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Reviews

Honor 50 review: Comeback is real?

It’s back with Google Mobile Services

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Before the year 2020 ended, Huawei sold its Honor to ensure the sub-brand’s survival. A year later, Honor successfully ventured past the lands it used to reign over, seeking greener pastures in an ethnically diverse continent — in hopes of making its mark in the consumer technology industry, but on a global scale.

Liberating from Huawei gave Honor the power to mend broken ties, especially in doing business with Western companies. The now-independent brand resumed partnerships with Google and Qualcomm, proceeding to deliver smartphones with the software and hardware that most people adore.

Marking the return of Google Mobile Services (GMS) to the smartphone maker is the Honor 50 lineup. Its latest promise is also equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset. So, like any big comeback, I think the elephant in the room needs to be addressed.

Is it worth buying? Should you jump and try it? Is it any better than any other smartphone today? And will Honor ever find its footing once again?

’tis the season of exes coming back

The advent of Honor 50 piqued the curiosity of the GadgetMatch team. But the most electrified one is none other than yours truly. For two years, I’ve been wandering aimlessly — jumping from one smartphone to another in hopes of finding the comfort and love I’ve experienced with Huawei.

Losing GMS was a dealbreaker; my modern life depended on it. I’ve attempted to bridge the gap through Huawei’s solutions over the years, but it lost the very essence of having a smartphone. Which, for me, should be about making your life easier. Why would I tinker with a smartphone when it’s supposed to be smart enough to do its job without using my last three brain cells?

For that very reason, I ended up cradling and alternating between Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones — which I learned to love along the way. But of course, nothing beats the time I spent with all of my Huawei phones.

Honor’s comeback gave me hope that maybe, there’s always a second chance to everything in life. Ex-lovers and smartphones included.

Take you wonder by wonder

The Honor 50 felt like your ex coming back around for a second chance. Except something has changed, inside and out. At first glance, the Honor 50 looks exactly like the Huawei P50. The way it was designed; curves flowing harmoniously. And one striking, horrifying arrangement: humongous lenses passing off like enlarged eyes of a housefly.

However, the details beg to differ. The Honor 50 comes in various colors: Frost Crystal, Emerald Green, Midnight Black, and Honor Code. Its color options are entirely different compared to the Huawei P50’s color lineup.

Originally, I wanted an Emerald Green. It looks expensive, classy, and apt for my premium taste. Twisted fate, I got the Frost Crystal. Shining, shimmering, splendid. Except there’s no Aladdin to ask me when did I last let my heart decide.

It looks dreamy with its diamond-like finish, sparkling from different angles. It’s perfect for anyone who has a flamboyant personality — something my colleagues describe me as making this an inevitable match.

While I do believe I have a bold personality, I’m not a fan of anything eye-catching. I highly surmise that all eyes should be on me or my face, not on any piece of tech I’ve been holding or wearing. I digress.

All eyes on you

For the untrained eye, the Honor 50 and the Huawei P50 strike an uncanny resemblance. But being meticulous pays off. You’ll see there’s more to the Honor 50 than meets the eye. Also, a friendly reminder to use discernment whenever someone from the past comes back lest you’ll be burned by the same love twice.

The Honor 50’s lenses, when you peruse it up-close, show off its quad-camera system. The first lens on top houses the 108-megapixel main camera, while the second lens on the bottom packs its triple, smaller lenses. An 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 2-megapixel bokeh camera, and a 2-megapixel macro camera.

Having said that, one of the clamors around the Honor 50 is its low-megapixel count for its supporting lenses. I believe that cameras are one of the more important things to talk about, seeing how Honor has been carrying Huawei’s former glory in the camera department. So, don’t worry, bud. We’ll talk about it later on.

I still like you, but not as strong as before

Honor gave me a familiar feeling when I held it in my hands. The iconic ‘Curved Waterfall’ gave a comfortable grip that looks and feels sexy when caressing your fingers and gliding your palms along its curves and edges.

Yet somehow, the curved screen disconcerts me. What with my experience going after flat screens and boxy smartphones of Galaxy’s Note and Flip line. Typing, scrolling, and swiping on a curved display do not work flawlessly like before.

Honor 50

I find my fingers and grip slipping through the curves, somehow making my heart skip a beat for fear of dropping the smartphone. Precisely the reason why I don’t use my Huawei Mate 20 Pro anymore, and why I refused to switch to the latest Mate smartphones.

