Reviews

Huawei Mate 30 Pro review: The best Android smartphone in an ideal world

It’s got everything you need plus a few gimmicks that might be useful every now and then

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We’ll get straight to the point. The Huawei Mate 30 Pro is a great smartphone. It’s got everything you could possibly need in a flagship device. Or does it?

Undeniably premium

The Huawei Mate 30 Pro screams premium in every aspect. It’s got this gorgeous curved display that wraps around the sides. Huawei calls it the Horizon display. It’s like the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, only more curved. It actually resembles the Vivo NEX 3 more which we reviewed just recently.

While curved screens are undeniably aesthetically pleasing, we still prefer flat displays over them. What Huawei does differently though is it added functionality to that curved display.

If you haven’t noticed by now, the Mate 30 Pro is missing volume buttons that’s usually placed on the right or left side of the phone. You adjust volume by tapping on either side of the phone, whichever is more comfortable for you.

Do we like it? Let’s just say we like that the curved display isn’t all purely for aesthetic but this functionality is far from perfect and needs a lot of work.

You need to reach for and tap the upper half edges of the phone, right above the power button to adjust volume. If you have small hands, this would be a struggle with one hand use.

Speaking of the power button, we like that Huawei retained the red accent from the Mate 20 Pro. It’s a small thing but a really nice touch.

Port placements are usual. There’s a USB-C port at the bottom, and a single loud speaker, but no headphone jack.

The SIM tray can house two nano SIM cards, or one nano SIM card and Huawei’s proprietary nano memory card. Yes, storage is expandable if you can get a nano memory card where you are.

Up top there’s still a huge notch but for good reason. Notches, punch holes — these things don’t really bother us as much. They’re not that big of an issue as others make them out to be.

“If you ever find yourself incredibly lucky to score tickets to watch your favorite football team or artist on stage, would you really rather spend half of the time trying to take a decent picture, or being present and just enjoying every moment?”

Apart from the selfie camera, there are a bunch of sensors here that allow two things: a more secure face unlock, and air gestures.

This could be handy in certain situations like when you’re eating with your hands and you want to keep scrolling  through your feed. In such situations though, shouldn’t you just be more present instead of using your phone constantly?

Another thing missing on the Mate 30 Pro is an earpiece. Instead, sound comes from the display. Huawei calls this electromagnetic levitation.

Apart from face unlock, you also get an underdisplay fingerprint scanner. It’s fast, but because face unlock is so much faster, you’ll end up not using the fingerprint scanner as much.

At the back you get Huawei’s signature color shifting glass back. It’s beautiful but our unit didn’t come with a case so it easily picked up grime and fingerprints.

The color we have is space silver but it also comes in other colors and finishes depending on where you are. This one looks like a very faint lavender that shifts to a faint blue under most lighting conditions.

Another design decision that Huawei made on the Mate 30 Pro is to drop the square camera module that we actually liked on the Mate 20 Pro. It was unique and distinctly Huawei that even the new iPhone and Pixel phones adopted this design.

On the Mate 30 Pro, you get a round one, reminiscent of old Lumia phones. There’s a “halo” surrounding it, making it look a little different from other round camera modules like those found on the One Plus 7T and Vivo NEX 3.

Battery king

Battery life on Huawei flagship smartphones is something truly commendable. Both the P30 Pro and Mate 20 Pro have some of the longest lasting batteries we’ve tried on a smartphone in the past year.

The Mate 30 Pro is no exception. Huawei also increased the capacity to 4500 mAh from 4200 on last year’s Mate 20 Pro. It can get you a day and a half of heavy use or 2 full days on moderate use.

The only other phone that lasts this long that I can think of is the ROG Phone 2, but that one has a massive 6000 mAh battery.

Another favorite feature of ours that hasn’t changed on the Mate 30 Pro is Huawei’s 40W wired charging. With it you get to 100% in just a little over an hour. If you’re in a hurry, a 15-minute top up will get you to around 40%.

Wireless charging is also faster now at 27W, and Huawei sells its own wireless charger that supports this.

