Lifestyle

Huawei Mate 20 Review: The simpler sibling

No need for the Pro?

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The Huawei Mate 20 is the simpler sibling in the Mate 20 lineup, and honestly… it simply works.

I’m an everyday normal guy, with normal demands from my smartphone. And when you’re like me, and you don’t have a specific thing in mind when choosing a phone, it helps to have a device that is just good in every aspect.

In real-world use, there’s nothing to complain about in terms of performance. It’s got a Kirin 980 processor, and it runs the way any flagship phone with the latest and greatest processor should.

A phone that’ll go perfect with your OOTD

When it comes to our phones, I’ll agree with Isa, our Lifestyle Editor, that they’ve become more than a gadget and are now also an accessory to show off.

This phone looks great! So much so that I’ve caught myself intentionally not putting it in my pocket, just so I can show it off.

And while there might also be many other good-looking options out there, the Mate 20 wins in my book because I can use it without a case and not have to worry about getting fingerprints all over it.

On our Midnight Blue review unit, I’ve loved the special glass texture that barely shows any fingerprints and how it makes the phone easier to grip.

Good display, but speakers need work

Flip the phone over and there’s the huge 6.53-inch screen that’s great for consuming media, but I will say that it was an adjustment having to get used to such a wide phone again.

Now while I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all gotten relatively used to notches by now. It still must be said that the notch on the Mate 20 is tiny (much smaller than the notch on its Pro sibling) and easy to forget about when watching videos in full screen.

One thing I did notice in watching videos is that while the Mate 20 might have stereo speakers (from the earpiece and the bottom firing speaker), the sound comes out uneven and mostly from the speaker at the bottom. It would have been better if the sound were more balanced.

Battery for days… literally

Usually, I start my day at 8am and end at about 9pm. How has the 4000mAh battery capacity been for me? In using the phone for about two weeks, I’ve never ended my day with less than 35 percent left. It’s been such a joy not having to carry around a bulky powerbank with me!

In a day that usually includes social media, using maps for directions, watching YouTube, and Netflix, no longer do I have to tell myself to get off Instagram because I need to preserve battery.

It’s a phone that will last you a full day and then some. When you do end up needing to charge, it juices up quick — boost of about 50 percent in 30 minutes.

Typical Huawei cameras

Now, let’s talk about the cameras. There are three cameras on the back: Its main camera has 12 megapixels, the ultra-wide shooter has 16 megapixels, and the 8-megapixel telephoto camera goes up to 2x optical zoom.

To put it plainly, they’re good. And I can tell you they’re good all day, but I think it’s better if I just show you:

And of course something that Huawei has been amazing with is nighttime photography:

Plus, the addition of a wide-angle lens is great for getting more into the frame:

  

All these photos we’re taken with the Master AI setting on and shot completely in automatic mode.

Now, I don’t take a lot of selfies — we leave that to Isa at GadgetMatch — but if that’s your thing, the Mate 20 has a 24-megapixel selfie camera. Also, here’s a selfie of me with Jason Mraz:

Here are more selfie samples (I turned off the beauty mode for these):

Glad to see you headphone jack!

The regular Huawei Mate 20 doesn’t have the curved screen like the Pro does. It doesn’t have the in-display fingerprint scanner, either. What it does have that the Pro model doesn’t, is a headphone jack. 

True story: When I was traveling around Singapore and my Bluetooth earphones died, it was a lifesaver to be able to plug in regular wired earphones so I could continue listening to music.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

This phone ticks all the boxes I needed it to. Good cameras? Check! Great battery life? Yes, sir! Is it good for watching Netflix? You betcha!

It isn’t as flashy as the Pro model, but the Mate 20 to me is meant for someone who doesn’t need any of the bells or whistles, and just wants a phone that’s going to work when you need it to.

Accessories

Samsung has launched a personal phone sterilizer

Can kill 99 percent of germs in 10 minutes

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A smartphone is a germophobe’s worst nightmare. With the amount of handling our phones get every minute of every day, it’s almost impossible to keep them clean even with gloves on. As we suggested in the past, sterilizing your phones might be a sound idea in the age of COVID-19. That said, where do you get a phone sterilizer?

If alcohol doesn’t cut it, Samsung is now selling a personal UV sterilizer for your smartphones. On the outside, the ITFIT UV Sterilizer looks like a sleek phone case. However, a button can bombard your phone with enough UV to “kill up to 99 percent of bacteria within 10 minutes,” according to its official store listing. (The bacteria hit list explicitly includes E. coli, Staphylococcus, and Candida albicans.)

