Huawei Mate 10 Review: When you want the best and widest



The first phone that comes to the minds of people looking to upgrade to a smartphone with a big and spacious display is the Galaxy Note series of Samsung. But with the latest Galaxy Note 8 already at the US$ 1000 mark, is there a cheaper option? The answer is yes.

Huawei doesn’t need any introduction — not anymore. The Chinese company has captured not only the Asian market, but is also making a name for itself in Europe. The company’s latest flagship line, the Mate 10 series, has two variants: regular and pro. I took the non-pro variant around as my daily driver for two weeks, and here are my findings.

You know the drill, let’s start with the physique of the phone.

The large 5.9-inch display is crisp and punchy

It’s not as borderless as I’d want it to be, though

The top bezel has fewer visible sensors than usual

It may not look like it, but the top and bottom bezels are considerably thin

A fingerprint reader conveniently sits in front

Despite having minimal space, Huawei was able to place it on the front

The power and volume buttons are on the right

I kinda miss the prominent design of the Huawei P10’s power button

It’s got a hybrid card tray, so take your pick

You can expand the storage space if 64GB is not enough

It’s also has a 3.5mm jack and IR blaster on top

Two features you can’t easily find on other flagship phones

Of course, the USB-C port is found at the bottom

Along with the loudspeaker and microphones

The back shows off the Leica-powered dual-camera setup

Our unit gracefully shows its two-tone brown color underneath the glass

There’s even a strip to highlight the cameras

Two camera lenses sandwiched by the LED flash and autofocus sensors

Feels like the widest premium phone of the year

All of the flagship smartphones and even midrange phones this year already use the taller 18:9 aspect ratio, but the Mate sticks with the 16:9 ratio. While the older widescreen ratio on mobile is ideal for watching videos (since most content is still in 16:9), it feels outdated and stout, especially at this size. I’m still puzzled by the fact that the Pro variant has the new taller display ratio, but this one doesn’t.

Putting the aspect ratio issue aside, the 5.9-inch IPS LCD with its Quad HD resolution and 499ppi pixel density is one of the sharpest displays for big smartphones. It’s also HDR10 compliant and automatically adjusts when playing compatible videos. Although, popular video streaming services like Netflix and YouTube don’t support the Mate 10 as of writing.

The phone is built premium all around. It has an aluminum frame and glass back to prove it’s worthy of the premium label. Huawei didn’t throw in wireless charging though, despite the phone’s glass body, so the glass back is purely for aesthetics and it gets really smudgy. As a small consolation, it’s IP53-certified, making it protected against occasional spills and water splashes, but don’t throw it in the pool.

Flagship performance without the hefty price

If there’s one thing that Huawei kept on bragging about their latest smartphones, it’s artificial intelligence (or simply AI). Huawei made a big fuss over the neural network processor built into the Kirin 970 chipset, but there aren’t many apps available to truly feel its advantage. It’s supposed to improve battery life and make everything faster by learning your patterns.

Moving forward, the powerful chipset has 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage at its aid, along with the new Mali-G72 MP12 for handling graphics. The processing power of the Mate 10 is comparable to the likes of other flagships in the market like the Galaxy Note 8 and LG V30. With the help of AI, the phone never felt slow and rarely showed signs of slowing down. I could open multiple demanding apps simultaneously and jump in between them without hiccups. Gaming is also not an issue; major titles like Asphalt Extreme, NBA 2K17, and Riptide GP: Renegade ran well on the phone. All were set to high graphics settings by default.

It has Android 8.0 Oreo on board skinned with EMUI 8.0. Huawei’s own take on Android is still pretty half-baked for my liking and mimics iOS, but it has some nifty features which give it an edge over bare Android, such as scrolling screenshots. EMUI jumped from version 5.1 to 8.0 (to align with Android 8.0) and it’s disappointing that there’s no significant change to the interface aside from the inconsistent rounded icons that are a mess to look at. If you have time, downloading a launcher in the Play Store and working your way around the clutter will fix this.

