Reviews

Huawei Mate 9 review: Does it get faster?

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The Mate 9 has a lot going for it, from the large 5.9-inch display to the incredible battery life, but there’s one feature Huawei is most proud of: machine learning to make the phone faster the more you use it. Does it really work, though?

After unboxing the Mate 9 and praising it as one of the best premium phones of early 2017, we’re now reviewing it the way it’s meant to be reviewed — by spending three months with it and letting it learn our usage behavior for a more optimized experienced.

Even with the release of the P10 — which we enjoyed using, by the way — the Mate 9’s design still holds up. It’s just as fancy-looking now as when we first unboxed it:

The specifications and features aren’t outdated by any means, either. Its Kirin 960 processor is the same one found in the newer P10 and P10 Plus, the 4GB of memory continues to be the standard for all things flagship, and its battery life lives up to expectations; more on those later.

Of course, with extended use, you truly get a feel of how a phone performs once the new gadget smells subsides. We’ve come up with nine review notes now that the Mate 9 grew accustomed to us, and vice versa.

You don’t really notice the machine learning take effect

The biggest gripe of any long-time Android user is the gradual performance decline after a few months or even weeks of use. This is caused by apps hogging more and more of the phone’s resources through time and software updates prioritizing cosmetic features and security patches over actual performance tweaks.

Huawei combated these effects by equipping the Mate 9 with machine learning to make sure everything runs smoothly no matter how old it gets. Does it actually work? So far, yes, but we can’t say for sure since there haven’t been many software patches since launch and we’re kind of responsible with our app downloads in the first place — no pointless virus scanners or “memory cleaners” for us.

With that, we’re still glad this feature is around. We did notice our usual software, consisting of social media and productivity apps, opening up faster than apps we use less often. We even tested how many simultaneously running apps it would take before the Mate 9 crashed. The answer is 50 — not bad!

Its camera does the trick, but it’s not the best

We already went ahead and compared the Mate 9’s Leica-infused dual-cameras and selfie shooter against all its rivals last February, and the results were so-so. With just a single win in 12 categories, it’s not exactly a leader in its class, but it gets the job done.

I believe the problem lies in its use of the dual-camera setup. While it does well enough for standard photos on Auto settings, using the secondary lens for artificial background blur didn’t really do it for me. As mentioned in our review of the Huawei GR5 2017, this bokeh mode feels gimmicky, and would be better off set aside.

Battery life lives up to its claims

Do we have any complaints about its massive 4000mAh battery? None at all! If anything, it may be the Mate 9’s standout feature, even more than the machine learning and Leica cameras Huawei loves to boast. Using the handset constantly for an entire day leaves us with enough juice for the next day. Getting over five hours of screen-on time is expected here.

Fast charging is actually fast

Our only concern with such a hefty battery is the charging time; it’s natural for larger capacities to take a long time to fill up (right, Xiaomi?). Fortunately for us, Huawei’s SuperCharge technology is no joke. The bundled fast-charger can bring the Mate 9 from zero to full in a little over two hours. Doesn’t sound that great compared to other phones, but when you take the larger battery into consideration, this is more than satisfactory.

There’s no learning curve

Huawei is getting better at cleaning up its Android interface called EMUI. Now on Nougat 7.0, the Mate 9’s skin doesn’t deviate from stock Android as much as before, and even gives you the option to bring back the app drawer, rather than have all apps on your home screens like on iPhones. It’s still not as pretty as Samsung or Google’s take on Android, but it’s heading in the right direction for once.

It definitely feels too big

There’s no getting around it: 5.9 inches of phone is literally a handful. Making matters worse is the recent release of the Galaxy S8+ and LG G6, which have redefined pocketability for large-screen phones. The Mate 9 is massive, takes two hands to handle in most cases, and gets even bulkier when the bundled case is installed.

The fingerprint scanner is typical Huawei

Huawei makes the best fingerprint scanners. Rival companies Vivo and OPPO have been on a tear, placing the fastest fingerprint readers on their entry-level smartphones, but Huawei has been doing this to perfection since the Nexus 6P. Quick, accurate, and never fussy — I wish Huawei would make everyone else’s authentication sensors.

