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ASUS ZenFone 3 Max hands-on

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Launched alongside the ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser in Vietnam, the ZenFone 3 Max is yet another budget phone with a rather attractive calling card. This time around, the promise is a battery that lasts for days, with the option to charge another mobile device using the Max’s reverse charging mode.

And with a 4,100mAh cell, it would be fooling to bet against the new Max—even though we haven’t put a retail unit through its paces yet.

The ZenFone 3 Max has also been redesigned from the ground up for 2016, so the removable plastic back of last year’s Max is no longer part of the equation. Ditto for the bulk and unnecessary length that undermined the original’s appeal to the average consumer. Metal (or a similar material) wraps the front, back, and sides of the phone.

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ASUS ZenFone Max (left) and ZenFone 3 Max (right)

It must be said, however, the ZenFone 3 Max, despite the contrast in outward appearance, feels more like an update than an upgrade. And that’s largely due to the reduced battery capacity (from 5,000mAh), which should impact usage time significantly.

Without a bigger-than-big battery, the ZenFone 3 Max doesn’t have anything that makes it stand out like last year’s model. Sure, on paper, the fingerprint reader on the back of the device is a nice addition, but it doesn’t work as well as it should. The rest of the specs are either mild improvements or holdovers from the previous year, depending on what you’re looking at.

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The phone is priced at the equivalent of $200, and will likely be available sometime in August. At that price, we’d rather fork out a bit more for the ZenFone 3 or ZenFone 3 Laser—either one is a nicer alternative than this phone. The Flash Plus 2 is also a worthy alternative; it may cost less, too.

For more about the ASUS ZenFone 3 Max, checkout the video embedded on this post, if you haven’t already.

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The ZenFone 3 Max (right) has on-screen buttons, while the ZenFone 3 Laser (left) makes use of capacitive ones

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The ZenFone 3 Max (left) has a squarish fingerprint reader

Hands-On

I lost 15 pounds with the iWOWNfit i5 Plus

No, I didn’t get abs and that’s not the point

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Okay, maybe 15 pounds (6.8kg) is a bit of a stretch, but it’s true that the iWOWNfit i5 Plus has been a handy companion in my bid to lose weight and be a little more fit.

I started this weight loss journey at 195 pounds (88kg) and now I’m at roughly around 180-ish pounds (82kg). It’s not a lot and I’m just about halfway through my target, but the progress I have made is pretty encouraging.

Tracking my steps

I got the iWOWNfit i5 Plus roughly around 8 to 10 weeks ago and that’s when I really started keeping tabs on my activities. Like any fitness wearable worth its salt, it helps you track your steps daily. It also comes with an app so you can see how many steps you’ve averaged over a certain period of time.

Pointing at the iWOWNfit i5 Plus to make sure you know what it looks like

I used the first week or so to establish a baseline. I walk to and from work a lot but even then, I only averaged around 4,000 steps a day. To actually slash some fats off of my beautiful body, I needed to do more.

Adding hoop time

The easy solution was to run, right? Not for me. I hate it. I think it’s absolutely the most boring activity ever, so I had to find something that would force more movement out of me, but it had to be something I enjoyed. I turned to basketball.

Getting ready to hoop!

I have always believed that the key to pursuing anything is that you have to truly enjoy it. Even on days when you feel like you hate it, deep down you know you love what you’re doing, so no matter how tough, you’ll power through. That’s exactly what basketball is to me. While the feeling isn’t exactly mutual just like many of my romantic pursuits, I stuck with basketball and continue to play because I truly enjoy it and it has helped produce results.

Champion, baby. That’s why you gotta get with me

It’s also pretty handy that basketball is one of the activities that the iWOWNfit i5 Plus can track. If basketball’s not for you, it does track other activities like training, cycling, swimming, and many others.

To reach the weight goal I set for myself, I needed to average around 10,500 steps daily. Once I found this out, I tried playing ball as much as I could. Some days I get to actually play against some guys, but most of the time, I’m by myself so I built a routine that would push me to 10,000 steps or so.

Trust the process

On days that I do play actual games, I push close to 18,000 steps which is way over my requirement. Seeing that you can exceed your daily goals provides you with a lot of motivation to push further.

I’m nowhere near as good as this photo makes me look

On days that I don’t get to play, I see to it that I walk a few extra blocks before actually going home just to make sure I hit my daily goal. More than anything, this is the biggest help that I got from the iWOWNfit i5 Plus. While I’ve tried and failed to lose weight before, putting a number on my daily target made me more aware and helped make sure that I was progressing.

If you’re wondering if I changed my diet, I didn’t. At least, not drastically. I still eat a lot of fast food junk but I did lower the portions. The keys to me losing my first set of 15 pounds was more because I knew the number I had to hit daily and I chose an activity I can sustain.

Just the beginning

The iWOWNfit i5 Plus, which you can get from Amazon for US$ 19, does a few other things too. It functions as a watch, can monitor your heart rate, shows your text messages, and through the app, set an alert that makes it vibrate to let you know that it’s time to get moving.

As I mentioned earlier, this journey doesn’t end here. My next step is probably being more mindful about what I eat. Maybe we’ll have some gadget or app that can help me with that.

