Reviews

Lenovo K8 Note Review: All-around utilitarian phone

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Lenovo has yet to surrender the fight in the smartphone segment, at least for now. Even with Motorola in their arsenal, the Chinese company still released the latest in their K series of multimedia smartphones.

Is the new K8 Note any good? Let’s find out in this review.

It’s got a 5.5-inch Full HD display with Gorilla Glass 3

With a decent amount of bezels

The front-facing camera on top is accompanied by a soft LED flash

So you can take selfies in the dark!

On the right are the power button and volume rocker

The power button is textured and easy to distinguish

It has a dedicated music key on the left

It’s programmable to function for other apps, too!

The phone accepts two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time!

You get more storage and connect to two networks

The 3.5mm audio port is on top…

Good to see it up here

While the micro-USB port is neatly placed at the bottom

Flanked by the loudspeaker and main microphone

At the back, you can see the vertical alignment of the dual rear cameras

With the fingerprint reader just below them

Say hello to a clean Android UI!

With a planned upgrade to Oreo soon!

Design-wise, this will not win any awards

If there’s one word to describe the overall design of the K8 Note, it would be generic. There’s nothing about its aesthetic that stands out in the sea of utilitarian-looking phones. For some though, that could be a good selling point. The color of our review unit doesn’t help in pleasing us, but maybe the all-black variant would look sleeker.

Another plain vanilla feature of the phone is its operating system. Gone are the days of the Vibe UI since new Lenovo phones now boot Android with no skin on top. Sure, it has some pre-loaded apps from Microsoft including Office and Skype, but there’s no customization which could hinder performance or even software updates.

The look of the OS (icons, widgets, and layout) is very similar to Motorola’s, like on the Moto G5S Plus. This is expected because Lenovo owns Motorola, and I’m glad Lenovo is taking cues from the strengths of Moto phones. If Lenovo still plans to come out with phones under their name, they should also study Motorola’s creative design.

The 10-core processor delivers

Some say it’s whats inside that matters. The handset is powered by a MediaTek Helio X23 deca-core processor paired with Mali-T880 MP4 graphics. If you like to brag about the number of cores on your phone, there’s nothing more satisfying than saying that this one has ten. It even has 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage to please power-hungry users. These numbers are just on paper, so how do they live up to expectations?

Suffice to say, I’m impressed with the performance of the K8 Note, especially considering this is a budget phone. I can honestly tell that this phone will have no issues in keeping up with any game or app you use on it.

It has enough memory to handle multiple running apps in the background and a capable graphics unit to help the main processor deliver smooth frame rates. Even graphics-intensive titles like NBA 2K17 is playable on high settings if you don’t mind the occasional frame drops. We installed more than ten games including Asphalt Extreme, Injustice 2, and Mortal Kombat and all of them ran fine. The phone gets warm during gaming, but it doesn’t get uncomfortable to the touch.

Do we really need fake bokeh?

Well, maybe, but it should be pleasing and close to the real effect of professional cameras, because if not, the image will just end up looking fake. The K8 Note is blessed with a 13-megapixel main sensor and 5-megapixel secondary sensor to help create artificial bokeh. For selfies, it’s got another 13-megapixel shooter with its LED flash.

For everyday photos, the main camera works well. Low-light shots are also possible but minimal shakes during shooting result in slightly blurry photos. The bokeh effect is so-so, so it’s best to just shoot without the depth effect unless you have time to kill. Getting the perfect bokeh means multiple retakes.

Turbo-charging massive battery

Another utilitarian aspect of the K8 Note is its battery. Since the phone doesn’t mind having a chunky body, it’s got a large 4000mAh battery inside. It even supports fast charging tech from Motorola called Turbo Charge.

It’s a bummer that the retail package (at least in the Philippines) doesn’t come with a Turbo Charger, but fast charging works with any Quick Charge 3.0 charger. Using our own QC 3.0 charger, we were able to get a 15 percent charge after 15 minutes, 28 percent after 30 minutes, and 55 percent after an hour. A full charge took almost three straight hours.

