Reviews

ASUS ZenFone 5Z Review: More powerful but not exactly better

Better processor and more memory than the ZenFone 5, but not much else

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After a less-than-stellar attempt at shooting for the stars in the premium smartphone segment, ASUS took a step back and came out with perhaps one of the best midrange smartphones of 2018 — the ZenFone 5. However, that doesn’t mean their done competing in the upper echelon. Enter the ASUS ZenFone 5Z.

At first glance, the ZenFone 5Z doesn’t seem all that much better than the ZenFone 5. They’re identical after all. So if you’re curious about the look and button placements, go ahead and open this link in another tab then come right back here when you’re done.

Here are a few photos of the 5Z if you’re too lazy.

All the ports are at the bottom, the buttons are on the right, and it’s a hybrid dual-SIM, which means the second SIM slot can accept a microSD card to expand the storage up to 512GB.

See what we mean?

AI cameras need time to get better

The similarities don’t end there. Both phones have AI-powered cameras which means they analyze your scene and/or subject and apply edits to make it look better. Most of the time, it means tweaking the saturation.

The ZenFone 5 and 5Z also share the same primary camera configuration — one is a 12-megapixel sensor with a bright f/1.8 lens and the other a wide-angle which has an 8-megapixel sensor — so naturally, they take comparable photos. While that’s not entirely a bad thing, it also means they’re a tier under the likes of the P20 Pro and Galaxy S9+.

Take a look at these samples:

It was a cloudy morning in Baler, Aurora and the ZenFone 5Z did a nice job of capturing the part of the sky not covered by clouds

Here’s a closer shot of the shore showing the reflection of the couple passing by

It also captures a fair amount of detail even at night

Zooming in for closer shots, and you’ll see the ZenFone 5Z’s color reproduction is pretty accurate.

The portrait mode on the 8MP front-facing cam does a surprisingly good job on the cutouts and blurring effect. It’s also wide enough to capture a group selfie with you and your friends as seen on the third photo.

What I enjoy the most is taking portraits of people. The depth effect works well with a single subject, but struggles a little when there’s more than one person in the shot.

It’s worth noting that the camera crashed quite a few times while we tried to use it in pro mode and also when the depth effect was turned on. This was fixed in a recent software update.

Faster, smoother, lasts longer

The Snapdragon 845 processor together with 6GB of RAM on our particular review unit is the only real difference from the ZenFone 5. This phone runs Android 8.0 Oreo with ZenUI 5.0 which takes away most of the bloatware that used to come with previous iterations of the ZenFone. The result is a fast and smooth browsing experience whether you’re flipping through your home screen, browsing social media, or cycling through apps. This phone performs with the best of them.

Where the ZenUI 5.0 can improve on is perhaps adding gestures instead of the on-screen navigation bar. There’s an option to keep the navigation bar visible but it defeats the purpose of having more screen.

Instead, there’s an option to hide it but then you have to swipe up on the bottom area first to make it visible. Having to do so can cause you to do things on the app you’re on like accidentally liking the 12-week old photo of your crush on Instagram. That’s embarrassing and could have been avoided! It’s an extra step that affects the whole experience and could easily be improved.

The ZenFone 5Z may not be a gaming-focused handset like the ROG Phone, but it can more than hold its own. Personally, I don’t really play on mobile a lot but the few times that I did on the ZenFone 5Z was a pleasurable experience. It handled titles like Tales of the Rays and Eternium with ease. It also had no problems running Dragon Ball Legends with maxed-out graphics.

The 3300mAh battery is no slouch, either. On average I can start a day at 100 percent and end with around 25 to 38 percent left depending on my usage. Filling it up again is also quick thanks to AI charging. From 30 percent, it can go straight up to 100 percent again in less than an hour.

Uniquely ASUS with other neat features

There are a few things on here that’s uniquely ASUS and you may or may not find them useful depending on your preferences. One of which is the Smart Group feature in the app drawer. ZenUI has had this for a while and it’s actually gotten smarter. It puts related apps in a single folder and labels them for you. It’s super convenient if you’re the type who likes things organized.

