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?
Watching TWICELIGHTS on a 75″ Samsung 4K QLED TV
Almost as good as attending the concert
K-Pop girl group TWICE is currently on their first world tour called TWICELIGHTS and due to schedule conflicts as well as an inability to camp out for tickets, I missed all possible chances to see this nine-member group live.
I was devastated after being told that the tickets had already been sold out. This, despite me waking up much, much earlier than I usually do on a weekend and lining up for hours.
So I did the next best thing — watch fancams on the 75” Q90R Flagship QLED 4K HDR 2000 Smart TV.
4K in all its glory
My advice in watching 4K fancams is to select the ones that focus on a certain member. This will give you a better and closer look and really feel that 4K goodness.
That said, the 4K footage will vary depending on the device it was shot at. Some 4K footage don’t do well in concert lighting conditions and when zoomed in which is the case for most fancams.
Despite this, the Samsung Q90R more than delivered. It didn’t matter if I was sitting on the couch directly in front of the TV or over to the side at our dining area. I was getting the same quality no matter the viewing angle.
TWICELIGHTS on the 75” Samsung 4K QLED TV is an absolute joy to watch. Instead of being stuck with a single view, you get to experience the concert from a multitude of perspectives thanks to the various fansites that cover TWICE.
I put together a playlist on YouTube which you can find towards the end of this article. If you see an abundance of Momo and Chaeyoung fancams, this is because those two are my biases.
After watching (and *ehem rewatching) the concert, I had to test what else this TV can do.
The girls already look good in HD, and they look even better when upscaled to 4K. You see, this is what the TV is capable of. Much like its 8K counterpart, the Q90R is equipped with a chip that upscales footage to 4K.
The music videos, which are mostly just in 1080p, look stunning on the 75-inch 4K QLED display. This is especially true for K-Pop videos that are known to be colorful.
Something we quickly noticed though is that some of the upscaled videos appear a little more saturated than usual. Personally, this didn’t really bother me but it might be important to note for those considering to purchase this TV.
Gaming and watching movies
The saturation doesn’t stop at upscaling. When you switch to game mode, the colors tend to switch to colors that some people might find too aggressive.
We played NBA 2K19 on the monitor and some courts almost hurt your eye because of how strong they appear. This wasn’t the case for other games though.
The same is true when watching movies built for 4K machines. It’s a perfect blend of “damn this looks like I’m actually seeing them in real life” while maintaining that cinematic feel. Words aren’t enough, you truly need to see this in person.
With Netflix, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime Video pre-installed, you won’t run out of 4K content to go through. My only gripe is that the TV doesn’t support the NBA App. Basketball is one of the few things I actually try to watch live but that’s not possible unless I have a cable subscription which I have no plans of getting any time soon.
At first I thought this was just a glitch on the particular unit we were lent but Samsung confirmed that they currently do not support the NBA app. However, they added that they are “looking to find ways to improve customer experience by expanding our content services and apps available in our smart TVs.”
There weren’t a lot but I did experience some casting issues on the Q90R. YouTube worked perfectly but other apps like VLive struggled to connect right away unlike when I’m just using a chromecast.
There’s also this little hiccup when you want to watch Facebook videos. The TV will force you to use the Facebook Watch app and have to connect a single user’s account to the TV versus anyone just being able to cast a video as long as they are connected to the same wifi network.
It’s a minor inconvenience although it could be an issue if you have to have more than one person connect their Facebook account to the TV just so they have easy access to the Facebook videos they prefer watching. That said, I don’t imagine a lot of people need to use Facebook Watch to begin with.
Truly a Smart TV
One of the things I truly appreciate about the Q90R is how seamless you interact with it. The remote and the TV’s interface is well thought-out.
The Q90R foregoes the usual remote in favor of what looks like a circular directional pad which works perfectly on the TV’s interface. The other buttons can also be easily located by feeling your way on the remote. Adjusting the volume is as simple as pushing up or down on a button.
