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:
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.
Xiaomi 12T Pro review: Potential flagship killer
With the variety of banger smartphones being released, it’s been somewhat difficult for brands to make a statement with just pure specs.
But when Xiaomi unveiled their prices during their 12T Series launch, the cheer and applause from the crowd just brought me back in time. The time when Xiaomi ruled the scene of bang-for-the-buck devices as they offered top class specs at very affordable prices.
Yes my friends, the Xiaomi 12T Pro could just be among those devices.
Let me explain why I think that might be the case.
Specs and performance
Let’s not beat around the bush — the specs of the Xiaomi 12T Pro is confidently top notch. This runs on the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal Storage. Which means, there’s not much more you could ask for when it comes to its hardware specifications.
This is already packing one of the fastest chipsets that’s currently available in the market. And with our experience, it truly does bring about just as what we expect from it.
I’ve made a ton of video reels on this doing heavy video editing for social media. Not once did I feel that the phone slowed me down. It simply breezed through most of what I did like it was nothing.
And with specs like these, I’m sure there are already a lot of people who have their eyes set on this for gaming.
For that, I’d say this also doesn’t disappoint. Maxed graphics and FPS settings on Call of Duty: Mobile wasn’t a problem for the 12T Pro. In fact you can probably max most games on this and still get decently fast frame rates.
This did feel a bit warmer on the hands than I expected but nothing that I think would cause an issue unless you’re really pushing the phone to the limit.
200MP Main Camera
We’re still pretty new to seeing phones with over a hundred megapixels in camera resolution and here’s Xiaomi giving us double that number. 200MP for its main camera, 8MP for its ultrawide and a 2MP macro on its rear plus a 20MP camera on its front.
That’s looking really impressive if you are judging it on paper. But how does it actually hold up in real world use?
With the main camera, it’s easily recognizable that this is a decent performer. The new ISOCELL MP1 sensor on this was actually able to capture a night event where I was struggling to get decent lighting.
It’s able to get awesome results under challenging scenarios and even better in well lit environments.
But if you were to ask me if the huge amount of megapixels actually make a difference, my answer to that is yes but it’s not as significant as I hoped it would be.
This would probably win over others in terms of resolution but overall, if I were pixel peeping, I would still slightly prefer the quality of images coming from something like the Sony IMX sensor.
However, the margin does get bigger if we compare the zooming capabilities from a phone that has a dedicated telephoto camera. The digital zoom from the 12T Pro, despite looking respectable, still would not match images coming from a true telephoto camera.
Ultrawide shots from the 8MP sensor also do get decent photos but obviously, there is a sizable difference between this and the main camera.
The 20MP selfie camera does also perform okay but nothing really outstanding. Just like most phones, in poor lighting, shots also look grainy and won’t look very good.
Design and build quality
Interestingly, as most recent smartphone releases have been looking similar, Xiaomi still goes on in pursuing their own design.
The Xiaomi 12T Pro has a very smooth and curved back panel with a square cut out for the main camera and two round ones for the ultrawide and the macro. Some might think this looks kind of bland but I prefer calling it looking professional.
If you’re used to holding high-end phones, having this on your hands, you’ll right away notice that this doesn’t quite have the same feel. You’ll feel a mixture of glass and some parts of the frame that feels plastic. As a whole I think most people won’t really notice this as it still feels substantially solid.
I did immediately notice that it feels a bit thicker compared to the Xiaomi 12 Pro measuring 8.2mm thick while the 12T Pro being 8.6mm.
But this does have an IP53 dust and water resistance this time so that’s a big plus for added peace of mind.
Display and Speakers
Xiaomi went with a flat display panel on the 12T Pro which, to be honest, is something that I prefer more when it comes to usability.
It may not look as sophisticated as curved displays but at least it feels easier to navigate with less chances of input error.
Measuring 6.67 inches, it doesn’t require much effort to reach each side. Given that I don’t have very large hands, I think most people would find this screen size to be ideal.
This is an AMOLED panel with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ certifications plus a 120Hz refresh rate so this display also looks vibrant and feels really fluid to use.
Combine the display with its stereo speaker setup and we have ourselves a well rounded media consumption device.