The K8 Note easily lasts the whole day with a little more juice left for the next day. I was able to squeeze out six hours of screen-on-time, and that’s with heavy gaming for the sake of testing its limits.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Lenovo K8 Note is an all-around Android smartphone. It doesn’t have the bell and whistles of stylish handsets in the market, but it carries the essentials like a nice display, good performance, long-lasting battery, and okay camera. If that’s what you need in a smartphone, then the K8 Note is a great deal, especially if you can get it at its discounted promotional pricing of just PhP 8,999 (US$ 180) on Lazada.

But when sold at its full retail price of PhP 13,999 (US$ 280), it’s kinda hard to recommend. It doesn’t have a near-borderless display like similarly priced phones, which makes it a hard sell for fans of other brands. Grab one while you can at its discounted price.

SEE ALSO: HP and Lenovo lead the world market of personal computers

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Reviews

vivo X60 review: Killer cameras for less

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vivo X60

If you’re a person who’s been into photography for quite a while, you probably know that Zeiss is a lens brand most photographers aspire to have. With their decades of supremacy in the film and photography industry, any lens you slap a Zeiss branding on, you’ll know it’s good. Even the movie Joker, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, has been filmed mostly with some Zeiss cine lenses. That’s how good they are.

Knowing that a brand like vivo, who’s been widely known to make exceptional smartphones, would join forces with Zeiss to create the ideal camera smartphone technology is just a recipe for success. Lo and behold, the master work of vivo and Zeiss, the vivo X60.

Performance beyond expectations

Considering that the X60 is a photography-centric smartphone, this device isn’t one to be underestimated. Fueled by a Snapdragon 870 processor, 12GB of RAM and a generous 256GB of internal storage, the vivo X60 is packed with some serious firepower.

Right after I found out what’s powering this device, I immediately installed the toughest games to test it with. As expected, Asphalt 9: Legends on its highest graphic settings ran without a hitch. Even the very demanding Genshin Impact which brings other devices to their knees ran at a buttery-smooth rate on the X60 without even breaking a sweat.

vivo X60

Heavy multitasking is also a treat on the vivo X60 as the 12GB of RAM provides it lots of headroom for switching back and forth different apps without having to close them in the process.

Buttery smooth visuals

A surprising contributor to the fluid experience on the X60 is its high refresh rate AMOLED display. Measuring at 6.56 inches with a FHD+ resolution and a refresh rate of 120Hz, this display is vibrant and smooth all throughout the interface thanks to the Smart Switch mode where its refresh rate automatically changes to suit different user scenarios including increasing the response rate to up to 240Hz on some games.

vivo X60

Also, with HDR10+ certification, expect to see more details on shadows and highlights of images on this display.

Alluring good looks

As much as I wanted to get right into talking about the camera, I am just startled by how stunning this smartphone is. The color variant we have with us is the Shimmer Blue color. Ocean blue, teal, orange and yellow are just some of the colors I could identify as its color changes depending on how light reflects on it.

vivo X60

Placed on the right of the device we have both the volume rocker and the power button and at the bottom panel we’ll find the USB-C port, speaker grille and SIM card tray.

vivo X60

Even with its beefy internals, vivo still managed to turn the X60 into a sexy beast. At 176g and only 7.36mm thin, the X60 is arguably one of the thinnest phones I’ve used.

vivo X60

We rarely find earphones packaged with smartphones nowadays but the vivo X60 surprisingly does come with one along with a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter, SIM ejector tool, bumper case and a 33W fast charger.

vivo X60

Powerful optics

By now, you’ve also probably been used to seeing the increasing number of camera sensors in smartphones. Vivo and Zeiss went with a more modest approach of incorporating three feature packed camera sensors rather than adding more.

vivo X60

A 48MP wide angle main shooter with an equivalent field of view of 26mm, a 13MP – 16mm equivalent for the ultrawide and a 13MP – 50mm equivalent for its telephoto. All three cameras are grouped neatly and are remarkably slim, especially for a smartphone having cameras as its center of attention.

Main Camera (wide)

Capturing an immense amount of detail, the 48MP main shooter takes photos that are indeed sophisticated in its internal processing and are unquestionably high quality. Hard to believe but I may even go as far as to say that the images coming from this camera are comparable to images I take with my mirrorless camera.

