Reviews

ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra unboxing and review

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This is it: the final entry in our supersized smartphone series. After covering large handsets that specialize in selfies, look like a premium flagship, and load up on the specs sheet, we’re now looking at a phone prioritizing an ultra size above all else. Indeed, the 6.8-inch ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra will astound you with its absurd proportions and premium packaging.

While it’s the size that catches all the attention, we really want to emphasize the premium part of the ZenFone 3 Ultra, as well. From the box and bundled goodies, to the invisible antenna design and unit itself, all aspects felt like they had a lot of thought put into them. With a price that rivals the very best, you can’t expect anything less.

As a treat for our viewers, the embedded video above is a full unboxing and review, unlike the shorter hands-on videos we featured recently. But don’t think for a second that this is the conclusion of the series; we’re cooking up a large-scale shootout to compare all the smartphones we’ve recently unboxed.

Be sure to watch out for that, because for all we know, one of these beauties could be your next GadgetMatch!

Reviews

realme 7 Pro review: A real deal

Supercharging their way into the action

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realme has gone aggressive in attracting attention for their smartphones. There’s always something that they bring to the table, either new features or just an incredibly-built smartphone. Now, they have another new smartphone that will surely capture the public at lightning-fast speeds — the realme 7 Pro.

The realme 7 Pro is the company’s latest entry into a more powerful space. It’s power, like most smartphones, would come from the hardware it possesses. However, there’s much more that this phone actually offers apart from power. In essence, it strives to give you the best smartphone possible.

So how does the “best smartphone possible” actually stack up? Here’s what the realme 7 Pro offers:

It has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display

The rear cameras are powered by the 2nd generation Sony IMX682 sensor

There is an in-screen fingerprint reader at the lower portion of the display

It comes in either Mirror Silver or Mirror Blue

Provides some excellent performance across the board

It was a joy using the realme 7 Pro, and it’s not just for the most part. The phone comes with the Snapdragon 720G octa-core processor inside, which ideally grants it great performance. Whether it was browsing social media, watching videos, or playing games, I genuinely felt how incredibly fast this phone is.

Along with the 8GB of RAM given to the phone, I felt no lags doing my normal phone routine. That Super AMOLED display provided great color accuracy and a bright enough screen to bring outdoors. I was able to watch some YouTube videos and Netflix shows even with the sun shining bright.

I’d also like to give huge props to realme’s UI and how it’s fully optimized for all use cases. The enhancements it brought while I was playing Call of Duty: Mobile gave me a smooth gameplay experience. And this was already on top of the powerful processor and high-enough RAM.

Supercharging is the star of the show

This device comes with a 65W SuperDart Charge brick, which ideally charges the phone up to 42% within a matter of 10 minutes. They’ve even mentioned during a forum that you can charge it to 30% in a matter of 7 minutes. At first, to me it seemed too good to be true — until I tried to replicate these exact figures.

As it turns out, I actually got to about 29% from 0% within 7 minutes — and that’s pretty fast. I stretched it all the way to time a 30-minute charge, and I got close to 78% within that time. In essence, you can use your phone almost instantly the moment you drain it to zero. Based on my experience, it takes a long while to do that.

With a 4,500 mAh battery inside, the realme 7 Pro takes more than a day before you could fully use it up. I played games on it for 6 hours, watched high-resolution (up to 4K for some) videos, browsed social media, and listened to music on the phone. Yet, after doing all of these activities, I still had about 16% left. Basically, this is one long lasting phone that charges incredibly fast!

The camera work is just as great, and deserves some love

Perhaps the second best thing that the realme 7 Pro wants to present are its cameras. In particular, the rear camera comes with a 2nd generation Sony IMX682 sensor at 64MP. Along with a supposedly enhanced Nightscape feature, this phone can also take high quality images in the dark.

For the most part, this was the case when I took photos with it. Image quality is pretty excellent, without rendering anything in a blurred or grainy fashion. I appreciate it even more that sometimes, even when zooming in the objects are pretty clear.

