I’ll be honest: New smartphone releases don’t excite me the way they used to. As much as I enjoyed using the Mi Mix 2S and Galaxy S9 as my daily drivers for most of early 2018, they’re practically the same as their predecessors.
It takes something special to win me over. The massive gold-trimmed Mi Mix did that for me in 2016, and so did the notch-pioneering Essential Phone last year (once its price dropped, of course). But let’s be real: Neither of these phones had decent cameras. As pretty as they were to look at, in no way could they replace my mirrorless camera on trips.
Now, I don’t want to sound like a Huawei bandwagoner, but the P20 Pro has been doing it all for me, and I’m not just talking about the fantastic cameras. Having spent significant time with both the Pro and non-Pro versions, they’ve been my go-to phones midway this year.
P20 Pro versus P20 (not) Pro
Before having the privilege of using the P20 Pro as my current daily driver, I had the regular P20 in my pocket. While this may have been for OOTD purposes, it became the basis for my experience with the Pro, and a reference to Huawei’s current-generation capabilities.
Isa already wrote her comprehensive thoughts on the P20, which largely reflect how I feel about the non-Pro model. It’s sized just right for hands both big and small; the cameras are above the competition (in most cases); and its color options are simply gorgeous in person.
The P20 Pro is all that and a little more. Since it’s larger, there’s more screen real estate from its 6.1-inch 1080p OLED display and it houses a more generous 4000mAh battery — both of which are much-appreciated upgrades for power users.
Other differences aren’t as significant, like the stereo speakers and stronger waterproofing on the Pro model, but are again features that add value to the more expensive variant. Are these enough to justify the added premium? Not really, yet we haven’t touched on the main reason for buying a P20 Pro: the Leica-infused triple-camera setup on the back.
The mooore, the merrier
There are a total of four cameras on the P20 Pro, three of which are on the rear. They are: a 20-megapixel monochrome camera, an 8-megapixel sensor for additional zoom, and a primary shooter with 40 megapixels at its disposal. What does this all mean? The best imaging capabilities on a smartphone by a long shot.
People (us included) have become skeptical of DxOMark’s ratings and how they affect potential users’ perception of the best camera-phones, but there’s some truth in the soul-crushing dominance the P20 Pro experiences at the very top of their mobile chart.
Although it’s a given that every smartphone generation delivers a decent upgrade in image quality each year, none have dotted their exclamation point as much as Huawei has. It’s already been three whole months since the P20 Pro was unveiled, and no newer handset till now has even come close to dethroning its cameras’ performance.
I’ve already taken the P20 Pro across the world and used it to document my trips. I rarely say this, but this phone can definitely replace my consumer-grade mirrorless camera. Like the cameras, there are three things they specialize in, namely incredible image quality, unmatched zooming abilities, and nighttime photography like no other.
You can find a bunch of samples in my New York travel piece, along with a few more from my recent trip to Taipei right here:
Whether I’m taking shots at night or under broad daylight, with or without color, the P20 Pro absolutely delivers. I can’t count how many times I’ve been amazed by the results and thankful that I left my dedicated camera at home.
Even the zoom comes in handy when I’m traveling or shooting at an event. With a dedicated lens for this purpose, the P20 Pro can optically zoom up to three times. What’s even more impressive, however, is the image quality at 10X zoom.
— Marvin Velasco (@labacnotan) June 8, 2018
Using a mix of optical and digital zoom (and some advanced software tricks), photos shot at the maximum length turn out usable, which is something I can’t say for the majority of cameras out there.
While the 24-megapixel front camera seems like another recipe for success, it doesn’t hit the same high notes. Not that it’s bad by any means — and trust me, I’ve had worse — but selfies simply don’t match up to anything the main cameras produce.
This can be considered the weakest aspect of the P20 Pro’s shooters. It takes steady hands to produce sharp images, and the sensor seems to struggle a bit with groups (something Isa pointed out, as well).
It seems to me like Huawei marketed the rear cameras so strongly in order to make people ignore the weakness of the selfie cam. It’s a shame, but this leaves some room for improvements in the next flagship. Last year’s Mate 10 Pro proved that Huawei knows how to polish its selfies.
