Reviews

Huawei P30 Lite Review: Best midrange smartphone available?

Not a far cry from its more premium counterparts

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If you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, Huawei is basically killing it with smartphone release, after smartphone release. Of course, there are the other issues they’re dealing with, but with smartphones, the Chinese giant keeps it coming.

So, when the company announced their newest flagship lineup, the P30 series, I was excited to see what was in store. Until, I was hit with the harsh reality of their prices.

Then comes the Huawei P30 Lite, the more budget-friendly option in the series. The device packs a punch with a powerful chipset, the latest EMUI, and a triple-camera setup similar to the more premium variants. But, can the Huawei P30 Lite truly compete with the best of them for its value?

It has a 6.15-inch IPS display with a dewdrop notch

At the bottom, there’s a USB-C port and headphone jack

The glass back has the triple-camera setup and a fingerprint sensor

Premium performance across the board

The Huawei P30 Lite was a thrill to use as a daily driver. I felt how fast the device was, mostly because of its Kirin 710 processor and 6GB of RAM. Apps opened without a hitch almost all the time, except obviously when I opened too many apps at once. EMUI 9.0 was fairly easy to navigate around, and Android gestures worked perfectly.

Gaming on the P30 Lite was superb and fast, thanks to GPU Turbo 2.0. Everybody’s favorite mobile game Mobile Legend ran with almost no lag whatsoever. Other games worked just as fine with GPU Turbo on, so the mobile gaming experience is as good as can be at this price point.

I felt that the device’s battery life was almost excellent. I got through almost an entire day from one full charge, mostly surfing the web, social media, YouTube, a little bit of gaming, and listening to music. Heavy gaming on the phone cuts that time by nearly half, but it’s still pretty solid for a 3340mAh battery. Because of fast charging from the USB-C port, one full charge took about two hours.

Built well, but be careful with it

Here’s the thing: I love the glass back of this phone. From afar, it doesn’t seem to be a total fingerprint magnet so I can easily vouch for it. But if I were you, I’d recommend a case on this phone at all costs. I can’t count how many times the phone slipped off any type of surface I put it on. Still, I didn’t see a single scratch on the device. 

Also, the phone’s display was hypersensitive to human touch without a case on. Despite that, I’m surprised how bright the display is under direct sunlight at full brightness for an LCD panel. Colors are pretty accurate, especially while watching HD videos on YouTube in the open sun.

With the SIM card tray slot placement, I liked that it was on top rather than on the side of the phone, especially when you have a phone case that covers only the sides. Also, the phone does tend to get hot even with regular use, especially if you’re not in a well-cooled place.

The four cameras are great for a midrange device

I honestly think that the cameras performed better than expected out of a midrange smartphone. Of course, I found some features of the cameras that did disappoint me. For starters, the ultra-wide-angle lens didn’t seem to get clear details properly. It had some potential, but viewing the images simply wasn’t satisfying.

Second: I really think Huawei should start fixing the integration of AR Emoji into the camera. When it first came out, I really thought it had a slight chance of trumping Apple’s Memoji. Sadly, even a 32 megapixel front camera wasn’t fully capable enough to handle AR Emoji for this device. Facial recognition took forever to properly calibrate, and emoji responded a bit late to facial movements.

I can definitely say, however, that the great features ultimately outweigh these missed opportunities. First, I applaud the night mode of this triple-camera setup. Of course, it took some practice for me to properly take good pictures in the dark with night mode. I didn’t expect the colors to be super accurate, but the pictures came out beautifully on my end.

Secondly, the front camera has great selfie quality. Even with beautification at zero or adjusted to the maximum, face detection is accurate and images are bright. The AI lens was a bit of a struggle to work with depending on what object the camera was focusing on. Even so, details for me were clear and distinct, and the colors were accurate.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 16,999 for the variant reviewed here or INR 19,990 for the lower-end model in India, the Huawei P30 Lite brings a premium feel to the midrange line. A packaged deal of a powerful chipset matched with a quick and responsive UI is really all you could ask for.

You can maximize this phone to its fullest extent, from browsing on the internet to watching videos and playing games on it. In addition, the device looks and feels premium in terms of build quality.

The real star of the device is its set of cameras. It has its hiccups, but overall it really gets the job done in terms of detail and color accuracy. You can even take an amazing photo of the stars with night mode.

