Reviews

Huawei GR3 2017 Review: So much for so little

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One of the mainstays of our Best Budget Smartphones list has been Huawei’s GR5 2017, and for good reason. It has a sleek build beyond its price point, a strong pair of main cameras, and great performance all around. But what if we could lower that price a little more?

That’s where the GR3 2017 comes in. While it bears almost no resemblance to its larger counterpart, a bunch of Huawei’s signature features are found here, including the attractive aesthetics and smooth interface, but in a more affordable package.

Let’s first admire its physique:

The glossy glass back can easily get smudged and scratched

Beware of tainting it with dirty hands and rough tables

Its 5.2-inch Full HD display is pleasantly bright and sharp

Perfect for those who find the 5.5-inch GR5 2017 too big

The fingerprint sensor is one of the fastest out there

Near-instant logins!

You may remove the app drawer and rearrange the navigation buttons

We prefer making it look like stock Android

This is how the app drawer looks

Continuous scrolling is a plus, but the similar-looking icons are confusing

The audio port is on top…

No need for dongles and adapters here

… and the old-school micro-USB port is at the bottom

Bummer seeing a non-USB-C port on phones these days

How well does it perform?

Liking the GR3 2017 so far? Good, because it’s about to look even better!

Huawei was generous enough to equip this phone with a Kirin 655 processor, the exact same chip found inside the higher-end GR5 2017. That’s insane for a handset costing less than US$ 200! With it, you can expect seamless transitions from one app to another and close to no lag with Android’s animations.

Of course, a couple of compromises had to be made in order to separate the GR3 2017 from its more potent sibling. For one, this device settles for 3GB of memory instead of 4GB, which is still quite good for the amount you’re paying.

On top of that (and this one hurts a lot more), it comes with only 16GB of built-in storage. That doesn’t sound so bad since you can insert a microSD card for your personal files, but having abundant internal storage for large apps is vital. After installing NBA 2K17 and the Asphalt games on this thing — both of which, by the way, ran smoothly on medium settings — I barely had any space left for all my other games and heavy social media apps (looking at you Facebook).

Does it take great photos?

While the GR5 2017 has a dual-camera setup, Huawei chose to go for a single, 12-megapixel main camera and an 8-megapixel selfie shooter for the GR3 2017. Sounds like a downgrade, but that’s far from the truth when you see these sample photos:

This phone proves that having a secondary lens isn’t all that. Yes, you lose those background-blurring tricks made possible by the extra image sensor, but the GR3 2017 once again impresses us with strong colors, sweet overall sharpness, and decent noise reduction in most situations.

My only knock against it would be the somewhat slow focusing times. I can’t count how many moments I missed just because the autofocus point was unsure of what it was looking at.

Can it last more than a day?

Yes, most definitely. It’s all thanks to the combination of the efficient processor, large 3000mAh battery capacity for the phone’s size, and updated Huawei UI on top of all the battery-optimization tricks of Android Nougat.

My screen-on time floated around four and a half hours over the course of a full day, which is great considering how heavily I rely on my daily driver to push every single notification and handle all the photo taking and web browsing I have to do.

One gripe lies in the bundled charger: It’s terribly slow in bringing the GR3 2017 to full. It takes more than two hours to reach a hundred percent, and that’s while the phone is untouched.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

When you review a budget-friendly smartphone, you have to weigh all the omissions before giving a fair recommendation. In this case, the GR3 2017 and its few flaws make it easy for us to give it a solid thumbs up.

Despite a few weaknesses — mainly its not-so-attractive back panel and low amount of storage — there’s no reason not to choose the GR3 2017 at this level. If you look at the rest of our Best Budget Smartphone list, this Huawei stands out for its satisfying performance in a stunningly affordable price point.

Our review unit retails for PhP 8,990 ($180) in the Philippines; that’s a fantastic deal for such a complete package.

The only possible turnoff for potential buyers is the confusing naming scheme. Like the GR5 2017 and its multiple monikers, the GR3 2017 has different model names depending on the region. In India, it’s called the Honor 8 Lite, and comes with more storage at 64GB and a slightly higher price tag of INR 14,449 or about $225.

SEE ALSO: Huawei Mate 9 review: Does it get faster?

[irp posts=”13311″ name=”Huawei Mate 9 review: Does it get faster?”]