Downsides? There are a couple.
For one, I find the Master AI feature, which chooses the best mode for you using artificial intelligence, cumbersome to use. Although it gets the settings right most of the time, it adds a few seconds to the process, and there will be instances wherein it’ll experiment on its own, leaving you forced to watch it switch from one mode to another.
I simply leave this feature turned off and do the scene selection on my own. Need a good nighttime pic? I simply go to night mode and take a four-second handheld exposure. Want to blur the background behind my subject? I’m already in portrait mode. Artsy-fartsy time? There’s monochrome mode for that.
On the other hand, video mode isn’t that great. Even though Huawei managed to improve the stability and clarity of videos, they missed a golden opportunity to massacre the competition outside of just photography.
If you try the super-slow-mo mode, you’ll see how unrefined it is compared to what the likes of Sony and Samsung have done. Yes, it shoots HD videos at 960 frames per second too, but it’s nowhere near as fun or as intuitive to use.
It does almost everything else
Of course, this is first and foremost a smartphone, and we can’t sell it solely on its shooters. But even if the cameras weren’t this good, the P20 Pro stands as one of the most impressive handsets of 2018 thus far.
Give me a moment to be a little technical:
Its Kirin 970 processor, though a bit behind in terms of raw power compared to this generation’s chips, is still a beast for everyday tasks and playing the latest mobile games; the generous battery is more than enough to power through a day of heavy usage with mobile data or Wi-Fi constantly on; and the OLED display, while not the brightest or sharpest out there, has been serving me well.
So, what’s there to consider three months later? Does it truly get better with age?
To get a pure feel of the P20 Pro, I decided to not use a case or any form of protection for it. Fortunately for me, its glass and metal body held up well. It doesn’t pick up scratches easily and the frame of my black variant has a matte finish, providing more grip than I’m used to on slippery glass phones.
And even if the rear cameras protrude a great deal, they don’t show signs of wear and tear after all this time. Their placement is annoying, however; the phone wobbles with every press on the screen while laid flat on a table.
Another constant gripe is Huawei’s uncertainty about going truly wireless or not. As you may already know, there’s no audio port for your headphones, forcing you to use an adapter or wireless earphones. Nothing we can do about that since that’s the direction all brands are heading toward, but having no wireless charging despite there being a compatible glass back seems counter-intuitive.
On the bright side, charging to full takes less than two hours, but that’s if you use the bundled SuperCharge adapter. It’s a proprietary standard, meaning you won’t be able to get SuperCharge speeds with chargers from non-Huawei phones.
The phone will simply indicate “fast charging” when using other adapters and slow down the top-up considerably. As someone who brings multiple devices with me at a time, it bums me to carry a dedicated charger just for the P20 Pro.
Software-wise, EMUI has grown on me. Despite feeling like it’s based on an older version of Android and not the Oreo it’s actually running on, I appreciate the fluidity of the animations and convenience of the quick settings. After uninstalling all the bloatware upon setting the phone up, everything has been fine and dandy since.
I can’t say for certain if it truly got faster the more I used it — Huawei’s machine learning tech is supposed to kick in for this — but the phone does feel as fast as when I first took it out of the box.
And no, the camera notch doesn’t bother me. I’d take it over the mechanical sliding cameras popping up lately.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
Fun fact: I wrote this entire review on a P20 Pro. That’s not saying it can replace a laptop; I simply can’t let go of this phone.
There’s little to dislike about the P20 Pro. The only strong argument I have against it is to save your money by considering the regular P20 instead. It’s significantly cheaper in most markets, and lots of users will appreciate the handier form factor.
But if you do end up with a P20 Pro: Congrats! Smartphone cameras don’t get any better than this, and they happen to be on a mostly complete handset.
Ghost of Tsushima review: Making of a legend
A samurai’s journey
Rids his land of invaders
Haunting. Like a ghost
Ghost of Tsushima is the last major PlayStation 4 exclusive before the PlayStation 5 hits the shelves. It has the unenviable task of closing a chapter in gaming, and it does so with a lot of heart and subtle flair.
