Reviews

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

Spoilers: Not a lot

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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.

Reviews

POCO M5 review: No need to break the bank

More than just a gaming phone

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Gaming is usually an expensive hobby. Between new hardware and pricey games, it’s too common to feel broke as a gamer. However, buying into gaming shouldn’t always break the bank. If you’re a mobile gamer, the world now has options to feed your habit without feeling guilty. Earlier this month, POCO launched a new gaming smartphone for budget-conscious gamers — the POCO M5. Now, almost a month after the launch, let’s see how the phone holds up.

Big but light

Boasting a 6.58-inch screen, the POCO M5 is quite hefty. However, despite the size, the phone is a few millimeters narrower than my main driver. It’s gigantic but not uncomfortably so. Of course, size is a great aspect to boast for a gaming phone. Watching Netflix is more than enjoyable on the POCO M5.

Adding to that, the smartphone is remarkably light for its size. Weighing in at just 201 grams, it sits comfortably on my hand while I’m either watching or playing.

As for other design quirks, the smartphone does take some creative liberties behind the screen. Instead of a smooth back, the rear has a leathery texture, adding to a premium feel. Also, like the Pixel 6 series, it sports a camera island that wraps around the entire width of the rear panel. However, unlike the aforementioned Google flagship, the island doesn’t protrude as much, making for a pleasantly stable surface.

Gaming on a budget

Armed with the MediaTek Helio G99 octa-core processor, the POCO M5 is capable of holding its own weight. Besides the processor, it also has up to 6GB of RAM and up to 128GB of internal storage (expandable through a microSD slot). It’s not quite a flagship, but it’s enough to get the job done.

Everyday operations — browsing, texting, taking photos — felt seamless. The smartphone never felt slow or laggy — at least during non-gaming sessions.

Unfortunately, the phone’s gaming capabilities fall a bit short from “true gaming phone” territory. While Genshin Impact (which the phone came installed with) played well, meatier games like Diablo Immortal did run into some lag spikes. Thankfully, it’s not a huge downside. Despite playing in low to medium settings, Diablo Immortal played well enough to get through an hour of unbridled gameplay.

Heat wasn’t an issue, either. After playing through an hour, the smartphone never really got hot enough to an uncomfortable level. Plus, with a plastic case, the heat simmered down to lukewarm levels. It might be different during a hot summer day, but the transition between summer to fall is a good time to have this phone.

Taken with the POCO M5

An impressive camera for its price

For a phone with an affordable price tag, the POCO M5 carries an impressive camera combination. Sporting a 50-megapixel main sensor and two 2-megapixel macro/depth sensors, the smartphone can deliver photos that are good enough for the ‘gram.

Taken with the POCO M5

Under bright to overcast lighting situations, photos offered substantial detail and contrast. In fact, it was enough to go up against my Pixel 6. Of course, it doesn’t do as much for less-than-stellar lighting conditions. Regardless, it does remarkably well for its price point.

For example, I took the phone to a live show. The photos were a delight. Although, if you zoom in enough, you can spot some pixelation. It doesn’t matter as much, especially since the photo itself is still impressive.

Taken with the POCO M5

Similarly, the phone does well enough for night shots. Taking photos required stable hands, of course, but the photos were decent. A well-lit photo at night is more than enough for a phone of this caliber.

Gaming all day

With a huge 5000mAh battery, the POCO M5 lasted more than a day. The battery does well for everyday use and some moderate gaming on the side. Further, I tried an all-day screen test with the phone. Despite being on for an entire day (that is, from 5AM to 10PM), the smartphone still had more than a quarter of its battery left.

Charging is standard. With a fast 18W charging standard, the phone filled up to 100 from 15 percent in around 90 minutes.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Coming in black, green, or yellow, the POCO M5 is available now starting at EUR 189 (going up to EUR 229 for the highest trim). For its price point, the new smartphone is a worthy purchase if you’re looking to game on a budget. And that’s without the additional frills you’re enjoying.

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Reviews

vivo Y35 review: Y series upgraded

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vivo Y35

We know that the Y series is vivo’s entry-level line of smartphones and is among their highest selling variants to date. So, it does feel confusing that the vivo Y35 still belongs in this category as a lot of its features already belong to a higher class. 

It has everything a Y series should be but also a lot to take it to the next level.

That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss as we talk more about the identity crisis this phone is having and why it actually is pretty good.

Specs

A quick recap of the specs before we proceed. The vivo Y35 is running on the Snapdragon 680 chipset with 8GB RAM plus 8GB of extended RAM, it also has a large internal storage of 256GB and is being powered by a 5,000mAh battery with a 44W Flash Charge.

Designed like a Y series and that means beautiful

vivo Y35

The way this phone is designed looks and feels almost exactly like vivo’s other entry-level offerings. It’s not necessarily a bad thing since their designs are recognizably attractive and are pretty well built.

With this one, the size feels slightly thicker and heavier on the hands. It can be both a blessing and a curse especially for people with bigger hands. I like that it feels a bit chunky. It makes it easier to grip though it also bulges a bit in my pants’ pocket.

vivo Y35

It’s commendable that for a relatively affordable phone, I feel proud to bring out even in sophisticated engagements. Contrasting the camera module’s dark gray mirror finish with the Dawn Gold colorway of the whole body is picture-perfect.