This pair of speakers are tuned by Harman Kardon and they sound pretty great as well. They have enough thickness to make the dialogue from the movie you’re watching cut through the mixture of sound effects.
Battery and Charging Performance
Flagship phones often run on smaller batteries with fast charging capabilities. This is a bit different on the 12T Pro which ships out with a large 5000mAh battery and a fast 120W charger.
In my charging test, I was able to get the 12T Pro from 10 percent to full in about 42 minutes. This may not be the fastest charging speed around right now, but it’s still incredibly fast. We’re still able to get fully juiced up even if we’ve just plugged it in before heading out for the day.
And for a phone of this calibre, battery performance is observably good. The 12T Pro averaged me a day and a half on normal use on mostly cellular data connection. Quite different from the usual single day battery life of most flagships.
Is the Xiaomi 12T Pro your GadgetMatch?
With so many phones to choose from, the Xiaomi 12T Pro might not be the best in the market.
But for the relatively impressive set of hardware this packs combined with its price, this easily climbs to the top of the list when choosing a smartphone that truly resonates ‘bang for the buck’.
Offered at PhP 37,999, you’re already getting serious performance, an excellent display, highly capable cameras and hyperfast charging.
In my opinion, these are qualities it requires for people to consider this as another flagship killer.
You can get the Xiaomi 12T Pro in Silver, Blue and Black from Lazada, Shopee, official Xiaomi stories and authorized resellers.
Why you should upgrade to the Dyson V15
Smart and powerful
Are you someone who gets excited over vacuum cleaners? Why hello there and welcome to adulthood. Vacuuming is definitely one of the most satisfying chores at home. The results are instant and seeing all the gunk you were able to remove from your floors and furniture is always so rewarding. This is why I can be quite particular about my vacuums. I need one that makes the task easier and a lot more interesting — like the new Dyson V15 Detect Absolute.
Dyson’s latest release in the floor care department is arguably the most intelligent and powerful cordless vacuum in the market today. The suction has improved and is now at 240 Air Watts. Thanks to a Piezo Sensor, the V15’s screen will also tell you the kind of particles it’s picking up in your home grouped by size. This is something that people will allergies will definitely be thankful for. However, the numbers aren’t just there as a party trick or merely for information. There’s a practical use for it. As the V15 detects – pun intended – the particles, it also adjusts the suction accordingly. Detection is done up to 15,000 times per second. This allows for the adjustment of the suction power on Auto Mode to be quick and intuitive. Now that’s nifty.
The right accessories and attachments for your Dyson V15
The V15 Detect also comes with a whole slew of attachments and accessories. Admittedly, seeing the range of tools and thinking of all the things you can do with them are two of the things that really get me excited when getting a new vacuum. I love how you get multi-use pieces as well as task-specific ones.
The Digital Motorbar or the V15’s main cleaning head now comes with an anti-tangle comb that clears hair from the brush bar. This is something I longed for vacuums to have as detangling hair from brushes and rollers isn’t something to look forward to. It’s no gimmick either. My hair’s been getting longer and I shed almost as much as our corgi. We tested it here at home and it actually works.
The V15 — both models — come with the Laser Slim Fluffy Cleaner Head which is perfect for seeing microdust and things you may just miss on hard floors. The Hair Screw Tool is the upgrade of the Mini Motorized Tool. It has the power of its predecessor and the anti-tangle technology of the Digital Motorbar. It’s perfect for cleaning upholstery, mattresses, and even in your car.
You also get attachments that were available in previous models like the Crevice Tool for those narrow, hard to reach places, Combination Tool, Mini Soft Dusting Brush, and the Stubborn Dirt Brush. The vacuum still comes with a wall mount where your charger can go through, ensuring tidier storage.
The HEPA model comes with a built-in dusting and crevice tool that hides inside the wand when not in use. It seems like a minor addition but makes it much easier to switch from full vacuum to handheld. Extra attachments like the Low-Reach Adaptor makes cleaning under beds and sofas a breeze and the Fabric and Mattress tool for your in-home cleaning. This frees up your Hair Screw Tool for your car.