You play as Jin Sakai — a samurai who survived the first confrontation against the Mongols. Among the samurais in the battlefield, it was only you and your uncle Lord Shimura who survived the attack, with many believing you had also fallen in battle.
Your mission is to take the island back by any means necessary. Sometimes, that means going against the way of the samurai which you had dedicated your life to.
The story has several beats but the dilemma between tradition and progression is a constant theme. Many tales along the way reveal that people haven’t always stayed true to tradition, and how that’s not always necessarily a bad thing.
Fight like a samurai
Combat takes a lot of patience, discipline and precision. Especially during the early stages of the game where you’ll really have to rely on your skills to get through enemies.
I thought I had already learned to take my time in combat with a few previous games I played. However, my general lack of patience worked against me. Timing your parries can be hard even with visual cues from your opponents. Either that or my timing is just plain terrible.
Once you get the hang of combat, you’ll develop a thirst for battle. This is because the game does a good job of rewarding you with every successful execution.
You gain resolve with each kill. Resolve is what you use to replenish your health. So if you’re low on health and resolve, you’re actually encouraged to go into battle so you can live to fight another day.
You’ll also encounter different types of enemies. Each one can be dealt with more easily by using a certain sword stance.
You’ll acquire all four stances as you progress to the game, but you will definitely encounter foes you don’t have the exact stance for. This is where your parrying and dodging skills will really be put to test.
There’s also a stand-off mode where you call out an opponent and you face each other head on. It’s pretty easy at first but, again, timing gets complicated when your opponent starts adding feints to throw you off.
Lastly, there are duels. It’s mostly reserved for key story moments or when acquiring certain mythic items. In terms of combat execution, it’s pretty much the same except your opponent won’t go down after a few thrusts and slashes.
Haunt like a ghost
You don’t always have to face your enemies head-on. You are, after all, trying to take down an entire invasion. Certain tales or missions require that you strike from the shadows. This is where your ghost skills and tools come in.
Much like the sword stances, it will take progressing through the game to unlock all the ghost skills and tools. Skills like focused hearing alter your surroundings so you can tell where each target is at. You move slowly at first but you earn skill points as you build your legend to unlock more skills.
The ghost tools are unlocked after certain points in the story. Some of them aid you in assassinations but some can be also used in direct combats. One especially useful tool is the smoke bomb.
You will inevitably face a horde of Mongols at certain points with a bunch of them attacking you almost simultaneously. Dropping a smoke bomb confuses your opponents and leaves them open to one slash or one thrust kills.
If you’ve played older Assassin’s Creed titles, raiding strongholds and assassinations will feel familiar in Ghost of Tsushima. Approaching from high ground, creating distractions to misdirect attention, all in the service of that slit-throat kill — all these come into play when attacking stealthily.
Every tale adds to your legend
Ghost of Tsushima probably has the best side-quests in games released from the last two years. Everything you do in the island is interconnected and is aided by environmental cues.
To get to certain shrines you follow either a fox or a yellow bird. The fox only really guides you to the Inari shrines which help open up charm slots to aid you in battle.
Meanwhile, the bird guides you to mostly every other objective — be it an item you can retrieve, a spot to reflect and write a haiku, or the next tale to tackle to continue Jin’s journey.
The game offers a style of play where you rely solely on these things to progress. For an open-world game done as well as Ghost of Tsushima, that’s a perfect way to get lost in its world.
The island of Tsushima is divided into three main areas. The main story will have you progressing towards the north of the island to ultimately rid the place of Mongol forces. But progressing through the story is only half the fun.
The island is teeming with stories that range from gut-wrenching to light-hearted moments to help balance the general grief everyone in the island feels.
The side quests do not seem like side quests at all. Each one feels like a small chapter in the bigger story that is being told. Tales from villagers will have you facing off against bandits or taking down Mongol strongholds.
There are also tales corresponding to key characters — allies in your battle to liberate Tsushima. All of which reveal an unexpected truth with each character. The way of the samurai is held in such high regard, but some of the tales will show how even those devoted to that path can stray from it.
Slay in subtle style
Everything about Ghost of Tsushima’s style and visuals is just absolutely stunning to me. Persona 5 was lauded for being a very loud and stylish depiction of modern Japan, this game should be lauded about style but for a different reason.
