If you were to pinpoint where it all started, that moment in time when Huawei smartphones turned the corner from contender to top dog. It would most likely be this snapshot from three years ago: The launch of the P9. And the start of Huawei’s partnership with Leica.
Back then both companies promised they would revolutionize smartphone photography. It took a while, but last year they finally did. The Huawei P20 was groundbreaking. But they’re not done yet. The P30 Pro comes with bold new promises to re-write the rules of photography. But did they really?
Our introduction begins with a color story. It may be commonplace now, but last year, when the P20 debuted in this stunning Twilight gradient, there was nothing quite like it.
This year, Twilight becomes Aurora, with an extra shimmer that’s made to look like the Northern Lights from where this gradient finish gets its inspiration.
Some markets will get this lovely red-orange finish, Amber Sunrise, or get a bit of both. My favorite is Breathing Crystal, a pearlescent white that’s sometimes a faint Twilight, or a red and yellow depending on how the light touches the phone. And if want something less flashy, there are also black and white models.
Before you get committed to a color. You’ll have to wait till availability is announced in your respective countries.
Both the P30 and P30 Pro are all-glass smartphones with metal frames. Apart from the obvious size difference, there are other subtleties to distinguish one from the other.
The P30 Pro is curvy-licious with a curved backside to match its curved display; the P30 has a flat, more traditional panel. I like the sexy dual curves on the P30 Pro. The phone is bigger than last year’s model but still fits comfortably in the hand. Having said that, I have many friends who adamantly prefer flat displays, so it really is a preference thing.
While some of its competitors are doing punch-hole displays or pop up cameras, Huawei is keeping the notch on the P-series, reducing it to a teardrop shape. If we’re nitpicking, there’s still a tiny bit of forehead and chin. Otherwise, it’s as edge-to-edge as it currently gets.
The display on both models is rich and vibrant — a 6.1-inch OLED for the P30 and 6.47-inch OLED for the Pro model, both Full HD+ and 19.5:9 in ratio. Underneath is a new and improved under-display fingerprint scanner. Based on our initial tests, it’s as fast, if not even faster, than the ultrasonic scanner on the Galaxy S10+.
It’s the most secure biometric option on this phone, as face unlock on the P30, while AI-assisted, is still based on a 2D scan using the selfie camera, and that’s less secure. The display on the P30 Pro also doubles as an earpiece and extra speaker. Huawei calls it an acoustic display.
One little design feature you might miss are the P30’s flat top and bottom edges; they’re a nice differentiating touch. Up top, there’s still an IR blaster for those who would rather use their phones as remotes, and on the bottom, the headphone jack returns but only on the non-Pro model.
Also worth mentioning: The SIM card tray is double-sided for two nano-SIMs or one SIM and one Nano Memory Card, which only Huawei makes.
Now on to the main event. The P30 Pro has four Leica cameras on its rear. Let me break them down for you.
The first is an ultra-wide angle camera, which is perfect when you’re traveling and want to take in more of the scene. It also doubles as a macro lens for getting in real close on subjects.
Next is a 40-megapixel standard camera, and then a square shape that isn’t a lens per se. It’s the prism of a periscope. Tucked underneath is a zoom lens array that gives the P30 Pro 5x optical zoom — more than we’ve ever seen on a smartphone to date. Combined with software and AI magic, you can go up to near lossless 10x hybrid zoom and 50x digital zoom.
Right beside the flash on the P30 Pro is a fourth camera for time of flight (TOF) that measures depth in real time. This gives you bokeh that closely resembles something taken using a high-end digital camera, so that objects in a photo will have different amounts of blur depending on how near or far they are from you.
Huawei says, using the TOF camera, they’re also building an augmented reality measuring app, similar to what Apple has on the iPhone XS. Now, about that re-writing the rules bit; that bit requires a bit of a technical explanation. Allow me to simplify.
Digital camera sensors are traditionally made of red, green, and blue bits (RGB if that sounds familiar to you) that measure color in a scene. But what if you switched green for yellow? That’s exactly what Huawei and Leica did on the P30 series. One of the reasons for this is that a yellow filter is lighter than a green filter, letting in more light when an image is captured.
Huawei says a lot of physics went into this major change, and the low-light abilities of the P30 Pro are better than ever before. To try this. I found the darkest little corner of my briefing room and set up a dark room of my own.
This is night mode on the P30, which is already pretty good compared to what night mode on other smartphones managed to produce. One could say that the P30 can see in the dark and it’s pretty amazing. Master AI mode is still available on the phone, and you can toggle it on and off, if you want to give it the power to adjust how a photo looks based on what it thinks are the ideal settings.