Since it’s big enough to house a Galaxy S20 Ultra, Samsung says you can also use it to sterilize other smaller items like the Galaxy Buds and a pair of glasses. This can include non-Samsung phones.

Oh, and it can also charge your devices wirelessly. Unfortunately, the device’s charging power is paltry at best, powering devices at just 10W. Since the sterilizer lasts for just 10 minutes, you might want to use a faster charger instead. Still, it’s a nifty feature we wouldn’t say no to.

Unfortunately, the ITFIT UV Sterilizer is difficult to get a hold of. Currently, Samsung is selling the device exclusively in Thailand at the moment. It retails for THB 1,590 (approximately US$ 51).

However, the currently linked listing is for Hong Kong, potentially hinting at the device’s wider availability in the future.

SEE ALSO: Tech companies post tips on proper hygiene

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Lifestyle

Samsung brings The Frame to the Philippines

Space-saving for art enthusiasts living in small spaces

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Image by Samsung

This isn’t just a picture frame. It’s a TV.

Looks cool, right? Launched in Paris back in 2017, Samsung’s The Frame finally makes its way to the Philippine archipelago.

Countless times, we’ve found it difficult to arrange and decorate our spaces due to humongous televisions that seem like a huge block of a black panel. This picture-frame looking TV innovates one of the centerpieces of every home.

The Frame — with its elegant and modern frame — blends smoothly into your wall, just like an art decor. This looks astonishing when you surround yourself with paintings and other artworks. It also has interchangeable bezels that you can customize into different colored frames, depending on your liking.

You can hang it on your wall with its no-gap mounts and hide the cables with One Invisible Connection, or you can put it on a TV stand to match your style and interior.

Art Mode

The Frame prides itself with Art Mode, a feature where it previews artwork or personal photographs when the TV is not in use. It curates your favorite art pieces, easily learning what you like, and hands out recommendations. Samsung rolls out software updates, so expect new artwork releases.

Through this feature, you can create a personalized gallery of your favorite artworks, or exhibit your photographs and family portrait. This can easily be done using your phone or a USB flash drive.

Art Mode allows you to use seven different types of layout and a palette of ten different colors. The Frame ensures your artwork and photographs will look great, wherever it is placed.

Smart features that are really smart

The Frame promises to be a smart TV that complements your lifestyle. It houses nifty and smart features that will make your watching experience stellar and immersive. For starters, it has Brightness Sensor which optimizes the screen depending on the lighting condition.

There’s also Motion Sensor which detects your presence and showcases artworks when you’re not watching. When you leave, it automatically turns off, thus, saving energy.

Samsung’s popular Ambient Mode comes to The Frame, as well. You can set it up so you decide what you see on-screen, or you can make The Frame match your walls to virtually blend in. No more big, black panels!

The Frame also analyzes your room’s lighting, the video’s content and audio, as well as the surrounding noise in your area. The Frame then adjusts your audio-visual experience to make it natural.

Samsung makes it easy to connect with The Frame, too. You can mirror content by pairing your phone, or by tapping it on The Frame. You can also connect your Galaxy phone, and split The Frame’s screen, allowing you to watch on TV and check your mobile device on one screen. No more looking away!

Furthermore, The Frame comes with Samsung’s QLED 4K technology, providing users an immersive experience that’s incredibly realistic and rich in detail and texture.

Price and availability

Samsung is bringing The Frame to the Philippines — together with the new QLED 8K TV — as part of Samsung’s 2020 TV lineup. The Frame will come in three sizes: 32-inch (PhP 31,999), 55-inch (PhP 79,999), and 65-inch (PhP 109,999). Starting July 1, The Frame will be available in Samsung Authorized Dealer stores. Every purchase will come with one free Frame Bezel, redeemable through Samsung’s Redemption website.

The Art Store also comes with one-month free trial, giving you access to classic and contemporary art. If you opt for the full subscription, you can choose from thousands of artworks from international galleries, such as Royal Collection Trust, Art Space, Saatchi Art, and Lumas.

The Frame is one of the three lifestyle TVs Samsung offers. It’s still unsure whether The Serif or The Sero will come to the Philippines.

SEE ALSO: Samsung’s The Sero is a quirky rotating TV


Editor’s Note: This story was published on April 17, 2020. It has been edited to reflect Samsung’s official pricing and availability for The Frame in the Philippines.

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Accessories

Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 review: Affordable, but far from perfect

Xiaomi’s premium TWS offering

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The truly wireless earphones market is filled with a plethora of options today, ranging from entry-level offerings like the Redmi Earbuds S to the premium Sony WF-1000XM3. However, the most popular TWS earphones are from Apple — the AirPods.