First, the environment. I’ve seen people talk about grass mechanics. Honestly, it’s not one of the things I usually look at when playing, but rest assured this game does it right just as well as the best ones.
It is, after all, built upon the idea that you can explore the island with a minimal game hub. This is so you can take in Tsushima in all its glory and explore every nook and cranny of the island to your heart’s desire.
The color palette of the game’s menu screen is also extremely satisfying. It’s mostly neutral colors highlighted with red or yellow/gold. It certainly took a minimalistic approach — a characteristic that most associate with Japan.
The Mythic Tales are also done exquisitely. These tales net you key items or techniques — all born from the legendary stories told amongst Tsushima’s inhabitants. In this case, you search the island for musicians who will tell the tale.
Each tale is told with the visual aid of Sumi-e or Japanese Ink Painting. Every tale feels epic as it is being told, and each item or technique learned in the pursuit of each tale proves incredibly useful in battle.
Everything flows seamlessly
Every single element in Ghost of Tsushima flows seamlessly. From combat to exploration, absolutely nothing feels out of place. It all makes sense within the confines of the story.
There are no mindless fetch quests or fighting for no reason. You roam different parts of the island with the ultimate goal of freeing it from the Mongols’ control. This, while also dealing with bandits and traitors — which also goes to show how not even a single, formidable enemy can unite a people.
You will deal with many emotions as you progress through the game. The constant tug of war between the traditional ways of the samurai and the necessity to fight in the shadows is reflected in many different tales of the story. It’s the theme that, at its facade, feels old and tired, but is given new life and deeper meaning in the story.
Being the sole surviving samurai following the initial Mongol siege, you turn into the de facto hero. Jin, naturally, was reluctant at first. But as his legend grows, so does the hope of the people that they can indeed fight back and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
This hope is forged through your countless exploits around Tsushima. Freeing one area after another, taking down strongholds, and using both all you learned as a samurai and the ghost methods you’re forced into by necessity — all of it adds to one grand legend. The legend that is the Ghost of Tsushima.
Ghost of Tsushima will launch on the PS4 on July 17, 2020
realme Watch review: It gets fitness tracking right
But it leaves so much more to be desired
realme has been aggressively pushing its own ecosystem into the fore this year. It started last year with the release of the affordable realme Buds Air. It was soon followed up with the realme Band, a fitness tracker that aims to compete with the Mi Band. Now, realme is pushing another product: the realme Watch.
The realme Watch serves to affirm the company’s grand vision for the future. Right now, it’s busy building a singular platform that will cater to the youth’s lifestyle. And the company’s first smartwatch is a small but crucial piece to that.
However, launching a smartwatch is not going to be easy. For realme, this is their first-ever product in a new category segment. The future of a grand ecosystem depends on how successful this smartwatch is going to. Plus, the company’s reputation as a lifestyle device for the youth is at stake here.
Beyond that, any product that bills itself as a smartwatch has to be particularly good at the basics — battery life, fitness tracking, connectivity, and app integration. So, does the realme Watch have what it takes to be a proper smartwatch? Let’s find out.
realme Watch is compact and intuitive
I’m pretty sure the name and design of the realme Watch will invoke the image of a familiar smartwatch to many. realme may have done this on purpose since any positive association with the Apple Watch creates a halo effect for their own smartwatch.
I can make out some differences between the Apple Watch and realme Watch though. First, the realme Watch is smaller and touts a more symmetrical body. Second, there’s a realme logo underneath the display but it’s super hard to notice. Second, the watch has a lone button on the right in place of Apple Watch’s digital crown and side button. And finally, the whole watch is made of plastic which is unlike the premium materials used by Apple on its smartwatch.
The smartwatch is compact and light. I didn’t notice much heft while wearing it. However, the fashion strap band feels cheap, and it is hard to attach and secure it to the wrist. Fortunately, there’s a quick-release lock that enables easy switching of strap bands.
Upon wearing the watch for the first time, I noticed that the screen’s brightness is not that sufficient to tackle direct sunlight. As such, I glanced a lot longer and squinted hard at the realme Watch outdoors. It doesn’t help that the smartwatch’s LCD display is a bit washed out.