Despite the changes in my preference, the curved display is still wonderful to look at. I actually enjoyed re-watching Call Me By Your Name and other familiar titles on HBO Go. The unit I had isn’t compatible with Netflix — barring me from enjoying the heartwarming Hometown Cha Cha Cha during the course of the review.

Honor 50

My beau Simu Liu making this gorgeous smartphone look better

Nonetheless, the 75-degree curved 6.57-inch AMOLED screen is still a treat. It’s just isn’t my cup of tea anymore.

What changed?

Like any exes, assuming they’ve evolved and learned their lessons, they bring something new to the table. The Honor 50 hops on the fast refresh rate trend, bringing 120Hz to its display along with a 300Hz touch sampling rate.

As with any 2021 smartphone, the Honor 50 intelligently adjusts the refresh rate depending on your usage, which helps with preserving the battery because frankly, we don’t need to be using 120Hz all the time.

Honor 50

Its screen also got a low-blue light TÜV Rheinland certification. I never thought it would be noticeable. There was an instance where I glanced at the phone and saw a yellowish tint. For a moment, I thought I accidentally turned on Eye Comfort mode.

These changes had me enjoying the display. It’s bright under any lighting condition, vibrant enough to delight on visually appealing films, and has buttery-smooth interface navigation. My only gripe is you can’t use it single-handed properly despite having a ‘single-handed option’ that shrinks the screen to a size apt for my small hands.

Still feels like home

The Honor 50 is equipped with the latest hardware, promising a future-proof device that will certainly accompany you every day for years. It’s capable of 5G connectivity, thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G chipset built on TSMC’s 6nm.

Honor 50

Despite being a mid-range chipset, I was able to play a graphics-intensive game called Sprite Fantasia — a mobile game adaptation of an online MMORPG I played on PC 11 years ago. Not once it did lag and heat up upon usage. Although after three hours of non-stop playing, I started feeling the heat when I brushed my fingers off the camera lenses.

I don’t have anything bad to say about how it performs. It’s wonderful, and simply too powerful for the average, casual user. The only caveat is how there was an occasional delay and app crash when switching between apps, or when you have a bunch of background apps running. But it’s more of a software thing that can be resolved by regular patches and updates.

That said, the Honor 50 dressed its interface with Magic UI 4.2 based on Android 11. Despite having new features, built-in apps, and a style that shows off Honor’s ownership — the experience felt like home.

Honor 50

Or at least, coming home. It was like using a Huawei smartphone both in software and hardware, but this time, with Google Mobile Services. It’s got the same security measures I enjoyed in my ex-Huawei smartphones. Both the facial recognition and fingerprint scanner work swiftly similar to my previous experiences.

Honestly, I cried tears of joy when I felt the rush of having something from the past come back. The yearning was satiated.

Accompanies you throughout the day

Huawei and Honor are both known to equip their devices with groundbreaking charging solutions. Honor’s breakaway made us wonder, is it still fast-charging and long-lasting?

Two weeks in, and it didn’t disappoint. Even with a 4300mAh battery, which Android fanboys claim to be small, the Honor 50 still lasted me a day. Gone are the days where your smartphone’s battery drain because of background apps and other standby features.

Most Android smartphones — particularly those belonging in the upper midrange and premium lineups — are more efficient when it comes to battery consumption.

Honor 50

In my experience, an average, casual user can last a full day on a single charge doing everyday tasks. Emails, social media, music playback, a few videos here and there, and taking photos of their day. I was able to leave for work in the morning and come home around seven in the evening with a 23 percent battery.

If you’re a power user, you can expect usage of around six to seven hours. Especially when keeping that mobile data on while playing games. Charging is quick AF, as long as you use Honor’s own cable and charging brick.

Gives you time and space while it recharges

Yes, you read that right! Honor packed a 66W SuperCharge adapter on its box. However, its fast charging technology doesn’t activate when you use other cables, bricks, or fast charging solutions.

Honor 50

Moreover, it doesn’t have a wireless charging feature. That’s probably my only dealbreaker since I tend to use a wireless charger at my home office and a Samsung wireless power bank coupled with Anker’s 3-in-1 cable for when I go out. Why hold back on the charging capabilities?

Nevertheless, it’s easy to fill the battery up. Right off the bat, the charging solution instantly gives you two percent more as soon as you plug it. In just 35 minutes, I was astounded to see the battery jump to 98 percent already.

On average, you can quickly fill it ip 40 minutes or less, but it won’t take an hour. That’s a guarantee. You can probably do your skincare regimen while you charge just like I do.