Reverse wireless charging is also much improved — now 3x faster than before.

Versatile cameras

Apart from battery life, Huawei has carved a name for itself in the camera department. The cameras on the P20 Pro, Mate 20 Pro, and P30 Pro are some of the best that we’ve used by far. The Mate 30 Pro, again, is no exception.

It’s got the same large 40MP RYYB sensor found on the P30 Pro, which makes it one of the best low light shooters around. It’s so good that you don’t even need to switch to night mode to get good results.

The ultrawide lens is much improved. It’s now called the 40MP Cine Camera. It’s more consistent with the main lens, and shoots better photos especially when light starts to dip.

One major difference between this and the P30 Pro is zoom. On the P30 Pro you get 5x optical zoom, while on the Mate 30 Pro, you only get 3x. This really isn’t an issue because the only time it’s practical to zoom in that close is when we’re watching either a sports game or concerts.

The Mate 30 Pro can sure take pretty good photos given how far and dark the stage was at Carly Rae Jepsen’s Dedicated Tour, but it also took several ugly takes, and after several songs, before we got any usable shots.

If you ever find yourself incredibly lucky to score tickets to watch your favorite football team or artist on stage, would you really rather spend half of the time trying to take a decent picture, or being present and just enjoying every moment? That, of course, doesn’t take away from how good these cameras are. They’re reliable when taking photos during the day and at night.

After using the P30 Pro extensively to shoot video back in March, we expect the Mate 30 Pro to be just as good if not better. Video stabilization is just as impressive. The phone shoots 7,680fps super slow mo video, too. It’s another feature that neither I nor you will use on a regular basis, but it’s there if and when you need it.

Is the Huawei Mate 30 Pro your GadgetMatch?

I said it at the start of this review and I’ll say it again: the Huawei Mate 30 Pro has everything you could possibly need in a flagship device. It’s got a premium build, great design, gorgeous display, secure biometrics, long-lasting battery life, reliable cameras for photos and videos, and a few gimmicks that might be useful every now and then. It’s the complete package.

The lack of the Google Play Services on a phone this good is really unfortunate. It makes it hard to recommend it to anyone who doesn’t live in China or don’t use Chinese apps.

In Europe it starts with a steep price tag of EUR 1,099. It comes out much cheaper in Singapore at SG$ 1,298, as well as in the Philippines at PhP 50,990.

In an ideal world, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro would get the GadgetMatch seal of approval but in the reality we live in, it’s sadly the best Android smartphone that you shouldn’t buy.

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Apple 2021 iPad mini Unboxing and Review

Is this the iPad for you?

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After two years, Apple has finally changed the look of the iPad mini!

Gone are the thick bezels and home button in favor of a trendy fullscreen look a la iPad Pro and iPad Air.

Having a smaller form factor doesn’t mean it’s less powerful. While not as powerful as the M1 iPad Pro, the new iPad mini still has an A15 Bionic that’s similar to the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro series. It surely is a step ahead over last year’s iPad Air.

It may not have the most advanced Face ID system, but Touch ID still lives on — now found on its power button.

But are these features enough to make you buy one? Or do you still want the bigger screen of the iPad Air?

Head over to our 2021 iPad mini review to know which iPad is your GadgetMatch.

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Redmi 10 review: Page out of a premium playbook

That 50-megapixel shooter is the saving grace

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Budget phones used to be just budget phones. They used to lack groundbreaking features to make your experience seamless. And you’ll need to shell out a lot of cash just to get a decent phone that actually works. But I was speaking about budget phones from around five years ago.

In 2021, smartphone companies are reinventing what it means to have an entry-level handset. Xiaomi’s sub-brand Redmi, which has been leading the segment for a few years now, seems to set the course again on a new range of affordable smartphones.

Meet the Redmi 10 — the successor to its popular Redmi 9 — offering premium-like design and smart features but with a price tag that you can easily reach.