It’s good for daily fitness tracking
Most people expect smartwatches to be good at fitness tracking. After all, these tiny devices pack a plethora of sensors that track your steps, heart rate, sleep patterns, and so on. However, not all smartwatches are built equally. That applies especially to the realme Watch, where you can expect some hits and misses.
For the most part, the smartwatch does a good job of tracking my heart rate. I compared it to an Honor Band 5 that I have and got the nearly identical results. I don’t have any professional heart rate monitor lying around, but I’m still confident in the readings.
There’s one big caveat to the smartwatch’s premise of continuous heart rate tracking though. I can only set the watch to read my heartbeat every five minutes or so. It would have been better if there’s an option to read heartbeats every three minutes or less. But alas, this is what realme settled for.
Step tracking is also fine for the most part. I can actually set custom step goals, which is a pretty nice feature to have. Personally, I set mine to 6,000 steps.
Aside from heart rate monitoring and step tracking, the realme Watch can also track sleep. I’m still dumbfounded by the different terminologies for quantifying sleep, but the data presented by the watch is spot-on. On average, the watch tells me that I only sleep for 5 to 6 hours every day. Comparing that data to my Honor Band 5, and I can say that they’re both pretty close.
One thing that I really like about the realme Watch is the presence of a meditation timer. It’s pretty barebones though, and the timer is configurable up to 10 minutes only. At least it’s there, and it’s pretty useful whenever I get anxious or stressed out.
It comes with a buggy exercise interface and integration
How did the realme Watch fare on a workout session? It’s actually a mixed bag. Granted, I don’t exercise a lot, and my only fitness regimen nowadays is walking around the block. Still, there’s a lot of health benefits derived from walking, and I would like my smartwatch to track how my body responds to a 10-minute walk.
Starting an exercise session from the watch is pretty straightforward. You just scroll down from the watch face, and select “workout”. From there, you have 14 sessions to choose from. There’s only one major sport that realme left out here: swimming. Yes, you can’t track your swims with this smartwatch.
Once started, realme will track your heart rate, duration, and calories burned. There are five visual indicators to tell you what zone you are in. realme Watch will display more or fewer data depending on what exercise you select. Since I like to walk, I get extra information such as distance, cadence, and steps.
Like I said before, exercise tracking is a mixed bag on the realme Watch. The biggest gripe that I have with is its tendency to restart in the middle of an exercise session. I can’t count the times that I had to start tracking once again since the watch would decide to end tracking abruptly. Hopefully, realme can fix this issue with a software update.
No third-party apps, but has some good system apps built-in
Software problems doesn’t only exist when tracking exercises. The realme Watch is riddled with a buggy system that likes to restart or even wipe out your data for the day. realme has a lot to improve here and I’m really hoping that subsequent updates can fix these annoying bugs.
In moments where the realme Watch doesn’t show its unwelcome quirks, you can actually appreciate how fluid and intuitive the navigation is. By default, the smartwatch shows your selected watch face. Long-pressing on the watch face enables you to choose from others.
Swiping up, you get a list of notifications. Swipe to the left and right, and you get different widgets that show you useful information at a glance. To access the apps, swipe down from the main watch face. Getting back to other areas is just a press away from the lone side button.
Some first-party apps that I do appreciate on this watch are the music control app and weather app. I found myself using the music control app more to skip to the next track and control the volume. And, it is nice to see weather information at a glance without scouring the web for forecasts.
The phone app leaves a lot to be desired
Of course, the whole experience of using the realme Watch is incomplete without the dedicated smartphone app. Unfortunately, realme Link—– the app that controls the watch — is only available for Android. So, there’s no way to use the watch if you use an iPhone.
As for the app, realme Link is easy to navigate and the pairing process is quick and easy. Unlike in my Honor Band, I don’t need to deal with the rigorous install of other apps just to get going. Tweaking the watch’s settings is easily done on the app itself. Plus, it’s super easy to setup app notifications.
What I didn’t like is that I needed to register for an account just to set up my realme Watch. But this complaint of mine could be minor for you. After all, most apps today require sign-ups. Still, I would’ve preferred if the app allowed me to control the watch without signing in.