Come a little bit closer

Honor 50

It’s worth noting that the Honor 50 comes with a glorified 108-megapixel main camera on its top-most lens. Meanwhile, the bottom lens packs the throwaway 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera, 2-megapixel depth sensor, and 2-megapixel macro camera.

The camera placements are unsightly and stick out like a sore thumb. Still, I was high in anticipation when I tested the cameras, and frankly, I’ve got mixed feelings after seeing the results.

Depending on the subject, shots using the default setting seemed wide. Although, I appreciate the background blur and cutouts since they’re yummy to look at. Somehow, they replicate flagship outputs similar to what I’ve used and tested in the recent past. Moreover, photos are color accurate and even pack a slight punch to their colors.

When you use the 2X zoom — which I use regularly, by the way — the outputs are still color accurate. Although, the focus area seems narrow and the output highlighted the blur more. But that’s only for subjects that are up close.

Using the 2X zoom outdoors gave a decent result. The photos may not be as detailed as you want them to be, but when looking at your screen, especially when uploaded on social media, you’ll barely notice the compression.

Show me how big your brave is

When I was de-stressing, I went to Climb Central to have some much-needed break. Granted, they’re physically exhausting but it’s a refreshing activity both for the mind and soul. And the facility is wide, giving me plenty of space to breathe. Of course, it was also the perfect spot to test the cameras indoors.

This is where the Honor 50 struggled. Having fewer light sources, the lenses wrestled with producing picture-perfect results. Colors aren’t as vibrant both in default and zoomed shots. Tint is also bluish due to fluorescent lights. The processing also blurred any movements during our bouldering session.

Wide-angle mode isn’t any better. Photos are devoid of life and are high on noise and grain due to low light. Still, I uploaded some of these on my Instagram account and I made minor adjustments in its temperature, saturation, and brightness — something that the Honor 50 is lacking when shooting at a disadvantageous lighting condition.

Taking selfies indoors included a vignette, which I can’t seem to shake off. Blacks and shadows are deep, and I hate to say it but after multiple re-takes, I didn’t upload the selfie anywhere except here for you to preview.

Does it ever drive you crazy just how fast the night changes?

We’ve seen how the Honor 50 struggled indoors, so how about when the sun is already out?

Taken during a blue hour using the default setting, the Honor 50 tried to brighten the sky while details are similar to shots taken using upper midrange smartphones. It’s simply not pleasing to the eye.

However, Night Mode tries to change the game. Though the details aren’t any better, the Honor 50 removed the unnecessary highlight on the sky to depict the scenario accurately. Well, at least, it got the night sky right.

✨Portraits✨

The Honor 50 houses a 32-megapixel camera up front. What I like about its selfies is how it doesn’t add extra beautification even on default setting, compared to most other Chinese smartphones.

Most people don’t like having wrinkles and scars on their face, but I do. I like showing bits of myself because they’re part of my memories and make up who I am. I took this selfie on a cloudy day, and while it isn’t as sharp as an iPhone or a Galaxy, I still like the result.

The same goes for selfies taken under a shade, although I’ve used Portrait Mode but removed the background blur and the beautification — which are only accessible in the said mode. Taking selfies on Portrait Mode tend to blow up the highlights, as seen on the background.

Earlier that day, I took a selfie when the sun was at its highest. Portrait Mode wasn’t able to handle the overexposure. But also because the software processing made sure my face is well lit at the expense of blowing up the highlights and the background. Which was blurred, by the way, using a f/1.0 aperture.

Using Portrait Mode for actual portraits, on the other hand, gives a bizarre result. Cutouts are sharp and the background is blurred quite heavily. However, the major concern is how it isolates the hair strands and blurred it softly as if it was part of the background.

Portrait Mode still has a long way to go. The closest one to perfecting it is the vivo X70, which I recently tested. But I guess it needs further testing and comparison before we come up with an absolute conclusion.

Recording your ‘love’ story

Short-form videos are on the rise. There’s a reason why most smartphones nowadays are pushing for video-centric features. There’s Apple’s Cinematic Mode for iPhone and Xiaomi has Cinemagic for its latest flagships. You get the picture.

Honor hops in on the trend, placing a 90-degree viewing angle on the front-facing camera. What I love the most is its multi-video feature where you can record using your front and rear cameras simultaneously.

Honor 50

There’s a ‘Story’ button that helps you come up with various edits and effects to make your TikTok videos, Reels, or YouTube shorts awesome. If I’m traveling right now with a beau, this is going to be my most-used feature.