But what I’m really looking forward to is the launch of the Dyson Pet Groom tool here in the Philippines. Set to arrive in early 2023, this piece is a game changer for pet owners. Living with a corgi means having to deal with shedding all year round. We also have to hoover every single day or else we’ll be dealing with fur tumbleweeds throughout our flat which gather more dust and allergens. The new Pet Groom Tool is a brush that you can attach to the main body of your V15. With 364 bristles angled at 35°, you’re able to remove loose fur and dander from your pet. Without hurting them, of course.
Filtering microdust with the Dyson V15
Dyson vacuums have always been pretty idiot-proof. It’s a piece of technology that marries form and substance — looking great while packing a lot of power for a cordless vacuum. I’ve always loved how Dyson vacuums don’t use bags. Clearing the bin is easy — hold it over the bin and pull the side handle down. Less waste makes it kinder to the environment.
The V15 also comes with 5-stages of advanced filtration, capturing 99.99% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. You’re not only cleaning your home but the air around you as well. There’s no need to keep buying filters and produce more waste because all you have to do is regularly take off the filter, place it under running water to clean, let it dry overnight and put it back. This works for both the regular and HEPA filters.
Sure, the V15 is a tad heavier if you compare it to the Omniglide and the V12 slim. However, it’s is a more powerful machine and runs longer. At 60 minutes, I’m able to deep clean most of our two-bedroom home. I’ve owned the V11 Absolute Extra Pro (a bigger V11 released in Germany) since 2019 and I’d say there’s not much difference in weight. I’ve enjoyed the power I got from V11 and always regarded it as my favorite vacuum, thinking that it’s hard to top its suction power as far as cordless vacuums go without making it too heavy. I was actually surprised that the V15 was able to achieve just that.
What’s left to improve?
While I’m absolutely smitten by the V15, here’s what I would love to see in the next upgrades. A laser on the Digital Motorbar would be great so that we can also see microdust and hair that tends to blend with the color of our carpets.
Some people online have complained about the lack of a trigger lock. This means you have to keep your finger on the trigger to keep the vacuum running. I think this is more of a question of preference. I don’t mind having a trigger lock as an option but I rarely used it in my older vacuums. For those who really think it can be an issue for them, the V12 does come with a start and stop button instead of a trigger.
The V15 Detect Absolute comes in two variants — V15 Detect Absolute and V15 Detect Absolute HEPA. The main difference is the filter and the colors. The former is in sprayed yellow and nickel and the latter is in a combination of sprayed gold and iron with the HEPA filter coming in a lovely shade of aqua.
The V15 Detect Absolute HEPA variant retails for PhP54,900 and comes with two extra tools (Fabric and Mattress tool and Low-Reach Adaptor) as well as its hidden dusting and crevice tool inside the wand.
The V15 Detect Absolute, meanwhile, is slightly cheaper at PhP50,900. Both models are now available at Dyson stores in the Philippines as well as their official online stores on Lazada and Shopee.
realme 10 review: It’s a 10!
For what it’s aiming to be
The realme number series has been a fantastic sales performer for good reason. The company has remained consistent in offering an entry-to-mid level smartphone that meets the needs of most people. The realme 10 is no different.
Let’s get a few things out of the way.
Here are the specs:
|Display||Screen Type: Super AMOLED
Screen-to-Body Ratio: 90.80%
Refresh Rate: 90Hz
Touch Sampling Rate: 180Hz
Brightness: 600 nits
Glass Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass 5
Audio Ports: 3.5mm Headset Jack
Audio Certification: N/A
|System||Operating System: realme UI 3.0, Android 12
Voice Assistant: Google AssistantProcessor: MediaTek Helio G99 Processor
|Cameras||Rear: 50MP Color AI + 2MP Black & White Lens
|Connectivity||WiFi: 2.4GHz, 5GHz
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.3
Frequency Bands: 2G / 3G / 4G
|Dimensions||Dimensions (LxWxH): 159.9 mm x 73.3 mm x 7.95 mm
|Power Supply||Charging Wattage: 33W SUPERVOOC Charge|
|RAM Memory GB||8GB+128GB / 8GB+256GB|
And here’s everything inside the box:
That’ll be the realme 10, a 33W SUPERVOOC Adapter, Type A to Type C USB Cable, Warranty Card, Quick Guide. SIM Ejector Pin, and a Jelly Case.
