Smartphones

Our daily drivers and what we’d rather use

Each GadgetMatch member chimes in

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While we agree that the best smartphone is the one we have in our pockets, we can’t help but want more out of our gadgets, or simply something else.

In this feature, we expose our daily drivers and which smartphones we’d rather use. Whether they be fictional or real yet unavailable, these are our true GadgetMatches.

Daily driver: Huawei Mate 20
Prefers: Xiaomi Mi MIX 3

In 2018, you can pick up any flagship and expect it to work superbly for your daily needs. So as we end the year, there’s been one phone that does exactly that but also brings an exciting extra feature: the sliding pop-up camera of the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3. I don’t take a lot of selfies so I won’t necessarily need to slide out those front facing selfie cameras for what it’s actually there for. But I’m not gonna lie, the added feature of being able to fidget with it is something that makes me super curious about wanting the phone on the daily.

Daily drivers: iPhone XS and Honor 10
Prefers: Xiaomi Mi MIX 3

While I’m completely happy with my current daily drivers, I still find myself wanting to use a phone that’s not yet widely available in the world. I was lucky enough to test the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 while I was in Beijing and boy did I want to take it home! It’s essentially a Mi MIX 2S in a sliding form-factor, and with much-improved cameras. I just wish it also came in white like its predecessor.

Daily driver: LG G7 ThinQ
Prefers: OnePlus 6T… but with an ultra wide-angle camera 😜

One of the underrated mobile phones to be released this year is the LG G7 ThinQ. Despite its mouthful name, it’s a pretty good all-around device. Aside from its fun-to-use ultra-wide-angle camera though, everything about the phone is just so-so. That’s why I’d love to go back to using a OnePlus phone, especially the latest model, the 6T. I love everything about the OnePlus 6T — its display, performance, build, and software. Wouldn’t it be nice to also equip it with a wide-angle shooter? The secondary camera of the 6T is rather redundant to the main sensor, so I’m hoping OnePlus would consider adding one soon.

Daily driver: Not Pink Pixel 3
Prefers: An actual pink Pixel 3 🤬

I can’t let go of phones from the Pixel line simply because I trust their cameras most. I don’t just want good selfies, I want an actual phone that I can take in place of cameras. That being said, it really wouldn’t have killed Google if they made an actual pink phone instead of teasing me with this half-baked maybe pink device.

Daily drivers: Galaxy Note 9 and Mate 10 Pro
Prefers: A tougher and more robust flagship smartphone

I love how smartphones today are so feature-packed that they can be used for leisure and productivity on the go. If I’m not out raiding legendaries in Pokémon Go, I’d be out shooting with a camera and my smartphone. Thing is, I’m the kind of user who doesn’t put a case on his smartphone simply because I think feeling the material and its texture are part of the phone’s experience — that plus it bulks up the phone. But today’s high-end phones scratch easily with everyday handling so having a tougher protective glass would really be a good addition. Maybe for Gorilla Glass 10?

Daily drivers: Pixel 3 and Mate 20 Pro
Prefers: Razer Phone 2

I must say, using the Pixel 3 and Mate 20 Pro together is a match made in tech heaven. I get the latest Android updates and compact dimensions of the former, as well as the versatile cameras and incredible battery life of the latter. And yet, what I really want is a smartphone that simply games. It’s been a Razer Phone 2 versus ROG Phone type of year, but my money is on Razer’s side. Sticking to the 16:9 screen ratio and front-facing speakers has become invaluable for mobile gaming, which is something I’ve gotten more into lately.

Daily drivers: Huawei P20 Pro and LG V40 ThinQ
Prefers: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

I’ve been in love with Huawei’s P series ever since they collaborated with Leica. It’s been a great travel companion that perfectly captures postcard- and instagram-worthy photos. But sometimes, I’d wish they add a wide-angle feature — something that I like from the LG V40 ThinQ. This is why I prefer the Mate 20 Pro. It’s packed with three versatile rear shooters that can handle any adventure I go on.

Daily drivers: Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro and Pocophone F1
Prefers: The Xiaomi Mi 8 with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s cameras

I’m generally happy with the Xiaomi Mi 8. It’s a great performer and I think it’s the absolute sweet spot for me in terms of size. While its cameras are pretty good, they just aren’t at the level of the Mate 20 Pro’s which are great under any lighting condition. Since this fantasy phone isn’t happening any time soon, I’m content with the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro. It’s a great multitasking machine plus I really enjoy MIUI!