There’s the wonder of the thing

One thing I’m curious about is how the Honor 50 utilizes different modes. I wondered if it can handle your needs as a content creator or an entrepreneur in need of a reliable smartphone camera for his/her/their business. So, I took out the Nivea Wonderbars I’m testing, which was recently sent over by Nivea to use on my face.

Taken during a sunny afternoon at a shaded porch, the photo I took looked bluish. I can’t control the scenario and lighting if I’m quickly shooting with just a phone. This might go under some post-processing.

However, the Pro Mode lets you manipulate the settings to your liking. Most people still don’t know how Pro Mode can help elevate the photos you take using your smartphone, and it’s about time you do.

There’s a Super Macro mode which seemed appropriate for product details, but it struggles with focus and depth-of-field.

The other workaround here is taking a shot using the Aperture mode, where you can adjust the depth-of-field accordingly.

Will you rekindle the flame?

The Honor 50 gave me a familiar feeling in a different body. I can still find the traces of my past with Huawei, but I didn’t mind. I like giving second chances, especially when I really see something has changed.

Honor 50

It’s got the same sturdy build, and astounding hardware and software, along with a striking design Huawei is known for. These traces might even help the brand soar in the coming years. The only thing I’m wary about is having no IP certification, so if you live your life on the edge, might as well slap a case on it and take extra care.

I still feel like the Honor 50 is an ode to Huawei. I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t fly on its own. But Honor knows that you can’t reach your destination if you don’t pay respects to your roots; where you once belonged.

Honor 50

And that’s also a reflection of how we should be in life as well. It doesn’t hurt to look back and bring over some nostalgia. After all the traces of past has been purged, there’s always something new to revel on.

While I would still probably wait for a year to see what Honor would do next, the Honor 50 is a smartphone I’d use in the meantime. I don’t mind waiting and making gradual changes. I actually prefer it instead of shifting things abruptly. People might have wanted Honor to shock them with a dazzling new smartphone, but Honor decided to honor where it came from. (Pun definitely not intended.)

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’ve been with Huawei for years and was heartbroken when the company was blacklisted resulting to Google-less smartphones, the Honor 50 is worth checking out. It’s got the familiar Huawei experience you’ve been dreaming of, superb cameras that could pass for your everyday use, and Google Mobile Services for your modern life.

Honor 50

That said, the phone isn’t something worth recommending to other Android smartphone users. It’s not worth trying if you didn’t bother cradling Huawei smartphones in the past. This is pretty much the same, and you might be disappointed since there’s nothing groundbreaking.

I have high hopes for Honor. Maybe next year, we’ll see something new. Or maybe we won’t. The future is uncertain. So for now, I’m going to enjoy holding this shining, shimmering, splendid smartphone.

The Honor 50 comes in Frost Crystal, Emerald Green, Midnight Black, and a special HONOR Code edition. It retails for EUR 529 (around USD 614) for the 6GB/128GB variant. Meanwhile, the 8GB/256GB variant costs EUR 599 (around USD 695).

Reviews

OPPO A55 review: Just the basics

Will teach you resource management

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OPPO A55

I did something pretty stupid while setting up the OPPO A55 for review. I copied all the settings and apps from my main Android phone which is the flagship OPPO Find X3 Pro. Predictably, the phone slowed down. But there’s one thing I realized — I had been living in excess.

Perhaps this is the most important lesson I learned during my time with the OPPO A55 — that I can get plenty of the things I need even with just a budget phone.

To get the OPPO A55, which is powered by the MediaTek MT6765G Helio G35 (with 4GB RAM, 64GB storage), to optimum performance, I proceeded to uninstall apps I barely use. It took a while but I was able to narrow down the apps I normally use. They are as follows:

Work/Productivity: 

  • GMail
  • Google Docs
  • Google Keep
  • Slack
  • Messenger
  • Telegram

Yes, three messaging apps under productivity because I handle plenty of comms for work both internally and externally. It’s this part of my job that saps my social battery the most.

Entertainment/Leisure:

  • YouTube
  • Netflix
  • TikTok

TikTok has become the app I use the most as I try to tire myself to sleep. It’s not the healthiest of habits but it’s been keeping me sane. There’s plenty of content here that’s littered with misinformation but that’s a topic for another time. Like most other social feeds, you can teach its algorithm to show you only the stuff you want to see. For me, that means an abundance of videos about K-Pop super group TWICE.

