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Huawei P40 Pro review: It’s complicated

Told through lines from old RnB songs

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I don’t know about you but to me, a lot of 90s-2000s RnB songs evoke a deep sense of longing that’s unique to its time. That sense of longing is mostly what I felt as I put together this Huawei P40 Pro review.

That said, I recognize that feelings aren’t facts, so we’ll certainly throw in the facts that lead to these feelings. This article is probably best experienced while listening to the songs indicated. The playlist is here and also towards the end of the article. I threw in some other songs there for good measure. 😉

Sexy love, girl the things you do. Keep me sprung, keep me running back to you

Ne-Yo’s “Sexy Love” feels like the honeymoon stage of a relationship. When I first saw and held the Huawei P40 Pro, this was the prevailing feeling. It felt perfect. Its overall footprint along with the curved sides make it easy to hold in one hand. It’s also significantly lighter than its predecessor, the P30 Pro, but without losing the premium heft we tend to expect from flagships built on glass.

For context, prior to getting a hold of the phone, I’ve been splitting my time between an iPhone 11 Pro (a little too small) and a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (a little too big). The P40 Pro hits the sweet spot in the middle in terms of size.

Elsewhere on the phone you pretty much get the standard stuff. All lined up on the right side are the power button and the volume rockers. Curiously, Huawei stepped away from the no-button, double tap volume controls introduced in the Mate 30 Pro.

At the bottom you’ll find the SIM card tray for both the SIM card and Huawei’s proprietary nano memory card. Alongside it are the USB-C port and speakers.

You ain’t the girl I used to know 

That honeymoon stage feeling was short lived as soon as we tested the vaunted cameras equipped on the P40 Pro. The phone has a quad-camera setup: 50MP wide main camera, 40MP Ultra-wide lens, 12MP periscope lens, and a ToF sensor.

I have to admit, relating the camera performance of the P40 Pro to Omarion’s “Ice Box” is over dramatic. The song talks about trying but being let down. For the most part, you’ll definitely still get really good photos on the P40 Pro, but there are some glaring weaknesses.

The unit we have sports the Deep Sea Blue color, but we didn’t think that blue would bleed too much into the photos. Take this shot of a basketball for example. Looks fine on its own right? Except, that’s not the accurate color.

Here’s the same scene taken with an iPhone 11 Pro. This has a more accurate color reproduction of the scene. I can’t tell you which one looks better in your eyes, so I’ll leave it at that.

If you go through this comparison with other Android flagships, you’ll likely notice the same. For reference: (A) Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, (B) OnePlus 8 Pro, (C) Huawei P4o Pro, (D) OPPO Finds X2 Pro.

Oddly enough, when the scene called for more blue, the P40 Pro produced a more color accurate photo than the S20 Galaxy S20 Ultra. For the record, I personally think color accuracy is important here. It gives you more leeway to control colors if you opt to post-process them.

The night mode and huge sensors can also be self-defeating. Sometimes you just want to capture a nice silhouette shot, but the way this phone is built and processes photos, it just won’t let you.

In the samples below, C is the Huawei P40 Pro. You can see how much it brightens up the scene compared to the rest of the phones: (A) Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, (B) OnePlus 8 Pro, (D) OPPO Finds X2 Pro. This isn’t automatically a bad thing. It just depends on the type of image you want to capture. But for silhouettes. This just isn’t it.

That said, the camera isn’t bad at all. You’ll still be able to take wonderful photos and portraits like this one by our good friend Kate below. This one was taken in Portrait Auto with some minor color editing to take a little bit of the blues away.

 

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We’ll have more comparisons coming so just watch out for that. Huawei has claimed better video on the Huawei P40 Pro. Regrettably, there hasn’t been any significant chances to test this. But we will do it as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

Trust me when I say that I’ll be okay. Go on girl, go on girl

If you’ve ever been cheated on, I’m sure you’ve had Ne-Yo’s “Go On Girl” on repeat as I have. I digress. But the line I indicated above speaks to the attitude Huawei has towards losing Google Mobile Services (GMS).

Imagine having one of the core features of what makes a smartphone smart taken away. That’s exactly how it feels when you get cheated on — like your heart is being ripped apart. It hasn’t been easy but Huawei has done a fairly admirable job moving forward from such an ordeal.

As I have mentioned in a separate piece, you pretty much can now get most of the apps you’re used to using on your smartphones. There’s been no shortage in Huawei’s awareness campaign to drive this point home.

Essentially you have at your disposal the AppGallery along with third-party services to help you acquire all the social media, finance, and entertainment apps you regularly use.

One of the biggest concerns is security and Huawei has never shied away from talking about it. They even detailed the steps they took to make sure the AppGallery is safe and secure.