Lower resolution? No problem!

Another concern when you first glance at the Mate 9’s specs sheet is the Full HD 1080p resolution. Stretched on a 5.9-inch IPS LCD, the pixel density is a lot lower than nearly every other flagship smartphone in the market right now. But you know what? It never really bothered us, and watching Netflix or YouTube shows were just as enjoyable here as compared to, say, on the OnePlus 3T or ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom.

Speakers are just right

What would have been a treat, however, is a pair of front-facing loudspeakers on the Mate 9. Thanks to its large panel, it’s perfect for propping up on a table and watching videos, if not only for the weak and awkwardly placed stereo speakers (one on the bottom and another in the earpiece). There’s enough space on its now-relatively-thick bezels; we’re sure Huawei could have found a way to make this more of a mini theater.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Despite the launch of some fantastic near-borderless phones since the Mate 9’s release, this supersized Huawei still has its strengths.

For one, it has the standard 16:9 aspect ratio for its display, so most videos won’t have those weird black bars on the side like with the Galaxy S8 and LG G6. Combined with the generous screen, this has to be a go-to option for those who value multimedia consumption while traveling.

Another unique selling point is the non-dwindling performance of the Mate 9. Chances are someone’s Mate 9 from early this year will outpace someone else’s Galaxy S8 by the end of 2017. This means Huawei’s phablet is a sure-fire bet for those looking for a long-time investment.

Finally, this smartphone simply lasts long. If battery life is a priority, it doesn’t get much better than this in the high-end segment. Coupled with fast-charging, the Mate 9 is the phone you want to bring on long trips.

The list of cons is no biggie: camera quality isn’t up there with the best and EMUI might not be for everyone. Having an international price of EUR 699 (although cheaper in some countries like the Philippines at PhP 31,990 or EUR 600), the Mate 9 is a top choice if you’re after a normal-looking, non-bezel-less, decently priced, supersized smartphone.

SEE ALSO: Mate 9 Pro is Huawei’s true flagship

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Reviews

Xiaomi 12T Pro review: Potential flagship killer

Serious performance

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Xiaomi 12T Pro

With the variety of banger smartphones being released, it’s been somewhat difficult for brands to make a statement with just pure specs.

But when Xiaomi unveiled their prices during their 12T Series launch, the cheer and applause from the crowd just brought me back in time. The time when Xiaomi ruled the scene of bang-for-the-buck devices as they offered top class specs at very affordable prices.

Yes my friends, the Xiaomi 12T Pro could just be among those devices.

Let me explain why I think that might be the case.

Specs and performance

Xiaomi 12T Pro

Let’s not beat around the bush — the specs of the Xiaomi 12T Pro is confidently top notch. This runs on the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal Storage. Which means, there’s not much more you could ask for when it comes to its hardware specifications.

This is already packing one of the fastest chipsets that’s currently available in the market. And with our experience, it truly does bring about just as what we expect from it.

Xiaomi 12T Pro

I’ve made a ton of video reels on this doing heavy video editing for social media. Not once did I feel that the phone slowed me down. It simply breezed through most of what I did like it was nothing.

And with specs like these, I’m sure there are already a lot of people who have their eyes set on this for gaming.

Xiaomi 12T Pro

For that, I’d say this also doesn’t disappoint. Maxed graphics and FPS settings on Call of Duty: Mobile wasn’t a problem for the 12T Pro. In fact you can probably max most games on this and still get decently fast frame rates.

This did feel a bit warmer on the hands than I expected but nothing that I think would cause an issue unless you’re really pushing the phone to the limit.

200MP Main Camera

Xiaomi 12T Pro

We’re still pretty new to seeing phones with over a hundred megapixels in camera resolution and here’s Xiaomi giving us double that number. 200MP for its main camera, 8MP for its ultrawide and a 2MP macro on its rear plus a 20MP camera on its front.

That’s looking really impressive if you are judging it on paper. But how does it actually hold up in real world use? 

 

With the main camera, it’s easily recognizable that this is a decent performer. The new ISOCELL MP1 sensor on this was actually able to capture a night event where I was struggling to get decent lighting.

