Huawei’s newest release isn’t a smartphone and yet, this new device is also making news.
Released in Barcelona at MWC 2018, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is a powerhouse wrapped in one handsome package.
This machine looks sleek and feels premium. It’s very compact and it has a good weight to it — manageable for a laptop, but not too light for it to feel cheap.
It’s about the same size as a MacBook Pro and about the same thickness. Side by side with the Apple laptop, you see the glaring similarity in size.
At its thinnest point, it folds to 14.6mm. It houses two USB-C ports (yay!), a USB-A port (the option not to live a dongle life!), and audio input (double yay!). The premium metal unibody comes in two colors: space gray or mystic silver.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro has a beautiful 13.9-inch screen, bright and vivid at 450 nits. Look at those almost non-existent bezels! This laptop’s screen-to-body ratio is a whopping 91 percent.
And as if that wasn’t enough laptop screen goodness, the MateBook X Pro has 10-point touchscreen capabilities!
Now seeing all that screen, you may be wondering: Where is the webcam?
Because the laptop’s screen bezels are so small, there obviously isn’t any space for the camera. Huawei has a very interesting camera placement solution.
They put the laptop cam on the keyboard! Yes, you heard that right. This button on the keyboard turns into a camera!
Though pretty ingenious, the camera placement still makes for awkward photo angles. (But really, what laptop cameras can take photos that look good, right?) What’s great about this “recessed camera,” however, is the fact that its placement promises ensured privacy when the camera’s not in use — you’re not going to need tape on that webcam anymore!
The device also has a pretty wide trackpad on it — the better to work on!
What really impressed me was how loud this thing’s quad-speaker setup is. At MWC, I accidentally played a video as we were shooting this, and trust me, the whole room heard it. Even better, the whole room heard it in Dolby Atmos, which this device is capable of.
It also has a quad-mic system which means the laptop can hear and record you perfectly from all 360 degrees.
This machine is powered by an Intel Core i7 or i5 processor with memory of either 8GB or 16GB and storage options of 256GB or 512GB. It’s also equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics card. That means you should be good for tasks like video editing, or even light to casual gaming. It has a battery capacity of 57.4Wh which totals 12 hours of video playback — that’s a lot of show episodes, people!
Of course, this device is capable of Huawei Share which is an easy transfer solution powered by Bluetooth from any Huawei device to the MateBook X Pro. If you’re on a Huawei phone, this creates a great fuss-free ecosystem between gadgets.
Razer Thresher and Raiju Ultimate Hands-on: Splendid gaming combo
Badass gaming accessories
If there’s one thing Razer is really good at, it’s making gaming accessories that are both stylish and edgy. The Razer Thresher headset as well as the Raiju Ultimate controller for the PlayStation 4 (PS4) are primary examples of this.
Headset you can wear for hours
At first glance, the Razer Thresher looks like it would weigh heavily on your head. This is not the case. Despite its bulky exterior, this headset is lightweight and extremely comfortable.
The four-inch earcups cover a good portion of your ears and it feels like a headset you can wear for hours. It neither feels too tight nor to loose.
Setup is pretty straight forward, too. Simply plug the accompanying USB stick to the PS4’s USB port, turn on the headset, and it should work with no hiccups.
Audio quality is right about what you’d expect from a US$ 150 headset. The earcups lend nicely to making the sound feel immersive as you game. When I played Marvel’s Spider-Man with these on, it almost felt like it was me swinging around New York with how much of the environment I could hear.
This headset also has a mouthpiece that’s perfect for co-op games, but since I don’t really play those kinds of games, I wasn’t able to try the headset in that setting. It does record good audio though, so you can opt to use it for that.
Although it’s labeled as an accessory for the PS4, it will work with any device that has a USB port. I used the headset on my MacBook Pro and it worked just fine.
Feels drastically different from the DualShock 4
At first glance, you would even think that the Raiju Ultimate controller was made for the Xbox One. It bears so much resemblance to that console’s controller which is why I felt a little iffy using it.
Most of my console gaming has been spent wielding DualShock controllers. I did try the Xbox but my personal preference is still the controllers bundled with the PlayStation consoles through the years.
That said, I didn’t completely hate the Raiju Ultimate experience. I did have trouble playing NBA 2K19 because the buttons weren’t responding the way they usually would on a regular DualShock 4 controller. This had a significant effect on my game as I wasn’t knocking down the shots I normally would.
Using the Raiju Ultimate led to a close game and a loss against Marvin. We played twice more but I shifted back to the DualShock 4 and proceeded to dominate him on NBA 2K19 like I normally do. (Editor’s note: “Dominate” is such a strong word.)
It comes with an app
The Raiju Ultimate also comes with an app to customize the extra four shoulder buttons. It has four presets to choose from: Sports, Shooter, Fighting, and Racing.
Instead of using the Sports the preset, I tried the other ones but still got the same result. This wasn’t the case when I played Marvel’s Spider-Man. In fact, it was pretty fluid and the shoulder buttons which you end up using a lot in this game responded seamlessly.
