Reviews

Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G review: What’s different?

Spoilers: Not a lot

Published

on

We thought the Huawei Mate 30 Pro was one of the best Android phones in an ideal world. The Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G is pretty much the same.

We already shared our extensive thoughts on the Mate 30 Pro in a previous review. If you want the full low-down, you can open this link on another tab or watch the video below.

 

What I want to focus on here is what’s different.

Give me more flagships with Vegan Leather

Glass looks great, sure. But it’s smudgy and no matter what marketing spin any brand puts on how tough their glass is, the prudent thing to do is slap a case on that expensive flagship for protection. That’s just how glass feels — slippery, fragile, and an accident waiting to happen.

Vegan Leather feels like something else entirely. While it’s probably smarter to also slap a case on the Mate 30 Pro 5G, I am less inclined to do so.

The vegan leather feels great on my hand. Not having a case also keeps the footprint of the device very desirable — a sweet spot for a phone with a 6.53-inch display.

You also don’t sacrifice the wireless charging feature if you opt for vegan leather over glass. Perhaps the cost to mass produce phones with vegan leather is much larger than glass. That’s a topic for another day.

But if  we didn’t have to consider cost and production, I would take vegan leather over glass any day if only for how it feels and the way it looks.

5G just isn’t there yet

It’s honestly great that we’re getting plenty of smartphones with 5G capability. But 5G itself — that’s a bit trickier. A robust 5G infrastructure just doesn’t exist yet.

If this whole 5G business is flying over your head, perhaps our explainer can help. Go ahead and open that on another tab too for later reading.

Of course we tested what the speeds would look like.

What you don’t see here is how we were barely getting 5G where we were located. We tested this alongside other media and they even had to step out just to make sure they’re getting the best reception possible.

I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t seem practical. We’re taking steps toward 5G, but don’t buy any phone only because of its 5G capabilities.

Better camera performance?

We’re glad to say that’s not the case with the Mate 30 Pro 5G. Much like most of their flagships ever since partnering with Leica, the Mate 30 Pro 5G produces images that will likely appeal to a lot of eyes.

Just a few weeks ago, DXOMark gave the Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G a high score of 134 for photos on a smartphone. At the time, it was the highest rated, beating the non-5G variante by two points.

So we did what anyone with a smartphone would do with their cameras.

We used it to take photos of food.

 

Took some snaps during an event.

 

And we also used it to take photos for the ‘gram. Lots of them. Here are a few shots with portrait mode.

 

Here are some using wide angle.

 

Some worm’s eye view shots.

 

We also wanted to see differences in normal, HDR, and portrait mode. It’s staggering!

 

Selfies are a hit or miss even in daylight. And it’s probably best to steer clear of portrait mode altogether when taking selfies.

 

Portrait mode at night at a busy street looks cinematic if not for the little-too-aggressive smooth effect.

 

Here’s a night shot and zoom combo for you.

 

Night shots can be tricky.

 

But with an ample amount of patience, they can look pretty darn good.

 

Here’s a selfie at night just for kicks.

Like I mentioned earlier, a lot of these shots look like they’re social media ready. Personally, I think some of the colors come off too strong, but when it works it really does.

Also, you’re not always gonna get the best shot right away. This is true for any camera. Smartphone or otherwise.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you feel like we glossed over so many things, that’s because a lot of it, as I mentioned earlier, had already been discussed in our Mate 30 Pro review.

No, this one still doesn’t have Google Mobile Services so I imagine you have to fall into a very specific subgroup to even want to consider this phone. Those would be:

  1. You’re a loyal Huawei user. Brand-love yay! Can’t fault that.
  2. You’re able to hold on to your older phone so you can keep phone-cloning apps when they get updates.
  3. You’re really into the whole aesthetic of the photos it takes.

Personally, number two alone is giving me a massive headache. I don’t want to have to think about these things when I’m supposed to be using a “smart” phone.

That said, Huawei CEO Richard Yu says he feels they’re close to getting regularly used apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to their very own AppGallery. They’re also looking at other solutions in the meantime.

For Google’s part, they have already filed a permit with the US Government to be able to continue working with Huawei. Should that move forward, Yu told the media during a press briefing that their devices are ready to push the Google Mobile Services update immediately.

However, these are all “ifs” for now. Until these things actually happen, I would hold off on buying this phone.

Computers

LG UltraGear 25” Gaming Monitor review: Enough to get you started

Comes with key features for your first gaming PC build

Published

on

I’ve seen a ton of people purchase full gaming PC setups since the pandemic took center stage in our lives. I’m pretty sure a lot of these people spent the past few months saving every peso they could for it. Of course, I also did it with all the money I saved up and planned every purchase very carefully.

In getting your gaming PC build, one of the more important peripherals to consider is your monitor. Most people will tell you that any monitor is okay, but experts will say that you shouldn’t just get any monitor. Apart from color accurate and bright displays, your monitor should have a high enough refresh rate to keep up.