News

Sony Xperia 1 II coming to Singapore

Monster of a smartphone camera hitting us later in the year

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The world’s first smartphone with up to 20FPS AF/AE tracking burst — the Sony Xperia 1 II — is coming to Singapore.

Some of the more notable improvements from its predecessor are as follows: new Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chip, support for 5G, and a single storage option of 256GB.

However, the headlining features are its camera capabilities. Specifically the following:

  • 20FPS burst shooting with 60 times per second AF/AE3 calculations from Sony’s Alpha interchangeable lens cameras.
  • Creator mode and cinema recording function Cinematography Pro “powered by CineAlta” from Sony’s professional solutions business division
  • X1 for mobile based on technology from BRAVIA TV

The camera system is still a triple 12-megapixel setup but it now has larger sensors and ZEISS optics. The cameras are also calibrated by ZEISS and the lens have a special ZEISS T anti-reflective coating on them. Optical zoom is one-step further with three times magnification instead of two.

It has a 6.5-inch 4K OLED Display with a cinematic 21:9 Aspect Ratio and is made of Corning Gorilla Glass 6.

Availablity in Singapore

The Xperia 1 II in Black, Purple and White will be available in Singapore in Q4 of 2020 at Sony StoresSony Store Online, and the Sony flagship store on Lazada. Price information will be available at a later date while a registration of interest can be done at this link.

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News

These Huawei and Honor phones will get EMUI 11

Is your phone listed?

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Huawei’s Android skin is called EMUI and its next iteration is coming later this year. Officially called EMUI 11, an image posted by Piunikaweb lists all the phones that’ll support the update. It also includes Huawei’s sub-brand, Honor.

Keep in mind, we’re going with the assumption that this list of devices includes phones from the first wave of the update. More devices could join the list soon in a phased manner.

  • Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Mate 30, Mate 30 RS Porsche Design.
  • Huawei Mate 20X & 20 Pro, Mate 20 RS Porsche Design.
  • Huawei Mate X.
  • Huawei P40 Pro & P40.
  • Huawei P30 Pro & P30.
  • Huawei Nova 6 5G.
  • Huawei Nova5T Pro & Nova 5T, Nova5z, Nova 5i Pro.
  • Huawei Mediapad M6.
  • Honor V30 Pro.
  • Honor V20.
  • Honor 20 Pro, Honor 20s, Honor 20 Youth Edition.
  • Honor 9X Pro.

The list covers pretty much all the phones launched by the two brands in the last year. However, we expect the second EMUI 11 wave to have more phones from the midrange and affordable segments.

Xiaomi’s MIUI directly competes against EMUI and it has a reputation of supporting as many devices as possible. With every brand having its own skin, these updates play a lucrative role in attracting buyers.

SEE ALSO:
Huawei Philippines smartphone price list
Huawei Singapore products price list

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Reviews

realme X3 SuperZoom review: An absolute steal

Flagship. Killer.

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realme did it again. They managed to offer flagship level performance for a phone that’s half the price of most flagships today with the realme X3 SuperZoom.

Just take a quick look at this chart to see what we’re working with.

Price Range (PhP) Snapdragon 855+ 120Hz Screen Refresh Rate Snapdragon 855+ (or higher) and 120Hz Screen Refresh Rate
20K-30K realme X3 SuperZoom
30K-40K OnePlus 7T Pro OnePlus 8
40K-50K Vivo NEX 3, OPPO Reno 10X Zoom One Plus 8 Pro
50K+ Galaxy Note 10 Series Galaxy Note 20 Series (Exynos processors in PH) ROG Phone 2, OPPO Find X2 Pro

The realme X3 SuperZoom is in flagship company specs-wise, but at PhP 24,990 (US$ 505), it sits right in the middle of the upper midrange segment. I didn’t even include the configuration which is 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. This smartphone is, without a doubt, a steal.

As good as advertised 

But those are just the specs, right? How does it actually perform? In a word — admirably.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been merrily juggling the iPhone 11 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, and the realme X3 SuperZoom as my primary devices. Being used alongside two performance heavyweights, the realme X3 SuperZoom doesn’t miss a beat.

