Reviews

Huawei P20 Lite Review: A P20 without labels

A Nova 2i disguising as a P20

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Since the grand Huawei P20 series launch in Paris last March, the attention has been on the Huawei P20 Pro. Of course, the top dog gets the spotlight it deserves. Amidst the praises Huawei is getting, it seems like people are forgetting that there’s a shy midrange variant in the series. A variant that doesn’t have any camera branding and high price tag — the Huawei P20 Lite.

The P20 Lite joins the slew of new midrange phones to be released in the market. It follows in the footsteps of the Mate 10 Lite which is also known as the Nova 2i or Honor 9i in certain regions.

It has a 5.84-inch FullView display

With a 19:9 ratio and Full HD+ resolution

The infamous notch makes an appearance

It’s for the front camera, sensors, notification light, and earpiece

There’s a bit of a chin for the Huawei label

No fingerprint reader on the front

To the right are the physical keys

Short one for power, long one for volume

While on the left is the hybrid card slot

Either have a second SIM or a microSD card

There’s nothing to see up top…

Just the noise-canceling microphone

… because everything is down below

The audio port, USB-C, and loudspeaker all together as usual

The back definitely looks a Lite version of the P20

No Leica branding — just “Dual Lens”

The dual camera module protrudes outside

A nice touch but a bit prone to scratches

Common design of the P20 series

The trio of P20 devices from Huawei share a common design with just slight adjustments to distinguish each. For the P20 Lite, you can tell it apart due to the rear placement of the fingerprint reader and lack of Leica branding. This gives the P20 Lite the advantage of having a clean front with just the Huawei name sitting on the chin.

With a display measuring 5.84 inches (display sizes are getting very unusual lately) and bezel-less design, I find the P20 Lite easier to handle than other phones with a similar display size. The better ergonomics of the device can also be attributed to its rounded metal frame and smooth glass back. Compared to the Mate 10 Lite’s (or Nova 2i) all-metal design, the P20 Lite looks more stylish. If you don’t mind wiping off the smudges every now and then, the P20 Lite will appeal to you more.

The notch is not visible when the display is turned off, but there’s a way to hide it even during usage. In the settings, just head to the Notch menu under Display and you can choose to use the default setting that fully extends the screen’s real estate up to the notch (app compatibility varies, though) or just hide it. The upper portion will then just act like an extra display for notifications, system icons, date, and time.

Huawei has a clever trick that addresses my concern about notched displays. When in landscape orientation, the interface automatically eliminates the use of the pixels beside the notch. This will give you an unobstructed interface in any app, may it be games, video streaming, or even system apps like Settings or Gallery.

Performance is still the same

The P20 Lite is powered by the Kirin 659 — Huawei’s go-to home-baked processor for their midrange phones. It’s also the same processor found in the Mate 10 Lite (or Nova 2i), which is pretty disappointing. Why? Because there’s no significant performance boost even though the P20 Lite is the latest from Huawei. That’s not saying the Kirin 659 is a bad processor but a new phone should have a better processor, especially since it’s part of the latest P20 series.

The unit I have for review has the highest configuration possible for the P20 Lite with 4GB of memory and 128GB of storage. The hybrid card slot accepts a microSD card just in case 128GB is not enough to store your files.

If you’re looking for a gaming phone, the P20 Lite might not be the best option in this range. The gaming side of the Kirin 659 is handled by the Mali-T830 MP2, a fairly okay graphics unit. What I mean by that is it can run games but not in their best state. PUBG Mobile runs in low settings while NBA 2K18 has to be somewhere in between low and medium. Still, it can play older graphics-intensive games in max settings like Asphalt Xtreme.

Android Oreo-based EMUI 8.0 is available out of the box which means you have the latest software Huawei has to offer. EMUI doesn’t differ that much from other Chinese-made interfaces that blend together iOS and Android experiences. For one, the app drawer is off by default, so the apps are available right on the home screen. The icons look a bit too playful for my liking, but I eventually got used to them. I must say though, EMUI 8.0 feels cluttered with inconsistent icons — some are rounded while some are squared. I hope Huawei comes up with a better UI soon which should be available as an update.