Plus, I greatly appreciate that they finally went with a matte textured back case which doesn’t attract smudges.

Responsive Display 

vivo Y35

If you place the Y35 side by side with other budget phones from vivo, you’ll probably think they’re all using the same screens. Most of them still have a chin and a dew drop front camera design. But on paper, most of them slightly differ. 

The one on the Y35 is a 6.58-inch, full HD+, IPS display but now boasts a 90Hz refresh rate. So it does feel a bit more responsive adding to its overall user experience.

vivo Y35

Given that this isn’t AMOLED, we can’t expect it to have the same vibrance of that kind. But at least the viewing angles are decent and colors are nicely saturated.

Outdoor usage may be a bit of a struggle but not to the point that it gets annoying.

Battery and Charging is its best feature

One of the highlights on the Y35 is its fast charging capabilities. vivo claims this phone can charge up to 70 percent in just 34 minutes. It’s quite unusual to experience in this category of smartphones.

Based on my personal test, the 44W Flash Charge on this was able to get a 20 percent increase in just ten minutes of charging. And from 15 percent, it took a whole hour and two minutes for it to get fully charged.

Not entirely the same as vivo’s claims but still remarkably fast. Especially if we consider that most entry-level phones do take more than two hours to get fully charged.

This means we can now change our overnight charging habit to just charging before we prepare ourselves for leaving the house.

vivo Y35

Battery performance was also fairly good. I managed to use this mostly on data connection, streaming a whole bunch of YouTube videos in a four-hour bus trip to Baguio and I ended the whole day still with 58 percent battery remaining.

That’s pretty decent for a 5,000 mAh battery if you ask me.

Built for Multi-Tasking 

vivo Y35

Aside from the large RAM and storage, there really isn’t much to go crazy about the Y35’s hardware and performance. Apps run more or less the same as other Snapdragon 680 powered phones. But the benefits of having more RAM is quite noticeable.

It can surely handle running apps side by side on multi-window mode but not absurdly responsive. It also manages to return to apps I have running in the background without having to wait for it to load all over again.

vivo Y35

I assume games may have also benefited from the large available RAM as Call of Duty: Mobile is able to run lag-free at very high settings with high FPS enabled. 

vivo Y35

But I feel that among the games I’ve tried, Genshin Impact had a more significant benefit from its specs. Despite being very demanding, the Y35 seemed pretty comfortable handling this game at its default setting with no noticeable slowdowns.

At medium setting, slowdowns did become evident but dropping a few settings to low made the game run at nearly its full speed. I even managed to configure some settings to a combination of high graphic options and this worked out pretty well, too.

Cameras that take Insta-worthy snaps 

vivo Y35

Like the display, I was also expecting the camera to be the exact same one that came with the Y35’s more affordable siblings. With 50MP for its main camera, 2MP bokeh shooter, 2MP macro camera and 16MP selfie camera, on paper, these do seem very similar.

But having the chance to use a lot of them, I can say that that isn’t the case. Image quality has improved but not so drastically.

 

 

 

 

It often gets the colors where I want them and looks Insta-worthy but so long as we manually adjust the exposure slider. Not doing so will mostly result in an overly exposed image which isn’t too appealing.

I noticed that it still has difficulty capturing details in background subjects like leaves of trees. However, I may belong in the minority who actually likes the look of its softness. It kind of reminds me of old digicams which make some shots feel nostalgic if that makes sense.

What I really liked was the ability to recover quickly after taking a shot. I think this could also be a product of its hardware specs and not the camera itself. Whatever it is, it helps ease shooting. The Y35 manages to snap at fast moving subjects allowing me to catch candid moments as it happens.

Is the vivo Y35 your GadgetMatch?

vivo Y35

Priced at PhP 14,999 as of writing, the vivo Y35 does seem to be pushing against the boundaries of the entry-level category. For just a little bit more, a lower mid-range phone isn’t too far off which would likely be better in most cases.

Having this consideration in mind, I think the Y35 would be an ideal fit for people eyeing a budget phone who are willing to stretch their pockets a bit for more features.

vivo Y35

It’s fast enough for daily tasks and games. and is capable of capturing the moment with its decent cameras. It’s also a fast and vibrant display, and best of all, it charges fast and won’t easily die down on you. Plus it also looks really nice, albeit with the notch design.

Basically, it’s a phone that gets the job done with a few extras here and there. Maybe vivo can consider calling this a Y series Plus or Pro? 

The vivo Y35 is available in Dawn Gold or Agate Black colors at their Shopee, Lazada, Tiktok Shop and vivo e-store and all vivo Concept stores nationwide.

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Accessories

Apple AirPods Pro 2 Review

Is it worth the upgrade?

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After years of waiting, Apple has finally updated their AirPods Pro from 2019.

The AirPods Pro 2nd Generation may look like its old predecessor, but it offers more than what its “unchanged” look.

There’s an upgraded H2 chip, better ANC, longer battery life, a charging case with speakers and MagSafe, and more!

But are these features worth the upgrade?

Or is it better for a first-time AirPods user to invest on the AirPods 3 instead?

Head over to our in-depth Apple AirPods 2 review to feed your curiosities.

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