We understand the urge to use the Jelly Case to protect your precious purchase. But we mostly rocked the realme 10 bare and never felt like it was in any form of danger. Plus it just looks better. The accompanying case completely ruins the effect of the Clash White back panel that we have right here. The phone, by the way, is also available in Rush Black.
Design, ports, buttons, and feel on the hand
Perhaps the most striking thing about the realme 10 is its back panel. Especially the Clash White version, hence our insistence on not using a case with it. If you’re the flashy type, you’ll have a ball taking mirror selfies with this one.
It sparkles and reflects in quite a gorgeous manner. It almost makes you think that it has a different coat of paint depending on which angle you’re looking at it from. The realme 10 is pretty to look at and that’s a “feature” that smartphones in this price segment are starting to really understand.
On the left, you’ll find the SIM tray which houses three slots: two nano SIM cards and one microSD card slot up to 1TB to really expand your storage.
Going down to the bottom, you’ll see a 3.5mm headphone jack, the USB-C port, and the single downward firing speaker. The company’s marketing materials amusingly calls the latter “200% UltraBoom Speaker” which isn’t doing it any favors. It’s not bad. In fact, it’s pretty good for a single down firing speaker, but the marketing was really pushing it here.
Now that we’re on the subject, might as well talk about taking in entertainment on this phone.
Display and media consumption
You can take a quick glance at the specs above for the numbers, but know that in practice, the display is pretty much as advertised. Nothing too crazy here. The colors look good and watching videos are pretty satisfactory.
Curiously, when watching fancams by LE SSERAFIM Kazuha on YouTube, we could only get a maximum of 720p for the resolution. This wasn’t the case when viewing the same fancam on a much more premium phone. It looks fine, especially for a display of this size, but it’s something worth mentioning.
Also, don’t mind the accompanying photo. We had crappy internet while taking it.
Video viewing is enjoyable to the eyes as the colors still pop when you expect them too. The speakers, while serviceable, aren’t the most ideal way of watching. If you have headphones you can use, suggest you do that versus relying on the single speaker.
Performance and gaming
The realme 10 performs just about as expected especially when accessing the usual social and work apps. Jumping from TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and what-have-you was seamless with no hiccups whatsoever. And sure, you can pretty much say that with most phones these days but to have a really smooth performance at an entry-to-mid level price point is still fascinating.
We typically don’t do any heavy work things on our phone. The occasional emails, checking presentations, drafts, and opening a few PDF files here and there all ran smoothly.
Gaming is boosted by both the extended RAM capability as well as the realme’s Game Mode that lets you throttle performance to push all resources to gaming. It also filters out notifications so you can focus on winning.
Overall, it works as expected. Which is a great thing.
There’s also been plenty of smartphones in this price segment equipped with a 50MP main shooter. And we can say performance is consistent all throughout.
We took these samples during a gloomy, cloudy day. What your eyes see is literally what you get when taking landscape shots.
It also does a good job even when there are things in motion.
On the default camera app, you can easily get to 2X zoom which is a good way to “get closer” to your subject.
The 50MP shines the brightest when taking up close photos in well-lit spaces. Spot the coffee cup photo above. This was just the default camera and not portrait mode. But there’s a significant separation between the subject and background. The lights on the trees in the background also made for some really nice bokeh.
The same is true for shots taken at a similar distance. You can create a nice separation by putting more attention to your subject.
We took a photo of the bread at a different angle and you can see that it also is able to capture it in good detail.
But like most phones, when the light setting is poor, food shots aren’t as appetizing.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
The realme 10 is solid. It’s certainly a 10 given the price to performance ratio. Oh, right. The price. The phone comes in two variants with the following pricing:
- 8GB+128GB – PhP 12,999
- 8GB+256GB – PhP 14,999
So, given all of that, you’re getting a package that may not be stacked, but is undeniably solid. The realme 10 is a head turner, a good performer, and a decent moment capturer. It’ll take care of your needs with no problems whatsoever.
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