Still one of the best dual cameras

Huawei introduced a new and improved dual-camera system on the Mate 10 series. Whether you choose the non-Pro or Pro variant, you get the same 12-megapixel color and 20-megapixel monochrome sensor combo — both with an f/1.6 aperture. It also has optical image stabilization and software-optimized 2x lossless zoom. For selfies, it’s got a pretty standard 8-megapixel shooter.

The camera can identify the object you’re shooting. See the flower icon on the lower right of the viewfinder.

The AI feature shines in the camera department, as it can instantly identify the object you’re taking a photo of. For example, it can differentiate between flowers, plants, food, and people. The AI supposedly adjusts the settings to what’s ideal for the shot.

The Mate 10 shoots amazing photos, whether in bright or dark environments. The partnership between Huawei and Leica shows in the processing of the photos that look great right off the bat. You can still manually adjust the controls if you want to, but shooting in auto already captures the best possible photo. You can also shoot with bokeh or in black and white thanks to the secondary monochrome sensor.

Shooting in bokeh is still hit and miss depending on your subject, but most of the time the cutout is okay. There’s a portrait mode in both the rear and front cameras for better selfies. I noticed that unlike with the P10, the front camera doesn’t automatically adjust for group selfies. But the fixed lens is already wide enough for more than two people in the frame.

It can you get you through the day

Since this is a big phone, it’s gotta have a big battery. Inside is a non-removable 4000mAh cell which supports Huawei SuperCharge. The retail box comes with a SuperCharge-compatible charger that easily fills up the phone to 50 percent in just around 20 minutes. The charging speed trickles down afterwards to prevent the battery from heating up, so a full charge is over an hour. That’s still pretty fast for a battery this size, but the phone is picky with the fast chargers it works with. Third-party fast chargers don’t charge as quickly.

With a fully charged Mate 10, you can leave your charger at home. This phone was able to last a whole day with more to spare overnight. I consider myself a heavy user with mobile data always on when Wi-Fi isn’t available. I binge-watch on Netflix while stuck in traffic, browse web pages when bored, play mobile games in between breaks, and chat with friends and colleagues all day.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re considering a big smartphone, the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are not your only options. If you take time to look at what others offer, you’ll find that the Mate 10 is a good deal — not just in specs and features, but also in value. It might not have an extremely borderless display like on other Android flagships or an 18:9 ratio, but it also doesn’t have a hefty price tag (at least here in Asia).

In the Philippines, the phone retails for just PhP 32,990 or roughly US$ 655. In other parts of the world, it’s at a premium EUR 699, which is about US$ 820.

SEE ALSO: Honor V10 brings best of Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro together

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Realme 2 Pro Review: Recon phone

A data gathering exercise



The Realme 2 series is the company’s announcement that they’re no longer a sub-brand of OPPO. However, there are still plenty of traces of OPPO in these devices. The Realme 2 Pro is their top offering and for better or worse, it still feels like an OPPO phone.

If you think this looks and feels a lot like the OPPO F9, you can’t be faulted. Save for a few differences, these two phones are practically twins. From the form factor, to the notch, and even the cameras, these phones almost remind me of that famous Spider-Man meme.

The more obvious difference are the colors. The OPPO F9 went with the trendy gradient look while the Realme 2 Pro goes for more solid color options.

The unit we have for review is the more subdued Black Sea, but the phone is also available in Blue Ocean as well as the color I would have loved to have (hello, folks from Realme): Ice Lake.

Another key difference is the chip powering the devices. The OPPO F9 runs on a MediaTek Helio P60 processor while the Realme 2 Pro went with the Snapdragon 660. Further justifying the Pro on its name is the 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM on our particular review unit.

For reference the Realme 2 Pro also comes in a 4GB and 64GB configuration, as well as a 6GB and 64GB configuration.

The steady

In that regard, the Realme 2 Pro felt about as snappy as you can expect from a phone rocking those internals. I don’t play a lot of mobile games and only really played Dragon Ball Legends in my little over a week with the device, and it handled it with zero problems.