Reviews

Apple M2 MacBook Pro Unboxing and Review

More Important Than You Think!

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During WWDC 2022, Apple announced the newest 2022 M2 MacBook Air with a major redesign — making it the instant star of the show.

But for others, the M2 MacBook Pro is what they’re aiming for.

It might still be the same with its classic aluminum unibody design, 13.3″ Retina Display, and a Touch Bar from 2016 — but inside it’s even more powerful.

Also equipped with the new generation of Apple’s Silicon Chip dubbed ‘M2’, it surely knows how to make professionals drool.

But is it worth the money? Or should you just get the M2 MacBook Air instead?

Or what about getting the more expensive 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro chip?

Watch our unboxing and full review on the M2 MacBook Pro now to find out more!

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Reviews

OPPO A96 review: Just another power performer

Great in many aspects, and that’s all you could hope for

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OPPO isn’t short on delivering great smartphones at such a fair price for most people. In many ways, they’d like to push the boundaries even on rather budget-friendly devices to elevate the experience. Such is the case with a device like the OPPO A96: a midrange device with some powerful hardware right out of the box.

The whole idea behind the OPPO A96 was that it was “Designed to be Powerful.” In theory, all the parts mesh together to form an experience that screams power and performance that isn’t quite like the rest. From the camera to the internal hardware, everything about this device should give any user all the power needed for all their tasks.

Does the OPPO A96 fare well in reality? Let’s find out:

Looking at the literal design

Upon unboxing, the OPPO A96 comes in with a rather simple phone design, complete with the camera setup at the front and back. Of course, the package only comes with the phone and charger inside, so you might have to buy earphones or headphones separately. In terms of color options, you have a choice between Starry Black or Pearl Pink.

Another highlight is that the rear cover is scratch-proof, which is ideally great for those who venture out a lot. Naturally, the rear cover should not collect any marks or fingerprints when you use it. This is quite alright if you’re not too keen on buying phone cases to save your phone from scratches, plus the package comes with a rubber case.

A power performer through thick and thin

Here’s a not-so-little secret about the OPPO A96: it’s a fast and powerful smartphone all things considered. Upon booting up the device, it took a little bit of time for things to start loading up on ColorOS. Once you get the ball rolling, the experience is pretty smooth especially when opening apps and scrolling through social media feeds left and right.

Of course, having a 90Hz refresh rate display certainly helps in the smoothness of the browsing experience on the device. Applications respond pretty well to any sort of interaction on the display, and much of ColorOS is optimized well for a 90Hz refresh rate. Just note, however, that setting the refresh rate to anything but 60Hz eats up the battery a little bit.

Apart from all of these, the phone doesn’t necessarily present anything groundbreaking. At the very least, it shows that most midrange smartphones have a new standard to follow in terms of performance and features. If you’re on the hunt for a phone that suits your particular needs, however, here’s what you can keep in mind:

Suited for anything and for anyone

Regardless of whatever you throw at it, the OPPO A96 will gladly take your tasks and perform great — whether you game a lot or watch a lot. For those who game a lot, this smartphone comes with game optimization features within ColorOS for you to focus in-game without any distractions. 

Although, from our tests, it doesn’t help if you have games with intense graphics settings. For most mobile games we threw at it, they loaded up in full with most of the details popping out for games that aren’t as intensive. If you’re after a much smoother experience, it’s recommended to turn down your graphics settings by a little bit.

Now, if you’re more of somebody who just watches videos all day with some gameplay in there, the bright 6.59-inch Punch Hole display works wonders. Plus, the OPPO A96 comes with dual speakers for a bit of an immersive viewing experience as an added bonus. From our observations, however, audio quality is pretty decent in most room settings.

Lasts long, charges a bit long too

In terms of battery life, the OPPO A96 is no slouch. With regular usage, the device lasts for about a day and a half thanks to the 5,000mAh battery inside. If you go too much on the gaming, you could still push the device to run for at least half a day. As mentioned earlier, this is also dependent on the refresh rate and frame rate you’re playing some games on.

