

Is this watch a match?

But then again, I wish it had a longer battery life like the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro. If the Huawei Watch 3 can last up to two weeks, it could’ve been my GadgetMatch.

It’s a versatile smartwatch that you can add to your collection of watches. So well-rounded and user-friendly, it works without any tinkering involved. All you have to do is wear it and watch how it performs feats that might elevate your lifestyle.

The Huawei Watch 3 retails for PhP 18,999 — a price tag befitting a premium smartwatch. If anything, Huawei found itself its very own Apple Watch.

Brazenly, I would say the Huawei Watch 3 felt like the Apple Watch of all Huawei smartwatches. It simply works, and it’s beautiful, powerful, and functional in its own right. Complete with an ecosystem that you can enjoy for a seamless AI life.

It’s also user-friendly, stylish, and leaning towards yuppies with a balanced lifestyle than geeks and techies basking in gadgets and other forms of technology.

The Huawei Watch 3 is available on Huawei Store and authorized platforms such as Lazada and Shopee, as well as Huawei Experience stores and other retail partners.

SEE ALSO: Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro review: Swanky and smart | Apple Watch Series 6 Review

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Samsung The Frame Review: Stunning!

✨ Aesthetic TVs for your living room ✨

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It was a little too long ago when Samsung announced its first sets of TVs along with a lot of framed artworks in a museum in Paris.

Four years after that special launch, Samsung is proud with the current lineup of The Frame. But with other cheaper options such as Samsung’s new 4K QLED TV line and other models from various TV brands, is Samsung’s The Frame worth the extra money?

Watch our Samsung The Frame Review now if you’re curious to find out.

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