Finally looking like its siblings

The Redmi 10 rehashed its looks, looking differently than its predecessor. It employed the same design language found on other Redmi and Xiaomi smartphones, which was a trend started by Samsung — trickling down from its flagship to the more affordable Galaxy A series.

Somehow, it’s working since the Redmi 10 looks sleeker and it can be quite difficult to tell the difference compared to the Redmi Note 10 Pro. And even the Xiaomi 10T Pro. Unless, of course, you’re a tech junkie and a Xiaomi fan. But that’s probably the case when you have the Carbon Gray color option.

Nonetheless, the Redmi 10 in Carbon Gray looks neutral yet sleek with its frosted glass-looking back which is just actually plastic. But it makes up for being lightweight so it doesn’t put a strain on your hands for endless scrolling on TikTok. Just a heads-up, though. Carbon Gray is a smudge-magnet so you need to slap a clear case on — which comes in the box.

Moving to its frame and details, it’s also made of plastic but it comes with sweet, round edges and flat sides. Which I appreciate because the era of curved phones is now in my past.

SIM tray

The left side houses the SIM tray while the volume rockers and the power button doubling as a fingerprint scanner are found on the right.

Power button/fingerprint scanner and volume rockers

Speaking of which, gliding your fingers across the scanner will prompt it to read your fingerprint easily — but it takes a second to boot the phone.

On the top side of the frame, you can find a stereo speaker, IR blaster, and the well-loved 3.5mm audio jack.

On the bottom side are the other loudspeaker and a USB-C port.

Performing quite well for your needs

Let’s talk about the design again, but on the front panel of the phone. The Redmi 10 sports a 6.5-inch IPS LCD panel with 2400×1800 resolution. It’s adorned with thinner bezels equal on all sides except the chin. The punch-hole cutout seems bigger than other smartphones employing the same approach, too.

Despite the front design that clearly indicates it’s still a budget phone, the magic lies behind it. The Redmi 10 comes with the latest MIUI 12.5 based on Android 11. Having said that, you can expect that even if you have an entry-level device, Xiaomi will still supply you with core Android updates.

It also has a 90Hz refresh rate — which seems to be a staple to most smartphones. People are always clamoring about higher refresh rates for their gaming needs, and to be “in”. It also comes with AdaptiveSync, which adjusts the refresh rate depending on the content being viewed.

When you watch on Netflix, or if you play online games, AdaptiveSync will adjust accordingly. So you don’t have to worry about the battery life that easily drains when using a higher refresh rate. But then again, the Redmi 10 sports a 5,000mAh battery. It lasted me a day of heavy use and lasted up to three days when I put it on standby.

Although, my only problem would be its max 18W capacity when it comes to “fast” charging. So the 22.5W charging brick included won’t be of any help. It takes more than an hour to fill the juice, making it your cue to detach from your phone for a little while.

The dealbreakers

I only played Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on the Redmi 10 since it’s the only mobile game I play right now. I put it into the highest settings possible, in which case it performed decently.

However, I experienced the same type of drag I had when I used the Infinix Note 10 Pro. There was a noticeable delay — which lasts for one to two seconds — when toggling buttons and switching scenes inside the game. The delay still occurs even if you change to the lowest setting possible.

I’m starting to think that it’s a similar theme for budget phones, but it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker especially when you consistently play in the budget segment.

And even with a Helio G88 processor, the phone heats up a little while you’re playing mid-game. Nonetheless, it still performs decently as expected out of an entry-level handset. To expect more from it is just asking too much — there’s a Redmi Note 10 Pro if you want better performance at an easily reachable price tag.

The Redmi 10 comes in various configurations depending on your country: 4GB/64GB, 4GB/128GB, and 6GB/128GB. It has expandable storage through a dedicated microSD card slot.

What worries me is that the internal storage uses an eMMC 5.1 chip, not the UFS. So the reading and writing of data is slower and might wear out over time. Translation: slowed down performance after considerable updates.

So if you’re thinking of multitasking and using this phone for work, I’d advise you not to. Use it casually so you can make it last longer.