While navigating and tweaking settings is a breeze on realme Link, there’s a lot to be desired with the app. First, the app can quickly get confusing for first-time smartwatch users. Statistics are displayed nicely on the app, but there’s no thorough explanation of what those statistics really mean for your health.
I also dislike the fact that there’s a limited selection of watch faces available on the app. Granted, this is a first-generation product for realme. Watch faces available at the moment are limited to a selection of 12 quirky faces. I say quirky since some of the watch face designs are divisive — you may like it or hate it. For me, however, I didn’t find any interesting watch faces so I stuck with the default one. realme did say more watch faces are coming soon. I say, it can’t come soon enough.
Finally, realme Link shows some weird software bugs from time to time. For example, when I toggled the exercise tracking within the app, the realme Watch doesn’t go into exercise tracking. Fortunately, these bugs are easily resolvable with software updates.
Solid battery life for a smartwatch
One of realme Watch’s saving grace is its long battery life. That is, long battery life for a smartwatch of this class. In normal usage, I get three to four days of battery life. It’s pretty solid, considering that most smartwatches last only a day. However, it’s worth noting that those smartwatches have more sensors that hog battery life.
You can actually extend the watch’s battery life for longer. Toggle the power-saving mode and you get up to two days more battery life on the realme Watch.
Charging is also pretty quick. From my experience, the realme Watch took an hour to charge from 10% to 70%.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
There’s a good article on Android Authority that summarizes realme’s vision for an all-encompassing ecosystem. Like the title says, the company needs to walk first before it can run. The same holds true for the realme Watch.
There are so many quirks and bugs on the smartwatch that you’ll wonder if you made the right purchase decision. Plus, app integrations and smarts are sorely missing — is this really a smartwatch at all? realme really needs to polish the watch software, since this is the very core that powers the smartwatch experience.
This sums up what the realme Watch is: a half-baked smartwatch that at least gets the fitness tracking right. realme took a gamble and it lost. But as a first generation product, there’s a lot of lessons that can be learned. Hopefully, the company can amend some of the glaring issues on this watch in the future.
Still, those who are looking for a fitness tracker that does look like an elegant smartwatch at first glance should look no further than the realme Watch. It’s light, compact, and easy to navigate. Plus, there’s the asking price of PhP 3,990 (US$ 81), which is super cheap for a smartwatch.
It’s now available on realme’s Lazada store. Those buying the smartwatch should wait for Lazada’s 7.15 sale, where it is available with a PhP 1,000 (US$ 20) discount.
realme X3 SuperZoom review: An absolute steal
realme did it again. They managed to offer flagship level performance for a phone that’s half the price of most flagships today with the realme X3 SuperZoom.
Just take a quick look at this chart to see what we’re working with.
|Price Range (PhP)||Snapdragon 855+||120Hz Screen Refresh Rate||Snapdragon 855+ (or higher) and 120Hz Screen Refresh Rate|
|20K-30K||–||–||realme X3 SuperZoom|
|30K-40K||OnePlus 7T Pro||–||OnePlus 8|
|40K-50K||Vivo NEX 3, OPPO Reno 10X Zoom||–||One Plus 8 Pro|
|50K+||Galaxy Note 10 Series||Galaxy Note 20 Series (Exynos processors in PH)||ROG Phone 2, OPPO Find X2 Pro|
The realme X3 SuperZoom is in flagship company specs-wise, but at PhP 24,990 (US$ 505), it sits right in the middle of the upper midrange segment. I didn’t even include the configuration which is 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. This smartphone is, without a doubt, a steal.
As good as advertised
But those are just the specs, right? How does it actually perform? In a word — admirably.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been merrily juggling the iPhone 11 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, and the realme X3 SuperZoom as my primary devices. Being used alongside two performance heavyweights, the realme X3 SuperZoom doesn’t miss a beat.
One of the desktop tools we use to schedule posts on Facebook has been extremely erratic of late. As a stopgap measure, we found a mobile alternative.