Charging the device, however, took a bit too long than how we would have hoped. See, the OPPO A96 supports OPPO’s SUPERVOOC Fast Charging which essentially speeds up charging times, especially during the device’s most idle hours. From our tests, a full charge still took about two hours, which still isn’t a lot; compared to other phones with fast charging, it’s one of the longer ones

Camera systems could be a bit better

Unlike most of its contemporaries, the OPPO A96 stuck with a dual lens setup for its rear cameras and a single lens front camera. For its rear cameras, OPPO made sure to include a 50MP main lens with a 2MP Bokeh focus lens ideally for better portrait shots. Initially, this worked out pretty well under great lighting conditions, especially when zeroing in on specific images.

However, when taking night shots or even shots in rather dark conditions, the cameras struggle to keep up and produce rather grainy images. Even in camera previews, images look a bit out of sorts in the quality department so you’re better off using the flash to get better quality.

With regards to that single lens front camera, it’s a decent lens to work with under proper lighting conditions. In some cases, details are fleshed out quite nice, but shifting to darker rooms or unsuitable lighting conditions make it struggle, as well.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Starting at PhP 15,999, the OPPO A96 is one powerful device that caters to the needs of anyone for anything you throw at it. It ticks all the boxes of what a powerful smartphone should be for a rather modest price at that. With its long battery life, it prolongs the all-around smartphone experience especially when you need it the most.

Although, like most of the devices within this price range, it isn’t a perfect machine. Even with a beefy battery, charging it might leave much more to be desired for some people. Also, the cameras are a bit of a hit or miss depending on how you want your pictures to look like. With gaming on this device, there are ways to maximize your use while having to sacrifice a bit of detail here and there.

For what it’s worth, the OPPO A96 is a power performer in most aspects. Again, it’s not as groundbreaking and doesn’t introduce anything new, but it gets the job done when you need it to.

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Reviews

realme narzo 50A Prime review: A basic and stylish phone

A decent option

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narzo 50A Prime

It seems that every model in realme’s Narzo series has seen considerable success especially on the budget gaming market. They’re known for delivering great performance at affordable prices and could even be considered among the favorites in their class.

This time, realme seems to be going on a different approach as they try to accommodate an even more specific audience. They divided their new Narzo 50 series in three variations — the Narzo 50, 50A and the 50A Prime.

In this review, we are taking a look at the slim and stylish variant among the three, the realme Narzo 50A Prime.

What’s in the BOX

Let’s first layout what we have inside the box.

narzo 50A prime

The Narzo 50A Prime only comes with the unit, USB charging cable, SIM ejector pin and manuals. There’s no included charger, earphones or jelly case in sight. Hmm..

I understand the logic behind the omission of a charger and other accessories on higher end smartphones, but I do find it unfortunate that this one in the budget line didn’t have them as well. Being in this price segment, there are likely to be first time smartphone owners who’d probably look into getting this or would be given one as a gift. And they might be disappointed to know that the charger is sold separately.

Performance 

A quick run down of the specs for the Narzo 50A Prime, this is running on the Unisoc T612 chipset with 4GB RAM and 128GB UFS 2.2 internal storage.

The chipset on the Narzo 50A Prime has gradually been getting the attention of a lot of gamers on a budget on social media. Which is why I want to dive straight into the performance as I am curious with what this Unisoc chipset has to offer.

As a daily driver, it gives satisfactory results and is pretty capable on most use cases like social media and usual web browsing.

Gaming

narzo 50A Prime

Getting into gaming, I noticed that there is no dedicated game software that powers up when starting our games which isn’t really a big deal, but might raise eyebrows of some.

 

Starting off with a few matches on Call of Duty: Mobile in different configurations, on low settings, I did find that the experience is quite enjoyable. There were no significant slow downs that affected my gameplay and I generally had a good time playing on this. Turning up the game settings to medium however, is a different story. 

While the game is able to run, the experience isn’t very pleasant. I ended up getting beaten by bots on the earliest levels of the game because of the lags. And aiming at enemies became a challenge as they had already moved before I was able to aim at them properly.

Moving on to Genshin Impact, I did set my expectations lower since this is a more graphically demanding game but strangely, it was able to run reasonably well on its lowest settings. This is quite the opposite with the older realme C25 that we previously reviewed. The Helio G70 chipset on that one ran very well on Call of Duty: Mobile but laggy on Genshin Impact.

narzo 50A Prime

For lighter games like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Asphalt 9: Legends, the Narzo 50A Prime handles these nicely at the highest available settings. Gameplay is smooth all throughout my tests, but like the other smartphones on this level, the ultra settings is still not a selectable option for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

Software

narzo 50A Prime

One of the ways that realme has done to enhance the performance on the Narzo 50A Prime, is to have it run a lighter version of their own realme UI with the realme UI R Edition.