Huawei’s groundbreaking AI-based handheld long exposure mode gets an expanded set of features. There is Silk Water Effects mode which we have yet to try. It also works in portrait mode, and combined with AI HDR+, can help you shoot well-lit portraits even when shooting against the harsh rays of the sun.
We’ll need time to really dive into everything the camera can do. But for now, take a look at more sample photos we shot during our short time with the P30 Pro:
This year, Huawei has made it a point to bring the experience of taking video at par with taking photos. Where they really improved is stabilization when shooting Full HD content. We tried it out, even shook the phone exaggeratedly, and it does the job.
Then there’s that zoom lens, which also comes in handy. You can now zoom in up to 10x with hybrid zoom on the P30 Pro. Here’s a set of samples taken during our hands-on time:
Reps from Huawei also told us during our briefing that they’re working on a dual-video feature that lets you shoot using two lenses at the same time. That will be available as an over-the-air update soon. There’s much more to love about the new P30 and P30 Pro. We haven’t even talked about its 32-megapixel selfie camera. Here are a few samples:
Both are packed with Huawei’s newest Kirin 980 processor, come with configs of up to 8GB of RAM and plenty of built-in storage, and sizable batteries with fast charging. The P30 Pro has a larger battery and comes with 40-watt SuperCharge with support for both wireless and reverse wireless charging. The latter lets you charge Qi-compatible devices or other smartphones.
The P30 on the other hand comes with a 22W charger and does not support wireless charging. The P30 Pro is water- and dust-resistant while the P30 is only splash-resistant. Yep, the Pro in P30 Pro definitely has its merits.
Are the P30 and P30 Pro your GadgetMatch?
That was a lot to cover, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. I’m picking up my review device today so after I shoot an unboxing, I’m going to start using the phone as a daily driver.
In two weeks, I’ll let you know my thoughts. Based on first impressions, the P30 Pro is poised to be one of the best phones of 2019. For a premium phone, it delivers where it matters: design, cameras, and battery life.
And since we’re in Paris, let me pull from my limited French: The P30 Pro has got that je ne sais quoi, an intangible quality that thrills and excites. What more could you want in a smartphone?
Apple iPhone 14 Plus Unboxing & Hands On
Better late to the party than never
The iPhone 14 Plus may have come a little bit late in the party, but the new ‘Plus’ iPhone might actually be your best bet.
To cut the story short, it is iPhone 14’s bigger brother.
Apart from a bigger display, it also has the longest battery life in an iPhone ever.
But would you choose it over the more expensive iPhone 14 Pro Max?
And are you willing to trade-off the faster ProMotion display, Dynamic Island, and better cameras for a more “affordable” iPhone?
Watch our unboxing and hands-on of the iPhone 14 Plus to know more.
GameSir X2 Pro-Xbox: Unboxing and Hands-On
Cloud and mobile gaming companion
There’s this idea that the best camera is the one you have with you. Perhaps, the same can be said for gaming. With smartphones and mobile gaming advancing rapidly in the last five years, that’s never been more true than today.
While touch controls are the norm in this space, there’s still something about physical buttons that make gaming feel more tangible. That’s where GameSir comes in. And they’re taking things further by partnering with Xbox to give us the GameSir X2 Pro-Xbox edition of their controller.
Here’s what the box looks like.
Inside the box is what every GameSir package has — a carrying case to protect this precious gadget.
Open the case and you’ll be greeted by this packet and the device itself.
Inside you’ll find the user manual, replacement grips for the thumbsticks, and a GameSir sticker.
There’s also an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription code valid for one month.
This is one of the main draws of this gadget as it works seamlessly with Xbox Game Pass. All games in the service with controller support will work immediately with the GameSir X2 Pro-Xbox.
You also get a USB to USB-C cable.
And here’s the GameSir X2 Pro Xbox in black.
It’s also available in white but we opted for black to match the color of the Xbox Series X. The official colorway names are Midnight Black and Moonlight White.
The device expands once you slot in a phone. It supports most Android phones if they are 110-179mm long. The largest phone we’ve used this with is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. We also regularly used it with the HONOR Magic4 Pro and the OnePlus 10T.
Here’s a closer look at the right-hand side.
The face buttons matches that of the Xbox controller both in layout and in colors. The Xbox logo there is actually a button. It functions as a ‘Home’ button. Initially, we thought it would launch the Game Pass app, but that’s not the case.
The ABXY buttons are also customizable. You can use it as is or change is to the Switch layout. You just need to select the correct layout on the GameSir App to make sure the configuration is correct.
The USB-C connector is still flexible.
Not shown in the photo above, but the USB-C connector is flexible enough to bend a little bit to make connecting your smartphone easier.