No quad-cameras, no Leica

One might mistake the P20 Lite as the regular P20 at first glance. That’s because they do look alike but the former has no Leica branding. Still, the P20 Lite is a capable phone for mobile photography. It has dual rear cameras — a combo of 16 and 2 megapixels with bokeh mode available.

Too bad the secondary sensor is just for analyzing depth in the image — not to shoot monochrome, extreme wide-angle, or for telephoto imaging. There are multiple modes available including “Pro photo” to manually set the camera settings.

Here are the samples from the rear camera:

The front camera is also equipped with a 16-megapixel sensor which easily makes the P20 Lite a contender in the selfie race. Like with other selfie-centric phones, the P20 Lite has built-in beauty mode but Huawei’s approach is more simple with just an option to choose from Level 1 to 10. A number of cute stickers are also available in the camera app.

Even without any Leica label to brag about, the P20 Lite can hold up on its own. The rear set captures good-looking images both in well-lit and low-light environments. Don’t expect it to excel in the dark, though; the f/2.2 aperture is not enough to make it see more than competing phones with a bright lens opening. Of course, the selfies are top-notch thanks to the number of megapixels the front sensor has. The beauty mode is a bit behind against OPPO’s and Vivo’s new midrange phones, but it works just fine.

Fast-charging and long-lasting

A sizeable 3000mAh battery is sealed inside the body of the phone. Through the USB-C port, the battery supports Huawei’s own fast charging technology. Thankfully, the phone comes with an 18W fast charger, so there’s no need to purchase a separate one. A quick 15-minute charge was able to give 17 percent of power while charging the phone for an hour provides up to 53 percent. A full charge took more than two hours — longer than expected.

A phone with a 3000mAh capacity should be able to last the whole day, and the P20 Lite definitely can. With my usage, a full charge lasted a whole day and that includes about four hours of screen on time. That’s also with mobile data and Wi-Fi turned on, making phone calls, social networking, music streaming, and picture taking. My everyday phone use is already considered heavy; with lighter usage the P20 Lite can even last longer.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Unlike with the V9 and the F7, the P20 Lite is not much of an improvement from last year’s model. The phone might not be the direct successor of the Mate 10 Lite or Nova 2i, but I would have loved to see a spec bump rather than just a design overhaul.

Well, if you value design more, the P20 Lite’s premium build is its key selling point. It basically has the body of the regular P20 but with midrange specifications. The black variant I have here looks sleek and handsome, but there’s also a feminine option in Sakura Pink and a striking Klein Blue.

Laptops

Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen review: 4 months after

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Huawei MateBook D 15

The work from home and online class setup had us all adjusting to this new normal. You’ll see a lot of inquiries on Facebook groups about LED ring lights, microphones and midrange laptop recommendations. Huawei’s MateBook D series is among the ones you’ll see that has gotten a lot of popularity for this purpose.

It makes perfect sense, since back when I first reviewed the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen, I had a lot of good things to say about it. After four months under regular use, there are quite a few more that I came to realize about this device that I think you guys might find interesting.

It can get things done

A quick refresher on its specs, the D 15 2021 we have with us has an 11th gen Core i5 with the Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. 

It’s no question, if you’re just going to use this for online classes or regular zoom meetings, the D 15 probably won’t even break a sweat. However, I consider my power requirements to be somewhat on the heavy side for my photo and video editing needs.

What surprised me was I didn’t find myself having to go back to my main editing workstation and have actually done more work on the D 15 than I expected. It may not be as fast, but it also wasn’t drastically slower.

Plus the fact that this has a more accurate display with its 100 percent sRGB color gamut, the 15.6-inch LED display is perfect for my daily Photoshop use.

Portability also applies at home

Huawei MateBook D 15

Working from home for a long time and looking at the same thing over and over, not having to be able to go to places, had many of us bored and unmotivated. I personally always had that urge to look for another spot just for the change of scenery.

Thankfully, weighing only 1.56kg, it gave me the flexibility for me to place it in different places. I didn’t worry that the surface wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Battery life

The capability to place the D 15 on different places wouldn’t really matter if you’re still stuck near an outlet because you’re constantly required to plug it in. Fortunately, the 42Wh battery of the D 15 keeps us away from the charger for around nine to ten hours before needing to plug it back in.