OPPO A55

I’ve also been taking a trip down memory lane and started rewatching Season 1 of The Flash CW TV Series as well as the Cowboy Bebop animé as a palate cleanser from the unsavory after taste of the Netflix live action adaptation of the show.

Social Media: 

  • Twitter
  • Instagram

OPPO A55

Notably missing is Facebook. I’m sure most people use the app and you’ll have no trouble running it on top of all the apps I’ve already mentioned. It was a conscious decision on my part to skip Facebook for my sanity’s sake.

On Instagram I mostly just browse photos related to the K-Pop girl groups. And on Twitter, I’m mostly on my burner account ranting about life. All activities just to keep myself sane, somehow.

Just the apps I need

OPPO A55

Our set of apps could look very different, but I feel like the ones I mentioned above are pretty common and should resemble most people’s most used apps. I didn’t really do much mobile gaming on the phone but the games I play most — Call of Duty: Mobile, Marvel Future Revolution, and Dragon Quest Dai were all installed and ran smoothly albeit on low graphics settings.

There are some pre-installed apps and there’s not a lot you can do about them. Regardless, it’s still a fine exercise in managing resources whenever you’re using a budget smartphone. You can get a lot done, but you have to keep an eye out on your memory and storage, lest you run the risk of slowing the phone down.

Looks pretty basic too

Not that basic is a bad thing. In fact, plenty of people still prefer this “classic black” look. On the right hand  side you’ll find the power button.

OPPO A55

Over on the left side are the volume buttons as well as the SIM tray.

OPPO A55

On the bottom are the usual speaker grilles, USB-C port, and 3.5mm jack.

OPPO A55

Nothing too fancy, it’s pretty easy to grip, and just has the OPPO logo at the back.

OPPO A55

Decent snappers

OPPO A55

The OPPO A55 has a 50MP main camera and almost negligible 2MP for macro, and another 2MP for depth. You also have a 16MP selfie camera which I also didn’t get to use.

That said, I mainly stuck to using the main camera. Like most phones today, you won’t have many issues shooting under bright natural light. It’s also not gonna wow you with super detailed images, but I never expected it to.

OPPO A55

This was taken with on just normal mode. Even the camera sensors on budget smartphones are good enough to produce clean, bokeh-licious shots like this.

OPPO A55

Food shots don’t look as appetizing but it’s easy to make this pop with the right post-processing which you should do. “No-filter” is overrated.

Too much oil for my liking, but it this does look kinda appetizing.

The struggles come in night and low-light scenarios.

OPPO A55

라면 먹을래? Want to have ramyeon?

I never really expected much from the cameras. In fact, I’d say what you see with the samples above are par for the course for any budget smartphone no matter the megapixel count they slap on it.

Battery life and everything else

Sporting a 5,000mAh battery with support for 18W wired charging, while not supporting any exorbitant features, you’ll squeeze out a decent usage time from the OPPO A55.

Its 6.51-inch IPS LCD screen doesn’t demand much, and the processor is pretty efficient as well. You should be able to go through your usual day with the phone and not need to charge during the day unless you’re a heavy mobile gamer.

For general usage, it’s perfectly normal and delivers on your needs and basic wants.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

OPPO A55

The OPPO A55 nails the basics. There’s nothing exceptionally good or terribly bad about the phone. It’s the type of device you pick up because you just have to have a smartphone these days.

It’s fairly limited in what it can do and will force flagship users like myself to learn to manage a phone’s resources better. But if budget or lower midrange is all you’ve known, this is a pretty decent pick-up.It retails for PhP 9,999 and is available in OPPO retail stores, partner dealers and e-commerce platforms Shopee and Lazada.

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Gaming

ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16: Big power in a compact form factor

Exceptional specs, solidly built body

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ROG Zephyrus m16

Whenever I see any device with the ROG branding, I automatically get the impression of how good the device may be even without actually knowing what its features are. I guess it’s true with others too as sending my friends a photo of the hefty ROG box containing this device, garnered excited reactions.

That’s because ROG devices actually live up to its reputation of being amazing gaming devices. A proof of that is in my recent visit to a PC store in Makati where I asked the salesperson which among their gaming laptops is their current best offering in their store and the response I got is a confident, ROG Zephyrus.

Get ready to be blown away as we take a closer look at the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16.

What comes in the box

ROG Zephyrus m16

The whole package came in a large ROG box containing three main items.

