Hands-On

Honor 7A hands-on review: Back to budget

Did Huawei hit all the right notes?

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After Honor released smartphones that match the premium P20 series in terms of performance (but at a much easier-to-digest price), it’s easy to forget that Huawei’s sub-brand has had a strong budget game, as well.

Going down the very bottom of the pricing ladder will bring you to the Honor 7A, which launched in China in early April and in India later in May.

I got my hands on a unit, so here are my early impressions.

As budget as can be

With a starting price of US$ 130 in both China and India, it’s a no-brainer that you’re getting a basic smartphone in the Honor 7A. But as Xiaomi and ASUS have proven, selling at a low cost doesn’t necessarily mean the device will suck.

In front we have a 5.7-inch 720p display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, which conforms to the newer standard without applying a camera notch. Instead, there’s a small amount of bezel at the top and bottom. This consequently brings the fingerprint reader to the rear.

The body itself is light thanks to a mostly plastic construction and a glass front that doesn’t feel like it can withstand scratches. If you’re planning on using the Honor 7A as a primary phone, you better find a decent case right away.

What impresses me most is the triple-card slot, allowing you to have two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time — helpful for travelers and to expand the lacking 16GB of storage. On the downside, it uses an outdated micro-USB port with no fast charging.

Surprising cameras

From afar, it looks like this handset has a dual-camera setup on the back and front, but that’s far from the truth, as well as earlier news on this phone.

The Honor 7A variant I have here has a single 13-megapixel camera on the rear and an 8-megapixel selfie shooter in front. What’s great is they both have an LED flash.

Unfortunately, the extra illumination doesn’t help improve the output that much. Unless there’s a strong amount of light, I’d always find noise in my photos and softness on my subjects.

But when you get it right, the results can be surprisingly good. Here are a few samples from my short time with the cameras:

Up and down performance

In an unusual move, Honor chose to equip this phone with a Snapdragon 430 processor, which is quite good for this price range, but isn’t Huawei’s own Kirin chip. No complaints from me, however; I’d pick the reliability of a Snapdragon processor any time.

Going through the EMUI 8.0 interface (appropriately based on Android 8.0 Oreo), is pleasantly snappy except for when too many apps are active at once. I felt the stuttering begin once I started flipping through five apps. It was most apparent when I wanted to take a photo; both picture taking and photo viewing had noticeable lag in between.

I played a couple of graphics-heavy games, namely Asphalt 9 and PUBG, to test how far the Honor 7A can go. As expected, they were playable, but the visual settings had to be turned down to low since the phone has only 2GB of total memory to work with.

Since the processor is efficient, the 3000mAh battery drained gradually even while playing for an hour straight. Without gaming, the phone can easily last an entire day of usage with mobile data or Wi-Fi always on.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s too early to tell if the Honor 7A can stand up well against the likes of the ASUS ZenFone Max (M1) or Xiaomi Redmi S2, but it’s safe to say that it’s an attractive option if you’re a fan of Honor and on a shoestring budget.

The Honor 7A doesn’t have a standout feature like its two aforementioned rivals — the former has a large battery while the latter takes great photos for the price — so this really does seem catered toward Huawei users who want something more affordable.

As it stands, the Honor 7A is a solid entry in this competitive, bang-for-buck space. It’ll start rolling out to more countries soon, and will help Honor spread its honorable name across more market segments.

Hands-On

Content creator switches from iPhone 6s Plus to OPPO Reno3

A buzzing switch?!

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When OPPO launched the third Reno series in less than a year, we were in for a surprise. It seems like OPPO is on a race, introducing a phone with a 5G-enabled chipset to get ahead of the 5G rollout. This despite 5G being ways away from mass adoption.

Still, there’s a reason why OPPO pumped out so many phones at a rapid pace. The Reno3 felt like an ode to OPPO’s innovation, promising a beautiful handset for selfie-lovers, photography enthusiasts, and to an extent, aspiring content creators.

To find out if the OPPO Reno3 delivers its promise, Her GadgetMatch sent the unit to Noela, a visual content creator currently based in Manila — who’s also a singer, selfie lover, and a fitness enthusiast. Moreover, she’s still using an aging iPhone 6s Plus for the longest time.

Will it entice her to switch after spending two months with the Reno3? And can it be Her GadgetMatch?

“Even an 8-year old kid can get it”

Last March, Noela received the OPPO Reno3 in time for a trip to Boracay. “When I first saw the Reno3, it felt like a smartphone I can rely on. It’s sleek, simple, and so lightweight just like my iPhone 6s Plus!”

Unfortunately, her trip was canceled due to sudden lockdown enforced in Metro Manila, one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the Philippines. She then had more time to play around with the phone.

When asked about her experience with the phone, she said “It was a breeze setting it up. I didn’t have trouble navigating it. It’s so easy that even an 8-year old kid can get it in one sitting.”

The OPPO Reno3 runs ColorOS 7 based on Android 10. With an improved user interface design, no wonder Noela was able to grasp the phone’s UI easily, even if she’s used to iOS.

“Lasted longer than I thought it would”

Living a digital nomadic lifestyle, Noela is glued to her phone and laptop. In our previous collaborations, she always had to rely on her power bank — or her friend’s power bank on certain occasions — to charge her iPhone 6s Plus.

She spends a lot of time managing a community, being stuck in conference calls, and constant updating of her work, thanks to her remote setup.

The OPPO Reno3 was a game-changer. Accustomed to her iPhone’s short battery life, the Reno3 surprised her with a 4025mAh battery. “It lasted longer than I thought it would,” she remarked.