If you want a little bit more of customization, you can add a profile and assign specific functions for each shoulder button depending on the game you’re playing. I imagine it being helpful in games wherein you’re asked to press two buttons at the same time. You can just assign those to buttons to a single shoulder button — pretty handy.
While I did have some trouble with the Raiju Ultimate, that was only in one game. Granted it’s probably the game I play the most, I didn’t have the same troubles in other games.
I had a blast playing Marvel’s Spider-Man using this combo. The game felt a lot closer than when I first played it thanks to the Razer Thresher, and the mechanical feel of the Raiju Ultimate really grows on you as you play.
This pair probably isn’t for everyone but if you want a little boost for your gaming experience, I wouldn’t think twice about copping these.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro: A pricey gimmick
It looks good though
Don’t get me wrong: I am absolutely in love with the Xiaomi Mi 8. The GadgetMatch peeps can even tell you how much I didn’t want to let that phone go. It’s literally the phone I would buy for myself.
With the Mi 8 Pro, you’re pretty much getting the same top-shelf specs albeit in a different package.
That different package is this — the Transparent Titanium “color design” as Xiaomi noted on the phone’s global page. It will make you think you’re looking at the phone’s actual internals. I have to say, it is appealing but as is the case with the Mi 8 Explorer Edition, it’s all for show.
If you can get over (and maybe even appreciate) that the transparent look is all aesthetics, then you can move on to the good stuff. And the good stuff are plenty.
You’re looking at a phone equipped with the Snapdragon 845 SoC along with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. It only has a 3000mAh battery but it does support quick charge.
This means you’ll have no trouble running games like PUBG, Asphalt 9, Ragnarok Mobile, and basically whatever game you feel like playing. This also means the Mi 8 Pro is a lean, mean multitasking machine.
You can shuffle through all your social media apps, email, notes, as well as three dating apps so you can keep swiping away even though the person you really want to talk to is already reachable through other messaging apps. I digress. (Editor’s note: Sad.)
Unlocking can be a pain
The other main addition is the in-screen fingerprint sensor. On paper, it looks promising and I really appreciate that I don’t have to lift the phone to unlock when it’s lying flat on the table. However, “pressing lightly” as Xiaomi suggests just doesn’t do the trick.
I can’t count how many times I pressed the fingerprint sensor with it asking me to “press a bit harder.” I’d like to think I was already pressing hard. For comparison’s sake, I did use the Vivo V11 quite a bit too and didn’t encounter the same problems using its in-display fingerprint scanner.
It’s pretty fast when I apply the right amount of pressure, but the thing is I don’t always do so. To save myself from being asked to press harder all the damn time, I resorted to mostly using face unlock. It’s an option I wouldn’t have considered had I not used the iPhone XR a while back, but that’s a story for another time.
The phone warns you that it’s not as secure as the fingerprint sensor and that it can be unlocked using faces and objects that look like you. I tried putting a steamed bun in front of the phone and thankfully it stayed locked. I’m gonna mark that down as a win.
Kidding aside, my personal experience with the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro’s in-screen fingerprint sensor leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, this phone is pretty darn solid.
The other good stuff
The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro sports the same cameras as the Xiaomi Mi 8 — that’s two 12MP rear cameras that capture images more than good enough for sharing on your social media feed.
Here are some samples taken in Singapore:
One of my personal favorites to try on any phone is the portrait mode. Again, I think the Mi 8 Pro does it pretty well. The image does get grainy if you try it in low-light conditions so I suggest sticking to normal shots and not use portrait mode when lighting in your area is less than ideal.
The front camera is a 20MP shooter that also has portrait mode and captures a fair amount of detail when you have a bright background.
I’m also a huge fan of MIUI. It’s just a thoughtful and clean user interface. I especially love the fullscreen gestures which I admittedly took time getting used to when I first tried them on the Mi 8. But they’re great once you get the hang of it.
Swiping on either side of the screen functions as the back button. Hold it long enough and you’ll be taken to the last app you used. That’s such a great feature especially when I’m darting between social media apps during event coverage.
Should you buy it over the Xiaomi Mi 8?
The easy answer is no. Most of the good stuff that you’ll find on the Mi 8 Pro are already on the Mi 8. One of the Mi 8’s main attractions, other than everything I’ve already mentioned thus far, is its pricing.
The Mi 8 is a solid flagship phone that’s an easy recommendation for anyone who wants those specs but doesn’t have the budget for the big hitters like the iPhone XS, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
With the Mi 8 Pro, you’ll shell out roughly around US$ 200 more and for what? An ice-breaking design that doesn’t really do much other than catch someone’s attention and an in-screen fingerprint sensor that’s still in its early stages. It’s simply not worth it.
If you’re hell bent on spending close to or around US$ 700 on a smartphone, there are better choices out there. But if you love what Xiaomi has to offer, you can drop the Pro and just grab the Mi 8.
Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) Hands-on: Do we need four cameras?
It actually has five if you’ll count the front, as well
Before, not counting the front, a smartphone only had one camera. Then, dual sensors became a thing with either zoom, ultra-wide, or monochrome as the secondary sensor. The trend moved faster with triple shooters and it’s not stopping there! Samsung jumped to four with the new Galaxy A9.
