Hands-On

Huawei Nova 4 Hands-on: A ‘hole’ new approach

Does the punch-hole display make a difference?

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One of the reasons why Huawei is always on the news, aside from the controversies, is because they have new phones every other week. I’m still loving the Mate 20 Pro for its amazing cameras, but there’s now the Nova 4 that, in my opinion, will be an interesting option for new smartphone buyers.

The Huawei Nova 4 offers pretty much everything a premium midrange phone should: a nice display, beautiful body, and good cameras. It’s also one of the few phones in the market that has a hole in its display instead of a notch.

Is a punch-hole display more preferable than a notch? That’s what I tried to find out while using the Nova 4 for this hands-on.

First, let’s start with the basics:

It’s got a notch-less 6.4-inch display

In exchange, there’s a hole for the front camera

There’s support for two nano-SIM cards

No space for a microSD card, though

On its right are the physical buttons

They blend in well with the phone’s frame

The 3.5mm headphone jack is on top

Along with an IR blaster and noise-canceling microphone

At the bottom is the reversible USB-C port

There’s also the loudspeaker and main microphone

The back houses three cameras

And the swift fingerprint reader

The gradient color scheme is present

This has become Huawei’s signature

Can’t deny that it’s from Huawei

From its body to its color, the Nova 4 contains 100 percent of Huawei’s DNA. Gone are the days where we associate every touchscreen phone as an iPhone. Once the gradient color of the Nova 4 shifts, it instantly captivates. The usual question I get when my friends see me holding the Nova 4 is: It that a Huawei?

Personally, I wouldn’t buy a phone with an extreme persona like this Aurora Blue variant of the Nova 4 I have for review. I still prefer my discreet OnePlus 6 in black, but that’s just me. Of course, there’s a black variant of the Nova 4 available as well for those who don’t want a phone that becomes a centerpiece on a table.

The shape and size of the Nova 4 are no different from any premium phone that came out lately. It’s got a glass front and back with a shiny metal frame and the sides of the phone curve gently, making it easier to grip. Overall, I found no issues about the build of the Nova 4, aside from it being smudgy most of the time.

At first, I found the punch-hole to be as annoying as the notch. The hole is larger than expected, but I got used to it. Most apps treat the hole like a notch, so the experience is similar to before. The punch-hole doesn’t have an advantage over the notch in terms of usability.

Where the punch-hole shines is how it’s more tolerable when watching a video in full screen. Some games are not aware of the area the hole is occupying, thus control buttons get covered. Turning off the “full screen display” switch for some games fixes this.

Flagship-grade speed and stability

Enough with the looks; let’s now dive into the internals of the phone. The brain of the Nova 4 is the Kirin 970 processor. It’s the previous flagship 10nm chipset from Huawei’s own labs. It’s also inside the Mate 10 and the P20 series. Moreover, the Nova 4 has the same processor as its predecessor.

Performance-wise, there’s no big difference. This means Nova 3 owners don’t need to upgrade, unless they want a new and different-looking phone. The advantage of the Nova 4 is its upgraded memory to 8GB, although storage remains the same at 128GB.

Android Pie comes out of the box with Huawei’s EMUI 9 placed on top. Frankly, there’s not much new about the custom interface since EMUI 6, aside from the staple features of Android Pie. The heavy skin of EMUI doesn’t affect the performance of the phone, but it’s also not the best-looking.

In terms of gaming, popular titles like Asphalt 9: Legends and PUBG Mobile are playable on high graphics settings. There’s no sign of hiccups or lag thanks to the optimizations by Huawei’s GPU Turbo.

As mentioned, the hole in the display is considered a “notch” by the system, so you can still hide the area it occupies by diving into the Settings panel. This makes the phone look hole-free, but you lose the extra screen real estate in some apps. So far, there are no issues with system and third-party apps, and I hope it stays that way.

Good cameras with ultra wide-angle lens

When it comes to taking photos, the Nova 4 doesn’t disappoint. It’s got a main 20-megapixel camera paired with an ultra wide-angle 16-megapixel shooter. There’s also a 2-megapixel depth sensor to help in taking portrait shots with bokeh effect. As for selfies, the 25-megapixel front camera can take detailed and pleasing stills.