First, we get the ROG Zephyrus backpack. Then, there’s a black box which contains the ROG Delta gaming headphones. Lastly, there’s the white Zephyrus box which contains the star of the show — the Zephyrus M16 along with the ROG Chakram Core gaming mouse, the 240W charger and the 100W USB-C charger.

Tough build with a small footprint

Going straight for the laptop, just as I laid my hands on the actual unit, I could already tell how solidly built this device is. The outer shell is made of aluminum with machine cut holes that looks elegant with just a slight hint of being a gaming laptop with its branding.

Some people might prefer laptops with a bit more flare, but I’m personally inclined towards this more serious look. This could easily pass n a corporate setting without getting too much attention for being a gaming laptop.

On their website, ASUS markets the Zephyrus M16 as a laptop with a 16-inch display fitted in a 15-inch chassis. And it’s true. It’s relatively compact with its length measuring only 13.98 inches. This would actually fit laptop bags designed for 15-inchers and placing it beside my old 15-inch Dell G3 made the latter look jurasically huge.

ROG Zephyrus m16

For the bottom half, you might want to get your cleaning cloths ready as the soft matte finish is an easy smudge magnet. While this design decision adds to the premium feel of the unit, it does require a bit of maintenance to keep it from looking like a nasty mess.

Good port selection but placement could do better

ROG Zephyrus m16

A vast amount of ports are also present here on the Zephyrus M16. On its right we can find the charging port, HDMI, RJ45, USB-A, two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports which doubles as a charging port and a 3.5mm combo audio jack. On the left is a microSD card reader and another USB-A port.

I do, however, have mixed feelings with the placement of these ports

None of the ports are placed at the rear portion of each side. The location of the charging port in the middle of the left side sets the wire of the charger to partially cover the exhaust vents of the device when plugged in.

If you then decide to use the 100W charger, you’ll have to bear with having to plug it on the USB-C port near the front of the device.

The USB-A port on the right would have also been nice if it were placed around the back as its current placement feels a bit intrusive when plugging an external mouse.

I understand that the designers might have had to give some room for ventilation or make use of that space around the rear part of the chassis, but the positioning could have been better for at least the essential ports for an obstruction-free experience.

Big, bright and vibrant display

ROG Zephyrus m16

The display is actually the first thing that wowed me on the M16. It’s a 16-inch 2560 X 1600 IPS panel with a 165Hz refresh rate and an aspect ratio of 16:10. It’s vibrant and punchy because it’s an IPS and while not as fast as a TN panel, it’s still relatively fast at 165Hz. 

Plus, this being a WQXGA panel, we’re adding more screen real estate vertically and when we combine that with the 100% DCI-P3 color gamut and the Pantone validation, we’re seriously getting ourselves a productivity beast.

ROG Zephyrus m16

This also gets close to being bezel-less with this display as it’s bezels are really thin but still manages to house a 720p webcam.

Let’s also take time to appreciate the Ergo Lift hinge on the M16 that seamlessly hides the chin of the display panel as the bottom half of the device is raised upon opening the lid. Very clever.

A good keyboard, a massive trackpad and an external mouse

ROG Zephyrus m16

For its keyboard, we have an RGB lit keyboard which has a nice tactile feedback and it feels phenomenal. It doesn’t feel mushy, the key travel is a bit more pronounced than others and the typing angle brought by the Ergo Lift hinge makes it comfortable and satisfying to use.

We’re also getting a massive trackpad on the M16. I could say it does perform great as I never found myself reaching for the external mouse for tracking and touch gestures are easily executed without much errors.

However, I don’t know if this is caused by the size of the trackpad or just poor palm rejection but this is the first time I’ve ever experienced a trackpad that gets in the way of my typing. Because my palms often touch the trackpad when typing, this often results in accidental key presses.

We do get a toggle to disable the trackpad in one of the function keys so I guess that could also be a solution.

As an alternative, we have the bundled ROG Chakram Core which is a right-handed wired gaming mouse that features a programmable thumb joystick.

It’s a full sized mouse that fits comfortably in my medium sized hand. I think this would fit best for palm grip users but from the perspective of a claw grip user, I didn’t have any issues with this as well.

Unquestionable performance

ROG Zephyrus m16

Onto the most exciting part, the Zephyrus M16 packs an 11th gen Intel Core i9 11900H processor paired with the RTX 3070 with 32GB of DDR4 RAM and 2TB SSD internal storage. 

This is so far the beefiest specced laptop I’ve experienced.

As expected, games like Valorant won’t be a problem running on these specs and that’s exactly what we experienced. Very fluid movement and zero lags even without boosting the Armoury Crate to performance mode.