Dragon Ball Legends is probably my favorite mobile game at this point

I have had experience with other phones with comparable specs and tested games like PUBG, and Iron Blade on them. Those phones handled the mentioned games nicely and I expect the same is true with the Realme 2 Pro.

I do consume a lot of media on my phone. Listening to my favorite songs and podcasts was a pleasant experience. The speakers on this phone do not deliver the best sound but they’re good enough and loud enough for solo listening sessions. It does have a headphone jack so that’s a thing you can take advantage of, as well.

CHNDTR is a Filipino band with major anime and Paramore feels

I also watch a lot of YouTube and Netflix (and chill right after), and I don’t have any major complaints. Would love the display to be more visible under bright sunlight, but I don’t really look at my screen a lot in those situations nor do I watch videos under strong light that often.

Colleen Wing on Iron Fist is a goddess. Fight me.

The bad

I was never a fan of ColorOS and that remains true even on technically a non-OPPO phone. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t make the phone slower or anything. I’m just not down with how it looks and feels in general. I appreciate that it incorporates gesture navigation (get with the gestures people, it’s great!) but other than that, I would switch to a different launcher. But that’s me. If you dig it, it’s all good. I won’t judge.

There’s also the nice touch of a quick access feature sitting on the display on the area right next to the power button. Swipe quickly and you get screen capture options as well shortcuts to some apps.

Silver lining for those like me that aren’t ColorOS fans: During the launch, Realme Southeast Asia Managing Director Josef Wang was asked if they’re planning on making their own and he said, “Maybe next year we’ll have our own OS.” A maybe is always better than a flat out no in OS options, life, and love.

The good-ish

Mostly good, to be more precise. I was pleasantly surprised by how the camera performed under favorable lighting conditions. Check out these two portrait shots taken around noon.

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Both images are sharp and you could be fooled into thinking these weren’t taken with a phone.

It doesn’t perform as well under low-light conditions, but it’s about as good as you can expect from a smartphone in this range.

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There’s also some fun stickers you can play with if that’s a thing you’re into.

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Here are a few more samples you can peruse.

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Recon phone

So who would want this phone? Realme said they’re aimed at the youth. I thought that was pretty vague so I asked for an age range. Wang had this puzzled look on his face but eventually said they’re probably looking at people in college or those just entering the workforce.

Will the youth opt for this phone?

During the media interview with the Realme executives, this is the impression I got. The company is still feeling their way through all of this. As Wang noted, they’re still studying the markets which is why as of writing, we’re still waiting on official pricing for other countries in Southeast Asia.

Realme played it safe with the Realme 2 Pro and for good reason. As a budding company who just spun off, they have plenty of ground to cover. They’re hoping the Realme 2 series will sell enough and give them sufficient data to develop a phone that’s more Realme than OPPO.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

As for the phone itself. Objectively it’s pretty solid. It performs pretty much the way you’d expect it to given the specs.

The UI is a big thing for me. I would have enjoyed this phone more if it had a different skin on top of Android 8.1 Oreo but if you’re used to ColorOS or something similar, the Realme 2 Pro is a solid option that will take fantastic photos under proper lighting conditions.

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OPPO Find X Lamborghini Edition: Testing a $2,000 phone

Will a luxurious phone make me more luxurious?



I won’t beat around the bush. This is the OPPO Find X Lamborghini Edition and it’s worth almost US$ 2,000 or US$ 1,980 to be precise.

What’s so special about it? See that seal? It’s an actual Lamborghini. No, really, from the Italian luxury carmaker.

I got my hands on this delightful device and I’ve been using it for a few weeks. So, now that I have my own Lambo, what changed? Did using this expensive AF phone make me a classier person? Will I get more street cred because of my flashy phone? What does holding US$ 2,000 in form of a phone feel like?

Because owning such a luxurious device has made me a more gracious person, I shall walk you through my experiences with the Lambo.

It still looks and feels good 

The OPPO Find X Lamborghini Edition has the same signature bezel-less screen of the regular Find X.

