There’s a new budget smartphone in town. Continuing the tradition of sporting long-lasting batteries, the ZenFone Max (M2) is ASUS’ latest offering which succeeds the ZenFone Max (M1). It’s also the cheaper version of the ZenFone Max Pro (M2).
Is the new model better than before? Let’s find out in this hands-on.
It’s got a 6.26-inch notched IPS LCD
The power and volume keys are on the right…
… while the triple-card tray is on the left
Up top is the headphone jack
Sadly, it still uses micro-USB
The back looks similar to its predecessor
Now with a bigger display
The latest ZenFone Max model has a bigger and taller display with thinner bezels. ASUS has stretched the display to occupy the top corners, but they still have to put a notch for the front sensors. It’s worth noting that the notch is quite wide, which means you’ll see fewer icons on the status bar.
With a resolution of 1520 x 720 pixels, this isn’t the sharpest you’ll ever see — even for a phone at this price. Color reproduction is okay, although I do find it to be muted especially when compared to other phones. There’s not much to expect from the phone’s screen, but at least it’s responsive to the touch.
The phone’s body is made of plastic and metal. The frame of the phone is plastic, while the back panel is metal. The subtle cold feeling of metal gives the phone a premium feel despite its price point.
If you own (or are familiar) with the previous ZenFone Max, you can tell that they share a lot in common when it comes to the design. The position of the cameras is the same, plus the fingerprint reader is still located at the back.
The ZenFone Max (M2) feels more expensive than it looks, which is how budget phones are shaping up to be. That’s a good thing and hopefully, other manufacturers will follow suit.
A budget gaming phone
I am considering the new ZenFone Max a budget gaming phone because it can deliver good performance. That is, of course, if you’re willing to pull the graphics settings down. This phone has nowhere near the performance of the ROG phone, so don’t expect it to fly.
What makes this possible is the Snapdragon 632 processor paired with Adreno 506 graphics. The phone has 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage as well, which are within the norms of a budget phone. Like before, pure Android software runs everything — no ZenUI, no annoying bloatware. The version is still Oreo, but ASUS promises to give it Pie.
Free Fire comes pre-installed out of the box and it runs great by default. I also didn’t have issues with Asphalt 9: Legends and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. It’s safe to say that popular titles are playable on the new ZenFone Max. Don’t hate it when it lags for a bit; it’s doing its best with the processing power it has.
I also appreciated the phone’s speaker. It’s loud and clear, something that other phones in this price point lack. Watching YouTube and playing games on high volume really show how good the phone’s loudspeaker is. Also, the 4000mAh battery sealed inside the phone can do hours and hours of gaming.
Cameras are surprisingly good
Equipped with a main 13-megapixel shooter and a 2-megapixel depth sensor, the ZenFone Max (M2) is surprisingly a good camera phone. During the day, the phone can capture pleasing images. Even the phone’s front 8-megapixel shooter impresses with its bright and balanced selfies.
Check out these samples:
Light is always your friend if you want to have a good-looking photo. When you zoom in though, the images don’t have the fine details. If you primarily use your phone’s camera to share on social networking sites, the ZenFone Max (M2) will do just fine.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
With a price of just PhP 8,995, it’s easy to ignore the shortcomings of the ZenFone Max (M2). To be honest, the phone has a lot of strong selling points like its clean Android software, quality build, good camera, and large battery capacity. If you want all those, go check out the ZenFone Max (M2) in stores.
The upgrades are also noticeable compared to its predecessor, making this new model a better buy.
MPow Headphones Hands-On: Are these worth your while?
Little-known brand promises value-for-money products
When people talk about headphones and earphones, the brand MPow isn’t the first one that comes to mind. The company boasts quality audio gadgets at really competitive pricing.
Of course, we have to tell for ourselves if these headsets are really any good. We gave a pair to each of our four guys. After a through hands-on, we asked for their verdict.
MPow H7 [Dan]
I’m unfamiliar with MPow. Admittedly, I Googled about the brand and my particular model. Apparently, the MPow H7 is one of the best-reviewed wireless headphones on Amazon US (and other shopping portals). I slightly expected great things. Indeed, the H7 is good for its price. However, it has a couple of shortcomings.
The good: The H7 sounds better than any headphones I’ve used for US$ 20. It’s a balanced pair of headphones for general listening. Bass is really good for electronic music. Vocals are pretty clear in acoustic hits. It’s comfortable and lightweight. I could wear them for hours without any discomfort. Also, I have no issues with pairing on my laptop or my phone.