Specs

Processor

MediaTek Helio G88

Configuration

4GB/64GB, 4GB/128GB, and 6GB/128GB

Battery

5000mAh + 18W charging

OS

Android 11, MIUI 12.5

Front camera

8MP

Rear camera

50MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP

Display

6.5” FHD+ IPS LCD

90Hz refresh rate

2460×1080 resolution

Dimension

162 x 75.5 x 8.9 mm

50-megapixel goodness?

It’s rare for an entry-level smartphone to have a high megapixel count. In a way, the Redmi 10 is raising the bar for smartphones in the budget segment. After all, it delivers a quad-camera system: a 50-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, a 2-megapixel macro shooter, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. On the front, it has an 8-megapixel selfie shooter.

For most people, this kind of camera setup works. So we took a few samples to see if the Redmi 10 can cover the bases.

For regular shots, the Redmi 10 takes decent captures both indoors and outdoors. As long as it comes with sufficient lighting. When taking backlit shots, the Redmi 10 doesn’t post-process and keeps shadows dark.

When using the ultra wide-angle lens, the Redmi 10 struggles with exposure and highlights both day and night.

Food photos aren’t tasty-looking due to their lack of vibrance, even if you use the AI Cam. To make it look even more appetizing, I used the 2X optical zoom to capture more details and take better flat lays.

Cutouts are okay whether auto shots at night or even the portrait mode. Except photos don’t look as detailed as they should.

The same goes for shots taken at night using auto mode and night mode.

Of course, we took samples using the 50-megapixel shooter. It did well during daytime shots, retaining as many details as it can but compromises when it comes to color accuracy. At night, on the other hand, still struggles with exposure and highlights — a noticeable flaw for a supposedly great quad-camera system.

Moving on to selfies, its 8-megapixel front shooter pads a slight beautification to its photos even if you turn off its beauty mode. Color balance also varies depending on the lighting condition.

In a way, it delivers how it’s supposed to. If anything, a filter wouldn’t hurt if you want to correct the color balance of the photos. There are built-in presets, but you can never go wrong with Instagram filters!

Is this your BudgetMatch?

There are things to love about the Redmi 10, and there are things that might raise some red flags. Depending on your needs, the Redmi 10 can cover the base and perform decently as expected of an entry-level smartphone. It’s got a sleeker look, a 50-megapixel shooter that you can show off, a 90Hz refresh rate — all at an affordable price tag.

But if you’re asking for it to do more, then you’re way better off choosing something else. For nearly the same price, there’s the POCO M3. For those who need better performance for all-around use, add a few more bucks and you can get the Redmi Note 10 Pro.

On another note, the realme 8 5G is also a good alternative granted you can increase your budget by a tad. It has similar features — a 90Hz refresh rate, same display and panel, same battery, and charging capability. But more importantly, it has 5G connectivity which helps for future-proofing.

Frankly, the Redmi 9T appears so much better it feels like this one’s a downgrade. The only salvation for the Redmi 10 is that it’s got a better look, smarter features, and it has a 50-megapixel shooter compared to the alternatives mentioned.

If all your needs are covered, then this could be your BudgetMatch. But to most people, the Redmi 10 falls short especially when it comes to that eMMC 5.1 storage — when most smartphones are using UFS already.

The Redmi 10 retails for PhP 7,590 for the 4GB+64GB variant, and PhP 8,590 for the 6GB+128GB variant. It comes in three colors: Carbon Gray, Pebble White, Sea Blue. It’s available for purchase at Xiaomi’s official stores and authorized retailers.

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POCO X3 GT review: Competitive midranger

An impressive phone that deserves your attention

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POCO X3 GT

The midrange segment, in my opinion, might be the most competitive smartphone category. Midrange phones are jam-packed with features and clever engineering. They are versatile, unique, and beautiful. The POCO X3 GT has a lot to contend with, but it can more than hold its own.

Before we proceed, here’s the unboxing article I posted a while back in case you missed it. You can check that out for a bit and comeback or join me now as we dive right into what makes this a midrange contender.

