In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.
In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.
ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DU Hands-on: An immersive experience for less
Striking a balance between performance and affordability
We’ve got our hands on the ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 and the TUF Gaming FX505DY so you’re probably familiar with how the TUF Gaming series positions itself as the middle ground that offers premium features but with a more affordable asking price.
Another model from the same series has reached our headquarters. This time it’s the TUF Gaming FX505DU which is a newer model in the family. That single letter difference in the model name (DY to DU) suggests that it’s almost the same, with slight differences here and there. Let’s check out what those are.
It’s done with a polycarbonate body
ROG DNA is present
Sports the same 15.6-inch IPS-level 120Hz display
Keyboard is backlit
There are distinct WASD keycaps as well
Loudspeakers are located at the bottom
All the ports remain on the left
A little subtle on the design, but…
The FX505DU, like its siblings, isn’t as flashy as the company’s more expensive ROG laptops, but it still looks like a gaming rig nonetheless. The lid is plain and straightforward but with that ‘X’ pattern that suggests it’s no common office laptop.
Once you open the lid, the brushed metal design seen on the body makes it look premium. It still has a large chin, but it isn’t much of an eyesore as the slim top and side bezels surrounding its Full HD display will catch your attention right away.
There’s also a webcam for video calls positioned on top so that’s a good thing. When it comes to typing, we don’t have any major qualms about it but I personally could use a bit more travel for the keys. It comes with two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0, an HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Overall, build quality is something that I like about this model as it has been certified to pass military-grade stress tests. Factor in the cool RGB backlighting and its edgy design and you have a good-looking yet tough gaming laptop.
Play wherever you go
Inside, it packs an AMD Ryzen 7-3750H which is then partnered to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1660Ti. Together, they are a combo for fast and satisfactory performance while its 8GB RAM proved sufficient for day-to-day tasks. If needed, the memory could be modified up to 32GB for even snappier performances.
It runs Windows 10 Home out of the box and as for storage, it comes with a 1TB HDD plus a 256GB SSD.
We’ve tried a couple of games on it like Assassin’s Creed: Origins and battle royale titles like Fortnite and CS:GO — just like we did with the previous FX505DY. We’re happy to report that it could handle them easily but noticed a few lags here and there especially when there was a lot of movement happening. Not enough to affect the gaming performance, though, but we thought we’d just let you know.
The built-in loudspeakers sound decent and come with DTS Studio Sound to tweak and make the quality better. Still, it might not be for players looking for high-quality audio and you’d still be better off with dedicated gaming headphones plugged in.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
It’s true that more expensive gaming rigs provide better gaming experience, but what ASUS is going for here with their TUF Gaming series is to strike the balance between performance and affordability.
With the FX505DU and its PhP 71,995 price tag, it offers a competitive gaming experience with 120Hz display, slim bezels, more premium materials, and internals that will ensure you have what you need to be able to have immersive gameplay wherever you go.
Honor 8S Hands-On: Looks premium, feels basic
Is it worth your money?
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.
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
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.
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.
Redmi 7A Hands-On: Nailing the basics
Plus major battery life
One time a friend messaged me saying his phone broke and asked what’s affordable and reliable that he can buy and use in the meantime. My first instinct was to recommend a Redmi phone. And the Redmi 7A is one such phone that fits what he was looking for — affordable and reliable.
Getting the basics right
This is what Redmi — Xiaomi’s “budget line” — has always been. Something you can rely on when in a pinch, and something you can hold on to long after you’ve gone past that pinch.
The specs won’t jump out at you: Snapdragon 439 chip, 2GB of RAM with either 16GB or 32GB storage that’s expandable up to 256GB via a microSD card slot. But this combo is enough for what I consider basic smartphone needs.
Naturally, you would want access to social media. This phone can Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with no problems whatsoever. However, to get the most out of this phone, I recommend getting the lite versions of these apps. There are also lite versions of Spotify and Messenger that I opted to use while I had this phone on hand.
Lite apps will take up less space — something you don’t have a lot of — and consumes less data. Perfect for this phone. You probably also need to get a bit of work done. For that there’s GMail Go. Another lite app for your convenience.
Of course, it’s also running MIUI 10 which is one of the smoother Android skins out there. Navigating the phone feels snappy enough that you don’t feel shortchanged.
It can game… sort of
Don’t expect to have a lot of games here — not unless you go out of your way to buy a microSD card. I tried Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on this phone and it handled it fine but I constantly got messages of my storage being full.
That said, it should have no trouble playing more casual games. The type you play while waiting in line, trying to pass the time, or just waiting in general. I have no recommendations because the casual ones I know are too old and I don’t know if they’re even in the Play store any more. 😂
Cameras are okay
You’re getting a 12MP rear shooter and a 5MP front-facing camera. Oh simpler times.
The cameras are okay, you just have to make sure you’re at an area with natural light or at least somewhere with a good amount of light to capture respectable shots.
The last few shots were taken indoors with not ideal lighting which is why it’s grainy. You can just say it’s a filter. 😝
Superb battery and other features
Now here’s where this phone is at its best. When it’s powering you through your day. It has a 4000mAh battery and since it’s not supporting a lot of crazy features, you get extended hours on this thing.
I’ve used it as a secondary phone and it takes about three to four days before I even decide to charge it. And it’s not even completely drained at that point. With more regular use, it should last you about a day and a half before you feel the need to reach out for a charger.
The phone also happens to be splash resistant. So you don’t necessarily have to go rushing to find a case to protect it. It’s pretty durable all on its own.
Another feature that some of you might find useful is the FM radio. When you’re at home and not sure what to listen to, you can just fire it app and toggle through radio stations quickly. If you’re in a public area, simply plug in your earphones because yes, this still has a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Is the Redmi 7A your GadgetMatch?
At PhP 4,790 (US$ 92) for the base model, to me it’s really that emergency phone or a starter phone. It’s the one you purchase for now as you’re trying to save up for a better, more powerful model.
That said, this will also work as a phone for older folks who simply want a way to stay in touch with their loved ones without having to figure out too many things on their phone. You can get this for your kids too, although getting a phone for your kid isn’t something I actually recommend. Maybe if they’re already in their teens. But I’m not a parent so what do I know.
If you need something that’s no frills, no fuss, and gets the basics just right. It’s hard to find other alternatives at exactly PhP 5,000 or below it. The Redmi 7A is the right choice.
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