“One time, I was able to use it for the whole weekend and I only charged it once. I even spent a lot of time on social media and switching to my favorite apps like Instagram, Pinterest, Netflix, and YouTube. It has so much juice!”

It also took 30 minutes of charging from 10 percent to 77 percent, thanks to OPPO’s VOOC Flash Charge. “It’s super fast!” she said in astonishment.

“Great even without its AI beauty mode”

In between her work and fitness activities, Noela takes a lot of selfies. She believes taking selfies isn’t a trait of narcissism or vanity. It’s a form of appreciation, and a healthy idea to pass time and ease your boredom.

“When you look good, you feel good.”

Her love for taking selfies made her dabble into skincare and makeup. However, being quarantined and stuck with a phone made for selfies made her drop her usual intensive skincare and makeup routine.

“Seriously, I was wowed by its front camera. I find it great even without its AI beauty mode, although it’s a plus for the times I don’t wear makeup.”

She definitely enjoyed the Reno3’s 44-megapixel front camera. To fully maximize its selfie cam, she took different selfies while sharing a few tips to Her GadgetMatch.

“Always make sure that you’ve got a nice background.”

“If there’s natural light involved, play, and adjust with it as much as possible. You can pose with different facial expressions until you get the look you’re aiming for.”

“Lastly, take a lot of selfies — so you can have a variety of photos to choose from. ‘The more the merrier’ applies here!”

Although she was astounded with the Reno3’s front camera, Noela was a little bit disappointed with its rear cameras. Despite having a Quadcam setup (with 48-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens, 13-megapixel telephoto lens, and 2-megapixel photo lens), the results weren’t what she expected.

“I find it pale unless you adjust your settings. Yes, it’s detailed, but I want the photos to be lively and rich in colors,” Noela expressed her dismay.

As a solution, she relied on using her favorite photo-editing software such as VSCO, Snapseed, and Adobe Lightroom to add vibrance to her photos. Though she admittedly post-process her photos, Noela still finds it a bit of a hassle to edit photos before uploading on Instagram Stories.

“A red flag”

Apart from the problems Noela encountered, her greatest distress was the delays in her experience — which is a dealbreaker and perhaps, the biggest downside of the phone.

Even with a 5G-enabled Helio P90 chipset from MediaTek, 8GB of memory, and 128GB of storage, the Reno3 wasn’t a reliable companion for a multitasker like her.

“There were a lot of delays when I was switching between apps. When I was posting a pre-shoot video on Instagram, the app also froze. Throughout my usage, I find myself relaunching apps more often. This is such a red flag.”

Despite her grievances, She still believed that she’ll use the OPPO Reno3. She had high hopes that OPPO can improve at least its features and user interface through software updates.

Is this Her GadgetMatch?

“My iPhone is so outdated. But I can say that OPPO’s Reno3 is so much better than my iPhone 6s Plus. I love its cameras, its features, and it has huge storage for all my selfies. Also, it’s a hundred percent user-friendly.”

Noela told Her GadgetMatch how the Reno3’s simple and classy design speaks to her personality on another level. Additionally, it has what she needs right now, which also fits her current nomadic lifestyle.

Her experience — despite having a big dealbreaker — is still enough for her to switch to the Reno3. Considerably an upgrade from her aging iPhone. True to her words, the OPPO Reno3 could be Her GadgetMatch.

You’ll always go back to your favorite

However, Noela’s case is a rare gem. She simply grew fond of the Reno3 after trying it for a while. It’s like discovering you like cold brew so you decided to love it. But by default, you’ll always go back to your favorite Caramel Macchiato, since it’s that one drink you’ve tried and tested — and it’s guaranteed to not let you down. Frankly, we all love the familiar.

Admittedly, had Noela seen the iPhone SE before the Reno3, she won’t even bother switching. At the time she had the Reno3, it was a much more affordable alternative compared to upgrading to the iPhone 11 Pro.

Pricing and availability

The OPPO Reno3 currently retails for SG$ 549 in Singapore and is available in Midnight Black and Sky White. In the Philippines, it retails for PhP 18,990. It will be available in Auroral Blue, Midnight Black, and Sky White. Additionally, it comes with a free Rockspace EB60 Bluetooth Earbuds.

The Reno3 will be available on Shopee starting April 30, 2020 and on Lazada starting May 13, 2020.

Watch Noela’s vlog which was shot and edited using the OPPO Reno3:

SEE ALSO: OPPO Reno3 Pro review: Disappointed but not surprised | OPPO Reno3 series pricing and availability in the Philippines

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Accessories

Google Pixel Buds 2: Unboxing and Hands-on

The second Pixel Buds just got better

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Finally! The second Pixel Buds are here. After being announced a few months back, the new Pixel Buds are here with better features in mind.

Although there is no support for ANC (Active Noise-Cancellation) unlike the AirPods Pro and Huawei Freebuds 3, you’ll still get nifty features overall.

To know more, just watch our video here.

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Hands-On

Huawei P40 Pro Unboxing and Complete Hands-On

‘Visionary Photography’

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Everything you need to know about the new Huawei P40 Series. Yep there are 3 phones this year, the P40, P40 Pro and P40 Pro+. Yep a pro plus model!

In this video you get a P40 Pro Unboxing, Hands-On, some photo samples, and a camera comparison vs the P30 Pro.

Of course I’ll also answer you questions: What’s new? How is the P40 Pro’s camera vs the P30 Pro, and what’s it like without Google Play Services? And while you’ll have to wait for my full review for a verdict, I’ll try to answer the question, Is it your GadgetMatch?

Watch our Hands-On video.

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