Hands-On

Honor 8S Hands-On: Looks premium, feels basic

Is it worth your money?

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2019 is far from ending, yet phone manufacturers keep producing budget smartphones that cater to the needs of most users. If you can still remember, the Honor 8S was announced in the Philippines in July 2019.

In this digital age, a lot of people are looking for smartphones that do not have a hefty price tag. There are consumers who just want a basic phone regardless of the design. Honor went the other way around with the 8S as they did not compromise the overall look of the phone despite its price.

A refreshing design

The design on the back of the Honor 8S is something you barely see on smartphones today. It has dual-texture with a smooth finish on the upper part, while the bottom has the line texture for grip.

There are two color options: Blue and black. I like black in general but not with phones as it looks basic throughout the years. The blue option is also nothing special; kudos though as the layered design makes the color flow in different directions.

Looking at it even felt nostalgic as I remember the Lenovo Vibe Shot and some old Sony Cyber-shot digital cameras that have the same design language.

Long live, headphone jack!

In this country, a lot of people are still using wired earphones (or headphones). No one really likes dongles but people invest on them anyway just to use 3.5mm-powered audio peripherals properly. Unlike Samsung who started ditching the audio jack, Honor giving 8S a headphone jack is a relief.

C’mon guys, it’s 2019!

If I would wish any New Year’s Resolution for phone manufacturers, that would all be about using USB-C for budget smartphones instead of the old-school micro USB. It’s 2019, USB-C is the standard: faster data and charging speeds, less cable clutter.

The front design will not disappoint you

Although notches do not look cool anymore (as if they ever were), budget smartphones with tiny ones still look better than having thick top and bottom bezels.

This budget smartphone is packed with a 5.71″ FullView DewDrop Display. The screen is not as crisp or bright as any other IPS-LCD smartphones out there, but it gets the job done. It’s enough for indoor usage and visible when the sunlight is not too harsh outside. Just remember to untick Auto-Brightness in Settings and maximize the brightness slider to its full potential when you are using it outside.

You can still hide its DewDrop notch

This feature is common among Huawei and Honor devices but I still like how you can hide the notch as it may bother some (or most) people. After all, activating the feature will make the phone look symmetrical in design because of the equal distribution on the screen’s upper and lower part.

It feels basic, but in a good way

Unlike other smartphones with a glass back, the Honor 8S feels lightweight due to its polycarbonate back. For people with small hands, this phone is grippy enough.

One-handed usage, anyone?

If you previously read my Xiaomi Mi 9T review, I told everyone how I like big phones because I have big hands. This time, the Honor 8S is nowhere near that category. Technically, its fullscreen display sounds big on paper but based on my experience, most people would enjoy holding it even with a single hand — more ideal when you watch videos on YouTube or Netflix.

Your Social Media phone on-the-go

#StanLOONA

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name them. The phone performs just right when it comes to social media apps. Posting, tweeting, sharing Instagram stories, they all work just fine.

Performance is just right for its price

Just a refresher, this phone packs a MT6761 Helio A22 chipset by Mediatek. This is the base model so it is equipped with just 2GB RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. Worrying about more storage for your photos and videos? It still supports microSD expandability of up to 1TB.

Performance-wise, there’s nothing astonishing. To be blatant, I have experienced hiccups while using the phone, from scrolling through home screen pages, dragging down the notification menu, and even playing with games such as the not-so-graphics-intensive Alto’s Odyssey. I was not expecting anything grand. It’s just that, other budget smartphones are still capable of performing well. Too bad the Honor 8S is not one of them.

You have no choice

This phone doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner, but the Face Unlock does the trick. It works well under dark lighting conditions, just like how it was advertised. I guess having this “security” measure is better than just typing your PIN every single time.

The design doesn’t speak for its cameras

The Honor 8S’ camera-centric back design doesn’t speak well for its 13-megapixel rear camera (with a wide aperture of f/1.8).

I understand that this is a budget smartphone, but I think camera quality should not be an exception as several budget phones proved that they can still shoot good photos despite the price range they belong to.

I would not give this phone a hard time as some photos look decent enough, but after much observation, some photos would start looking grainy once you get to shoot indoors, even if natural light is present.

