Hands-On

ASUS ZenFone 5 First Impressions

Back and better than before

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It was only six months ago when the ASUS ZenFone 4 series launched, but here were are, trying out a radically different successor in the ZenFone 5.

Not to be confused with the original ZenFone 5 that came out in 2014, the model we have here is not an entry-level handset by any means. In fact, it has the makings of a series-defining product.

ZenFone 4 (left), ZenFone 5 (right)

For this generation, ASUS chose to focus on artificial intelligence to optimize every aspect of the phone from the battery usage to the cameras. But why only make AI a big deal now? According to ASUS, it’s because the technology is now ready for it, and it’s more practical in everyday gadgets.

And while there are multiple variants to take note of — ZenFone 5, higher-end ZenFone 5Z, and ZenFone 5 Lite to start — they all share the same mantra ASUS has been pushing for years: empowering luxury.

ASUS gave us a preview of a pre-production unit of the main ZenFone 5, and these are my initial impressions.

A trendy design

There’s no doubt the ZenFone 5 takes inspiration from its competition, from the chunk bitten off the top of the near-borderless display to the placement of the dual rear cameras. ASUS claims this design is essential to providing a large screen without compromise.

What really stands out is the edge-to-edge IPS LCD up front. It’s 6.2 inches in diameter and has an unusual 19:9 screen ratio, but this combination feels natural in my big hands. The chin was kept a little thick so the navigation buttons at the bottom are more accessible.

The panel itself has a 2246 X 1080-pixel resolution and 90 percent screen-to-body ratio. That puts the ZenFone 5 near the top of the most bezel-free phones available today.

Although very light when held, the phone’s curved edges make gripping the body comfy. The signature circular design on the glass back also makes a return, and the fingerprint sensor can be found near the center.

Intelligent software

ASUS calls the ZenFone 5 an intelligent phone beyond anything else. There’s artificial intelligence throughout the handset, from the display and ringtone, to the camera and overall performance.

For the ringtone, the volume dynamically adjusts depending on the room’s ambiance, and there’s this feature called AI Boost, which lets you choose between optimizing your Android experience for faster performance or longer battery life (whichever you find more important).

We weren’t able to truly test all these features and how they enhance the user experience, but we can tell the ZenFone 5 is much more intuitive than previous generations.

This is also credited to the new and improved Android interface, ZenUI 5.0, on top of Android Oreo. It’s cleaner and less cluttered by duplicate apps from third-party companies, but we’ll have to wait for a retail unit to say just how much smoother the software is.

Smartest hardware yet

The brains behind all these AI tricks is in the new Snapdragon 636 chipset and its neural processing engine (NPE). This part of the processor performs tasks in a more efficient and dynamic way that gets better through time, and it comes with up to 6GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage to boot.

One of the best AI implementations within the ZenFone 5 is on the cameras. Using the 12-megapixel main camera and 8-megapixel wide-angle secondary shooter, the camera app can automatically detect what type of scene you’re looking at and intelligently adjust settings accordingly. There are 16 preset types in total.

Up front, we have an 8-megapixel selfie camera that uses AI once again to help beautify your portraits. And since there’s no longer a fingerprint reader in front, the front camera can also handle face recognition duties for quick logins.

Other useful features are stereo speakers (making good use of the notch on top) which are quite loud, a large 3300mAh battery with smart charging, and the inclusion of a physical audio port for headphones and external speakers.

Impressions so far

It’s difficult to provide a solid verdict given the short time we had with the pre-production model, but I’d say the package has promise with its greater focus on optimization and user experience.

We’ll have a full review once a retail unit lands in our office. Till then, be sure to follow us on social media and visit GadgetMatch.com daily to catch every update.

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Hands-on

Samsung isn’t giving up just yet

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It’s been a year since the first foldable of Samsung was released. Fast forward today, we have another foldable on the track.

Say hello to the Galaxy Z Flip! Unlike the Galaxy Fold that turns into a tablet, this one is so compact, it can even fit inside your coin purse.

Head on to the video above to know more or click the link here.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy S20 Hands-On

Unpacked features just for you

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2020 is a year where Samsung is taking a leap of faith by getting out of its comfort zone. The Galaxy S20 may look like last year’s Galaxy S10, but it offers double the power and features than its predecessor.

But does that mean the prices also doubled? Find out more by watching the video above or through this link if you can’t access it.

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Accessories

PH3 wireless headphones is a wearable Filipino pride

A limited-edition offering that gives back

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Electronics manufacturer H-Audio has been providing quality products to its market when it comes to audio solutions. While they have a select lineup of offerings, it caters to different types of users.

What we have here is the PH3 that screams Filipino pride as soon as you put it on. Read on and find out if it performs as good as it looks.

It has a straightforward design

Red and blue stripes signify colors from the Philippine flag

Three stars and a sun on each earcup

Can’t get any more Filipino than this

Solid build quality

Headband has a good flex to it

Clasps comfortably on the head

Doesn’t come off easily

Comfortable ear cups

Earmuffs are made of memory foam

What I personally like about the PH3 when it comes to design is how it has a minimalistic kind of approach with just the three stars, sun, and stripes of red and blue. Apart from these Philippine flag-inspired colors, everything else is white. Sure, it might require extra effort to keep it clean, but it’s just something that works aesthetically.

Build quality feels durable and not flimsy which is what I look for next to sound quality. This is made possible by using stainless steel for the headband support and hard plastic for the rest — making it light, but tough.

It has a nice fit around the ears and wearing it for extended periods of time was still comfortable thanks to its memory foam earmuffs. I’ve used it a couple of times while running on the treadmill and the earcups remained snug and in place.

All-around performer

When it comes to sound quality, let’s get to the point — the PH3 delivers. It’s got warm and distinct mids, decent highs, and impressive lows. The overall sound is what you’d expect of closed-back headphones and leans on the muffled side of the sound spectrum.

Active Noise Cancellation option

One thing I noticed, though, is that sound leaks a little to the outside world so you might want to keep that in mind when you’re in an elevator with other people or something.

Connection via Bluetooth was easy and automatically pairs to the phone each time the headphones is turned on. That alone is a big check for me.

Micro-USB port for charging

The company says it has up to 20 hours of battery life. While I was not able to continuously use it, the headphones lasted me about five days with ANC off and mainly using it for music at the gym, walking around the neighborhood, or even just at home.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

H-Audio’s PH3 is a reliable pair of cans with minimal drawbacks. It might require extra care to keep it clean and sound leak at full volume might be an issue for a select few. Looking past those, however, you have a good set of headphones that not only performs well but also looks attractive with its touch of a local theme.

Additionally, its features like wireless connectivity and Active Noise Cancellation make operations easier and add to the overall music-listening experience.

Priced at PhP 7,480, proceeds will go to platforms to raise funds and help the underprivileged Filipino youth. The PH3 is available in select The Loop by Power Mac Center branches, Urban Gadgets, and The Listening Room. For more list of stores carrying their products, visit their Facebook page.

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