 

It’s able to get awesome results under challenging scenarios and even better in well lit environments.

But if you were to ask me if the huge amount of megapixels actually make a difference, my answer to that is yes but it’s not as significant as I hoped it would be.

This would probably win over others in terms of resolution but overall, if I were pixel peeping, I would still slightly prefer the quality of images coming from something like the Sony IMX sensor.

However, the margin does get bigger if we compare the zooming capabilities from a phone that has a dedicated telephoto camera. The digital zoom from the 12T Pro, despite looking respectable, still would not match images coming from a true telephoto camera.

Ultrawide shots from the 8MP sensor also do get decent photos but obviously, there is a sizable difference between this and the main camera. 

The 20MP selfie camera does also perform okay but nothing really outstanding. Just like most phones, in poor lighting, shots also look grainy and won’t look very good.

Design and build quality

Xiaomi 12T Pro

Interestingly, as most recent smartphone releases have been looking similar, Xiaomi still goes on in pursuing their own design.

The Xiaomi 12T Pro has a very smooth and curved back panel with a square cut out for the main camera and two round ones for the ultrawide and the macro. Some might think this looks kind of bland but I prefer calling it looking professional.

Xiaomi 12T Pro

If you’re used to holding high-end phones, having this on your hands, you’ll right away notice that this doesn’t quite have the same feel. You’ll feel a mixture of glass and some parts of the frame that feels plastic. As a whole I think most people won’t really notice this as it still feels substantially solid.

Xiaomi 12T Pro

I did immediately notice that it feels a bit thicker compared to the Xiaomi 12 Pro measuring 8.2mm thick while the 12T Pro being 8.6mm.

But this does have an IP53 dust and water resistance this time so that’s a big plus for added peace of mind.

Display and Speakers

Xiaomi 12T Pro

Xiaomi went with a flat display panel on the 12T Pro which, to be honest, is something that I prefer more when it comes to usability.

It may not look as sophisticated as curved displays but at least it feels easier to navigate with less chances of input error.

Xiaomi 12T Pro

Measuring 6.67 inches, it doesn’t require much effort to reach each side. Given that I don’t have very large hands, I think most people would find this screen size to be ideal.

Xiaomi 12T Pro

This is an AMOLED panel with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ certifications plus a 120Hz refresh rate so this display also looks vibrant and feels really fluid to use.

Combine the display with its stereo speaker setup and we have ourselves a well rounded media consumption device.

This pair of speakers are tuned by Harman Kardon and they sound pretty great as well. They have enough thickness to make the dialogue from the movie you’re watching cut through the mixture of sound effects.

Battery and Charging Performance

Xiaomi 12T Pro

Flagship phones often run on smaller batteries with fast charging capabilities. This is a bit different on the 12T Pro which ships out with a large 5000mAh battery and a fast 120W charger. 

In my charging test, I was able to get the 12T Pro from 10 percent to full in about 42 minutes. This may not be the fastest charging speed around right now, but it’s still incredibly fast. We’re still able to get fully juiced up even if we’ve just plugged it in before heading out for the day. 

And for a phone of this calibre, battery performance is observably good. The 12T Pro averaged me a day and a half on normal use on mostly cellular data connection. Quite different from the usual single day battery life of most flagships.

Is the Xiaomi 12T Pro your GadgetMatch?

Xiaomi 12T Pro

With so many phones to choose from, the Xiaomi 12T Pro might not be the best in the market. 

But for the relatively impressive set of hardware this packs combined with its price, this easily climbs to the top of the list when choosing a smartphone that truly resonates ‘bang for the buck’. 

Offered at PhP 37,999, you’re already getting serious performance, an excellent display, highly capable cameras and hyperfast charging. 

In my opinion, these are qualities it requires for people to consider this as another flagship killer.

You can get the Xiaomi 12T Pro in Silver, Blue and Black from Lazada, Shopee, official Xiaomi stories and authorized resellers. 