Captured with HDR on

When using Night Mode and the Nightscape AI feature, it showed color-vibrant images while sacrificing some detail.

Captured with Pro Nightscape

 

Captured with Pro Nightscape and adjust brightness

The 32MP selfie camera, I’m happy to report, was also a joy to use. Again, for the most part, image quality is fantastic as it captured even small facial features. However, I don’t recommend taking selfies in relatively total darkness if you use Night Mode.

Captured with Nightscape on

As far as shooting videos, you can shoot up to 4K resolution at 60 FPS with the rear camera. Video quality is great and all due to the active stabilization features the camera offers. However, I honestly feel it’s best to have your own physical stabilizer just to be safe.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 17,990 (US$ 371), the realme 7 Pro ticks all the boxes of a quality smartphone. It provides great performance across the board, takes really great pictures, and lasts for a long time. Even if you run out of juice, the SuperDart Charge brick simply won’t allow that to happen.

I honestly think that it deserves to have its TUV Rheinland Smartphone Reliability verified. For most common use cases, there’s really nothing else you would complain about. If anything, my only minor complaint is that the selfie camera is placed at the top left.

Overall, this smartphone offers, what is essentially, the real deal. It gives you everything you want out of any decent smartphone, but supercharges it for the best experience.

SEE ALSO: realme 7 review | realme Buds Q hands-on


BUY THE REALME 7 PRO HERE

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Reviews

realme 7 review: Letting go of self-limiting beliefs

Challenging pre-conceived notions about Android

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realme 7

When I talked to my counselor last week, she told me that I have these self-limiting beliefs — I make assumptions about myself in some areas of my life based on my past experiences. Because of this, I tend to close myself to the great future possibilities whenever I encounter similar patterns.

I have the same train of thought when I first got my hands on the Realme 7. Before I opened the box, I already expected it will be “just another Android release” which will be overshadowed by other devices in just a few months.

I’ve been an Android user ever since, and I meticulously check and compare specs before I make a purchase. Eventually, the constant Android battle every few months got me caught up. It made me just stick to what I’m currently using, or maybe buy an iPhone in the future.

However, this newest offering by realme reminded me of the things I love about Android phones, and even added new features that proved how the Android technology is always advanced.

Just like other android phones, but more aesthetic

At first glance, the realme 7 looks just like most Android phones in the market today. What stood out for me, though, is the mirror space design aesthetic and I appreciated it more when I go outside and when I see it in my photos.

I got the mist blue version, and it’s a great match for my dark outfits; my friend even commended the striking color aesthetic that resembles to a CD.

The punch-hole screen is a little disturbing for me at first, but when I started to play games and videos through this phone, I was impressed with the great image display and vibrant colors.

A phone camera that can compete with the professional kind

Now, here’s my favorite thing about this phone. I admit that even as an Android user, I’m still biased to the iPhone camera and I always perceive that most Android cameras display fake colors in photos.

With the realme 7, I was impressed with the accurate and vibrant colors of my shots. Initially, I was really excited to try the 64-megapixel camera and it didn’t disappoint — my photos look great even in poor lighting!

The camera can zoom up to 10x and still look great, while the portrait shots are natural and flawless — not trying too hard to blur the background. I noticed, though, that the camera is not that good for fast moving objects.

The night mode is also great, but due to community restrictions and recent cloudy nights, I didn’t get to explore it. As a big lover of the outdoors, I assume it can take great starry night photos. Would be great to have this phone on a beach/mountain trip soon.

The fast charging time is very noticeable

To be honest, I didn’t really care much about charging time in general because (1) I rely heavily on powerbanks (2) I don’t really bother checking the charging time because again, I always assumed they’re all the same. But for the realme 7, I quickly noticed how fast the battery filled up.

I left it on charge while I was in a hurry to run some grocery errands and I was amazed that it went from 2% to 50% in a little less than 25 minutes. The 5000mAh battery lasted me for two days, and for heavy gamers, the phone may last for 24 hours.