The bad: The H7’s light weight makes it feel a bit cheap. It’s not exactly a bad thing; you’ll wear this more than you’ll hold it, after all. Additionally, the H7 looks so generic. That’s perfectly subjective, though.
For its price, the H7 is an easy recommendation for those looking for a pair of comfy, good-quality over-ear wireless headphones. It’s certainly not a looker — at least for me — but it deserves the praises it has received so far.
MPow S10 [Rodneil]
The MPow S10 is positioned as a workout companion. However, my usage proves that it can be more than that.
Still, I used it for a few workout sessions. The IPX7 helps take out the worry of getting sweat all over. The fit around your neck and on your ear was also perfect for me. I love that the buds are magnetic. You can even wear it like a pseudo-necklace when not in use.
Coming off the Galaxy Buds, I can say the audio quality lacks a little bit of texture. It just doesn’t have the crispness that I got from Samsung’s wireless earbuds. Of course, the quality isn’t that bad. For video editing and video calls, the quality is more than adequate.
There were also zero problems pairing. Switching from my phone to my laptop was seamless. It’s pretty versatile for a pair of earphones marketed as a sporting buddy, and at US$ 24.99, I would say it’s a pretty darn good deal.
MPow H5 [MJ]
The MPow H5 was a total treat. It’s comfortable to wear and carry around. For US$ 40 headphones, it comes complete with features you can see in similar yet more expensive products.
Its noise-canceling capabilities actually work against the blabbers and chatters while giving a pleasant, sound experience. It can’t completely block the human voice. Still, I think it’s a good thing as it removes the need to pause your music when people approach you. For clearer communication, you can turn off the noise-cancellation with an easily accessible button.
What I liked the most is its ability to switch Bluetooth connection between devices seamlessly. There are times that I had to switch devices (especially when I run out of battery). It’s helpful to stay connected so I can maintain focus on the task at hand.
MPow EG3 [Kevin]
The EG3 is all about gaming, and then some. It specializes in first-person shooter (FPS) games especially with the 7.1 surround sound. It puts you in the middle of the battlefield. You can tell where each sound is coming from. Together with its decent audio performance, gaming becomes a more immersive experience compared to when you only have ordinary headphones on.
Personally, I look for a specific sound when I play games and a different one when I listen to music. MPow’s Audio Center makes it easy with an equalizer and customizable audio profiles. It also has an array of effects such as environment effects, pitch shifting, and a built-in gooseneck microphone. Speaking of the mic, it has an impressive quality good enough for recording voice overs.
Notably, MPow aims for quality products with competitive pricing. For a pair of lightweight headphones delivering good audio and packing premium features, the EG3 is priced at just US$ 29 — more affordable than most models in its tier. Considered altogether, it’s hard to pass on the EG3.
Four different people, four different devices, one brand. The verdict is pretty unanimous. These MPow headsets aren’t the absolute best in terms of quality. However, in terms of value for your money, these headphones are easy recommendations.
We tried Lenovo’s foldable ThinkPad PC and it screams future
A foldable computer like no other
Lenovo’s been working on a new kind of computer: a folding laptop that will supposedly replace your own laptop.
While foldable smartphones captured the talk of the tech world, Lenovo worked behind the scenes on a foldable computer over the past three years. Going on sale sometime next year, Lenovo aims for the bragging rights to call it the world’s first.
The device does not have a name yet. However, last week, Lenovo gave me the unique opportunity to play around with an early prototype.
It’s a computer that screams of the future. In fact, it will run an unannounced Intel processor and an upcoming skew of Windows.
Of course, Lenovo is still fine-tuning certain details. Still, the foldable 2K LG OLED display and torque hinge already do what they’re supposed to. The mechanism ensures each fold and unfold cycle goes smoothly and without a hitch.
Considering how much my iPad Pro has become my go-to, on-the-go device, Lenovo’s all-in-one device is an idea that I’m willing to embrace.
The device starts out as a 10-inch leather-bound Moleskine notebook, with the display folded shut.
Unfold it a little: it’s an ebook like nothing you’ve used before.
Keep it at a 90-degree angle: you’ve got yourself a laptop with an on-screen keyboard on the bottom half.
When used this way, both halves of the display can work independently. You could be on a Skype call on the top screen and viewing a presentation on the bottom half. You could also watch a video up top and jotting down notes on the bottom
Fully articulated, it’s a 13-inch tablet.
Prop it up and use the bundled Bluetooth keyboard: it’s a desktop PC.
According to Lenovo, user confidence in foldable devices is currently low. However, the brand is confident in its product so much that it’s attaching the ThinkPad X1 line — a name associated with reliability and durability — to the foldable laptop.