Ultrawide

You won’t need to back up too much taking shots of landscapes as the 13MP ultrawide sensor combined with its vast dynamic range is just perfect for capturing massive subjects.

Telephoto

Any photographer you ask probably has a 50mm lens or equivalent in their arsenal. That’s because 50mm has been known to be an excellent lens to be used for portraits or for product photos as this has the closest field of view to what the human eye sees. The X60’s 50mm telephoto gives us exactly that and is incredibly crisp and vibrant even in a wide range of lighting situations.

Camera modes

Macro mode

At first glance you’ll notice the absence of a depth and a macro lens on the X60. That’s because the technology that Zeiss and vivo had put together did not require these additional lenses for such uses. For macro, all three lenses have reasonably close focus distances already, quite similar from what you’d get with macro lenses. But what sets the X60 apart is an even closer focus with its supermacro feature.

No need for a separate menu, the supermacro automatically kicks in by just placing the main 48MP camera really close towards the subject.

Super panorama

If you’ve tried panorama modes of other smartphones, you’ll know how frustrating it is to get seamless shots. The X60’s panorama mode however, is quite the opposite. You won’t mess this one up as from my experience. Even if I carelessly take panorama shots, they still stitch neatly like magic.

You also have the option to take panorama even further with its super panorama mode which takes 360 degree views of panorama goodness. 

Night mode

As light becomes scarce, a fairly steady hand will get you by without needing to use a tripod as hand holding still produces amazing results with the X60’s Night mode. This is thanks to the built-in image stabilization of its camera sensor. 

Its internal noise reduction also does an amazing job of keeping details intact without turning the image soft and mushy.

Portrait mode

Looking at vivo’s website, the word Biotar has been mentioned quite a few times in its portrait mode. So it got me doing some research about it and found out that back in the 1950’s, Zeiss had produced a popular lens named Biotar. This Biotar lens has since been sought after by collectors as it produced unique, creamy and dreamy images particularly on its bokeh. 

And yes, that Biotar effect is among the many choices of effects that Zeiss had implemented here in the X60’s portrait mode and it looks magical. Paired with the 50mm telephoto for portrait, the Zeiss Biotar effect truly isolates your subject from your background creating a professional and classic look.

vivo X60

The portrait mode also has other effects that you may choose from as well as the ability to shoot wide or in telephoto.

Video mode

With the X60’s video mode, jitters and jumps caused by shaky hands won’t be an issue as both Optical Image Stabilization and Electronic Image Stabilization combined in its Ultra OIS Stabilization fixes the shakes for you.

Among others, the three camera sensors can also be used for taking video and these retain their previously mentioned strengths with it.

Is the vivo X60 your GadgetMatch?

If it isn’t obvious already, I just fell in love with the vivo X60. The superb performance, marvelous display, admirable craftsmanship and the outstanding cameras that makes you feel like a photographer just gets you on a high. 

vivo X60

With its price tag of PhP 34,999, the x60 is a serious bargain especially compared with its competitors and considering all its capabilities.

vivo X60

If you’re a photography enthusiast looking for the perfect side arm to have with you at all times, then the vivo X60 should most definitely be your weapon of choice.

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OPPO A74 5G review: Did OPPO balance its midranger properly?

We list hits, misses, and everything in between

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Creating a mid-range device in 2021 has become incredibly challenging for a variety of reasons. The limitation in price forces companies to cut corners when it comes to their offerings in this segment. It’s a task that’s easier said than done considering how stiff competition is. You need to find a way to stand out while working with a budget that’s far from optimal. It’s like a balancing act in the circus. One wrong move and you’ll be remembered for the wrong reasons.

OPPO’s latest attempt at overcoming this challenge is the OPPO A74 5G. Just from its name, you can already tell what it’s using to try and stand out from the rest. But there’s more to this device than its promise of the fastest connectivity possible in the Philippine market.

The question now is, did OPPO balance its features properly to create a device that will satisfy everyday users? Let’s answer that by checking which were its Heavy Hitters, what Middleground the phone took to balance things out, and the Debbie Downers it needed to accept so they could come up with this device at this price point.