This isn’t some dramatic shot. I’m just really tired AF so I had to grab onto something

If you’re wondering why there aren’t any before and after photos here, that’s because I didn’t really take any. I was skeptical about my own discipline but having something to help me track my progress was a big plus.

I’ll leave you with this full body shot. I’m still pretty chunky but I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish so far. If I get the chance to try a different fitness band, maybe I’ll take a similar photo and we’ll see then if there’s any improvement.

If I were you, I’d slide in my DMs now before I lose more weight

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OPPO F7 hands-on: A stylish selfie phone

From AI selfies to a stylish design

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The successor of OPPO’s main offering is finally in our hands.

The F5 from last year introduced the advantages of artificial intelligence when it comes to taking selfies and 18:9 displays on midrange OPPO phones. As expected, their latest device uses the foundations of the F5 and takes forward steps to make it a worthy successor.

Here’s our hands-on with the OPPO F7.

Let’s start with the display. OPPO calls the 6.23-inch 19:9 display “Super Full Screen” and it’s a major upgrade from the F5. The panel still has a Full HD+ resolution, but the bezels are now slimmer.

In order to achieve this though, OPPO resorted to having a notch that houses the selfie camera, a couple of sensors, and an earpiece. In return, you get an immersive display similar to the iPhone X’s. OPPO claims to have an 88 percent screen-to-body ratio.

Speaking of the body, the F7 sports a new design that I find more appealing than its predecessor. The F5’s matte metallic-looking finish on its unibody back made the phone look utilitarian, with the exclusion of the red model, of course. OPPO redesigned the look and feel of their new F series release by giving it a glossy finish.

The F7 has an acrylic back and new color options. I have the Moonlight Silver here, and if you look closely, there’s a pattern beneath the acrylic that interplays with light.

The OPPO F7 feels more squarish in hand with its sharp edges; gone are the curves! Don’t fret, the chrome-like frame of the phone adds comfort when handling, although I find it to be a bit slippery.

The physical buttons on the F7 are found on both sides: the power/lock button on the right and the volume rocker on the left. The buttons have the same feel as the frame with its chrome-like coating but they’re tactile and responsive.

On top of the phone is the noise-canceling microphone while the bottom side has the loudspeaker, micro-USB port, primary microphone, and 3.5mm audio port.

Specs-wise, the F7 has performance upgrades including the latest MediaTek Helio P60 processor. The new Helio P60 brings in the Mali-G72 MP3 graphics which should please the mobile gaming enthusiasts. 4GB memory will be able to handle multitasking well and 64GB of internal storage is more than enough to store big apps and files. If that ain’t enough, the dedicated microSD card slot is ready to add up to 256GB of storage.

The F7 runs the latest Android 8.1 Oreo skinned with the newest ColorOS 5.0. The UI is still pretty much like iOS but there are some tweaks made to accommodate the display notch. For instance, the control panel is now accessed by swiping down from the top instead at the bottom and there are new swipe-up gesture layouts for UI navigation. The icons are also updated but the rest of ColorOS 5.0 is pretty much the same.

Let’s now dive into the cameras. As a selfie phone, the F7 now has a whopping 25-megapixel front-facing camera with a bright f/2.0 lens — that’s 5 megapixels more than its predecessor. The upgraded selfie sensor is complemented by an updated camera launcher to complete the deal.

As expected, the F7 with its AI Beauty Technology 2.0 can capture great selfies. AI-powered selfies is a step up from your typical photo filters. It recognizes and learns your facial features as you take more photos.

Here’s a sample I took with and without the beauty mode:

And here are more AI Beauty Mode samples with the GadgetMatch team:

There are also new AR Stickers available right in the camera app which add cuteness to your selfies.

As for the rear camera, it’s a 16-megapixel f/1.8 shooter paired with a single LED flash. No dual camera setup for the F series for now, unlike its R series cousin. AI is also embedded in the rear camera which aids in scene recognition. It can identify 16 different scenes and objects in real-time. I’ll try this out in the coming days and will update with more photo samples using the rear camera.

Before we wrap things up, let’s not forget about the non-removable 3400mAh battery and the speedy fingerprint scanner positioned at the back of the phone. Face unlock is also available and it works like a charm, even in dim-lighted environments. How secure is it? We’ll find out more as we spend more time with the F7.

The OPPO F7 is already available in India for INR 21,990 (US$ 340), while in the Philippines it’ll retail for PhP 17,990 (US$ 345). Pre-orders start on April 12 and will be available in stores on April 21.

SEE ALSO: OPPO F7 with 25MP front camera and notch launches in India

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OPPO R15 Pro hands-on review

Is this new release worth it?

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OPPO R15 is the Chinese company’s latest flagship smartphone. It comes in two variants: the regular R15 that runs on a MediaTek Helio P60 and the more premium Dream Mirror edition, officially the R15 Pro.

OPPO also upgraded the cameras on the R15 and R15 Pro with AI. How good are they? Should you upgrade? We’ll answer those questions in this video.

SEE ALSO: OPPO R15 Pro hands-on review: The screen is notch the same

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