It’s exactly what the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor brings to the table, at least on paper. But is this worth checking out, especially for first time PC setup builders? Here’s a rundown of the specs:

It has a 23.6-inch TN FHD panel, with a 144Hz refresh rate

It comes with two HDMI ports and one DisplayPort

The design, on its own, is nothing spectacular

The LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor comes in a package you normally expect from most lightweight gaming monitors. A hardened-plastic enclosure covers the display, and the monitor even comes with a metal stand in gray and red accents. Upon unboxing, I found it relatively easy to set up and position alongside my PC setup.

Immediately, the first and only thing I noticed was the thick bezel surrounding the display. To be honest, it’s a relatively minor issue for me ever since other brands started reducing theirs. Although I would have appreciated a little more screen space, especially while playing games.

A display that meets expectations for the most part

Most gaming monitors come with high refresh rates to keep up during pressure situations. Fortunately, the LG UltraGear Gaming Monitor comes with a 144Hz panel which is more than enough. Also, it even sports a 1ms response rate so you’re able to stay at the top of your game. 

Most games I tried with this monitor performed with relative ease and no visible sign of image tearing. FPS games like CS:GO and Valorant, in my opinion, work best with this setup given that you can run these games on low-end setups.

Also, it’s quite bright and color accurate which is great for content creators. Although, in some cases, I felt that it didn’t handle dark color areas well. I tried to compensate by simply adjusting the brightness, but it didn’t do anything significantly different. At least it’s an anti-glare TN panel, so you don’t have to worry about the sun.

Comes with features that works depending on the other hardware

This monitor supports AMD’s FreeSync technology which further improves gameplay experience. Honestly, I felt this should be a standard for most gaming monitors — including those that support NVIDIA GSync. Also, there are other optimizations like Dynamic Action Sync (DAS) and motion blur reduction.

However, this monitor actually benefits you only if you’re currently rocking an AMD Radeon graphics card. Ideally, it would still work pretty well when you plug it to an NVIDIA card but expect some image tearing. It wasn’t a big issue for me since I could still apply the reduced motion blur and DAS.

Port selection for this monitor is more than enough for a normal PC setup. Two HDMI ports are available at your disposal, which is great if you want to use it for your consoles. The added DisplayPort provides more connectivity, especially since most graphics cards support it. Keep in mind though: if you plan to plug your console, don’t expect the 144Hz refresh rate.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For PhP 12,599 (US$ 257), the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor ticks all the necessary boxes. What you have is a high refresh rate monitor with good color accuracy, and fully optimized for gaming. Combined with a great selection of ports, this monitor is a great option for your first PC build.

However, if you have strict preferences for your monitor, this might not be what you’re looking for. If you’re not a fan of thick bezels or you’re more conservative with your money, I wouldn’t practically recommend this. Also, you wouldn’t be able to fully maximize its potential if you don’t own an AMD graphics card.

All things considered, it’s enough to get you started on your gaming PC setup. Even with cheaper alternatives out there, I still recommend you give this a shot.

Continue Reading

India

POCO M2 Pro review: A Redmi Note 9 Pro without ads

What’s the difference?

Published

on

With a new strategy in place, POCO announced the POCO X2 in the first quarter, and now, it’s back with another offering — the POCO M2 Pro. It’s an affordable offering that’s found a comfortable spot in India’s INR sub-15,000 price bracket. But, there’s a twist.

POCO made its debut with the POCO F1. It was a legendary phone because it did the unexpected — flagship-grade performance at an affordable price. Since then, POCO as a brand has been synonymous to aggressive pricing and top-notch specifications. However, the POCO F1 was launched in 2018 and a lot has changed since then.

For starters, POCO was a dormant brand throughout 2019 and made a comeback at the beginning of 2020. We expected a successor of its infamous first phone, but everything was going to change. POCO is now an independent brand that takes autonomous business and marketing decisions. To make it clear, Mi, Redmi, and POCO are three different teams right now.

If you look closer, the POCO M2 Pro is nothing but a rebranded Redmi Note 9 Pro. Furthermore, the 4GB+64GB entry-level option of both phones has the same price of INR 13,999 (US$ 186). So, what’s different about POCO’s offering? Why should this phone be your GadgetMatch?

A proven design that fits everyone

The Redmi Note 9 Pro series has a very ergonomic design that looks premium as well as sturdy. The quad-camera setup has a significantly larger bump but it gets covered perfectly with the in-box case. The rear sports Gorilla Glass 5 and underneath it is a diagonally-lined pattern. While the phone looks stunning, using it without a case isn’t recommended since it’s prone to smudges and micro scratches.

The rear is the only thing that physically differentiates the phone from Redmi Note 9 Pro. The USB port, volume rockers, fingerprint scanner, and speaker grille are from the same Redmi mold.