There’s also the Selfie Master app which is home to a host of beautification features which I personally don’t really use. What you’ll also find there is ZeniMoji — clearly an attempt to replicate the iPhone’s Animoji. It still needs plenty of work but if you’re curious to see what it looks like, I used it for the intro on this IGTV video.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The ZenFone 5Z is everything the ZenFone 5 is but faster and quite possibly smoother. In a vacuum, it seems like a pretty solid flagship. Unfortunately, it does not exist in a vacuum. If you consider that the 5Z is trying to compete with the likes of the OnePlus 6, Galaxy S9, and other flagships of those caliber, I find that it falls short in terms of design and camera output.

At PhP 29,995 or roughly around US$ 562, it costs nearly US$ 200 more than the ZenFone 5 which sits at PhP 19,995 (US$ 374). While there are slight bumps in processing and speed, it’s hard to justify the price gap costing that much if the device looks exactly like a midranger.

If you’re a ZenFone fan and can fork out the extra 200 bucks, then by all means take the 5Z. Otherwise, you can just opt for the Zenfone 5 which is one of the best smartphones at its price point.

SEE MORE: ASUS ZenFone 5 Video Review

Reviews

ASUS Zenfone 8 Review: Tiny but Mighty

The compact flagship

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Zenfone 8

In a sea full of big smartphones, ASUS made a detour with the Zenfone 8 by making it smaller than its previous Zenfone 7 predecessor.

Packed with flagship specs such as Snapdragon 888, 16GB of RAM and a 120Hz display, it’s simply their best and most compact phone to date.

But how did ASUS managed to fit in all these powerful internals in such a compact body? Watch our full review video of the ASUS Zenfone 8 to know more.

SEE ALSO: Zenfone 8 Flip Unboxing and First Impressions

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Gaming

The realme 8 dares to be more

You’re in for a treat

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realme 8

realme has been bringing in the big guns with their smartphone releases. But, it doesn’t come unwarranted when they’ve been stacking good specs instead of just gaming features. They get it: you want to do more than just play games with their phone line-up. Which is why, they released the realme 8 series.

The realme 8 is pretty much the little bro of the realme 8 Pro. It’s got most of the bells and whistles without the big bro powers. So, how does the realme still stack up to be the best all-around smartphone out there for you?

realme 8

Stunning looks that might fool you

The realme 8 has a 6.5-inch AMOLED display with 180Hz Touch Sampling rate. If touch sampling rate isn’t a metric you’re familiar with, it’s your display’s responsiveness to touch. Refresh rate is a whole different metric; it measures how well your display renders frames per second. Both are tangent features of the display. So, they’re different but, equally as important for gaming on your phone.

If you like strutting in style with your phone, the realme 8 teeters into keeping it flashy yet low-key. The phone features a reflective panel with “DARE TO LEAP” across its logo corner. Plus, realme sticks to classy colors with either Cyber Silver or Cyber Black available for the realme 8.

realme 8

The feelsgoodman specs

Let’s cut to the chase. The realme 8 is a great phone. The phone is decked out with an MTK Helio G95 octa-core processor, which pretty much grants the phone its unapologetic great performance. Whether I was browsing social media, binge-watching videos, or playing games, this phone didn’t stutter once.

realme 8

The phone delivers on buttery-smooth graphics. And, games like League of Legends: Wild Rift, Mobile Legend: Bang Bang, PUBG Mobile, and Sky run smoothly on the realme 8. But, are we really meant to be surprised by that? With the phone’s 8G RAM and 128G internal storage, lags just don’t exist in the same sentence. On top of all that, it manages to stay lightweight. The realme 8 weighs only 177g which is pretty impressive with all the features it packs.

realme 8

Battery can take a beating

Yes, it’s almost criminal. The realme 8 comes with a 30W Dart Charge brick. Which ideally charges the phone up to 50 percent within a matter of 26 minutes. I know what you’re thinking. This sounds too good to be true. Well, unlike the stacked disappointments of the past year, the realme 8 pulls through. It went from zero to 20 percent within 10 minutes which is pretty quick.

realme 8

With a 5,000mAh battery inside, the realme 8 can survive well over a day. It came in handy when I’d accidentally left it out uncharged overnight and still used it the next day. But, I’m guessing it would have been a whole different story had I thrown it into ungodly playing and binge-watching hours.

After a full day of gameplay, binge-watching, podcasts, music, and social media shenanigans, the phone gets close to 15 percent at the end of the day. This is impressive with most phones tossed my way with charging alerts by the tail end of my day.