The biggest premium midrange phone of Samsung also has the most number of rear cameras on a smartphone. But before we get to them, let’s talk about the Galaxy A9 (2018) like an everyday phone first.
It’s got a gigantic 6.3-inch display
It’s almost borderless…
It’s got a chin and uses virtual buttons
The power and volume buttons are on the right
There’s a lone button on the left for Bixby
The triple-card tray is accessible from the top
We have the 3.5mm and USB-C ports at the bottom
Samsung now has a gradient color scheme
Look at its shifting colors
The camera holes are unsettling to look at
Just look at them; aren’t they… interesting?
Same-old Samsung design
When Samsung’s high-end Galaxy S lineup shifted to curved Infinity Displays, I kinda missed the flat display of the Galaxy S7. If you dislike having a curved display, you’ll love the fact that the Galaxy A9 (2018) has a simple and flat panel. It’s still Super AMOLED and crisp-looking at 392ppi.
The body of the phone is made from cold metal and smooth glass. There’s nothing about the new Galaxy A9 that feels cheap. It’s just big, so one-handed usage is difficult.
One thing I love about big phones is how they make mobile games more immersive. Thankfully, this phone is powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor that’s paired with 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage. If the storage space isn’t enough, you can also put your files and photos on a microSD card and insert it into the phone. Additionally, the phone has a large 3800mAh battery.
The phone runs smoothly and switches between apps with ease. I have no issues with its gaming performance, but graphics-intensive titles might need to adjust to medium settings to ensure high frame rates.
Android 8.0 Oreo comes out of the box, which is disappointing since Android 9 Pie is already available. Samsung will eventually update this phone with their latest UI, but there’s no exact date for the rollout as of writing.
The four cameras deliver
The main feature of the new Galaxy A9 is its cameras. Samsung pushed it to the limits by putting four rear cameras. There are four different sensors on the back of the phone and they are vertically aligned.
The main one is a 24-megapixel shooter with a f/1.7 aperture and phase-detection autofocus. The added shooters are an 8-megapixel ultra-wide (12mm) camera and a 10-megapixel telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom. The remaining camera is simply a 5-megapixel depth sensor for the extra bokeh effects.
Here are samples from the phone’s main, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras:
Obviously, the main camera should be your go-to option for everyday photos. It’s suitable for quick snaps and captures better-looking images. Using the ultra-wide camera will let you take more of the scene, but the lower resolution and smaller aperture sacrifice some of the quality. I don’t really find the telephoto camera to be useful, but if the situation asks for it, it’s always there.
As mentioned earlier, the fourth camera of the Galaxy A9 takes care of bokeh. Check out these portrait samples and notice the extra effect applied to the background.
As for selfies, the phone has another 24-megapixel in front. The selfie camera has all the common features you’d expect including beauty filters, bokeh, and even Samsung’s own AR Emoji.
The Samsung Galaxy A9’s cameras don’t match the Galaxy S9’s or the Galaxy Note 9’s, but the extra camera sensors make the phone more fun to use. The ultra-wide shooter has the potential to be a crowd favorite if only it could shoot better images — especially in the dark.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
If you want a premium phone that offers something new to the table, the Galaxy A9 will not disappoint. Samsung was able to come up with a midranger that may seem boring at first, but having four cameras makes the difference.
Indeed, the Galaxy A9’s design is not the best it could be. Placing the four sensors inside a long module seems like a weird concept design that actually came true. It does attract unsuspecting crowd though, but I am not sure if it is for the better or worse.
The Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) is not a cheap phone either, but it’s not overly expensive compared to previous Samsung midrange releases. It starts at SG$ 728 in Singapore, PhP 32,990 in the Philippines, and INR 36,990 in India.
Lenovo Yoga C930 Review: It could have been the best
It's just missing one thing...
DJI Mavic 2 Pro Review: 1 month in
Not a perfect drone, but...
Apple iPad Pro (2018) Review: Not just a laptop replacement
It can be so much more
Apple will not change its design next year, report says
C is the key: Explaining USB Type-C
Here’s why OPPO created a new brand called Realme
GadgetMatch Awards: Best Products of 2018
Huawei pledges $2 billion to secure cybersecurity of hardware
Best Budget Smartphones in the Philippines below P10,000
Best Midrange Smartphones in the Philippines from P10,000 to P20,000
Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400
Best Upper-Midrange Smartphones in the Philippines from P20,000 to P30,000
Best Premium Smartphones in the Philippines above P30,000
Lifestyle1 week ago
Zepeto lets you create a 3D character version of yourself
Camera Shootouts2 weeks ago
Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs Google Pixel 3: Night mode shootout
Reviews6 days ago
Apple iPhone XR review: By Android users
Enterprise5 days ago
Converge introduces faster fiber plans starting at 35Mbps
News1 week ago
Android 9 Pie starts seeding to Huawei P20 series in China
News1 week ago
Samsung caught tweeting with an iPhone
Enterprise1 week ago
China caught stealing Samsung’s screen technology
News2 weeks ago
LG patents a smartphone equipped with 16 cameras and complex software