All the features you need packed into one convenient device

Personally, I’m not really a gamer myself but I love playing Among Us in this phone (hello, Impostors!). I use apps heavily, though, and whenever I get busy, I always end up opening 10 tabs at a time. The MediaTek Helio G95 processor is definitely a delight for gamers and heavy app users.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Processed with VSCO with preset

So far, the realme 7 has covered all the features I have in my phone essential checklist: outstanding camera, long battery life, great display, and fast processor. Take note: these are non-negotiables for me and as a first-time Realme user, this gadget exceeded my initial views and has even introduced me to more exciting features.

For only PhP 14,990 (US$ 309), you get all these premium features for a very competitive price. Because of this, I told myself not to limit my thinking, and to open myself to new innovations. I might even consider staying in the Android ecosystem for long.

SEE ALSO: realme 7 Pro review | realme Buds Q hands-on


BUY THE REALME 7 HERE

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Computers

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD Super review: Cheap yet superb

A Singaporean brand that deserves more attention

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Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Admit it, the pandemic is making us buy things we don’t need. At the same time, we also bought essentials to boost our productivity when working inside our rooms. In the past few months, a lot of us went under a WFH (work from home) setup — which also meant greater demands for consumer tech products such as laptops, PC rigs, keyboards, mouse, and even monitors.

As GadgetMatch’s Associate Creative Producer, I needed a large monitor that’s not too pricey yet delivers the top three features that I need: color accuracy, viewing angles, fast refresh rate.

After lending some of my time for thorough online shopping, comparing, and research, I went with Armaggeddon’s Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD monitor.

Armaggeddon may not be familiar to most of you. They’re a Singaporean brand that offers a wide array of computing products and gaming peripherals.

Ultra slim and bezel-less

What I first liked about Armaggeddon’s Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD is its design. The massive 23.8-inch display almost feels like it’s floating because of the zero bezel design or what they call the “Infinity Frame”. Other monitors of the same price look bland with their plastic black frame and stand.

Armaggeddon’s logo may not be as distinct from afar but the silver emblem is a nice complement to the monitor’s brushed metal bottom bezel.

Its sides are truly ultra thin. The only thick part is at the bottom, which houses the monitor’s internals and holds the hefty metal monitor stand in place. Side-tilting isn’t supported but it can be tilted upwards or downwards at around +15/-5-degrees.

To make it more reliable, this monitor also supports a 75×75 VESA mount for better desk setups.

Ports and cables

You get the usual port selections here. Out of the box, there’s an included 12V cable that powers the monitor through the DC port.

There’s also a bundled HDMI cable that you can connect via the HDMI port. This port is used for PC rigs, Playstation or Xbox consoles, and laptops that support it. There’s even an extra VGA port for older PC and laptops configurations with less fancy resolution output.

What you don’t get is a DisplayPort (DP) and an Optical Audio Output — which might be a dealbreaker for some of you. There’s also no room for USB-C port since having one would add more to its cost. For my part, I just use a Bluetooth speaker for loud music sessions or a pair of wireless earbuds when I’m editing.

Cable management is a little tricky though as it doesn’t include clips for fixing those cluttered cables behind the monitor.

Real IPS panel

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

There are different types of monitors out there that are being sold around the same price. You may have heard of them before: TN and VA panels are the most common in the list. They’re cost-efficient especially because they feature less bright and desaturated panels. But what made me choose the Armaggeddon PF24HD is the inclusion of a real IPS panel.

Just like in your smartphones, IPS displays offer excellent colors, contrast, and viewing angles. These are display features I’ve said from the very beginning that I need for the type of work I do.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Yes. I’m still not over Ko Mun Yeong and Moon Gang Tae

For what its worth, the display is excellent. Colors pop while there’s little to no degradation when you look at the monitor even at the narrowest viewing angle. Other advertised “IPS” monitors I found online were just re-configured TN/VA panels with poor viewing angles and color accuracy. It’s not a good thing to fool customers with product misinformation.

With my desk setup facing parallel to the window, screen glare is unavoidable. But with PF24HD’s bright panel, it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. I even adjusted the monitor’s brightness from 70 down to just 40 because it’s just too bright for me.