The left hand side has the thumbstick, D-Pad, and a couple more buttons.
You also have the usual shoulder and trigger buttons.
And they’re about just as satisfying as any shoulder and trigger buttons we’ve used. There’s enough depth and feel here to satisfy most people’s controller needs.
Mappable buttons at the back.
Lastly, you get two mappable buttons at the back. One on each side of the controller.
The GameSir app is better than ever. The companion app immediately detects the your GameSir gadget once you’re connected to your phone. Upon firing it up, you’ll also be shown a list of the games you have installed. There’s even a shortcut to the Game Pass app from there.
It’s advisable to install the app right away as soon as you get whatever GameSir gadget you have. While the GameSir X2 Pro-Xbox will work immediately on Game Pass games and mobile games with controller support, you’ll need the app to map controls for popular games like Genshin Impact and Call of Duty: Mobile.
Game Pass gaming
But let’s just straight to what this whole thing is for — playing with games on Game Pass. There isn’t much to say except it really does feel like you’re playing AAA games while on the go.
With the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, you get access to a wide library of games ranging from AAA to indie ones. As long as they’re on Game Pass, you’ll be able to play them as you please.
Naturally, this comes with a caveat. Game Pass Ultimate isn’t exactly available in all territories. For markets without Game Pass Ultimate support, your next best option is to use a VPN. If you’re not sure which one to use, we recommend ExpressVPN.
Once you’re all setup, it’s just a matter of picking the games you like and playing to your heart’s content. If you’re used to actual console controllers like the ones that come with the Xbox Series X|S or the PlayStation 5/4, you’ll definitely need a little bit of adjustment.
It shouldn’t take longer than a couple of hours though. Any gamer who’s used any controller should be able to adapt to its size rather quickly thanks to its general layout.
Just because it has the Xbox branding doesn’t mean it only works with Game Pass. This is still very much a GameSir controller. And like most other GameSir controllers, it will work with other cloud gaming services.
We connected this with Steam Link and had no troubles whatsoever. We also fired up the PS Remote Play app although that’s a little trickier since it requires mapping.
We also played our fair share of mobile games using the GameSir X2 Pro-Xbox. We especially spent a significant time playing Tower of Fantasy which surprisingly had controller support. Although, you’re gonna have to feel your way through this to start because the buttons aren’t labeled.
Should you buy the GameSir X2 Pro-Xbox?
We skipped on doing an entirely full review because we already did that for this device. Just go check our GameSir X2 review for something more thorough. But to answer the question, it really depends on the type of games you play.
As mentioned in our review, it works best on sports and driving games. But as of writing, the mobile gaming as a whole is rapidly maturing. So much so that we’re seeing open world, action-RPG type games have more support for controllers. You also have remastered classics like Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX, available to play and with controller support too.
Like mobile gaming, cloud gaming is also starting to gain ground especially in territories with fast internet connection. This opens up your smartphone into a whole new world of gaming that wasn’t exactly easy to recommend three or so years ago. But as of right now, the GameSir X2 Pro-Xbox is a nice add-on device for any gamer.
It also doesn’t hurt that for its price (US$ 79.99), you get quite a few additions in the box not present in its pricier competitors. The carrying case and the Game Pass subscription are nice value-add items that GameSir offers.
You can BUY the GameSir X2 Pro-Xbox here, When you checkout, use the coupon code GadgetMatchX2P for an 8% discount. The code is valid until October 31, 2022.
The art of sharing your favorite moments
With the instax mini Link 2
We all want to freeze certain moments and live in it forever. Recollecting the echoes of shrieks, giggles, and peals of laughter that we want to relish perpetually.
That’s probably why I’m in love with photographs, even when I live in the age of video and moving pictures. It’s still enchanting. A slice of time captured, preserved. Holding stories that you can recall instantly, without having to finish watching from beginning to end.
Don’t just take, give
Throughout the years, Fujifilm has consistently delivered instant cameras and instant film printers with its instax line. I usually bring my instax Mini 9 to important occasions where I have the liberty to choose a moment for us to remember. But on the occasion that I don’t, I always have my smartphone to capture memories.
In 2019, Fujifilm unveiled the mini Link which prints your favorite photos from your phone. This year, the mini Link had a successor called the mini Link 2 — which I had for quite a while now. It’s still a smartphone printer, but there’s so much more.
I brought the mini Link 2 to my recent travels such as my birthday weekend in Calatagan and my trip to Bangkok. In between, I finally learned what it’s like to share my favorite moments.
The mini Link 2 looks fairly like its predecessor with only scanty changes. It still has that stripe pattern on its exterior, but instax’s logo — which serves as the power button — looks bigger and rounder.