The Huawei P30 Lite brings the premium finish to the midrange game. If you want a taste of what premium feels like while on a budget, this phone definitely won’t disappoint.

Reviews

Vivo V17 Pro Unboxing and Review

Overpriced and gimmicky?

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Vivo’s newest smartphone has cool camera features, including the world’s first dual pop-up selfie camera.

But is that enough for you to want to upgrade, or is the Vivo V17 Pro overpriced with a lot of gimmicks?

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Her GadgetMatch

LG Pra.L’s Galvanic Ion Booster makes your skincare products more effective

Makes your visits to the facial clinic less frequent

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The marriage of beauty and tech is not an entirely new thing. Ionic products, tools that are supposed to help slow down the signs of ageing, even water bottles that will supposedly make water better for your skin — they have been around for a while. LG’s new, Pra.L line is one of the most recent launches which was met with both shock and awe. This is mainly due to the new claims of what their high-grade devices can do but also because of the price tag they come with.

I personally love this whole movement. In the advent of the informed consumer trend, more and more people are becoming concerned about what they put on their skin. It’s highly common now that women who are into skincare are vigorously discussing ingredients. A lot of us are also becoming more interested in the details of what aestheticians are doing for us.

The entire Pra.L line is practically a beauty clinic within the convenience of your own home. It is democratizing the technology of some of the most common, non-invasive treatments and making it accessible to consumers who want to do things on their own.

One of the notable devices in the line is the Galvanic Ion Booster. The idea of an ion booster to help skincare products penetrate deeper into the skin is not entirely new. LG’s version of the device, however, is definitely a cut above most of the products in the market.

As someone with sensitive skin which is on a recovery period from hormonal breakouts, I tend to be quite picky with anything I put on my skin. It has also been recommended that I go for simpler routines using as few products as possible. With little product, you’d want them to be as effective as possible. This is where this device comes in.

Ease of use

For the past month, I’ve been using the Galvanic Ion Booster religiously — morning and night. I would use the cleansing mode with my CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser (green bottle, for normal to dry skin). The device literally tells you which part of your face you should be using it on. The voice is not too loud but perky enough to get you out of your own head. Just in case you get too in the zone. Using galvanic ion technology, the device helps the cleanser draw out the impurities in your pores. Expect a slight vibration that is more relaxing than uncomfortable.

For the boost mode, I either use it with a vitamin C serum or The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA. Both serums are helpful in brightening the skin and fading out the marks left behind by intense breakouts. For the boost mode, the same technology is applied but in a reverse direction, helping the product and its ingredients penetrate your skin deeper. The boost mode is something I enjoy a lot as you can actually feel your products getting absorbed right away. I top everything with a gentle moisturizer from La Roche-Posay and on days when it’s extremely dry outside, a face oil from Australian indie beauty brand Ipsum.

I also use it with retinol treatments once a week but would make sure I double up on sunscreen the next day. The heat and vibration from the device do render retinol to be more effective. However, it will also make your skin more susceptible to sun damage.

When a stubborn pimple decides to pop up unannounced, I also use the boost mode to help my Mamonde AC Balance Spot Serum be absorbed faster. I wake up the next day with the little bugger dry and ready to be forgotten in the next couple of days.

Worth the price tag?

The device’s triangular head is made out of medical-grade titanium, making it safe for use on your skin. The shape is also effective in reaching the small nooks around your face like the sides of your nose. I just make sure to clean the device with running water and wipe it dry before putting on the cover.

LG’s Galvanic Ion Booster also has a good weight to it without being too heavy. The device also travels well — it comes with its own carrying pouch — and can charge with a micro USB cable or through the charging dock it comes with. The sleek design of the device makes it an easy hold and a joy to use. This, despite having to move it around your face for about three minutes per mode. Sounds like a short time but not when you’re a busy, working woman. I found it to be a lesson in slowing down and just making sure I enjoy doing my skincare routine instead of rushing through it like a chore — a form of self-love if you will.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

After a month of use, my skin feels more plump and healthy. It’s also brighter and blemishes became more manageable. I can highly recommend this for the skincare junkie; It’s a game-changer.

The device retails for SG$ 529 which might seem like a huge blow to the wallet. However, prevention is definitely less expensive than cure so think of it as an investment for the future.