So, if you’re like me, this phone is pretty reliable. It can take a beating and then some. And, when it does need charging, it won’t take long before you get enough juice in to use it again. It’s good to note that it also supports 15W PD charge, lending versatility on its side.

realme 8

Not just a gaming phone

The realme 8 is decked out with all the features you want from a gaming phone but rounds it all out with amazing smartphone features. So, calling this a gaming phone doesn’t feel fair considering it does well even outside the gaming-perfect specs.

One feature that often gets left out with your typical gaming-centric phone, would be the camera. As for this phone, it’s got an AI Quad camera setup. It’s got a 64MP wide-angle lens, an 8MP ultra-wide lens, a 2MP macro lens, and a second 2MP depth sensor. On the front, the realme 8 has a 16MP shooter with panorama capabilities.

Panorama on the realme 8

Low lighting is just the bane of every mobile phone photography’s existence. If lighting isn’t on your side, most phones will struggle. The realme 8 is sadly not an exception. But, when the sun’s on your side, the photos are pretty good.

The macro looks decent. Just make sure you flood the room with good lighting!

 

The night mode is good too! Stable hands for this mode is key.

The bokeh mode and wide shots on the phone are detailed. Recording videos doesn’t skimp on the 4k experience which is good too. Overall, the phone delivers on all fronts including its camera features. But if you’re looking for big bro camera stats, you should check out the realme 8 Pro.

realme 8

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The realme 8 ticks all the boxes of a quality smartphone. Its got great performance across the board takes really great pictures, has a smooth and responsive display, and lasts for quite some time. And, even if you run out of battery life, its Dart Charge won’t have you away for long.

Overall, this smartphone offers a daring deal. It gives you everything you need and want–and then some more. And, with its PhP 13,990 price tag, it’s the smartphone to beat. Better yet, you can avail of the PhP 1,000 worth of discount on the realme 8 during the flash sale on Lazada starting May 12!

Buy from Lazada

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Laptops

Huawei MateBook D 15 2021: An all around solid choice

It’s no ‘beast’ because iit’s not trying to be

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Being a dominant player in the smartphone scene, I’ve always been curious about how Huawei’s laptops perform.

Having forged their name onto the spectrum of smartphone enthusiasts with their premium Mate series, we know that Huawei has the ability to craft the same caliber for their laptops.

Carrying the Mate branding with its name, let’s take a look if the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen also has the right to be called premium and carry on this reputation.

Performance you didn’t see coming 

The MateBook D 15 2021 is running on the 11th generation of Intel’s Core i5 processor, the 1135G7. Paired with this is the Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and 512GB of SSD internal storage.

On paper, the specs of the 2021 D 15 isn’t really something many of us would consider sensational, but surely this would be more than enough for online classes or even light to heavy work.

I tend to do a lot of photo editing on Adobe Lightroom so I could say that my power requirements do demand a bit of muscle power. The 11th gen Core i5 on the D 15 is able to handle this quite smoothly even with some headroom for web browsing and other multitasking tasks thanks to the considerable amount of RAM.

As you power on the device, you’d immediately notice the swift performance of the D 15.

A surprising contributor to this is its Smart Fingerprint power button which has been carried over from the previous generations of MateBooks.

Automatically tagging your biometrics upon pressing the power button, this move eliminates the need to input your login details which drastically decreases the boot time. I understand this may vary from other users but having recorded the BIOS time at only 2.5 seconds, this has been the fastest boot up time I’ve ever encountered on a laptop.

Classic never goes out of style 

“It looks like a MacBook” was the first comment I’ve heard from the people I was with as soon as I took out the D 15 from the box. Yes, you’ll definitely see the resemblance with Apple’s MacBook line but that’s not to say that it’s a bad thing especially if there are things that Huawei has improved on. Thankfully, this is exactly the case with the MateBook D 15’s body.

The MateBook D 15 2021 has smoother and rounded edges compared to that of a MacBook Pro which makes it more comfortable for your wrists to rest on while still bringing with it that sleek and professional look that we’ve grown to love.

For a 15-inch body, you’d notice that this MateBook is incredibly thin and light weighing in only at 1.56kg and just 16.9mm thin. An easy carry to coffee shops or even just transferring from room to room at home.