AI scene detection is available both on the front and rear cameras, so the phone always helps in taking the best-possible photo. Check out these samples:

Like with most camera phones, the Nova 4 can take good-looking photos in broad daylight. Good thing the quality doesn’t drop when shooting indoors or in the evening. Generally, the Nova 4 is a capable phone for taking photos, except the ultra wide-angle lens doesn’t sport autofocus. Night mode is also available when you need to take photos in incredibly dark environments.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Huawei Nova 4 is a new smartphone with a fresh approach to the notch dilemma. If you dislike the notch, the punch-hole display is your next best option.

For me, the ideal best bezel-less phone doesn’t have a notch or a hole — just like the Mi Mix 3, OPPO Find X, or Vivo NEX. Those phones have their own issues about their approach, however. It’s just a matter of preference at this point because nothing is perfect — for now.

While I wait for the perfect bezel-less phone without moving parts or display cutouts, I appreciate the options given to us. In the end, it’s your choice if you want a notch, a hole, or a mechanism to house the selfie camera. There are also phones without front cameras at all, maybe that’s your cup of tea — or coffee.

SEE ALSO: How the Huawei Watch GT made me believe in smartwatches

Features

Playing Big Brother with the realme Smart Cam 360

Cat spy

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CCTVs like the realme Smart Cam 360 are often marketed as home security devices. Most people use these kinds of cameras to monitor strangers passing by the house or to prevent criminal activity.

I, however, had something else in mind. As a pet owner, I often wonder what my cats are up to. What are they doing when I’m not looking? Could I be missing a moment of cuteness whenever they’re up in their hideouts?

So, I decided to play Big Brother and document their days using the realme Smart Cam 360.

Setting up the mobile CCTV

Initially, I thought that the camera was rechargeable like a smartphone. It is not. It has to be constantly plugged into a power source. This was a problem for me since the areas where the cats frequent, don’t exactly have accessible electrical sockets.

But lo and behold, A LIFEHACK! My brother helped me devise a way to use the CCTV camera portably, so I can move it from place to place, wherever the cats are. We plugged it to a power bank! The 16000mAh power bank was able to supply electricity to the camera for a little less than 24 hours.

The next step was installing the realme Link app on my phone so I can use it to view the camera’s feed. I just had to create a realme account, link the camera to the app and voila, I can already use my phone as a monitor and a remote control for the camera. Another thing I like about the app is that you can use it to customize the camera’s name.

Last is putting in a memory card. This part is actually optional, but having a memory card in the camera is very handy if you want to review moments you might have missed. The Smart Cam 360 has event-triggered recording which means it automatically saves any activity whenever the camera detects sound or motion.

Big Brother: Cat Edition

The cats found it strange at first.

But eventually, they learned to werq it.

Changing the direction of the camera is not a problem. The mobile CCTV is very responsive to the phone’s remote control. The camera adjusts to the lighting conditions of the room. Even in the dark, it’s still able to show what’s happening.

The infrared night vision does give the cats some creepy-looking eyes though!

In typical Big Brother fashion, the Smart Cam 360 also lets you communicate with whoever’s with your camera. Sort of like a PA system, or a walkie-talkie. I tried using it to call my pets’ attention, but cats do as cats do–ignore humans.

A helpful housemate?

In a lot of ways, yes. The realme Smart Cam 360 has been my extra set of eyes at home.

It does a good job of notifying me whenever there’s activity in the room I placed it in. It can capture moments I would have otherwise missed, like that one time my cat was causing mischief in the dining area.

It’s ideal for when you need to watch home, away from home. The realme Link app is also fairly easy to understand, a plus for people like me who prefer their tech simple.

But, there’s the question of privacy. There have been reports of home security cameras that accidentally leaked their feed to other households. With the current digital landscape, you can’t help but wonder where your data is being sent to. Who else could be watching? Who else could be listening to what’s happening at home?

It would be ironic if, in the course of trying to be like Big Brother, you yourself became the subject of observation. It’s good to keep that in mind and set some limits to what the camera has access to.

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Accessories

Huawei Classic Backpack: The girl with the green backpack

A fashion statement and everyday accessory

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Huawei Classic Backpack

When you’re juggling a job and a side hustle, style ends up as one of the last things you consider in your everyday life.

Admittedly, I wear hideous, bulky handbags to carry my essentials: makeup, hygiene kit, power bank, cables and organizers, and other accessories. Sometimes, I slip a book unless I’m carrying a laptop for business meetings, which proved to be harmful to my posture.