You can, of course, use the mic and ask Bixby to do things on the TV for you but personally that’s not my thing. I don’t want to have to speak when interacting with my TV but I find that this can be a useful way for other people.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
The 75” Q90R Flagship QLED 4K HDR 2000 Smart TV is an entertainment powerhouse. It’s perfect for family gatherings and inviting a large group of friends for some Netflix and chilling. It’ll set you back at PhP 399,999 (roughly around US$ 7800).
However, if you have an extra PhP 200,000 lying around, you might want to opt for the 8K version which retails for PhP 599,999 (roughly around US$ 11,700) which puts you in better position to be ready for the future. If not, the 4K isn’t shabby at all.
ASUS Zen AiO 27 hands-on: A step up from before
Your next home PC?
Let’s take a break from laptops and check out this desktop PC from ASUS. This is the Zen AiO 27 and it looks so much better than any of the previous all-in-ones we reviewed from the Taiwanese company.
Let’s find out in this hands-on.
This AiO has a gorgeous 27-inch UHD display
The bezels surrounding the screen are slim
It has an outward notch at the bottom for the webcam
There are four speakers located at the back
Quick-access ports are on the right side of the base
The remaining ports are all at the back
The front has two LED indicators and an SD card reader
The base even has a wireless charging pad
A full-size wireless keyboard comes in the box
There’s also a bundled wireless optical mouse
The Zen AiO design upgrade we’ve been waiting for
ASUS’ new Zen AiO 27 finally gets the design upgrade it deserves. It’s not an iMac copy-cat anymore and it looks even better than Apple’s desktop PC. ASUS certainly took a step forward in design; however, I’ve seen better-looking AiOs running Windows 10 like Dell’s new Inspiron desktops.
Perhaps, the best asset of the Zen AiO 27 is its display. It’s a 27-inch IPS LCD panel with a UHD resolution and multi-touch support. The display is Pantone Validated for color accuracy and it has ASUS’ NanoEdge design for slimmer bezels all around.
Although, like on smartphones, slimmer bezels come at a cost. ASUS had to put an outward notch to house a webcam and, for some reason, they placed it at the bottom. When I tested the webcam, it was showing myself from an awkward angle. As a consolation, it’s also equipped with an IR sensor for hands-free face login with Windows Hello.
The Zen AiO 27’s stand lets users view the display from multiple angles. It can tilt and swivel, plus the height can be adjusted with one finger. There’s no option for rotating the display, but that’s okay.
Design-wise, the Zen AiO 27 is a thing of beauty. I do appreciate its brushed metal-effect finish of really dark blue (darker than navy blue) with gold trims and accents. The audio and visual department of the PC delivers top-notch quality as well.
Slim and powerful, but not enough for 4K
All of the power of the Zen AiO 27 comes from beneath. The components are all housed in the base of the PC, which is neat and practical. How so? There are two storage slots and memory is user upgradeable up to 32GB.
The specs of the model I have are impressive with an Intel Core i7-8700T processor, 16GB DDR4 memory, 512GB M.2 SSD, and 2TB HDD. It also has discrete graphics using NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1050, which is kind of old but still very capable.
The base also has a Thunderbolt 3 port and features Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band gigabit-class Wi-Fi. Needless to say, it runs Windows 10 Home out of the box.
I have no complaints with the general performance of the Zen AiO 27 thanks to its incredible specifications. I can easily multitask with multiple windows open and quickly render images from Photoshop. The configuration is also enough to ensure smooth video editing.
When it comes to gaming though, it doesn’t hit the mark. While the GTX 1050 GPU is good for games like Fortnite or anything with similar graphics power requirements, it’s not enough to push pixels in UHD.
This means you can’t take full advantage of the crisp display of the Zen AiO 27. It’s best to keep the game’s resolution in Full HD to have at least 60fps in not-so-demanding titles. Too bad I can’t enjoy Cities: Skylines in 4K.
I wasn’t able to try it out, but the Zen AiO 27’s can also act as an external monitor since it has an HDMI-in port. Any HDMI-connected source can use the UHD display as a second monitor.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
The ASUS Zen AiO 27 is indeed premium with an asking price of PhP 149,995 in the Philippines. It’s available through ASUS Concept Stores nationwide.