I don’t mind rebranded phones as long as they’re not yet available in the same market. If POCO wants to be taken seriously as an independent brand, it needs to stand on its own and bring out original offerings. Realme has done a much better job of publicly distancing itself from OPPO, even though it leverages the same supply chain.

A perfect display

It sports a 6.67-inch Full HD+ display with a tiny punch-hole cut-out that houses the front camera. Unlike the competing Realme 6, it doesn’t have a 90Hz panel and runs at 60Hz. However, considering the price, I wouldn’t consider this to be a con. There are barely any games that can leverage higher refresh rates and the phone is meant to be an all-rounder.

The screen has sufficient brightness and can be seen easily under direct sunlight. The colors look slightly over-saturated but it can be adjusted according to your preference. Being an LCD panel, it does a pretty good job of creating deeper blacks.

POCO Performance

The brand is known for its performance-centric phones and the legacy continues here with a Snapdragon 720G chipset. Any task you throw at it will be done without a glitch. My unit has 6GB RAM and it never slowed down or struggled to handle multiple apps at once. Being a power user, I often use Outlook, Twitter, Gmail, Microsoft Word, and WhatsApp in close proximity. Safe to say, it didn’t feel like I needed a better or more powerful chipset.

I don’t play a lot of games except for reviewing and PUBG is my first preference. The overall experience is smooth and hassle-free. Even at higher settings, the phone gets a little warm but there no visible frame drops. Although, the weight of the phone does get annoying after a while. Similarly, a heavy game like World of Tanks also gets through without any turbulence.

The phone ships with MIUI out-of-the-box and since the Redmi Note 9 Pro series also ships with the same chipset, software updates should drop-in seamlessly.

Powering the phone is a 5000mAh battery and I clocked a little more than seven hours of screen time on a full charge. It has support for 33W fast charging and takes around one hour and twenty-five minutes to fully charge.

Quad-cameras that’ll get anything done

The rear houses a quad-camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 5-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel sensor. We’ve seen this camera setup on a plethora of Xiaomi phones and it’s safe to assume the output is top-notch. Thanks to Xiaomi’s reach, the AI-assisted changes are accurate as well as satisfactory.

I mean to say, the algorithm knows where to work and how to produce pleasing pictures. Sometimes you may notice over-saturation in landscape pictures, but AI-mode can be switched off with a quick tap. The dynamic range is near-perfect while the overall tone is on the warmer side.

While daytime pictures are excellent, the primary sensor struggles in the dark. Shots can often be grainy or blurry if you’re not careful about being steady.

For the pros out there, a manual mode is available to tinker with the finer details. Portrait mode works flawlessly and works on better than expected on dogs too!

The display cut-out houses a 16-megapixel selfie camera and it’s flawless. Details are retained accurately and the focus is ultra-fast. This sensor also is tuned on the warmer side and comes with an optional beauty mode.

On the video side, it supports recording at up to 4K 30fps. Obviously, there’s no optical image stabilization. But, the electronic rendering is good enough and gets the job done.

No ads in MIUI

Yes, the phone runs on MIUI 11. No, it doesn’t have any ads.

This is the only visible change I can see between the POCO M2 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro. MIUI has a lot of customization and functionality, minus the learning curve. The phone is perfect for everyone can be used without any deep technical knowledge. Software support is stable and while there were a few bugs, the overall experience remained unhindered.

The most frequent complaint about MIUI is the ads. This phone won’t spam your notification area and this can be a relief for many. There are a few pre-installed apps, but they can be easily disabled. In a nutshell, the POCO M2 Pro offers a better user experience while retaining top-notch hardware. Lastly, instead of MIUI launcher, this phone has POCO launcher.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I’d recommend this phone without any buts. The display is immersive, performance is best-in-class, the cameras do a decent job, and the battery can easily last you a day. With MIUI, the uniform Xiaomi experience is brought back without its biggest con. Design is a personal preference and I’ve found both, the POCO M2 Pro, as well as the Redmi Note 9 Pro, be impressive.

For the consumers, this is a win-win situation. But, for the brand, it’s a mixed bag. POCO intended to move out of Xiaomi’s camp but hasn’t been able to do that efficiently this year. To become a truly independent brand, it’ll have to stop depending on the parent so much and create its own identity. Right now, the original POCO F1 fans are disappointed along with the current followers who expected a fresh offering.

Continue Reading

Reviews

Google Pixel 4a Unboxing & Review: Unbelievably Good?

A direct contender of the iPhone SE and OnePlus Nord

Published

on

Google’s ‘a'(ffordable) line-up may be long overdue because of the pandemic — but after several months of waiting, we finally have one on our hands.

Cheaper than last year’s US$ 399 Pixel 3a, the US$ 349 Pixel 4a might just be the most affordable flagship killer contender you can get over the 2020 iPhone SE and the OnePlus Nord.

But can the mid-tier specifications and less-fancy phone features justify its affordable price tag? Head over to our in-depth Pixel 4a review here.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Gadget Reviews

Trending