It was also surprising to see a “Pro” camera mode. Too bad trying it does not give justice to the photo itself. Night shots are nothing different. Even the selfie camera is lackluster.

Battery performance is surprisingly good (but not its charging time)

The Honor 8S only packs a 3,020mAh battery. Although the phone’s performance is sluggish because of the chipset, it is power-efficient enough to make the phone last.

Forget the numbers! With normal usage, it survives for a day. In times when you want to detoxify out of social media by not using your phone and just let it standby, it would last you two to three days. With those extra power-saving modes, the phone could even last for almost a week.

Charging time is not in any way fast as it would take two hours (utmost) to fill it up — I mean what should we even expect from a micro USB-equipped phone?

Is the Honor 8S your BudgetMatch?

The Honor 8S currently retails for PhP 5,490 (US$ 105). There are other selections when it comes to budget smartphones, and this phone is a runner-up in that list.

If you are the kind of user who just wants a smartphone that looks good regardless of the overall performance, the Honor 8S is right for you. This is specifically recommendable for parents (or grandparents) and kids alike — basic phone functionality without minding additional bells and whistles.

Cameras

EZVIZ S2 Action Camera: A road trip companion

Dashcam and action camera in one!

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Nowadays, it’s hard to choose an action camera to accompany you on your adventures. Everyone’s top-of-mind is the popular GoPro Hero series and DJI’s new Osmo Action. However, I find these two cameras too much, both for me and my wallet.

On top of it, I’m not a professional adventurer nor a sports enthusiast who would need a high-end action camera. All I need is something I can take with me on my water activities to capture moments occasionally while I’m living in the moment. In search of an affordable action camera that would fit anyone’s budget, I found the EZVIZ S2 2-in-1 Action Camera, which also doubles as a dash camera.

Lightweight and small, this camera is easy to bring wherever you go.

It has a 2-inch IPS LCD touchscreen panel.

You can find an uncovered mini HDMI and micro USB port.

On the other side is the power and settings button which lets you navigate the camera and access different modes.

Found on top are its speaker grilles and shutter button…

… while the bottom sports the battery, micro sd slot, and a hole for the mounts.

While driving to the Bicol region in the Philippines, my friends and I used this camera momentarily to test its capabilities. Thankfully, this camera comes with mounts and accessories like a waterproof case in its box. However, it’s difficult to navigate it as a dash camera since you need to place it inside the case before you can mount it on your windscreen.

Furthermore, the case’s buttons need to be pressed hard. It felt like a marketing ploy since this camera could be better if sold as just an action camera.

But if you look at it on a different perspective, a 2-in-1 camera like this would be nice to have on road trips. Imagine finding a serene spot in the middle of nowhere, and you grab your dash camera. Instantly, you have an action camera to immortalize your precious moments.

Capture your adventures

Then again, if its capability as an action camera we’re talking about, the EZVIZ S2 is enough. Sure, we always want the best of the best. However, in some cases, we don’t really need an expensive camera.

For instance, most people don’t care about the camera you’ve used to take a photo. No matter how wonderful it is, they’ll care about the place, the way you took your photo or the story behind the moment you’ve captured.

This is the reason why it’s perfectly okay to use a cheaper action camera like the EZVIZ S2, in case you have doubts. The samples I took has good color reproduction, average white balance processing, and noticeable grains. Due to my incredibly high standards, I find it difficult to like the camera’s outputs — but my friends did. As I asked around, I find that most people have no qualms about the image quality.

The photo mode has three shooting options for you to choose from — Single shot, Burst, and Timelapse. The mode also gives you the option to shoot in different sizes: 2MP, 4MP, and 8MP. There’s a professional mode, too, in case you want to experiment with your shots. You can customize the white balance, adjust the ISO and exposure value, and even apply filters.

Better for videos

The EZVIZ S2 focuses on video recording. It has a dashcam mode with an emergency recording feature, which prevents the footage from being deleted. This is useful as a piece of evidence, especially during crucial and unforeseen accidents.

There’s also a video mode where you can record at 1080p in 50 fps. The camera can handle three different shooting modes such as video, video+photo, and timelapse. If 1080p is too much, there’s a 720p recording, too, which can cap off at 120fps for slo-mo recording. Additionally, there’s a pro mode for you to adjust your settings the way you like it.