Premium feel

From the moment I took the POCO X3 GT out of the box, I already had an inkling that it’ll be good. The hardware feels premium despite the plastic back. This review unit comes in a shiny silver-y finish. It’s a classic neutral look.

The phone greets you with a huge 6.6-inch display and its quality is superb. The Corning Gorilla Glass Victus is the bodyguard of our display. It can withstand drops from two meters, that’s about six feet and six inches (6’6″). It’s a pretty tough glass so you need now worry about accidental drops from the office table or anything similar. It can handle it.

The phone also has an IP53 rating. It should be fine with some splashes here or there. However, do yourself a favor and buy a case or use the one included in the box for some extra layer of protection.

Navigation options

The POCO X3 GT runs on MIUI 12.5 on top of Android 11. The phone unlocks with the power button integrated with the fingerprint sensor. Other ways to unlock are facial recognition, pin code, and pattern.

Quick tip: you can switch your fingerprint sensor to “press” as the X3 GT’s always-on reader is primarily activated. That’s a good way to prevent unintentional unlocking and will save you a bit of battery.

Navigation options are either the traditional buttons at the bottom or through gestures. The gestures seem easy to learn. However, I personally prefer the navigation buttons as it’s easier for me exit games and access the task manager that way.

Performance and gaming

The 120Hz display is refreshing and it’s pleasing to the eyes. Once you go 120, It’s hard to revert to 60Hz. It also has a touch sampling rate of 240Hz, and oh boy, this one’s great. Playing games and swiping left to right is just flat-out fun and enjoyable.

You can definitely feel the MediaTek Dimensity 1100 on this device, as everything feels swift and easy. I ran most games in full settings and did not experience any sort of lag during gameplay. Although there are some games that need a little optimization like Call of Duty: Mobile and Plants Versus Zombies (yes I still play that game).

Multitasking for this device is easy and smooth. The screen size helps to make it a pleasant experience.

Surprising battery drain

The POCO X3 GT has a 5,000mAh battery. It’s good and long-lasting battery… until you get to 50 percent. When it does, it drains like crazy! It does come with a 67W charging brick which fully charges the battery in just around 35 to 40 minutes. There are also two battery saving modes: Battery saver and the Ultra battery saver but they don’t really seem to help much.

Pretty good cameras

We all want to know how the camera works. But first, the specs. You get a triple rear camera setup: 64MP wide camera has an aperture of f/1.79, the ultra-wide is 8Mp with an aperture of f/2.2, and the macro is 2Mp with an aperture of f/2.4. The camera performance is okay for its category. Maybe in some cases, it’s not only good in the mid-range, maybe creep it up a little and surely it’ll have a spot higher.

The color accuracy is good, the processing of the photos is a little bit aggressive but it’s not a huge issue. Zooming in to photos isn’t a problem. Zoom will sacrifice quality but the results are still highly acceptable. Portrait photos on this phone is also great and it cuts around the corners with accuracy.

Checkout the samples below.

A minor setback

The POCO X3 GT sounds good so far right? However, like plenty of other smartphone releases today, it doesn’t come with earphones in the box. Some buyers might find this frustrating. It’s a trend started by Apple and one I’m not particularly happy with.

Sticking with audio, the phone’s speakers were poor. Playing Call of Duty: Mobile without earphones was such a nuisance. Watching videos is acceptable if you don’t care too much about audio. However, you’ll likely need to turn the volume up to really enjoy.

Final thoughts

The POCO X3 GT is by far one of the better phones I have used in the midrange segment. It has what I think is a beautiful design and comes with 120Hz refresh rate. The software also complements the hardware perfectly. It was so good that I didn’t miss using my iPhone 12 Pro as much, which doesn’t really happen when reviewing devices.

The POCO X3 GT is currently available in three colorways, the Stargaze Black, Wave Blue, and Cloud White. It will come in two variants: The 8GB+128GB variant which retails at PhP 15,990 and the 8GB+256GB variant which is priced at PhP 17,990.

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