Hands-On

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus Hands-on

ASUS’ first 18:9 near-borderless phone

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Phones with 18:9 displays became the norm last year, and it wasn’t a premium feature that’s exclusive to flagship devices. We’ve seen a few midrange near-borderless phones, and here’s another one from ASUS.

If you find the ASUS ZenFone Max Plus familiar, it’s because it’s virtually the same phone as the Pegasus 4S which was launched exclusively in China last November and landed in Russia shortly after.


Another factor that will make you think that you already saw the phone before is its identical design to its smaller sibling — the ZenFone 4 Max. Basically, the ZenFone Max Plus is a taller and more modern-looking variant of the ZenFone Max family.

What makes this phone modern is its 5.7-inch Full HD+ panel. This is ASUS’ first phone with an 18:9 display or Full View as ASUS calls it. While it’s not as edge-to-edge or borderless as premium phones, the taller display gives the phone a fresh trait among budget smartphones.

On the right are the physical keys of the phone: a long button for volume up/down and a shorter one for power/screen lock. Both have the concentric circle pattern for texture, but we wish the power button were more distinct.

At the bottom are the good old micro-USB port and symmetrical holes for the microphone and loudspeaker. Like its non-Plus sibling, ASUS opted not to bless the phone with the reversible and future-proofed USB-C port.

Up top are the 3.5mm headphone port and the noise-canceling microphone. It’s worth noting that the top and bottom portions of phone’s body are plastic to allow radios to pass through, while the main back panel is aluminum.

Thanks to its fantastic paint job, both materials blend well together as can be seen on the back. The phone has a dual-camera setup with an ultra wide-angle secondary camera. The phone’s fingerprint reader is also found on the back which is easily reachable by the index fingers.

Wide-angle dual-camera setup

The phone’s dual rear cameras are a combination of 16- and 8-megapixel shooters. The main shooter has an aperture of f/2.0 and shoots the usual photos like this one:

The secondary 8-megapixel camera is for taking action camera-like shots with its ultra wide-angle lens:

As with any wide-angle cameras, there’s a noticeable distortion or fish-eye effect from the camera, but that’s already expected.

To show the big difference between the main camera and wide-angle secondary camera, check out these photos:

As for selfies, there’s an 8-megapixel shooter accompanied by ASUS’ feature-rich camera app. It has multiple modes including, of course, “beauty” which boasts a number of beautification features.

There’s also portrait mode which applies an artificial bokeh effect. With a single front camera, the effect is somehow unimpressive.

We’ll be taking the phone for a full spin in the coming weeks. Check back soon for more sample shots from the dual wide-angle rear shooters and selfie camera.

Initial impressions

The phone is powered by a MediaTek MT6750T processor. Our model has 4GB of memory and 32GB of storage, but the configuration is region-dependent. Some countries have either 2GB or 3GB of memory and 16GB of storage. There’s a dedicated microSD card slot for additional storage along with two nano-SIM cards.

Android 7.0 Nougat runs on the phone with ZenUI 4.0 on top. We’re not yet sure if the phone will receive Android 8.0 since it’s not named as a member of the ZenFone 4 family, which ASUS promised would get Oreo.

As for the battery, it’s disappointing that it has a smaller 4130mAh cell versus the 5000mAh of the ZenFone 4 Max. But still, ASUS boasts long battery life and fast charging features. The phone can also act as a power bank for other devices through reverse charging with the use of a USB OTG cable. Full battery tests will appear in our review soon.

Official Philippine pricing is PhP 11,995 while in Malaysia is MYR 899.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ZenFone 4 gets Android 8.0 Oreo update

Hands-On

OPPO A9 2020 Hands-On: Massive and Playful

For every kind of junkie

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OPPO recently streamlined its smartphone lineup. From Find and Reno, OPPO introduces us to the newest A series. On paper, it seems the A-series is a combination of the F-series and former A-series. Sitting in a sweet spot between an affordable price range and incredible performance, the OPPO A9 2020 is shaping up to be a contender in a sea of smartphones fighting for the crown in the midrange category.