App availability is also ramping up. In the Philippines we already have Viber, WeChat, Lazada, SnapChat and some pretty useful ones like GCash, PayMaya, SHAREit, and Canva among others.

In Singapore, transportation and ride-hailing apps like ComfortDelgro, TADA and RYDE have already made their way to the AppGallery.

The same is true for your favorite games like PUBG, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and Asphalt 9. You can all get them on the P40 Pro and you’ll have no problem running them thanks to the Kirin 990 5G SoC.

If what you’re looking for isn’t available, you can go to the AppGallery wishlist to let Huawei know, and then head on over to a third party service like APKCure or APKMirror to get the app.

What about the Google stuff? Well, therein lies the rub.

Without you girl (Google), my life is incomplete 

I’m sure you all saw this coming. Google is such an integral part of all our digital lives. Whether or not that’s good or bad is a different discussion altogether, but the fact remains that right now, everything they offer is a must-have.

Sure, Huawei offers alternatives. You can still get on YouTube but through a browser. Same is true if you want to use Google Maps. For emails, you can link your Google accounts to the default email app. The experience, however, just isn’t the same.

Then there are things that, personally, I just can’t live without. Chief among them is Google Photos. For someone like myself who has to switch phones every now and then, having a photo service with unlimited storage, amazing sorting and sharing options, and a robust search and archiving system is just invaluable and irreplaceable.

Browser shortcuts aren’t ideal, but they work somewhat

To a much lesser extent, there’s also Google Cast. I don’t own a Smart TV. Instead, I have Chromecast and it’s fantastic. All my news and entertainment consumption comes from the Internet and being able to seamlessly take that from my phone to my TV is a type of seamless comfort I don’t have access to with the P40 Pro.

That said, I don’t imagine that being an issue for a lot of people. Plus I do have the resources to address this. It’s not as big of a deal, but it still matters.

This is why Sisqo’s “Incomplete” inevitably plays in my head each time I reach out for the P40 Pro. A lot of the things I do are built around Google services and it’ll take a lot for me to overhaul my entire flow to warrant a shift to another set of services.

I’d rather have bad times with you, than good times with someone else 

This is where the “Is this your GadgetMatch?” question comes in. The answer is complicated.

The Huawei P40 Pro is a fantastic phone which is why it’s so frustrating for me that it doesn’t have the things I consider absolutely essential. And that sucks. Big time.

Why do people buy flagship smartphones? It’s because they want the best of the best. I don’t know about you, but to me, the best means not having to think about so much hoopla just to be able to use the services you know and love.

Buying the P40 Pro means buying into whatever Huawei’s going through. It’s a commitment. And right now, they are going through a lot.

Which is why Luther Vandross’ “I’d Rather” fits so much here. To want the Huawei P40 Pro means willingly submitting yourself to the storm the company is weathering right now.

If you’re in, that’s perfectly fine. I admire your loyalty. However, I can’t say that it’s a totally smart decision.


Reviews

vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review

vivo’s best smartphone just got even better!

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The vivo X70 Pro+ was launched just several months ago. However, we’re already having a follow-up!

Unlike the X50, X60, and X70 series, the X80 series only consists of two models this time around.

Namely the X80 and X80 Pro — with the latter being vivo’s latest flagship smartphone.

But what makes it different from its predecessor? And what makes the successor a lot more exciting?

Watch our vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review now to find out more!

 

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Samsung Galaxy S22+ review: Love at first touch

Can’t help but fall deeper

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Galaxy S22+

A cosmic pull. A supernatural attraction. These aren’t phrases one normally says on a smartphone review. And yet, here I am. Falling madly for the Samsung Galaxy S22+. 

However, this wasn’t the case from the get go. First, I saw it in photos and it was alright. Then, I saw the specs on paper. Yeah, that’s pretty good. It was just another flagship, I thought. 

But everything changed when it came to my doorstep and held it in my hands. 

(P.S. All of my subheadings below are taken from the song “One Touch” by Gabe Bondoc. You can play it while you read 🙂). 

One touch and I’m hooked and I am drowning

Galaxy S22+

I am completely aware how overly infatuated I’m coming off and will come off for the rest of this article. But, having been in this smartphone reviewing gig for close to seven (7) years now, I’ve become almost numb to the usual releases. 

Yes, every now and then I take a liking to a smartphone or two. But it has been a while since I really, really wanted to keep and/or buy a phone I’m reviewing. 

The Samsung Galaxy S22+ just felt perfect on my hands. The right width, the right length, and the right thickness. The heft of the device, its shiny metallic edges, and the clean premium finish of the back all scream premium. The material on its back has a smooth, matte feel and finish. It’s both smudge and scratch resistant.