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Reviews

OPPO Reno 2 review: On the right track

Rebranding done right

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It wasn’t too long ago when OPPO launched the Reno, the company’s new branding for its smartphones; gone are the F series and the R series. Several months and variants later, it’s now time for its successor.

OPPO is sticking to its new design language

With the Reno, OPPO also introduced a new design language — something that’s truly their own. While the OPPO Reno 2 is narrower and slightly lighter than the first OPPO Reno on paper, this phone is still massive.

OPPO made the back curvier so it’s now more comfortable to hold, even with the case on. Most people could care less, but I really appreciate how secure and premium the bundled leather-like case is. I wish more phones came with something like this.

There’s a headphone jack at the bottom, too. We’ve gotten used to wireless headphones by now but having a headphone jack is still a welcome feature. It’s nice to be able to watch Netflix outdoors like when you’re waiting for the bus without worrying whether your headphones are charged.

Speaking of watching Netflix, the Reno 2 can hold its own even outdoors — its AMOLED display is bright. The unobstructed display is beautiful and a pleasure to use.

Great cameras

Like a lot of other smartphones we’ve seen this year, the OPPO Reno 2 has a 48MP wide angle lens, 13MP telephoto lens, and an 8MP ultra wide angle lens. There’s also a fourth camera — a 2MP monochrome sensor, which should help take better low light photos and portraits.

The phone also features a 5X hybrid zoom and 20x digital zoom. Periscopic zoom is an impressive achievement for smartphones, and it’s nice to have really, but we haven’t really found any practical uses it for it. In fact the only time we probably ever use this feature is when we’re reviewing phones and taking sample photos.

What we find more useful is the ultra wide angle lens — for when you’re taking photos of food and want to be a little more discreet about it, or for when you just want to show off both your outfit and your background. It’s great for taking photos of sights too when you’re traveling.

Portrait mode 2.0 is supposedly better, but unless it can truly separate your hair against the background, we’d still use it sparingly. Just because you have portrait mode, it doesn’t mean you should use it all the time.

The same goes for bokeh effect on video. It’s supposed to mimic that background blur a professional camera is able to make when shooting video but the technology just isn’t there yet. What we really like though is the Reno 2’s improved video stabilization — it works really well.

There’s also ultra dark mode, which captures low light photos better — even tricky scenarios like NEON signs or backlit photos.

The pop-up selfie camera is here to stay

A few years ago OPPO was all about the selfie. In several markets in Asia they were known as the “selfie expert”. Even if OPPO already dropped that strategy, you still get an array of beauty customizations when taking selfies.

Although we prefer turning it off completely as even AI Beauty Mode does more than take out temporary blemishes.

The Reno 2 also retains the freefall protection feature. In case you drop your phone while taking a selfie, the pop-up camera will automatically retract.

Gaming performance

The Reno 2 sports an upper midrange Qualcomm chipset called the Snapdragon 730G. Even if it doesn’t have a high end processor, it holds up really well because of its Adreno 615 graphics card.

If you still play Pokemon Go like me, just know that this phone won’t experience any hiccups even while you’re in the middle of a raid.

Solid battery life and super fast charging

We’ve been using the OPPO Reno 2 for about a week now and it lasts a whole day of heavy use, or a day and a half of moderate use. That’s a lot of photo taking, navigating, playing Pokemon GO, browsing social media, and texting even until night time — thanks to its huge 4000 mAh battery, dynamic AMOLED display, efficient processor, and optimized Color OS 6.

When it’s out of juice, topping it up is easy because of OPPO’s proprietary VOOC charging. It can get to 50% in just 30 minutes.

Is the OPPO Reno 2 your GadgetMatch?

I remember when we would review OPPO’s R series a year or two ago, we’d always had apprehensions in recommending them. Their price to performance ratio didn’t always make sense.

At EUR 499 and GBP 449, the Reno 2 is priced cheaper than the R series at launch. It delivers in every aspect. Even if most of its features are gimmicky and not exactly practical for everyday use, it’s a great phone overall that can handle anything you throw at it.

It’s a pleasure to use and a pleasure to hold. It ticks two things that are most important to us: great cameras and battery life. It even has a USB-C port, super fast charging, and a headphone jack.

There’s also that je ne sais quoi — you know when you hold a phone you’re inexplicably drawn to it? This is one of those phones.

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