Scheduling several posts on your phone isn’t ideal. It involves a lot of switching from app-to-app and can get very frustrating if the phone you’re using isn’t equipped to handle that load.
Thankfully, that’s not the case with the X3 SuperZoom. I could be holding any of the three phones at any given time and if I needed to do work, there were no hiccups whatsoever.
Naturally, I also did a little bit of everything that you would do on your phone. There’s the inevitable blackhole of scrolling through social media, playing a match or two of Call of Duty Mobile, watching K-Pop music videos and fancams, and everything else in between.
Problems encountered on the X3 SuperZoom while doing these? Zero. None. Zilch.
The cameras are fantastic
Going anywhere from wide to up to 10X Zoom should give you a photo worthy of your Facebook timeline or Twitter feed.
Let me share again this post just to illustrate what I mean.
Look closer 👀
— GadgetMatch (@gadgetmatch) June 24, 2020
Color reproduction is mostly accurate but tends to pop more if you turn on AI-assist.
I’m also a fan of how it handles night mode. In the past, some night modes tended to just overlight a shot. This isn’t the case with realme. From my experience, it truly analyzes the scene and applies an appropriate level of post-processing.
The SuperZoom is okay. My feelings over highlighting zoom capabilities remain the same — which is mostly this.
The engineering to achieve the feat is truly remarkable, but the use-case for most people is just non-existent.
There’s another phone I’m waiting for that sits right around the same price range. Will do a more comprehensive photo comparison when that comes around.
A capable video camera
One camera feature we rarely get to test is the videos. Thankfully, this phone launched alongside the realme Watch, so I tried my hand at making a video shot mostly with the X3 SuperZoom.
All the spiels were shot using the 32MP front-facing camera with bokeh effect on. These are 720P at 30FPS clips, in case you’re wondering.
The rest of BRoll was shot using the rear-camera, with the exception of some clips showing the phone itself.
Naturally, I post-processed the videos using a desktop software (Final Cut Pro). However, if you’re only working with your phone, you can try apps like InShot, Filmora, or CapCut for video editing.
I shot the spiels and the rest of the clips during one hot afternoon. The spiels were especially challenging for the phone since it was exposed to direct sunlight during about an hour and a half of shooting.
That said, I still wrapped the shooting with about 15-19 percent of battery left. And the phone wasn’t even fully charged. It did get pretty hot, but it surprisingly never conked out whereas other phones would have already done so.
Not exactly a premium build
If there’s anything to nitpick about the phone, it’s probably its build and button placements. These aren’t at all dealbreakers, but I feel they’re worth mentioning.
When it comes to build and feel on hand, the phone isn’t fragile at all. But, for me at least, it doesn’t have that extra oomph you feel when you’re holding flagships that cost north of PhP 45,000 (US$ 910).
The front and back are certainly glass, but the sides are plastic. That contributes to a lesser heft which is partially responsible for that premier feeling.
Still on the sides, instead of being flushed together on the right hand side, the volume buttons sit on the left-hand side.
Meanwhile, the power button/side-mounted fingerprint sensor (fantastic sensor placement and choice!) is on the right-hand side.
For a smartphone with a 6.6-inch display with a considerable overall footprint, it’s quite a challenge operating it on one hand, especially when you want to adjust the volume.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra, for instance, is a much larger phone, but I never had this volume adjustment inconvenience since all the buttons are flushed on the right side. That said, this is a nitpick and one I can most certainly live with.
But kudos to realme on the matte back finish. It’s not a fingerprint magnet and that’s a quality every phone should strive for.
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The realme X3 SuperZoom has a lot going for it. You have a flagship-level processor, a display feature that’s mostly reserved for only the most expensive flagships, and cameras that can more than hold their own.
In fact, the SuperZoom on its name might even be underselling the product. Because it’s certainly more than its Zoom capabilities which, I feel, isn’t even the best part of this phone.
However, the real kicker here is the price. Retailing for only PhP 24,990 (US$ 505), this smartphone is an absolute steal. And it’s right in line with what realme has been doing all this time — offering fantastic value for less.
If you’re looking for flagship-level performance but do not have the resources to grab the premium ones, then the realme X3 SuperZoom should be one of your top choices.
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