On the back, glaring in gold is the Lamborghini logo. This phone also has a different back design on that smooth glass back; almost elusive striped markings dubbed by OPPO as the black carbon pattern adorns the whole body.

Of course, there’s a special edition Lambo theme because if you’re paying that much for a phone, they better throw in a custom theme!

As cool as it was (especially for car lovers!), though, I opted to change the theme into something brighter during my time with the phone. 😅

I’ve said it about the normal Find X and I’ll say it again about this Lambo phone: It’s a pleasure to hold. The weight, feel, and that wide, crisp screen make everything feel premium.

The only downside is that the normal OPPO Find X and the Lambo phone are similarly great — which is a good thing if you own the normal Find X, but not such a great deal if you paid the US$ 825 difference for the more expensive phone.

Nonetheless, the Lambo phone does give a classier spin to the phone in black and gold. I mean, if you hold it strategically enough, people should take notice of that Lamborghini logo, right?

Touting such an expensive device day and night is not as easy as it looks. Because I’m secretly not rich (sad reacts 😢), I almost had a mini heart attack handling such an expensive thing that’s all glass. Thankfully, the phone came with a phone case that sports the same Lamborghini logo and stripe pattern that onlookers can accidentally ogle so they can realize how much my phone costs.

It didn’t make me more luxurious but it looked the part

As you may have noticed, I busted out classy AF props for shooting this particular device.

I figured this was as good a time as any to amp up the set design — it’s not every day your phone costs more than 18 bottles of Moet.

Sans the bottles of champagne, we did discover that the Lamborghini Find X looks great with classy rich girl outfits complete with pearl ensemble. I felt straight out of Gossip Girl, except even Blair Waldorf didn’t own a Lamborghini phone, did she?

The best fast charge technology that money can buy

The best thing about this phone comes in form of a brightly colored charger cord and Lamborghini-branded power brick. I sh!t you not (excuse my crassness but this tech deserves the profanity), this phone charges from zero to 100 in 35 minutes. Ten minutes of charging gives you 37 percent and thirty minutes of charging amounts to a whopping 92 percent.

Never have I seen such fast charging times. It’s unreal.

Honestly, charging became such an easy thing for me since using this phone. I just plug it in and it’ll completely charge before you can finish saying supercalifragilistic-holy-fudge-this-phone-is-so-expensive-docious!

Real talk though, because I don’t plug this phone in as much as you would other phones (shout-out to iPhone users), think of all the money you can save in terms of broken cords!

There are matching earphones

OPPO also threw in a pair of matching wireless earbuds because someone had to justify paying that much money for this set.

They come in a case stamped with the Lamborghini logo and automatically connect to your phone after initial pairing. They’re a decent pair of earphones that go well with the whole Lambo look except I seem to have misplaced one of the earpieces (which is not my fault because there is a serious design flaw to untethered earphones!) and now there’s a pit in my stomach when I think of how much that tiny thing probably costs. 😢

Different yet exactly the same?

At the end of the day, it’s still the same great phone.

The features that made me love the normal Find X are still the same features I enjoy on this Lambo: the fast face unlock feature, the awesome display, and the pop-up camera design (it never gets old).

Owning a Lambo *surprise* has not fundamentally changed me. I’m still really, really not rich. Most people didn’t even notice the flashy Lambo logo on my phone. Funny enough, people still only notice the pop-up camera and are still very much amazed by it.

But, I did, and still do enjoy using this phone. It’s a top-of-the-line device and it feels that way. I like it to the point that I keep using it despite having only one Lambo earphone now. 😢

Like a true luxury item, the price really doesn’t make sense. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s an awesome, awesome device — if you can afford it.

In the meantime, I’m unsure of how to live my life if I have to go back to charging my phone for more than 35 minutes. Let me leave you now as I sip on not Moet to ponder on my dilemma.

Images by MJ Jucutan

SEE ALSO: OPPO Find X review: All about style, selfies, and that poppin’ camera

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Samsung Galaxy A7 hands-on review: Beyond the cameras

Just another camera-centric phone?