Of course, if you are to build your own desktop PC, you could get more power with the same budget. You could even still use an ASUS monitor, keyboard, mouse, and components since the company also sells those.
What you won’t get is the convenience of a plug-and-play, space-saving AiO. It’s like bringing out a laptop and plugging in the charger. If only ASUS included a better wireless keyboard and mouse, it would have been a better package.
Realme C2 hands-on: The new budget king?
Cheap yet good
After releasing a midrange phone capable of handling graphics-intensive games, Realme is back to catering to the budget segment. The successor to the entry-level Realme C1 is here, and it doesn’t look like a rebranded OPPO phone anymore.
The Realme C2 is the company’s newest affordable phone. Designed to be really friendly to people’s wallets, is the Realme C2 worth the hard-earned money?
Let’s find out in this hands-on.
It’s got a 6.1-inch IPS LCD display
The power button is on its right side while…
… the volume keys and card tray are on the left
The card tray accepts a microSD and two SIM cards
The micro-USB port and 3.5mm jack are at the bottom
The phone’s back features a prism-like textured pattern
It’s certainly different from your typical budget phone
Since the Realme C2 is a budget phone, it’s not packing the best hardware available. It doesn’t have a powerful processor, but it has a body that’s unique. It’s pretty hard to sell an entry-level device with its low specifications, although the Realme C2 is not reliant on its power alone.
Realme markets their new phone to have what they call a “Diamond Cut Design.” The Realme C2 doesn’t have any fancy stones, although it has a textured back panel that kind off mimics the look of a shining diamond. It’s still made of plastic, but I certainly appreciate this over a glossy, smudgy glass-like back.
In front, it has a 6.1-inch display with a dewdrop notch that’s way smaller than before. The screen’s resolution remains at HD+ which is not the sharpest panel available, yet it’s alright. I find the display to be adequate for everyday use.
The whole front is protected by a smooth slab of Gorilla Glass 3, so you don’t have to worry much about scratches. It does come with a pre-installed plastic screen protector.
Overall, the physical design of the Realme C2 is okay. It doesn’t elevate the budget segment with any premium materials, but the textured pattern on the back is a welcome touch. We don’t get to see a smudge-free phone every day.
There’s nothing exciting in the specs department, although the Realme C2 gets its job done. It’s powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 chipset which has an octa-core CPU. Compared to the Realme C1, the Realme C2 is slightly faster and more efficient with its new processor. The model I have has a fairly standard 3GB of memory and 32GB of expandable storage.
Out of the box, the phone runs the latest version of ColorOS 6 with updated icons to give it a different identity over OPPO phones with the same operating system. ColorOS is already based on Android Pie, so it’s pretty much up to date with the core Android features.
So far, the Realme C2 performs smoothly with my day-to-day usage. I have yet to encounter any frustrating lag or hiccup. Multitasking is pretty limited due to its low memory, although let’s not ask too much from a budget phone.
Gaming-wise, graphics-intensive titles are not advisable for the Realme C2. It can run games in low settings fairly smooth, but Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile are not fun to play with low frame rates.
Equipped with a 13-megapixel shooter and a 2-megapixel depth sensor on the back, the Realme C2 can take decent stills in broad daylight. Indoor and night shots can get noisy, but it’s still usable for posting online. It has an LED flash to help fill light, just in case you need to.
For selfies, there’s a 5-megapixel front-facing camera sitting inside the display’s notch.
Check out these samples:
The phone’s main camera doesn’t have AI scene detection, but the front camera has built-in beauty filters. Surprisingly, it takes good selfies as long as there’s a lot of light available.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
To appreciate the Realme C2, one should see it as a budget phone that tries to offer something different. To be honest, most buyers will just slap on a case to keep their phone protected. However, the Realme C2 doesn’t disappoint in delivering the basics and it’s a well-rounded phone.
The Realme C2 starts at PhP 5,490 in the Philippines and INR 5,999 in India for the entry-level configuration with 2GB of memory and 16GB of expandable. If you wish to get the 3GB+32GB variant, you’ll have to shell out PhP 6,490 or INR 7,999.
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