I’m a fan of its button placements too. With both the power button and volume rockers flushed on the right-hand side. It’s easy to slide up and down to press what you need to press.

And the metal lining on the edges feels smooth but grippable and perfectly complements the flat display. 

Excuse me, I don’t mean to be staring

It’s no secret that Samsung consistently offers one of the best displays, especially in their flagship line. This remains true for the 6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel equipped on this beaut. The colors are rich and crisp under favorable lighting conditions. But even in broad daylight, the display is bright enough (1750 nits peak) to be comfortably operated without having to squint. 

Galaxy S22+

I had a grand time watching my favorite shows on the Samsung Galaxy S22+. I’ve had it for a while so I saw a few episodes of the Netflix K-Drama Business Proposal on it. I have also been catching up weekly on the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. For content that supports it, HDR10+ kicks in to elevate the visual experience. 

Galaxy S22+

The display looks so majestic that it prompted me to put the love of my life Momo Hirai of TWICE as my wallpaper. And then of course, there’s the dynamic refresh rate that goes up as high as 120Hz. This means the screen changes its refresh rate depending on what you’re doing. If you’re scrolling through socials and what not, it kicks into high gear to give you a smooth experience. When idle, the refresh rate lowers down to save battery. 

My heart won’t slow ’cause of you

The Galaxy S22+’s overall performance will really keep your heart racing. Normal, day-to-day interactions with your phone just feel extra sharp. The many features mentioned above coupled with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 powering this phone keeps it humming no matter what you do. 

Keeping up with the news in the morning, checking socials to see what you missed, using messaging apps to keep in touch whether for work or personal matters – all of these just feel like a breeze. And the ONE UI 4.1 skin on top of this Android 12 flavor definitely contributes to just how things flow when you use this smartphone. 

Galaxy S22+

I didn’t do a lot of gaming, though. To test it, I defaulted to my go-to which is a few hours of Call of Duty Mobile. As expected it runs without hiccups on high graphics settings. There’s a game manager of sorts here that I didn’t tinker with much. It’s not too different from the ones implemented in previous Samsung phones. Some key features include focusing the phone’s resources to gaming and limiting or completely blocking notifications. 

Battery life is also admirable. One afternoon, I used it to tune into a friend’s wedding via Zoom. The entire ceremony lasted roughly around two (2) hours. In that period, the Galaxy S22+’s battery went from 82% to 76%. 

Naturally, that isn’t the single indication of its battery performance. I generally start my days at around 9AM and end at around 8PM. On days that I’m glued to my laptop, with only occasional glimpses on the phone, I would end the day between 60% to 70%. On days that I’m out and about and rely on it a lot to get work done, my day ends with around 25% to 35% of battery left. 

You’re looking fine today, not that I only noticed now

Galaxy S22+

I have already done an entire separate article about the cameras on the Galaxy S22+. It’s one of the things that I enjoyed the most about the phone. It’s almost as if it’s impossible to take a bad photo with this on hand. 

Easily switching between lenses is great. But what’s even better is how the quality and color reproduction doesn’t vary much from lens to lens. Check these samples out.

Samsung Galaxy S22+

And you can even use 10X Zoom with barely any detail loss, especially if it’s a photo that you’re just uploading on social media. 

Samsung Galaxy S22+

That versatility is unmatched and is fantastic for quick, run and gun shoots like the one I did during the opening of the XM Studio in Singapore. 

I am thoroughly impressed and extremely satisfied with the quality of images it produces. And that’s saying a lot seeing as my regular daily phones include an iPhone 11 Pro and an OPPO Find X3 Pro. Both of which are excellent shooters in their own right.

Oh and yeah, “Nightography”. 

Samsung Galaxy S22+

You think there is a way that I can get you to stay?

You see, the thing about the Galaxy S22+ is that with just the first touch, you already know you’re in contact with something that you should hold onto for dear life. I can’t tell you how many oohs and aahs I got after letting other people hold it in their hands. It just has that effect.

Additionally, the phone is a smooth amalgamation of many other standout phones. It has the breathtaking display of Samsung phones, an overall footprint that feels like an iPhone 12/13 Pro Max, cameras that rival those that partner with notable camera brands, and much, much more. All of that comes in this package that looks and feels well-built on a phone that is easily an all-rounder performer. 

Truly, I never want to let it go. And that’s not something I always say about smartphones. So here’s to hoping that this high praise leads to the Galaxy S22+ staying with me more than a little while longer. 

The Samsung Galaxy S22+ 5G is still available today in Samsung stores near you, via online at Samsung.com, or at your preferred telecommunication service provider. Pricing information on our key markets are linked in the following: USA | Singapore | Philippines

I know it’s been a while since its release. Despite all the hype long gone, it’s still a phone you won’t regret buying.