The charging port is still inconspicuous, and the design of the film door hasn’t changed. FYI: If you’re new to instax cameras, once you insert your film pack, don’t open the film door again lest you waste your remaining films.
On another note, the most notable differences are the appearance of a button on the side of the printer’s mouth, and an LED panel for augmented reality (AR) function.
Other than that, the unit I have this year comes in Space Blue. I was gunning for the Clay White since I had the Ash White in 2019, but the navy colorway matches most of my accessories so I’m settling with it.
There’s fun in printing
The mini Link 2, like its predecessor, is reasonably easy to use. One press on its big power button, and the printer will turn on. It also connects seamlessly with my iPhone 13 and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4, so there’s no such thing as Android vs iPhone here.
To connect, you must link your smartphone and the printer via the dedicated app, which you can download on the App Store and Play Store. (That’s why it’s called instax mini Link.)
The interface is easy to understand. From the get-go, you have an overview of the device connection, how many films are left, and how much is the current battery capacity of the mini Link 2.
Through the app, you can find two modes: Print Mode and Fun Mode. You can switch modes by clicking your desired mode, or adjusting the position of the printer. If it’s standing up, it will go to fun mode. If it’s lying down, it will go to print mode.
Via Print Mode, you can do a “Simple Print” where you pick a photo from your gallery, and print it using the mini Link 2. This is the easiest way to share your memories.
Of course, there are candid moments that we want to freeze but are instead captured by video. Fret not, the app has “Video Print” where you can select the video you want and choose the frame you’d love to print.
For those who are always ready to take unplanned captures, the instax Camera feature allows you to use your device’s camera to take a photo right away, so you can print it immediately. Personally, this is the feature I used the least. I mean, why should I?
The second iteration of the instax mini Link puts more focus on Fun Mode. Now, it has “Frame Print” that lets you select various frames you can work with for your photos. Think: your aunties and uncles with their framed profile photos on Facebook.
For those who want to fit so much with the little space an instax film has, there’s a “Collage Print“. You can have fun splitting images, if you’re up for it. Not me, though. It’s a waste of film.
“Match Test“, which was previously a feature to see your compatibility with someone through your photo, has just got an upgrade. It still has the same “Match Test” and “Quick Diagnosis” from before, but with an extra addition called “Go With Your Instinct“.
The feature uses a different quiz that determines if you’re compatible with your friend. The effect will show a gradient frame which can indicate if you’re compatible or not.
Make more personalized prints!
Now, the mini Link 2 offers two features that basically let you draw.
Let’s start with “Sketch, Edit, and Print“. First, you draw your design on paper, scan it with your phone, and it will extract the sketch or text — whatever you put on the paper.
You can adjust the color and size, and you can apply it anywhere in the photo. You can take a new photo so it matches your sketch, or you can find a photo that already works. Then, you print it!
Draw in the air
What’s really new is the instaxAIR option, which basically lets you print around in the air which you can put onto your image. You can use your finger to draw directly on your smartphone, or you can use the instax’s LED light to draw in the air.
There are paintbrushes for you to consider, so select wisely. Personally, I love using Neon as compared to Spray paint.
You can also take a video of your drawing, which can be accessed through a QR code. When you print it and someone scans the QR code, they can have a playback of the video recording on their smartphone.
On learning how to share
As I have mentioned, I was having back-to-back trips to Calatagan and Bangkok during my birthday month. What I’ve learned in my trips is how memories are worth reminiscing if it’s shared.
With the instax mini Link 2, I can re-print all the photos I just printed so my loved ones can have a copy, too. I can simply rotate the device and press the big button, or I can go back to the print history to check which photos are worth re-printing.
In a way, the film prints became a souvenir. It’s perfect for making your favorite moments tangible. Something you want to hold onto in the years to come. After all, photographs have a knack for making us feel differently.
A single snap; a frozen still and slice in time. Who knows what stories and emotions can be unearthed with just a single photograph?
I think that’s the beauty of these film prints. Memories may be fleeting. Life may be ephemeral. But these photographs can preserve a memory that will be with us throughout the years. It’s magical.
Is the instax mini Link 2 your GadgetMatch?
There are plenty of use cases for the instax mini Link 2. But for those who are sentimental and want to turn their memories into something tangible, the instax mini Link 2 can easily be a GadgetMatch.
It’s ideal for every occasion you want to cherish. With a compact design and easy-to-use functionalities, it’s no doubt it can be your travel companion, too.
The instax mini Link 2 is available in three colorways: Soft Pink, Clay White, and Space Blue. It retails for PhP 7,299, and will be available for purchase in authorized Fujifilm instax dealers nationwide, as well as official online flagship stores in Lazada and Shopee.
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