Kind of a nitpick on my part though but one comment I do have with this build was it had a very slight body flex on the right hand portion of the palm rest. I don’t know if this was an issue on the particular unit I’m using but whenever my hand lands on that part, it does feel like it sinks down a tiny bit.

More screen for work and play 

Mentioning the size earlier, the MateBook D 15 2021 has a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display panel. A bit bizarre though, is that at only 250 nits this display felt a lot brighter. I mostly stay just around two or three notches above the lowest brightness setting to keep it at comfortable reading levels.

I wasn’t very concerned with eye strain however, as this display has been certified under TÜV Rheinland’s reduced blue light and Flicker-free qualifications.

With super-narrow 5.3mm bezels and a rating of 100% on its sRGB color gamut, this display is just a tempting movie companion. The large size, almost bezel-less screen and accurate color reproduction truly makes video consumption an immersive experience.

No cramps for your fingers here 

Looking at the D 15, you’d notice immediately that the keyboard is decently sized and its spacing is quite substantial. Key travel on this however, wasn’t very long. While I personally would prefer keyboards with longer key travel over one with a bigger size, the key travel on the D 15 was where it somewhat fell short for me. That being said, I do think this is a matter of personal preference so this isn’t really something that would ruin the MateBook experience. 

You’ll also notice that for a 15.6-inch device, this doesn’t have a number pad on the side of the keyboard which I think contributes to how Huawei managed to extend the spacing of its keys and incorporate a decently sized trackpad below.

Speaking of the trackpad, I really appreciate its size as it’s able to accommodate my multi-finger gestures with precision and with only very minimal input errors.

Still placed between the F6 and F7 keys on the top is the iconic recessed 720p camera that the MateBook line pioneered.

 Power overwhelming

I personally see the battery and charging features of the D 15 to be its main strength. It took me a good 9 hours and 30 minutes running off of its 42Wh battery before it shifted to power saving mode. Meaning, this laptop can easily run you for more than 10 hours under controlled conditions and once you’re able to plug it in an outlet, its fast charger would only take you about an hour to charge it back up.

The 65w charger is quite comparable to a size of a smartphone charger that would barely add weight to your everyday carry. The charger also uses a detachable USB-C to USB-C cable. This makes it easy to replace if ever it gets worn out.

Also, this same cable can be used to charge our smartphones either from the charger or from the laptop as the 2021 D 15 also has support for reverse charging.

Next level of connectivity

A neat addition also on the MateBook D 15 is the inclusion of the new Wi-Fi 6 technology. This gives the D 15 the ability to connect to more frequency ranges for a cleaner and less interrupted connection. While this does require that we connect to a Wi-Fi 6 capable wireless network to fully take advantage of it, it does give us some sort of complacency with some future proofing. Giving us more reasons to hold on to our device for a few more years from our purchase.

In this category we also have quite a selection of ports with the inclusion of a USB 3.2, HDMI and USB-C port on the left side and two USB 2.0 and a 3.5mm audio port on the right.

Tap and drop files? Yes please!  

A handy feature for people who already belong in Huawei’s ecosystem is the Huawei Share with Multi-screen collaboration.

This feature enables Huawei smartphones to connect and share files, apps and even your phone screen with the D 15 by just tapping it on the dedicated Huawei Share portion of the laptop.

Gimmicky as it may sound at first, I have to say, it really does work. And if transferring files from other devices is something you do often, this might be a feature that you could maximize.

Is the HUAWEI MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen your GadgetMatch?

The MateBook D 15 2021 isn’t what we may call a “beast” of a device as it really isn’t trying to be one. This is mainly designed with professionals in mind or simply people who’re looking for convenience, comfort and just an overall pleasant user experience and it does that very well.

A decent performer, sleek looker, ultraportable 15.6-inch device with a lot of nifty features with the Huawei ecosystem, Wi-Fi 6 and its smart fingerprint power button, the MateBook D 15 2021 is what we could really call a versatile machine.

But here is where it gets a little bit tricky. The MateBook D 15 2021 with the older Intel 10th Gen processor is also currently an available option from Huawei. A less powerful alternative but one that could set you back a few pesos which also gets you most of what the 11th Gen version offers.

If you’re willing to spend a little more for better performance though, the D 15 11th Gen is no doubt a solid choice.

The Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen with 16GB RAM is available in Mystic Silver for PhP 59,999.

Buy from Lazada

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