The extra weight shouldered when using a handbag had me reeling in unnecessary body pain. When I was looking for an alternative, a confidante offered the Huawei Classic Backpack — a stylish, everyday bag.

Green is the new black

Huawei’s Classic Backpack comes in lavish Forest Green. It’s quite a recherché, looking luxurious especially in its satin-like nylon fabric. In certain lighting conditions, the color shifts from emerald to dark teal. Frankly, the bluish tint is frequently evident, making this backpack challenging to pair with your outfits.

If you’re unsure how to wear this backpack in such a rare colorway, you can always pull-off an all-black outfit. Or you can go green all the way and do a bit of tonal dressing.

Huawei Classic Backpack

Green, when done right, can be chic and contemporary — all eyes will be on you, darling. It’s never as bold as red, but it’s exotic to look at in a sea of neutrals.

Taste of Paris

Huawei’s Classic Backpack emanates a Parisian vibe — chic, exquisite, serious, respectable, and admirable. If I can think of two words to describe Paris, it’s fashion and architecture.

The same values I mentioned honor the minimalist approach, as seen in the backpack. A semblance of Parisian architects’ craftsmanship; a straightforward utility bag without forsaking style.

There’s a microfiber leather flap priding itself with the label ‘Designed in Paris’ together with Huawei’s logo debossed in gold. This complements the satin-like green body, presenting a luxe appeal.

For security, the backpack features an adjustable drawstring design with a magnetic clasp underneath the flap that connects with the fabric.

Huawei Classic Backpack

Just like the Parisian architecture, the overall design exhibits durability and comfortability — using a 290T nylon fabric for the body and wide straps that reduces pressure on your shoulders. This helped to carry my laptop and other essentials easily even when I take long walks.

Inside, it uses a 200T polyester fabric lined with an H-pattern à la prominent designer bags like Gucci and Chanel. The backpack also comes with a luggage strap, making it the perfect travel carry-on. If we get to travel again, that is.

Carry what you need

If anything this backpack has taught me, it’s learning how to carry only what’s necessary. I used to wear handbags, most are large enough to fit my hairdryer or straighteners. Who knows when I would need it, right?

Sure, it has a separate compartment that can carry laptops 14-inches and under, and an abundance of zipped storage areas. But that doesn’t mean you’ll stuff your bag so much, you’ll hurt your back.

At the very least, there’s plenty of room for whatever you need to store: accessories, cards, keys, and miscellaneous stuff you think you need.

The girl with the green backpack

The Huawei Classic Backpack is the fashion statement you didn’t know you needed. Wearing it can state your persona in a glance, and create a lasting impression just like The Girl in the Green Scarf.

More importantly, it’s the perfect everyday utility bag that you can wear with certain outfits (definitely not yellow, please don’t). It also teaches you to bring only what’s essential.

This backpack, certainly, is an icon of balance between functionality, comfortability, and style. Don’t let anyone tell you to sacrifice one in order to have the perfect bag match.


This lifestyle feature was written by Nicole Beltran. She owns a pastry brand named The Cookie Nook. Her free time is mostly spent baking, taking her Shih Tzu for a walk, or trying to catch up with Netflix originals released a year ago.

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Cameras

A love letter to the Sony a6100

A poignant piece filled with yearning and regrets

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It’s been a month since my hands last held the Sony a6100. I can still remember its chic white colorway, reckoning a classic, sophisticated look. Like the grandeur of a white rose being admired by a white butterfly. Or like a swan gracefully dancing in the lake, during a majestic sunset.

I can still remember the first time I saw it. There was that familiar feeling, “Oh, hello there. I feel like we’ve met before.”

Maybe because I’ve used Sony’s mirrorless cameras countless times over the past three years. Or because cameras are inherently part of my life, no matter which brand I use. But one thing’s for sure: I liked the a6100 the first time I met it.

Page one: You bring out the best in me

Using the a6100 was like child’s play, grasping the controls and interface were easy when you’re used to Sony cameras. But currently, it’s also one of the best beginner-friendly cameras out there.

That was the reason why my friends loved shooting photos and videos with it while we were on the beach, before the world paused for a lockdown. Everything was just easy on their part, and I loved how the people I love got along with something I like.

During my stint, I was reminded of my potential and my ability to execute my vision and grand ideas. It was like when Shoyo Hinata skyrocketed as a promising player when he was paired with Tobio Kageyama in Haikyu!!.