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Why you should upgrade to the Dyson V15

Smart and powerful

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Are you someone who gets excited over vacuum cleaners? Why hello there and welcome to adulthood. Vacuuming is definitely one of the most satisfying chores at home. The results are instant and seeing all the gunk you were able to remove from your floors and furniture is always so rewarding. This is why I can be quite particular about my vacuums. I need one that makes the task easier and a lot more interesting — like the new Dyson V15 Detect Absolute.

While the wall mount is a great way to store your Dyson vacuum, I personally prefer the Docking Station. Along with the wand clip, I’m able to neatly store my favorite accessories in one place.

Dyson’s latest release in the floor care department is arguably the most intelligent and powerful cordless vacuum in the market today. The suction has improved and is now at 240 Air Watts. Thanks to a Piezo Sensor, the V15’s screen will also tell you the kind of particles it’s picking up in your home grouped by size. This is something that people will allergies will definitely be thankful for. However, the numbers aren’t just there as a party trick or merely for information. There’s a practical use for it. As the V15 detects – pun intended – the particles, it also adjusts the suction accordingly. Detection is done up to 15,000 times per second. This allows for the adjustment of the suction power on Auto Mode to be quick and intuitive. Now that’s nifty.

The right accessories and attachments for your Dyson V15

The V15 Detect also comes with a whole slew of attachments and accessories. Admittedly, seeing the range of tools and thinking of all the things you can do with them are two of the things that really get me excited when getting a new vacuum. I love how you get multi-use pieces as well as task-specific ones. 

The Digital Motorbar or the V15’s main cleaning head now comes with an anti-tangle comb that clears hair from the brush bar. This is something I longed for vacuums to have as detangling hair from brushes and rollers isn’t something to look forward to. It’s no gimmick either. My hair’s been getting longer and I shed almost as much as our corgi. We tested it here at home and it actually works. 

The laser works well even during day time, showing all the fur and microdust on our hard floor. The culprit, our Welsh Corgi Pembroke Juancho, isn’t very happy about the exposure of his crime scene.

The V15 — both models — come with the Laser Slim Fluffy Cleaner Head which is perfect for seeing microdust and things you may just miss on hard floors. The Hair Screw Tool is the upgrade of the Mini Motorized Tool. It has the power of its predecessor and the anti-tangle technology of the Digital Motorbar. It’s perfect for cleaning upholstery, mattresses, and even in your car.

You also get attachments that were available in previous models like the Crevice Tool for those narrow, hard to reach places, Combination Tool, Mini Soft Dusting Brush, and the Stubborn Dirt Brush. The vacuum still comes with a wall mount where your charger can go through, ensuring tidier storage.

The HEPA model comes with a built-in dusting and crevice tool that hides inside the wand when not in use. It seems like a minor addition but makes it much easier to switch from full vacuum to handheld. Extra attachments like the Low-Reach Adaptor makes cleaning under beds and sofas a breeze and the Fabric and Mattress tool for your in-home cleaning. This frees up your Hair Screw Tool for your car.

Straight from the source. The Pet Grooming Tool will take loose hair, dander, dirt, and other nasties off your pet.

But what I’m really looking forward to is the launch of the Dyson Pet Groom tool here in the Philippines. Set to arrive in early 2023, this piece is a game changer for pet owners. Living with a corgi means having to deal with shedding all year round. We also have to hoover every single day or else we’ll be dealing with fur tumbleweeds throughout our flat which gather more dust and allergens. The new Pet Groom Tool is a brush that you can attach to the main body of your V15. With 364 bristles angled at 35°, you’re able to remove loose fur and dander from your pet. Without hurting them, of course. 

Filtering microdust with the Dyson V15

Dyson vacuums have always been pretty idiot-proof. It’s a piece of technology that marries form and substance — looking great while packing a lot of power for a cordless vacuum. I’ve always loved how Dyson vacuums don’t use bags. Clearing the bin is easy — hold it over the bin and pull the side handle down. Less waste makes it kinder to the environment. 

The V15 also comes with 5-stages of advanced filtration, capturing 99.99% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. You’re not only cleaning your home but the air around you as well. There’s no need to keep buying filters and produce more waste because all you have to do is regularly take off the filter, place it under running water to clean, let it dry overnight and put it back. This works for both the regular and HEPA filters.