A few years ago, megapixels were all the rage when it came to smartphone photography. Producing larger photos somehow equated to better quality — and more aggressive marketing — from those little shooters on older phones.

Fortunately, that craze ended, but we’re now facing a new race to see who can stuff the most number of cameras on a single handset.

Even though dual-camera setups became the standard a couple of years ago, brands like Huawei and LG have been pushing for more. Naturally, competitors including Samsung saw the need to catch up, and even exceed in some cases.

The Galaxy A7 of 2018 is a direct answer to the trending need for at least three cameras on a phone’s rear. In this case, one camera is for regular shots, another is for wide-angle photos, and a third helps power the Live Focus function.

We already had time to experience this unique setup in India, but we now want to answer another question: Is there more to the Galaxy A7 than just its cameras?

The short answer is yes. Not only does the Galaxy A7 have Samsung’s signature AMOLED display and a mostly glass body, it does so at a reasonable price of INR 23,990 in India and PhP 17,990 in the Philippines — both of which convert to about US$ 330.

Samsung’s entry-level Galaxy J series often hovered around this price, so for a Galaxy A phone to hit this point with more premium features is a good deal. (It may also be a sign of Samsung gradually letting go of the Galaxy J lineup.)

Despite the relatively large bezels for a 2018 phone, the 6-inch 1080p AMOLED is both well-sized and a pleasure to look at. As usual, Samsung tends to oversaturate colors, but I appreciate the inclusion of Always On Display (AOD), which keeps the panel partially active to show me the time and my notifications throughout the day.

It’s tough on the battery, though, and I recommend turning this feature off when not needed. The 3300mAh battery capacity is lacking for a phone this size; with AOD on, I only get four hours of screen-on time in a single day. Leaving it off gives me an additional hour, but the phone still doesn’t get over a day’s worth of usage.

Using Samsung’s standard Adaptive Fast Charging adapter, it takes less than two hours to get to full from zero percent. That makes up for the mediocre battery life, although I wish the Galaxy A7 came with a USB-C port instead of the aging micro-USB.

What’s new, however, is the interface. Although it’s stuck on Android 8.0 Oreo, Samsung baked Experience 9.0 into the operating system, so it has the newest gestures and I found that jumping from one function to another is pleasantly smooth.

It helps that Samsung’s own Exynos 7885 chipset is handling all the heavy-duty tasks. While it isn’t the best for gaming — titles like Life is Strange and Asphalt 9: Legends don’t run that smoothly unless graphics settings are lowered — switching through apps while multitasking is seamless, and I can’t remember a time when hiccups bothered me.

I was surprised to find only 4GB of memory inside, but it turned out being enough for my usage case. There were only a few instances wherein I wished my background apps wouldn’t close so soon. What’s better is the integrated storage, which comes in at 64GB with additional room for a microSD card up to 512GB.

Other reasons to consider this phone? There’s a 3.5mm audio port if that matters to you, and the front-facing LED flash is pretty helpful when lighting is terrible during your selfie shoots.

Another thing that’s useful to me but may be annoying to others is the placement of the fingerprint scanner. It’s on the side-mounted power button, which I consider to be an optimized spot no matter how the phone is held or laid on a tablet. Left-handed people might not feel the same way.

Finally, despite the glass body, the phone seems to be a little flimsy. It’s not something I’m confident putting inside my back pocket. Get a case as soon as you buy one, or simply don’t drop or bend it.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s easy to recommend the Galaxy A7 for what it is, but there are so many great phones in the sub-US$ 400 segment that it’s difficult to ignore them. Offerings from Honor, Xiaomi, and even Pocophone make the final purchasing decision a tough one.

The Galaxy A7 is primarily for long-time Samsung users looking for something different. Its triple-camera setup is certainly unique in this part of the smartphone market, and the side-mounted fingerprint scanner is a refreshing sight.

At the same time, a lot of Samsung’s familiar features are here, including the AMOLED display and the lack of a notch. It’s certainly the most non-Samsung, Samsung phone you can buy today — until you see the more outrageous Galaxy A9, that is.

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