Huawei addresses issues and gives regular updates

Huawei MateBook D 15

During its time with me, the D 15 had quite a few driver and software updates. Along with one of the updates came a fix for an issue I had with its fingerprint scanner where it frequently had trouble recognizing my fingerprint. While it shouldn’t have had that issue to begin with, the regular updates are an indication that users aren’t abandoned and issues are in fact being addressed on Huawei’s end.

I also learned from Huawei’s website that the MateBook series has a Windows 11 upgrade rollout plan. That’s something nice to look forward to.

Undesirable camera angle

Huawei MateBook D 15

Sadly, not everything is praise worthy on the D 15. The hidden web camera, while innovative, came at the cost of an awful camera angle. Since it is placed on the keyboard, it is also pointed upwards.

Using it, you’ll mostly see an unflattering image of yourself often emphasizing the size of your nostrils.But if you decide that you’d want to use a laptop raiser for a more comfortable viewing angle, the camera won’t be pointed downwards. That’d make it barely usable.

A generous availability of ports

Huawei MateBook D 15

Being the boxing fan that I am, the recent Pacquiao fight had me subscribing for a pay-per-view service. The full sized HDMI port on the D 15 was heaven sent. During the fight as I was able to output the fight on our dated TV set. It let us to enjoy the stream on a bigger screen.

The availability of USB ports on both sides also let us to choose where certain devices can be plugged. We didn’t worry about hitting our external drives with our mouse or fitting multiple USB devices side by side.

Multi-Screen Collaboration

I did not find myself using this feature as much. However, having this capability eliminated the need for me to grab a USB cable to transfer files from my phone. A quick tap of my phone and I was ready to transfer photos I recently. It’s great for some quick editing before posting on Instagram. 

Is this still your GadgetMatch?

Huawei MateBook D 15

When I think of the D 15, freedom is the word that comes to mind. It gives so much freedom to work anywhere with its portability and battery life. You get freedom to do what you wish with it with its capable hardware. There’s also freedom from wires with the Multi-Screen Collaboration. And even freedom to plug various devices with its great selection of ports.

It’s a no fuss kind of laptop that just gets things done. Its sheer simplicity is what makes it a great device.

If you’re interested in getting the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, you can now get it for PhP 48,999.00.

 

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Reviews

Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Review: Best Android smartwatch yet?

But is it any better than the Apple Watch?

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Samsung launched the Galaxy Watch4 just recently — which is the successor to 2019’s Galaxy Watch Active2.

Now with the power of a BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) via its Bio Active Sensor, the Galaxy Watch4 can simply measure your body composition with just your two fingers and wrist.

But is it any better than the Apple Watch?

Watch our Samsung Galaxy Watch4 review now to know more.

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Accessories

Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1: Intuitive and portable podcasting rig

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AU-AM200-S1

I am a fan of quality and affordable gear. Modern manufacturing techniques and advancements in technology gave us a vast selection of gadgets in all shapes and sizes.

With the gaining popularity of live streaming, the demand for good audio interface and microphones is growing. The brand Maono, relatively speaking, is a newcomer that offers affordable audio products.

What we’ve got here is the Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1, which is a portable podcasting gear. This is the very first product I’ve got the chance to try from this brand and I’m liking it so far. This bundle is ideal for someone who is just getting into podcasting or a musician looking for a cheaper alternative.

What’s in the box?

AM200 Podcast Console

At first glance I actually thought it was a miniatured DJ turntable because of the two mini platters, but those are just volume knobs for the mics and music. It is a 3-channel mixer-type audio interface with five outputs. The two inputs are designated for mics and/or instruments and the other input is for music. Three outputs (3.5mm TRRS) for smartphones are available so you can stream simultaneously on different platforms.

A separate main and monitor output is available so you can listen to what your audience hears. Note that all the inputs and outputs are for 3.5mm jacks so if you are planning to plug in an instrument directly using a PL (1/4 inch) cable, you will need a 3.5mm adapter.

Plug and play

You can connect it to a computer with the USB A to C cable that is included. It doesn’t require any drivers, so, just plug it in and it’s good to go. It should be compatible to most DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) for music recording. There is a 3-band EQ along with a “REC” volume knob which is like a “Send” knob to feed the audio to the devices it’s connected to.

Two crossfaders control the monitor volume and echo level. The “monitor” crossfader controls both the volume level for the (main) output and the monitor (output). I wish they installed separated levers for each one to control them independently.