One of the desktop tools we use to schedule posts on Facebook has been extremely erratic of late. As a stopgap measure, we found a mobile alternative.

Scheduling several posts on your phone isn’t ideal. It involves a lot of switching from app-to-app and can get very frustrating if the phone you’re using isn’t equipped to handle that load.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with the X3 SuperZoom. I could be holding any of the three phones at any given time and if I needed to do work, there were no hiccups whatsoever.

Naturally, I also did a little bit of everything that you would do on your phone. There’s the inevitable blackhole of scrolling through social media, playing a match or two of Call of Duty Mobile, watching K-Pop music videos and fancams, and everything else in between.

Problems encountered on the X3 SuperZoom while doing these? Zero. None. Zilch.

The cameras are fantastic

Going anywhere from wide to up to 10X Zoom should give you a photo worthy of your Facebook timeline or Twitter feed.

Let me share again this post just to illustrate what I mean.

Color reproduction is mostly accurate but tends to pop more if you turn on AI-assist.

I’m also a fan of how it handles night mode. In the past, some night modes tended to just overlight a shot. This isn’t the case with realme. From my experience, it truly analyzes the scene and applies an appropriate level of post-processing.

The SuperZoom is okay. My feelings over highlighting zoom capabilities remain the same — which is mostly this.

One Punch Man GIF by memecandy - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

The engineering to achieve the feat is truly remarkable, but the use-case for most people is just non-existent.

There’s another phone I’m waiting for that sits right around the same price range. Will do a more comprehensive photo comparison when that comes around.

A capable video camera

One camera feature we rarely get to test is the videos. Thankfully, this phone launched alongside the realme Watch, so I tried my hand at making a video shot mostly with the X3 SuperZoom.

All the spiels were shot using the 32MP front-facing camera with bokeh effect on. These are 720P at 30FPS clips, in case you’re wondering.

The rest of BRoll was shot using the rear-camera, with the exception of some clips showing the phone itself.

Naturally, I post-processed the videos using a desktop software (Final Cut Pro). However, if you’re only working with your phone, you can try apps like InShot, Filmora, or CapCut for video editing.

I shot the spiels and the rest of the clips during one hot afternoon. The spiels were especially challenging for the phone since it was exposed to direct sunlight during about an hour and a half of shooting.

That said, I still wrapped the shooting with about 15-19 percent of battery left. And the phone wasn’t even fully charged. It did get pretty hot, but it surprisingly never conked out whereas other phones would have already done so.

Not exactly a premium build 

If there’s anything to nitpick about the phone, it’s probably its build and button placements. These aren’t at all dealbreakers, but I feel they’re worth mentioning.

When it comes to build and feel on hand, the phone isn’t fragile at all. But, for me at least, it doesn’t have that extra oomph you feel when you’re holding flagships that cost north of PhP 45,000 (US$ 910).

The front and back are certainly glass, but the sides are plastic. That contributes to a lesser heft which is partially responsible for that premier feeling.

Still on the sides, instead of being flushed together on the right hand side, the volume buttons sit on the left-hand side.

Meanwhile, the power button/side-mounted fingerprint sensor (fantastic sensor placement and choice!) is on the right-hand side.

For a smartphone with a 6.6-inch display with a considerable overall footprint, it’s quite a challenge operating it on one hand, especially when you want to adjust the volume.

The Galaxy S20 Ultra, for instance, is a much larger phone, but I never had this volume adjustment inconvenience since all the buttons are flushed on the right side. That said, this is a nitpick and one I can most certainly live with.

But kudos to realme on the matte back finish. It’s not a fingerprint magnet and that’s a quality every phone should strive for.

Is this your GadgetMatch? 

The realme X3 SuperZoom has a lot going for it. You have a flagship-level processor, a display feature that’s mostly reserved for only the most expensive flagships, and cameras that can more than hold their own.

In fact, the SuperZoom on its name might even be underselling the product. Because it’s certainly more than its Zoom capabilities which, I feel, isn’t even the best part of this phone.

However, the real kicker here is the price. Retailing for only PhP 24,990 (US$ 505), this smartphone is an absolute steal. And it’s right in line with what realme has been doing all this time — offering fantastic value for less.

If you’re looking for flagship-level performance but do not have the resources to grab the premium ones, then the realme X3 SuperZoom should be one of your top choices.

SEE ALSO: realme has been a true disruptor

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