With Xiaomi and Huawei firmly in the lead, can OPPO put up a fight just like it did with its F series? Let’s find out in this Hands-On!


Starting with looks, the OPPO A9 2020 gives in to a premium-like design

It has a dedicated fingerprint scanner and a quad-camera setup on its rear

You can find the power button here…

…While the left side houses the volume keys and sim card slot

Its top is clear, but its bottom shows-off its speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C port

It has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen with a waterdrop notch for the front camera

The OPPO A9 2020 prides itself with its new design that took inspiration from its R-series. In addition, OPPO focused on the phone’s display, reinforcing its IPS LCD screen with a Toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 3+.

Moreover, its screen has new features such as the Sunlight Screen which allows you to adjust the contrast so you can read the screen, even under strong direct light. It also has a Blue Shield which filters out blue light, relieving your eyes from fatigue and strain and protecting your eyesight.

Going big and definitely not going home

Sporting a Snapdragon 665 chipset along with an 8GB RAM, 128GB storage (which you can expand up to 256GB of external memory), the A9 2020 really joined the battle of offering power to midrange devices. OPPO decides to make everything flashy and… big.

For instance, it boasts a humongous 5000mAh battery that can last you throughout the day. Furthermore, it’s capable of reverse wireless charging (through OTG) so your friends can rely on you when their phones run out of battery.

Gamers will find delight with the A9 2020. Thanks to Game Boost 2.0, OPPO’s accelerator technology aims to resolve latency, reduce touchscreen lag, and optimizing energy consumption to avoid overheating.

OPPO decided to up their game for entertainment junkies, too! Packed with Dual Stereo Speakers and Dolby Atmos sound effects, expect a superb, immersive audio experience.

Smarter, smoother

The A9 2020 runs on ColorOS 6 based on Android 9.0. Now, its interface is cleaner and smoother. Icons look cute with their subtle gradient tones.

It also comes with smart functions like Smart Assistant, Riding Mode — which lets you remain uninterrupted by notifications and incoming calls — and a Music party app which lets multiple phones connect in the same LAN through a Wi-Fi hotspot for synchronized listening.

Navigating the phone is now easier with a single hand, too. Through Gesture Navigation, you can return to the home screen, check out recent tasks, switch pages and applications by just swiping up, left, and right.

Cameras for all angles and scenarios

The OPPO A9 2020 shows off its highly versatile camera setup. It has a 48-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel portrait lens, and a 2-megapixel mono lens on its rear.

On its front is a 16-megapixel camera with AI Beautification technology which automatically identifies your skin tone, age, gender, and skin color for customized beautification, giving you a pretty yet make-up free look.

More features include artistic portrait styles, ultra night mode, and 4K video shooting. More sample photos here:

Is the OPPO A9 2020 your GadgetMatch?

If you’re into massive and chunky smartphones with a solid build, the OPPO A9 2020 might be a good match. It offers power and performance for gamers and entertainment junkies, and its smartphone has a versatile camera setup to appease your needs. While there may be Xiaomi and Huawei leading the midrange category, OPPO definitely cooked up a powerful yet affordable phone that can go toe-to-toe with its rivals.

The OPPO A9 2020 is available in two colors: Space Purple and Marine Green. Its retail price is PhP 15,990 and will be available for pre-order starting September 20 until September 27 in Lazada, and through OPPO stores, authorized dealers, and e-commerce partner sites like Shopee, Akulaku, and Argomall on September 28.

For those who want to avail through Home Credit, customers can pre-order the A9 2020 starting September 20 with flexible payment terms of six and nine months with a guaranteed zero percent interest.

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Hands-On

Nokia 3.2 Hands-On: Basic but classy

Nothing fancy but really speedy

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Nokia has been stepping up its lineup of budget smartphones. Early in 2019, the brand launched a plethora of budget smartphones that are under the Android One program. One of the budget-friendly smartphones introduced was Nokia 3.2. Eager to have that Nokia experience, I took the phone out for a spin.