This is also the case for the mic volume knob, it controls both the levels of mic 1 and mic 2. It would’ve have been handy if there are separate knobs for each but I think they did this design to fit in a compact box.

For outdoor streaming and recording

At the middle portion, you’ll notice along the LED indicator level signal is a battery indicator. Yes, this is also battery powered which makes it suitable for out of home live streaming, if you prefer creating something for your viewers elsewhere. You can easily recharge the batteries with the USB C cable.

There are also audio sample pads, buttons for sound effects and pitch shifters.

AU-PM360TR Microphone

AU-AM200-S1

This condenser microphone does not require phantom power. It runs below 5V, through the XLR to 3.5mm cable, unlike the industry standard condenser microphones. With its cardioid polar pattern, it will be more sensitive to sounds being captured in front of it.

Earphones

It comes with a pair of in-ear earbuds with a very long cable, enough to cover the distance for a typical on-desk live streaming. I think that the sound quality would be more appreciated by most modern pop listeners who like a lot of bass. Because it does deliver that low-mid thump.

Tripod

Out of the box, the microphone comes attached to the mini tabletop tripod. The microphone is detachable to the tripod, but if it is used handheld, it will pick-up a lot of hand noise. So, it is better to leave it on the tripod.

Other accessories included are: XLR to 3.5mm cable, two 3.5mm TRRS cables, USB A to USB C cable, and a windscreen cap.

Performance

For podcasting, it is very easy to use. It’s what the AU-AM200-S1 is made for and they did a good job. The microphone delivers a clearer and louder output compared to built-in mics in smartphones/laptops or headsets. You can control the volume of music accompaniment easily with the wheel knob, whenever you want to highlight the music or the voice.

Plus, the sound samples like the applause, laughter, cheering etc., are nice additions for some impromptu segments in your streams. You can also record your own samples by pressing the “loop back” button and assigning to any of the blank buttons available.

Since the microphone does not require a phantom power, the output is weaker compared to classic condenser microphones. The sound quality is good nevertheless.

AU-AM200-S1

For music recording, you can record your instruments with it on your preferred DAW. I connected my guitar to my digital effects processor with a 3.5mm headphones jack going to the mic input of Maono console. I noticed that the 2 mic inputs have high gain levels because my guitar was already clipping with the volume knob on the AM200 console at around 10 o’clock.

Usually, I set the volume on my guitar effects unit on almost full when I am recording with a different audio interface and mixers. But with the Maono AU-AM200-S1, I only had to set the volume of my guitar effects at 50 percent. This is good because it doesn’t have a designated gain knob. Just watch out for clipping- if it happens, you may want to lower the volume from the source.

I recorded a few short audio samples to demonstrate how the Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 handles recording. Please excuse my singing voice.

Mic only without echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only with 50% echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only with 100% echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only without echo – vocal and guitar

Mic only with post-editing – vocal and guitar

Guitar through a digital effects processor

In a full band mix – Recorded vocals and guitars (both acoustic and electric)

Fully recorded demo

 

There are two functions that I have a few comments on:

AU-AM200-S1

Denoise — This is their “smart noise cancelling” feature that reduces background noise. It does its job as a noise gate, but unfortunately, you cannot adjust the settings (threshold, attack, range, etc.). Depending on how loud the ambient noise is, the mic sometimes gets a stuttering sound when this feature is engaged. If the room is quiet enough, there shouldn’t be any problem.

Music Only — This feature attempts to minimize the vocals in the music that you are playing, but similarly to the denoise, it sometimes affects the mic audio quality. I suggest looking for backing tracks of the songs you want to sing during your live stream beforehand.

Is the AU-AM200-S1 your GadgetMatch?

AU-AM200-S1

The Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 bundle is a usable and functional piece of gear. I see it as a bring-it-anywhere, all-in-one podcasting kit. It would have been more convenient (for me) if they included ¼ inch inputs for mics and instruments. Although, I guess it would kind of defeat its portable nature because most PL cables are thicker and heavier compared to the 3.5mm cables included in this bundle.

Pricing and Availability

The Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 retails for $109.00 and is available for purchase in Amazon, Shopee, and Lazada. You can check out their other products at the official Maono website.

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