For any situation, I can rely on the a6100 — my ex-mirrorless camera, companion, and partner. I can shoot using the 1.4mm dot OLED electronic viewfinder when I want to focus on my subject (and possibly lose myself in the art of photography).

But oftentimes, I found myself shooting using the 0.9m dot LCD tilting rear touchscreen. Shooting Live View gives you more awareness of what’s happening. The a6100 was just as versatile as me, and I loved how it can keep up on whatever crazy idea I have at the moment.

It’s true when they say it’s the photographer, not the camera. But I have to believe that having the right camera that perfectly suits your skills, style, and personality helps bring out the best in you. Just like finding the right person that lets you work on yourself so you can become better, and hopefully be more deserving to love and be loved.

Page 02: You were everything I was looking for

Everything I was looking for — and possibly praying for, for the last two years — manifested in the a6100. How I’ve always wanted to have what’s apt for me, through my lifestyle and personality, and of course, my money.

All the essential features I could ever need was here. USB charging, Wi-Fi for quick transfer of images to my devices, a 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, 4K video capture, and Flip Screen. There was also an advanced AF system, highlighting a dependable subject tracking.

No, they were not cutting-edge. There are a lot better cameras (probably) that gives enthusiasts better features, at a higher cost.

But my standards weren’t high for a camera nor in love. All I need is what’s best for me, not the best among the rest. What the a6100 did was give me a simple and effective system that made shooting fun again, whether it’s through photo or video.

On paper, the a6100 might not mean much. But my experience says otherwise. Moreover, it’s priced accordingly. Just like what I need. Keyword: need.

Page 03: You made me discover parts of myself

I miss it. The way I held it in my arms as I walked along the beach, wandering at the sight of beautiful waves crashing down the shore, washing my feet and worries away.

The carefree days that I yearn. To take another moment and capture it, hopefully preserving its memory on my Instagram account or printed for a photo album. It was so lightweight, compact, and portable — you can bring it anywhere you want to go.

Its looks can be deceiving, but it can be on par with professional cameras. So you don’t have to worry being held back by some law enforcement securities telling you it’s not allowed to shoot here and there. Point, shoot, love, enjoy discreetly.

The a6100 was madly powerful, that I brought it along with me on my journey to self-discovery. As I rediscover parts of myself through art, photography, music, and spiritual healing, I realized something.

This camera made me see parts of myself that I didn’t bother examining. That behind my aversion to creating videos, I really am capable and up for the job. After all, I did ace my audio-visual production class in college and even won an award for a collegiate competition.

I’ve never liked shooting videos until the a6100 and its grip — the Sony GP-VPT2BT — came into my hands. My life didn’t change when I started shooting, but I gained a deeper appreciation for videos and the shooting process.

Throughout the seven months I had it, I was able to remember why I love my job. I even discovered what skills I can hone and develop. It was like a whole new path opening before me, and I want to take it with me.

I created beautiful sets, shot graciously like it was published at a print magazine. I also shot unboxing videos and clips I never thought I would delight in doing. It was realizing these little joys that made you want to hold it more, and probably never let go.

Page 04: You were the one I’ve always wanted

The truth is, I didn’t have the a6100 longer than what I wish it would. And I took it for granted the whole time it was with me.

I spent more days hugging my laptop and my phone. I couldn’t find time to explore my hobbies, let alone play with the camera. Frankly, I only used the camera when it was convenient or when I need it, and now that it’s gone I wish I took more time to wrap my fingers around it.

Guess it’s true you realize the value of something once it’s gone. It struck me that maybe, just maybe, the a6100 was “the one” — my GadgetMatch. It could’ve been, but it’s no longer with me.

I’ve traded it for work because duh, I got bills to pay. But maybe when we’re free to go out and the pandemic’s over, maybe I can get a second chance. Until then, I’ll just keep doing what I need to do. Maybe next year, the price will be a bit cheaper or maybe, there’s another camera that’s waiting for me.

Who knows what the future holds?

Post scriptum

The Sony a6100 is the perfect mirrorless camera for beginners and those starting their journey on both photography and videography. It retails for PhP 49,999 (US$ 1033). It’s available in Sony’s official stores and authorized retailers. Visit Sony’s website for more information on the Sony a6100 and other cameras and accessories.

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