To its credit, the differences were very subtle and the experience was pretty similar to the full fledged realme UI, but after using it for a while I started to notice that oddly, the UI felt slightly more sluggish. This is weird since the intention behind the R Edition is for it to run smoother on their more affordable line.

Some of the built in apps are also replaced with lesser alternatives like the Photos Gallery app and the camera app which we’ll get to later in this review. By and large, I noticed that this software feels rather inferior. One example of this is that there is no prompt to access the phone as an external storage when being plugged into my laptop. In fact, I actually failed to find a way to transfer my files to and from it via USB.

Premium-looking design 

The design is actually one of the aspects that I feel the Narzo 50A Prime excels at. Having a kevlar pattern and a shiny back case makes it look like it’s worth more than it actually is. The unit is compact and light and it surely looks better than other models it is competing with.

Realme embraced the mostly flat design keeping the curves to a lesser degree. It has an aluminum frame which makes it not only look but also feel premium as well. But the plastic back case does seem like something that is prone to scratches.

There’s also the usual ports below with the 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C charging port and speaker grilles but an upgrade we get here from the typical budget smartphone is a side-mounted fingerprint sensor on the right.

Display 

narzo 50A Prime

The Narzo 50A Prime, despite belonging in the budget tier, is sporting a 6.6-inch FHD+ display which is another somewhat commendable feat at its price point. It also features a 60Hz refresh rate and a 180Hz touch sampling rate. Looking at the screen, I could say that it does look sharper when compared to its predecessors.

I appreciate the higher resolution, but it does also come with a dew drop notch which by today’s standards, already looks outdated. The side bezels are relatively thin but on the bottom, we can see that there is a rather thick bottom chin.

I also noticed that it does have a slight magenta tint which is evident in white backgrounds. The colors do seem like it has boosted its saturation so images may seem a bit different when viewed on other smartphones.

Having said that, at 600 nits peak brightness, I do want to recognize that it does perform well under direct sunlight which is very much appreciated.

Cameras 

narzo 50A Prime

For the cameras we are getting a triple camera setup with a 50MP main shooter, 2MP macro, a B&W depth sensor plus an 8MP selfie camera.

Surprisingly, I did find the main camera on the 50A Prime to be relatively good provided that you are shooting in well lit environments. The photos are nothing exceptional but I’d say pretty decent with adequate detail and good colors.

As long as we manage our expectations, it is very possible to get good enough results in the right hands. I could even say I get better results on this than a few slightly more expensive phones.

However, as mentioned earlier about the camera software, the shooting experience feels like it’s held back by this. It feels unpolished and doing street photography on this is a bit of a pain.

There is no other indication that you have successfully taken a shot other than the faint shutter sound. There’s no blinking or flashing on the screen. There’s also no brief pause after a shot, just the slightest sound which you can barely hear when outdoors.

Battery 

The Narzo 50A Prime may not come with a charger but it’s nice to know that it does support 18W charging. It is also packed with a decently sized 5000mAh battery.

For day to day use, the battery is sufficient and will last you more than you would probably need in a single day. On normal use with mostly social media and some casual game time, we were able to get a day and a half before having the need to charge. This is slightly below the battery performance we get from other models with a bigger 6000 mAh battery but at least the phone has kept its compact form factor.

Is the realme Narzo 50A Prime your GadgetMatch?

I feel like I’ve been too critical of this phone that I’ve been forgetting that it is only priced at PhP 7,999.

So going back to this consideration, I believe there are consumers who would fit this target demographic as it still does mostly what we would need at a passable level. 

If you are strictly on a budget and you don’t require heavy gaming plus you appreciate a higher resolution screen and this slim premium design, I can say the realme Narzo 50A Prime is a decent option.

But if you’re into spec demanding tasks and all that good stuff, the Narzo 50A Prime might fall short and it may well be worth saving up a bit for its more powerful sibling – the realme Narzo 50. That one, comes with a charger.

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