It’s cheap… but classy

I had high hopes when I first got the Nokia 3.2 in its box. Seeing it earlier in MWC 2019 made me appreciate its look and vibe. Compared to other budget smartphones, it’s classier and sexier. However, the phone feels a little bit downgraded when compared to its predecessor.


Nokia the 3.1 with an aluminum frame, a plastic back, and corning gorilla glass while the 3.2 used only a polycarbonate unibody design. Its plastic back is smudgy and slippery, but the phone has a tighter grip, thanks to its subtle curved edges towards the front.

Even its buttons are subtly protruding on its sides. On the left is a dedicated Google Assistant button, and on the right are its power buttons and volume keys.

Found on its back are the 13-megapixel main camera, LED Flash, and fingerprint scanner. On the other hand, its top side features a headphone jack, while the micro USB port and speaker grilles are found on the bottom.

If the notch is troubling you, try hiding it with a wallpaper similar to what I did in the image above.

It also features a 6.2 inches LCD panel on its front display, with a tall 19:9 ratio. It might be disrupting, but the Nokia 3.2 still sports a small notch, housing its 5-megapixel selfie camera capable of AI face unlock. Even though it might be bigger and taller this time, the Nokia 3.2 is definitely a joy to hold.

Stock Android on a budget

The saving grace for Nokia’s disappointing build (at least for me) is its clean version of Android One. That means there’s no bloatware to take up your limited memory and storage.

Additionally, the Nokia 3.2 comes with Android 9 Pie out of the box. This makes it feel faster than its competitors in the budget segment despite having a 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Fortunately, it provides a microSD card slot up to up to 400GB of storage.

An entry-level performance

Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 429 processor, the Nokia 3.2 performs better compared to its predecessor which carried a MediaTek chipset. In addition, its GPU runs on Adreno 504.

This made the Nokia 3.2 handle graphic-intensive games like Mobile Legends even if it was set on the highest graphics setting possible. There were no delay and lag spikes, ensuring smooth gameplay all throughout.

Decent cameras for your everyday needs

Featuring a 13-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera with an f/2.0 aperture, the Nokia 3.2 takes decent photos. Depending on the lighting, both of its cameras can either take a vibrant, lively reproduced color during daylight or a slightly desaturated photo on indoor and low-light conditions.

Of course, we can’t really expect budget smartphones to have flagship-like cameras. It won’t have quick auto-focus or any fancy features like blurring your background, but it’s the compromise we’re getting when we follow our tight budget. At the very least, make use of natural light and other camera tricks to improve your photos.

Lasts longer than your partner

If there’s one thing I enjoyed with this smartphone, it’s the humongous battery. Packing a 4000mAh battery, the Nokia 3.2 can definitely last a day on a single charge. It can handle your multimedia use and everyday tasks throughout the day, yet it will still have enough juice left to carry you through the night.

However, for a phone carrying a huge battery, it charges slowly at 10W. This phone might just be good for those who love to charge their phones overnight.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Nokia 3.2 is a contender in the budget segment. It might have a disappointing build and design, but the phone packs with power, performance, and speed, thanks to Google’s Android One program.

With a starting price of PhP 7,990 (US$ 154) for the 3GB/32GB model, Nokia loyalists will find this a real treat. For people looking for a secondary phone, or a primary phone with no frills and just functions to handle your everyday needs, the Nokia 3.2 could be your GadgetMatch.

However, there are still far better options in the budget category, like the Redmi Note 7 and Realme 3. If Nokia wants to come back in its former glory and capture people looking for an affordable powerhouse, they need to join the battle and beat Realme and Redmi in their game, just like Samsung bending over to compete in the tough budget battlefield.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Fold Hands-on: The Redo!

Refined and ready for release

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This is our Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on! We revisit Samsung’s foldable phone as it relaunches and check out what’s new!

More on the Samsung Galaxy Fold: Global Availability | How Samsung Fixed it | A more affordable Galaxy Fold?


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