AirPods kickstarted the TWS trend, and since then, pretty much every brand has jumped onboard. Xiaomi is known for its reliable yet affordable products, and it has launched a few options previously, but it was limited to its home market of China.

Now, the brand has finally launched the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 in India, and it’s pretty much half the price of Apple’s AirPods.

The Redmi Earbuds S is an entry-level offering while Mi branding is now used for the company’s premium offerings. TWS earphones are incredibly convenient to use, and their demand is consistently rising. Can the Mi TWS 2 offer maximum features for the price and go against the competition?

Do they look like the AirPods?

 

At first sight, you’d think they are the AirPods for a quick second. But it’s soon clear that they aren’t. This is something I appreciate about the Mi TWS 2. In a market filled with AirPods knockoffs, it’s nice to see a different design. However, don’t set your expectations too high.

The earbud’s stem is exceptionally thick, and this is easily noticeable from the side. Thankfully, it doesn’t look that thick from the front view and is oval. The stem is also considerably long, giving the earbud a very bulky look.

The polycarbonate build has a matte finish on the stem while the driver is smooth and shiny. I feel the earphones were designed with utility and features in mind, and aesthetics took a back seat.

If the bulkier design can add more battery life and better drivers, I’m okay with it. This may not be the case with many since they tend to look like cheap AirPods knockoffs.

Each earbud weighs just 4 grams, and they slide in your ears very smoothly. Putting them on is a quick task, and for calls, while driving, these are exceedingly convenient to wear single-handedly. The semi-open design is supposed to be fit-for-all. But, this is where my primary concern lies.

How’s the overall user experience?

The earbuds fit perfectly and are rather stable. But the satisfaction of wearing an earbud is utterly absent because of reduced noise isolation. Even though they’ve never automatically snuggled out, I’m always afraid of losing them while walking. The confidence to wear them outdoors is low.

These too sport gesture-based controls, and the result is below satisfaction. I’d have to try a few times before they actively receive the command. Even play/pause function is rather cumbersome and paired with the loose fit; I’m afraid they don’t fall off.

Thankfully, they have an optical sensor that automatically plays/pauses a song when the earbud is worn or removed. Most times, I’d simply remove them from my ear instead of relying on the gesture buttons.

Lastly, the case is quite basic from a design point of view but gets the job done properly. The plastic build is solid, the lid has magnetic detection, and the earbuds aren’t finicky when plugged for charging. A small LED light on the front will show you the case’s battery status. A USB-C port is located on the bottom.

Pairing them is a straightforward task, and Xiaomi phones will automatically pop-up the status menu just like it’s on iOS. It’ll show you each earbud’s battery percentage along with the case.

But do they sound good?

The brand has added a lot of features on the audio side to make the product look premium. It has support for multiple codecs like SBC, AAC, and LHDC. The last one allows high-resolution audio streaming via Bluetooth. I used the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max to test the Mi TWS 2 and it automatically leveraged the AAC band.

Each earbud houses a 14.2mm audio driver, which isn’t the biggest. But, much of the audio output relies on tuning. Sound testing is also very subjective, so I’ll try to address everyone’s choice.

To start with, the output is very crisp and clear, and the vocals are perfectly heard. If you’re into Bollywood songs or even pop, these should be ideal for you.

Unlike the usual tuning, we see in Indian products; the bass here is well managed. It isn’t too much and ultimately does justice for every user. I’d say these are your GadgetMatch if you listen to podcasts and audiobooks.

The drivers are massively let down by non-existent noise isolation. The design of the earbuds inherently means you can hear pretty much everything happening around you. Even at maximum volume, it just didn’t feel enough.

Lastly, they have “Environment Noise Cancellation” that automatically kicks in when you’re on a call. Background noise is reduced drastically, and everyone I called could feel the change. The overall voice clarity is immensely improved, and high-winds too couldn’t deter them.

How long can they last?

Xiaomi claimed the earbuds can last up to four hours on a single charge and it’s on-point. I was able to get almost four hours with volume at 80 percent.

The case is capable of providing 10 hours of backup, taking the total to fourteen. Thankfully, the case takes just an hour to charge.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re an audiophile, the simple answer is no. The Mi TWS 2 will disappoint you in many ways. However, if you’re looking for work-related earphones, these are perfect.

Calls are ultra-clear, and the overall experience is better thanks to a loose fit. Keep them on, and get through a full day’s work. On the audio side, hip-hop or bass-intensive genre may not suit well here. However, all other vocal-centric songs shall swing by without a hitch.

With a price of INR 4,499, the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 is a solid competitor. When compared to the realme Buds Air, these lose out on aesthetics. But, the minor additions from a function point of view are worth the slight bump in price.

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