Samsung Galaxy A20 Hands-on: One of the familiar faces
One of the many new similar-looking phones
Samsung‘s new strategy involves compelling models that are competitively priced. One of those is the Galaxy A20 which is priced under US$ 200. It’s been quite some time since I’ve tried a budget Samsung phone. This makes the Galaxy A20 interesting — at least, for me.
How does a budget Samsung phone fare? Here’s my hands-on.
Let’s get right into the phone starting in the front:
It has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display…
… with a V-shaped notch
On its left, a triple card slot
The physical buttons are all on the right
At the bottom: headphone port, USB-C, and speaker
Its back is really glossy
It has two rear cameras and a fingerprint scanner
The new wave of Samsung phones
The Galaxy A20 is part of Samsung’s reimagined Galaxy A series for 2019. The Galaxy A series used to be Samsung’s midrange lineup. Now, it also covers the budget segment. The move battles the rising popularity of Chinese manufacturers in developing markets.
The Galaxy A50, which is currently one of the best midrange phones shares a lot in commone with the Galaxy A20, design-wise. Both phones have the same 3D Glasstic body — a fancy name for glossy plastic. To be honest, I still prefer the previous matte bodies of the discontinued Galaxy J series, specifically the Galaxy J6 or the Galaxy J8.
The Galaxy A20 sports a Super AMOLED edge-to-edge display with a small V-shaped notch. To meet the target price point, the phone’s display only has an HD+ resolution. The lower pixel count is pretty obvious to the naked eye. The lack of sharpness is redeemed by the panel’s vibrant colors and deep blacks.
Decently fast and stable
Performance-wise, the Galaxy A20 doesn’t disappoint. I have little expectations for a budget Samsung phone. Still, the phone has proven me wrong. It already has Samsung’s new One UI on top of Android 9 Pie out of the box, a big advantage over older Samsung phones. I particularly like One UI’s system-wide dark mode. Likewise, I don’t have to wait for Android Q to get that.
The processor of the phone is Exynos 7884. It’s paired with 3GB of memory and 32GB of expandable memory. This is not the fastest configuration you can under US$ 200, but it gets the job done. The storage might not be enough to store all your games and videos, though. Thankfully, the phone has a dedicated microSD card slot for expansion.
Generally, the Galaxy A20 performs okay with everyday tasks like messaging, browsing the web, and scrolling through social networking apps. There’s no hint of sluggishness with day-to-day use. Although, it takes a bit longer to load heavier apps. The phone just needs an extra second or two compared to faster (and more expensive) phones.
In the gaming department, I am surprised that the Galaxy A20 can deliver better than the competition. My staple games — like Asphalt 9: Legends and PUBG Mobile — run smoothly with little to no lag. I’m not saying the Galaxy A20 can be your next gaming phone. At the very least, it can handle casual games and graphics-intensive titles in low to medium settings pretty well.
Also, the Galaxy A20’s battery capacity is impressive. The phone has a 4000mAh battery inside — bigger than most cheap phones today. Additionally, it also has a USB-C port that supports fast charging up to 15W.
Ultra wide-angle is a treat
Finally, you can get dual rear cameras on a budget Samsung phone. Like with the Galaxy S10e, the Galaxy A20’s setup is a combination of a normal camera and an ultra wide-angle shooter. The main one has a 13-megapixel sensor with an f/1.9 aperture. Meanwhile,the ultra wide-angle camera has a 5-megapixel sensor.
Like with most phones today, even in the budget segment, the Galaxy A20’s main camera can shoot decent stills in bright environments. At night or in low light, the quality becomes so-so. The phone also has an 8-megapixel front camera which takes not-so-pleasing selfies.
As for the wide-angle shooter, it has a really wide FOV like an action camera. Having this secondary camera will let you take an image with a different perspective. It’s also fun to use; you’ll enjoy trying it out in open areas.
Of course, there’s a catch. The quality of the wide-angle shots is nowhere near the main camera’s. At least, it’s definitely more useful than just a depth sensor. The Galaxy A20’s camera also has other features like Live Focus for bokeh and beauty mode for an instant touchup.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
In my opinion, the Galaxy A20 is proof of Samsung’s realization of its customer’s love for more value for their money. Despite brand unfamiliarity, Chinese manufacturers are luring phone buyers by offering bang-for-the-buck devices.
Although the Galaxy A20 is far from holding the bang-for-the-buck title, it’s a good option for those who want a budget Samsung phone. It has the basics covered with a few extra features to make it stand out.
The Galaxy A20 is priced at PhP 9,990 in the Philippines, MYR 699 in Malaysia, and INR 11,490 in India.
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