A real time count of the particles allows the vacuum to adjust suction power on its own on Auto Mode.

Sure, the V15 is a tad heavier if you compare it to the Omniglide and the V12 slim. However, it’s is a more powerful machine and runs longer. At 60 minutes, I’m able to deep clean most of our two-bedroom home. I’ve owned the V11 Absolute Extra Pro (a bigger V11 released in Germany) since 2019 and I’d say there’s not much difference in weight. I’ve enjoyed the power I got from V11 and always regarded it as my favorite vacuum, thinking that it’s hard to top its suction power as far as cordless vacuums go without making it too heavy. I was actually surprised that the V15 was able to achieve just that.

For comparison: (L-R) The Dyson Omniglide, V11 Absolute Extra Pro (EU release), and the Dyson V15 Detect Absolute.

What’s left to improve?

While I’m absolutely smitten by the V15, here’s what I would love to see in the next upgrades. A laser on the Digital Motorbar would be great so that we can also see microdust and hair that tends to blend with the color of our carpets. 

Some people online have complained about the lack of a trigger lock. This means you have to keep your finger on the trigger to keep the vacuum running. I think this is more of a question of preference. I don’t mind having a trigger lock as an option but I rarely used it in my older vacuums. For those who really think it can be an issue for them, the V12 does come with a start and stop button instead of a trigger.

The Low Reach adaptor makes cleaning under furniture a breeze. Its counterpart, the Up-Top adaptor is great for high areas – above cabinets and even the top parts of your ceiling fans by attaching the soft brush.

Price points

The V15 Detect Absolute comes in two variants — V15 Detect Absolute and V15 Detect Absolute HEPA. The main difference is the filter and the colors. The former is in sprayed yellow and nickel and the latter is in a combination of sprayed gold and iron with the HEPA filter coming in a lovely shade of aqua.

The V15 Detect Absolute HEPA variant retails for PhP54,900 and comes with two extra tools (Fabric and Mattress tool and Low-Reach Adaptor) as well as its hidden dusting and crevice tool inside the wand.

The V15 Detect Absolute, meanwhile, is slightly cheaper at PhP50,900. Both models are now available at Dyson stores in the Philippines as well as their official online stores on Lazada and Shopee.

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realme 10 review: It’s a 10!

For what it’s aiming to be

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realme 10

The realme number series has been a fantastic sales performer for good reason. The company has remained consistent in offering an entry-to-mid level smartphone that meets the needs of most people. The realme 10 is no different.

Let’s get a few things out of the way. 

Here are the specs:

Display Screen Type: Super AMOLED

Size: 6.4″

Resolution: FHD+1080*2400

PPI: 409

Screen-to-Body Ratio: 90.80%

Refresh Rate: 90Hz

Touch Sampling Rate: 180Hz

Brightness: 600 nits

Glass Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass 5

Audio Speakers: 1

Audio Ports: 3.5mm Headset Jack

Audio Certification: N/A

System Operating System: realme UI 3.0, Android 12
Voice Assistant: Google AssistantProcessor: MediaTek Helio G99 Processor
Cameras Rear: 50MP Color AI + 2MP Black & White Lens

Front: 16MP

Connectivity WiFi: 2.4GHz, 5GHz

Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.3

Frequency Bands: 2G / 3G / 4G

Dimensions Dimensions (LxWxH): 159.9 mm x 73.3 mm x 7.95 mm

Weight: 178g

Battery Capacity 5,000mAh
Power Supply Charging Wattage: 33W SUPERVOOC Charge
RAM Memory GB 8GB+128GB / 8GB+256GB 

And here’s everything inside the box: 

realme 10

That’ll be the realme 10, a 33W SUPERVOOC Adapter, Type A to Type C USB Cable, Warranty Card, Quick Guide. SIM Ejector Pin, and a Jelly Case.

We understand the urge to use the Jelly Case to protect your precious purchase. But we mostly rocked the realme 10 bare and never felt like it was in any form of danger. Plus it just looks better. The accompanying case completely ruins the effect of the Clash White back panel that we have right here. The phone, by the way, is also available in Rush Black. 