For a more challenging and graphically demanding game like Control though, the game ran well on its default settings, but maxing out everything including ray tracing and other effects at 1440p did show some stutter. So for this one, we’re still gonna hold back a bit on the settings and resolution for the smoothest experience.

Do note that Control is a very heavy game and most of its additional graphic settings don’t give much difference visually anyway, so keeping some settings on medium or high is still looks stunning on the M16.

On my Shadow of the Tomb Raider test, I ran the benchmark maxing out every setting and got a 64 FPS average at 1440p resolution which are pretty amazing results for a laptop. This would go even higher if we’re playing on 1080p so if more FPS is your thing, you can opt to go for that.

We also experienced pretty decent temperatures on this unit as according to the ROG Armoury Crate, we’re getting around 69 to 73 degrees Celcius in game and would only occasionally hit the 80 degree mark during intense scenes. That’s very respectable for an Intel Core i9 in a compact laptop but it did come at the expense of being noticeably loud.

Speakers and the ROG Delta Headphones

ROG Zephyrus m16

According to ROG, the Zephyrus M16 actually has a six speaker setup. I didn’t really hear the benefits of this but it does sound pretty decent and clean but that’s about it. It won’t be able to fill up a room as its volume just isn’t very loud.

It had to turn on subtitles for games I’m playing as I was having a hard time hearing the dialog audibly. So for a more immersive experience, the ROG Delta headphones is what you’ll want to use for your long gaming sessions.

It’s a USB-C powered pair of headphones that are stylish and solidly built. It sports an ROG logo with breathing RGB lighting, a digital volume rocker and a switch for the RGB light.

ROG Zephyrus m16

Sound-wise, I do believe this sounds close to neutral and does seem balanced which isn’t what I usually experience on a pair of gaming headphones but it’s actually what I prefer.

I was expecting it to be boosted on the bass as gaming headphones often have this characteristic but that isn’t the case on this one. In fact, I did feel that it was rolled off a bit on the low end which gives us more clarity and less rumble.

All in all, this pair does give a pleasurable experience for gaming as the closed back and its noise cancellation forces you to focus on tackling your adventure.

Battery life and charging

It’s pretty common for gaming laptops not to have very good battery life as we do have a lot of power hungry components running. With the Zephyrus M16, we’ve experienced pretty similar results with other gaming laptops at around six hours of normal use.

Gaming on battery only got us about 45 minutes on Shadow of the Tomb Raider before everything became unplayably laggy just as power saving mode kicked in at 20 percent of battery remaining.

As for its charging, considering that this is a 240W charger, the results aren’t very fast getting us from empty to full in 1 hour and 45 minutes. With the 100W charger, it took us from ten percent to full in 2 hours and 8 minutes which is acceptable especially if we consider its pocket friendly size.

Is the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 your GadgetMatch?

Despite some minor inconveniences, there’s nothing in particular that I could say we would really hate with the Zephyrus M16.

It’s definitely a laptop designed for gaming enthusiasts who’d really want to get the best experience in a compact package and I don’t think they would be disappointed with gaming on this one.

The price tag of PhP 159,995 may sound too steep for many of us but the exceptional specs, solidly built body, a beautiful 16-inch 16:10 display, great keyboard, huge trackpad and a superb bundle of accessories, are a mouthful to say but these in itself says we’re not getting ripped off.

But if you’re not willing to shell out that much, a slightly less powerful variant with an RTX 3060, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD is also available for PhP 139,990 while a variant with a Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD and an RTX 3060 is available for PhP 129,990.

ROG Zephyrus m16

So to sum it all up, at the level where it competes, the Zephyrus M16 is definitely a beast of a gaming laptop in a compact form factor that easily stands out as a great contender.

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Accessories

realme Beard Trimmer: Getting that sexy stubble

For that stylish, cool, and attractive lewk

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“Is he attractive? Or he just has sexy stubble?” That’s a question my friends wonder when they meet someone new. And a question I pose for myself as well.

Stubble is sexy. Period. Every time I look at the mirror, I find myself alluring when I have stubble. Though they look cool, and they help separate men from boys,  keeping your facial hair at a certain length takes time, skill, and precision.

The art of trimming your facial hair

You can easily trim your facial hair when you have a manual shaver or trimmer. But that might be time-consuming to use and master to achieve the desired result.

Contrarily, going to a grooming salon can help you get that peg you’ve been wanting for your face instantaneously. Albeit, quite expensive. In addition, it’s difficult to maintain when you have a hectic lifestyle. Unless your preferred barbershop does both of your regular haircut and beard styling.