In my case, my IPS panel doesn’t suffer from severe “backlight bleeding” that shows brighter areas near the edges among most IPS panels. A built-in Anti blue-light filter also comes handy to protect your eyes when using it.

True 75Hz refresh rate

During my time of comparing, I noticed that other popularly-branded IPS panels of the same price only feature a modest 60Hz refresh rate. Meanwhile, faster refresh rates of 75Hz and 144Hz are available but they feature TN or VA panels — which is a deal breaker for me (and if you were paying attention earlier, you already know why they’re not advisable for creative tasks).

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Having Armaggeddon’s 75Hz IPS panel is a true feat. I first tried it on macOS Catalina and I haven’t experienced any hassle after connecting my MacBook through the HDMI port. It’s automatically set to the highest refresh rate available.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

I was also able to run both of my MacBook Pro and eGPU through Windows 10 Bootcamp. Although this one is more of a complicated process before it actually detects and runs the external GPUs, the monitor detection together with its higher refresh rate setting worked for my case.

If you have a PC setup or a Windows laptop, I think you shouldn’t worry as your device will automatically detect the monitor through HDMI port.

Photo and video editing

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

The main reason why I bought an external monitor is to maximize my screen workspace. Even if my 15-inch MacBook Pro displays a higher resolution while this 24-inch monitor only supports 1080p Full HD, it significantly improved my workflow when editing our YouTube videos through the latest update of Final Cut Pro. That added space for color correction, transition, and effects tab as well as the inspector and nearby windows really helped me work faster.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Other than that, I was able to post-process these shots for my Nike Air Max 720 review with ease. This is where color accuracy comes into play. Armaggeddon PF24HD’s IPS panel together with its 100% sRGB support helped in displaying the shot’s correct color information.

To maximize the monitor’s contrast ratio, I then changed the screen calibration. On macOS, I adjusted it through System Preferences > Displays > Color and set it to Apple RGB profile to show deeper grays and blacks and better red hues as well.

If that’s not enough, there’s also a contrast adjustment setting through the monitor’s native menu accessible via its joystick at the back.

Gaming

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Gaming on a Mac was possible thanks to this fast 75Hz monitor. As said a while ago, I was able to run the MacBook Pro and eGPU configuration through Windows 10 Bootcamp drive. That gave me the ability to play GTA V (Grand Theft Auto V) at high graphics settings without any stutters and lags.

The monitor’s 75Hz monitor also worked like a charm. Having an AMD Radeon graphics card helped a lot especially because the monitor features AMD Freesync without the need for a DisplayPort.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

“Why is he playing Call of Duty: Mobile with such gaming setup?” — well, I know what you’re thinking. By installing GameLoop, I was able to test out CoDM with max graphics settings available. I know it’s a smartphone game but trust me, running it on a large 75Hz monitor is a feast for the eyes.

Its 5ms response time might not be as responsive as other 1/2ms-rated monitors but it’s ultra responsive especially when aiming and hitting opponents in the game.

A lot of users are hyping up curved monitors for a “greater” playing experience, but I oppose. The flat display with a 178-degree viewing angle still does the job of keeping you immersed when playing.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

In a sea full of well-known monitor brands, it’s hard to tell which relatively unknown brand delivers a better display quality at a reasonable price. Armaggeddon, being Singapore-based, gave me a huge assurance and relief. Not that I don’t support Chinese products but it’s hard to rely on products with negative reviews about false advertisements.

I’ve been using this monitor for more than a month now and it’s definitely worth your hard-earned money. If you’re like me who’s a creative that needs a reliable 75Hz IPS monitor on a budget, this is definitely one of, if not the, best options out there.

If you’re someone who’s planning to build a gaming setup with a limited budget on peripherals, this is also a great purchase especially with its fast refresh rate and response time.

In Singapore, you can buy the Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD with a discounted price of just SG$ 169 that comes with a free BT150 soundbar. If you live in the Philippines, it’s being sold for just PhP 5,990 through a local distributor‘s Shopee page.

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