Design, ports, buttons, and feel on the hand

realme 10

Perhaps the most striking thing about the realme 10 is its back panel. Especially the Clash White version, hence our insistence on not using a case with it. If you’re the flashy type, you’ll have a ball taking mirror selfies with this one. 

realme 10

It sparkles and reflects in quite a gorgeous manner. It almost makes you think that it has a different coat of paint depending on which angle you’re looking at it from. The realme 10 is pretty to look at and that’s a “feature” that smartphones in this price segment are starting to really understand. 

Ports and buttons wise, you get the power button and volume rockers on the right hand side. 

On the left, you’ll find the SIM tray which houses three slots: two nano SIM cards and one microSD card slot up to 1TB to really expand your storage. 

Going down to the bottom, you’ll see a 3.5mm headphone jack, the USB-C port, and the single downward firing speaker. The company’s marketing materials amusingly calls the latter “200% UltraBoom Speaker” which isn’t doing it any favors. It’s not bad. In fact, it’s pretty good for a single down firing speaker, but the marketing was really pushing it here. 

Now that we’re on the subject, might as well talk about taking in entertainment on this phone. 

Display and media consumption

realme 10

The LE SSERAFIM girls absolutely slaying this cover of EXO’s “Love Shot”

You can take a quick glance at the specs above for the numbers, but know that in practice, the display is pretty much as advertised. Nothing too crazy here. The colors look good and watching videos are pretty satisfactory. 

realme 10

Curiously, when watching fancams by LE SSERAFIM Kazuha on YouTube, we could only get a maximum of 720p for the resolution. This wasn’t the case when viewing the same fancam on a much more premium phone. It looks fine, especially for a display of this size, but it’s something worth mentioning. 

Also, don’t mind the accompanying photo. We had crappy internet while taking it.

realme 10

Video viewing is enjoyable to the eyes as the colors still pop when you expect them too. The speakers, while serviceable, aren’t the most ideal way of watching. If you have headphones you can use, suggest you do that versus relying on the single speaker. 

Performance and gaming

realme 10

The realme 10 performs just about as expected especially when accessing the usual social and work apps. Jumping from TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and what-have-you was seamless with no hiccups whatsoever. And sure, you can pretty much say that with most phones these days but to have a really smooth performance at an entry-to-mid level price point is still fascinating. 

realme 10

We typically don’t do any heavy work things on our phone. The occasional emails, checking presentations, drafts, and opening a few PDF files here and there all ran smoothly. 

realme 10

Gaming is boosted by both the extended RAM capability as well as the realme’s Game Mode that lets you throttle performance to push all resources to gaming. It also filters out notifications so you can focus on winning. 

Overall, it works as expected. Which is a great thing. 

Cameras

realme 10

There’s also been plenty of smartphones in this price segment equipped with a 50MP main shooter. And we can say performance is consistent all throughout. 

We took these samples during a gloomy, cloudy day. What your eyes see is literally what you get when taking landscape shots. 

It also does a good job even when there are things in motion. 

On the default camera app, you can easily get to 2X zoom which is a good way to “get closer” to your subject. 

The 50MP shines the brightest when taking up close photos in well-lit spaces. Spot the coffee cup photo above. This was just the default camera and not portrait mode. But there’s a significant separation between the subject and background. The lights on the trees in the background also made for some really nice bokeh. 

The same is true for shots taken at a similar distance. You can create a nice separation by putting more attention to your subject. 

We took a photo of the bread at a different angle and you can see that it also is able to capture it in good detail. 

But like most phones, when the light setting is poor, food shots aren’t as appetizing. 

Is this your GadgetMatch?

realme 10

The realme 10 is solid. It’s certainly a 10 given the price to performance ratio. Oh, right. The price. The phone comes in two variants with the following pricing: 

  • 8GB+128GB – PhP 12,999
  • 8GB+256GB – PhP 14,999

You’ll find more pre-order and availability details here.

So, given all of that, you’re getting a package that may not be stacked, but is undeniably solid. The realme 10 is a head turner, a good performer, and a decent moment capturer. It’ll take care of your needs with no problems whatsoever.

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