Here are some stills that were taken from the video clips I shot. As long as there’s sufficient light, you can capture photos and videos without any worries.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The EZVIZ S2 2-in-1 Action Camera is perfect as a travel companion, especially for those who love taking road trips. You get an action camera and a dashcam in one for only PhP 4,299 (US$ 84), complete with mounts and accessories. You can choose between black, orange, yellow, and blue for the unit. For this price range, it’s a sweet deal. This is being distributed by VST-ECS Philippines.

This camera is also helpful for starters pursuing underwater and adventure photography; a stepping stone before they upgrade to more professional gear.

Moreover, the EZVIZ S2 is helpful when documenting your adventures every now and then. During my stint with this device, I realized that sometimes, we don’t really need the best. All we need is something that’s enough to capture precious moments while we live our lives to the fullest.

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Hands-On

Motorola razr Hands-On

The popular RAZR is back!

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The new Motorola razr is a modern version of the popular RAZR V3. It still has a sleek design, but now has a 6.2-inch Flex Display with a perfectly executed zero-gap hinge.

It runs on Snapdragon 710 chipset, 6GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 2510 mAh battery with 15W TurboPower charger right out of the box.

But does all of that justify the $1499 price tag?

This is our Motorola razr hands-on.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on: An expensive sneak peek into the future

It’s not for everyone

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2019 is the year of the foldable phone. First in the ring was Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Announced in February, it was supposed to launch as early as April. As we all have probably read or heard, its early release to reviewers was met with a lot of issues. Samsung had to delay its official launch.

Over the last few months they’ve been busy reworking the Fold; now it’s tougher than ever and ready for the real world.

A reintroduction

In some ways you can think of the Galaxy Fold as a 7.3-inch tablet that you can fold into a candybar phone with a 4.6-inch display.

When folded, all buttons are on the right hand side of the device: volume rocker, power button, fingerprint sensor, and its SIM tray.

On the bottom a USB-C port and speaker grilles.

What’s changed?

Samsung focused on addressing the main issues that plagued its first release. Some users previously peeled off what they thought was a screen protector that turned out to be a very important protective layer. That layer is now tucked under the bezels so you don’t even know it’s there.

There’s also a cap that is meant to prevent dust and dirt from getting underneath the protective layer.

The hinge, too, has been reinforced. The gap between the hinge and the display has also been reduced.

Having used the original Fold, I can say that opening and closing i feels more secure. Even if you feverishly snap it open and close. All these changes have been made to ensure the phone survives the rigors of the real world.

One UI has also been optimized for the Fold. Home, back and multitasking buttons for example can be flushed to either side of the display for one handed use.

To open more windows alongside the app that’s already open just swipe from the right side and use apps edge to launch new apps. Closing windows is one tap or swipe away.

When you’re on an app and a notification comes in, you can press and drag the notification to open it as a separate window, so you can respond to a WhatsApp message easily, for example.

Even if you have two displays you can seamlessly switch between both by enabling a setting called App Continuity. That way whether you’re adding a contact on the big screen, or using your map on your small screen, you can close or open the display and continue what you were doing seamlessly.

Imperfect innovation

While the changes are much improved, the Galaxy Fold is not perfect. The front display is very small and is very hard to type on. I’d use it for things like Instagram, maybe. Even then, I’d benefit from the larger display. Not all apps support the squarish form factor, either. YouTube videos of course will only fill to fit a portion of the display. Although there are games like Asphalt 9, that are optimized to fill the display.

The Galaxy Fold doesn’t use a glass display, so there will always be creases in the middle. That’s just a limitation of the technology.

Otherwise, make no mistake — its a top of the line device. It’s got high end specs, and the same cameras as Samsung’s current flagship smartphones: three rear cameras and two selfie shooters up front.

Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are also available, along with a few other bells and whistles.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I am excited about the Galaxy Fold, and am thrilled that it’s full steam ahead. It’s an early device and it can get only better with time. What needs to happen now is app developers and Android need to optimize for this new, niche form factor.

With a price tag of US$ 1,980 in the US, SG$ 3,088 in Singapore, and PhP 109,990 in the Philippines, the Galaxy Fold is not for everyone — not even for people who can buy it outright. It’s for early adapters who want to get their hands on new technology ahead of everyone.

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