Precisely why the likes of smart, grooming tools rose through the past few years, aiming to help men redefine what’s sexy, groomed, and stylish. But in their own way.

You might think of a few brands to consider, but some could be taken aback by an expensive price tag. Moreover, it’s scary to invest in something expensive especially when it’s your first time. So if it’s indeed your foray to grooming and styling, the realme Beard Trimmer might be worth a try.

Looks sleek for the sleek-looking

Having a beard trimmer opens up possibilities for your personal care. Most accessories come with nifty features to help you achieve your desired result e.g. a sexy stubble. And realme’s very own Beard Trimmer can surely deliver, too.

At a glance, it looks like a hefty device at a size of a regular gigglestick. Thick, sturdy, and a design that piques someone’s curiosity. It comes with a stainless steel blade, whereas its head and motor are fixed and lubricated.

It’s skin-friendly, and it definitely feels premium with that matte finish. It can rival the likes of trimmers from Philips, especially with the materials used. More importantly, it’s ergonomically designed so it can be gripped easily while you groom yourself.

Style on your own

The package comes with a 10mm comb that you can place over the head, so you can trim your hair properly. The realme Beard Trimmer comes with 0.5mm precision and 20 length settings that can be adjusted using the adjustment knob.

To turn it on, you just have to press the power button and a green light will indicate it’s ready. And of course, the motors would be buzzing by then.

I personally prefer using the lowest length setting — 1cm to be exact — since I keep my facial hair short enough to be trimmed easily. But preferably, you’d have to grow the hair for at least 3 cm for a more flexible approach. Nevertheless, having a lot of length settings offer versatility to define your facial hair.

Just remember to shave with light, gentle strokes. And don’t forget to even the hair out and edge it accordingly. More importantly, rinse it properly since the metal head is washable. Just don’t let the liquids run through the charging port.

On another note, what I like about the realme Beard Trimmer is the low-noise operation when trimming my hair. Its minimal noise sounds like the buzz from my stylist’s clipper, coursing through my head in a quiet barbershop. It’s somewhat pleasing to my ear; a new beginning awaits as I shed old parts of myself.

Charging

The realme Beard trimmer is equipped with an 800mAh battery capacity. While it seemed pretty small, it can last for an hour and 20 minutes of cordless use on a single charge. If you run out of battery, you’ll have to charge it for at least two hours.

I, however, didn’t get to drain the battery down to zero. But I did use the trimmer four times now, and it’s still up and running. Previously, I charged it after unboxing and it reached full battery capacity after 45 minutes. That’s average, but the battery might be long-lasting considering I haven’t charged it for two weeks now.

But if you can’t wait for two hours to fully charge the device, you can always trim while charging. The Beard Trimmer will still work even if it’s plugged — and you don’t have to worry about it since the heat dissipates easily with its stainless steel and metal properties.

What’s amusing, though, is the Beard Trimmer sporting a Type-C port. I literally sighed “Amen”, seeing a lifestyle product that doesn’t use a micro USB port. Most gadgets I own now use a Type-C cable and I appreciate it when more devices are equipped with this port. It just makes my life easier.

Travel-friendly

If you travel frequently — either for leisure or business — then you might love the trimmer’s travel lock feature. With just a single long press on the power button, you can lock the trimmer to avoid accidental touch while traveling. Or so it doesn’t buzz while inside your carry-on.

The yellow light will indicate that the trimmer is locked. If you try to open it by pressing the power button softly, the LED indicator will prompt that it’s locked by blinking the yellow light. You can unlock it easily though: Just long-press the power button and voila!

Furthermore, the realme Beard Trimmer is easy to fit in on your carry-ons. Or in your luggage, if you’re going on a trip that doesn’t require an x-ray scanning machine and doesn’t prohibit combustible devices.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re out in the market for a grooming accessory, and if it’s your first time to shop for a personal care tool — the realme Beard Trimmer is worth considering as your GadgetMatch. It ticks the right boxes that first-time groomers would look for: affordable, sleek and premium-looking, easy-to-use, and offers precise cutting.

Meanwhile, seasoned groomers would probably look elsewhere. Something like Panasonic and/or Philips; household brands that we know all too well.

The realme Beard Trimmer retails for PhP 1,090. For a few more upgrades like an extra 20mm comb and engraved metal, the realme Beard Trimmer Plus costs PhP 1,990.

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