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Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Review

Charming, action side-scroller

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Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Back in March, I wrote about my brief experience with Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. Now having played the rest of the game, I can safely say that you get more of the same. It is a fun and charming side-scrolling action RPG. 

A prequel game

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a prequel game to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. More specifically, the events in Rising take place about a hundred years ahead of the events of Hundred Heroes. The games are also linked to the PlayStation Classic Suikoden.  

Don’t fret, though, as the game won’t leave you wanting. It is very much a complete experience clocking in at around 20 hours of gameplay, give or take. 

It’s primarily set in the mining town of New Neveah. That premise plays a big part in how the game plays out. The mining areas contribute to the development of the town, which in turn help you improve and level up along the way. It’s a well thought-out gameplay loop in a very fantasy-esque JRPG setting. 

Mining, town-building

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

New Neveah being a mining town plays right into the whole gameplay mechanic. At the onset of the game, the player takes the reins as one of the main characters, CJ. She finds the town in shambles, trying to rebuild. As if that isn’t hard enough, the town also has to deal with monsters and bandits while also managing the slew of treasure hunters and adventurers looking for riches in their mines. 

CJ is there in search of the biggest rune lens she can find as sort of a rite of passage in their clan. Rune lenses are multipurpose magical artifacts. She meets the town’s acting mayor, Isha and agrees to take on odd jobs around the town for a license to do treasure hunting. 

Eventually, she is joined first by the Kangaroo beastman adventurer named Garoo. Later on, Isha joins their party as they not only hunt for Rune Lenses but also try to look for and find out what really happened from Isha’s father – the town’s mayor. 

Town shops as skill tree

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Areas open up one at a time and the odd jobs lead to the reconstruction of many of the town’s stores and shops. These play a key role in leveling up your party. 

Instead of a skill tree, you run errands for the shopkeepers that help them build and expand the stores. These quests yield Baqua, the game’s currency, EXP, and sometimes even key items. 

The shops are key to getting permanent stat buffs. The Smithery will improve the stats of your weapons. The Weapons Shop unlocks attacks for each character. The Armory outfits characters that enable more platforming and traversal moves and so on. 

This extends to accessories and other items too. Improving the Potion shop unlocks higher level healing potions and other accessories increase in levels. There’s also a dedicated street for Rune Lens/Magic things. You can expand your Stowpack and Resource Bag to carry more items. You can also improve the Rune Lenses you can equip. This imbues elemental magic to your attacks. 

Snappy, 2.5D combat

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Combat is fairly easy to pick up. Each character is assigned a single button to attack. Pressing the attack button multiple times unlocks combos. There’s also a Synced Attack that deals heavy damage. You execute this by perfectly timing a strike from one character to another. You start of with just two but it also increases in number which is plenty helpful for bosses later in the game. 

As mentioned earlier, you can imbue attacks with magic through Rune Lenses. Anyone experienced in RPGs should be familiar with how the elements work. Water beats Fire, Fire bears Wind, Wind beats Earth, and Earth beats Water (I’m gonna need to double check this but for now this is pretty much how it works). 

There’s a good number of enemy types. You have ground bound ones, flying types, mages, weapon wielding monsters, bandits, and more. 

Each area will have a different elemental variant of these monsters so it’s important to take note which elements you have equipped for more effective strikes. 

Easy to digest lore

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

The beginning of every game can get pretty overwhelming especially when it comes to its story and lore. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is certainly not immune to this. However, it gets significantly easier to digest the more you go through the story. Especially with how the game is designed to keep you coming back to the town, you develop a sort of kinship with them making the entire journey even more worthwhile. 

For experienced JRPG players, there’s nothing here that will surprise you. That said, it’s still a generally tightly told story with satisfying payoffs. 

Also, I already mentioned this in my preview of the game but I think it merits repeating. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising has the look and charm of 90s JRPGs while trimming the unnecessary stuff and making the experience flow more smoothly. If you’re a gamer parent and want to introduce your child to the wonderful world of gaming, I think this is a great place to start.  

Is this your GameMatch?

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

The gaming community is going through a bit of a lull following massive releases to start the year. Some players are opting to clear their backlogs or hunt trophies. But if you’re still looking out for something new but still want a break from the usual third-person RPG or first-person shooter, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is worth giving a try.

The game is easy to pick-up and play. And it’s an easy recommendation for anyone who wants the look and feel of a classic JRPG but without the high demand for grinding. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is charming, fun, and is a great choice if you want to tide yourself over until the next big AAA title comes around. 

Game is out May 11 and is available on PlayStation 4|5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam, Epic and GOG for US$ 14.99/€ 14.99/ £ 12.99

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