The Heavy Hitters: The OPPO A74 5G highlight features

5G is here and it’s one of those features you can’t help but call a win. Admittedly, the difference between 5G and your regular LTE isn’t that significant. This is one of those cases where showing you the Speedtest result of 5G won’t do the experience justice. You have to use it to believe it.

There are ways to go to make the technology a 100 percent must-have. But there’s no way 5G is a Debbie Downer, and you can’t call an upgrade a Middleground. At the very least, it’s a good way to future-proof your phone. Its benefits aren’t felt today, but it could be very useful if you plan to use the OPPO A74 5G in the long run.

However, you can’t say the same for this phone’s 90Hz display. Coming from a 60Hz device, using this screen was a spiritual experience. The jump is that good. It admittedly becomes normal after a while and it even reaches a point where you become quite spoiled by it. However, you can’t go wrong with a smoother experience. This is a win.

Surprising build quality, smart additions

One surprising Heavy Hitter is its hardware and build quality. Out of the box, I initially thought this phone was made out of glass. Turns out, OPPO used plastic for the back and it’s of premium quality. The device feels sturdy, and it has the right amount of weight, so it doesn’t feel cheap. The gradient effect was also a nice touch to the design.

You also can’t go wrong with having a fingerprint scanner on the power button. Having a headphone jack in your device in the year 2021 is an automatic win for the consumer. These features might feel dated for others, but they’re undoubtedly useful. You can’t even call OPPO out for cutting corners, because for others, these are exclusions that should have never been made in the first place. They’re useful and they work. There’s no doubting that.

Finally, the presence of Optimized Night Charging was a great touch from OPPO. Having the peace of mind of having a fully charged phone the next day without worrying about your battery getting fried is a feature more manufacturers should have on their phones. For this to be on a mid-ranger is a pretty sweet deal.

The Middleground: They cut corners, but in the right places

90Hz can only do so much and that’s evident with how the OPPO A74 5G performs with its Snapdragon 480 5G processor. It’s okay. It isn’t supremely good, but it isn’t terrible either. It works. You shouldn’t expect the A74 5G to run graphic-intensive games at high settings, but you can still play some games here and there. Social media use is a breeze. You can’t go wrong on this end.

The software of the device is also okay. It’s not stock Android, but it isn’t the mess some people paint Chinese software to be. ColorOS is a version of Android that works even for the most critical of Android users. There can be some hiccups, especially with heavy use, but they were tolerable.

Monitor your battery use

Battery life wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good enough to be considered a Heavy Hitter. The device houses a 5000mAh battery, but you have to be careful with your usage of 5G and 90Hz. They can drain the device quickly, but in most cases, it’s an all-day phone. The phone comes with an 18W Fast Charger, which in 2021 is average. You’d want to have more as a consumer, but it isn’t too much of a slog.

The LTPS IPS LCD screen of the A74 5G was also respectable. It has decent viewing angles even in direct sunlight and watching media content on the device was pleasing. There are some instances where it feels like we could experience more out of the 90Hz feature, but that’s the sacrifice required out of this price point. At the very least, it works, and you can only have minimal complaints.

The Debbie Downers: Even for a mid-ranger, these were disappointing

We live in the age of social media, so it wasn’t disappointing to see the A74 5G house a camera that came out as incredibly inconsistent.

This was a shame because its main camera performed quite well in good lighting conditions. Details were sharp enough, colors were a bit saturated, but not to the point you’d need to lower its saturation on post-processing.

The device came out with some pretty good photos that could contend with the best of the best. That’s what you’d want out of a smartphone in 2021.

Misses in certain situations

But it couldn’t perform as well in other lighting conditions. Indoor shots left much to be desired. It captured too much of the color coming from the background and ignored the natural colors of the subject. This was especially evident when I took photos of the delicious burgers from Sweet Ecstasy. It caught too much of the yellow coming from the light bulbs and the walls in the store.

The selfie camera was okay, at least that was passable enough with its results.

Night shots, even without night mode, had some respectable shots. But you couldn’t say the same for its other lenses.

Especially disappointing was its wide-angle lens. If the main camera came out with saturated images, the wide-angle reduced the color even in good lighting conditions. You’d understand a slight drop in quality, but the difference between the two lenses had too big of a gap. It definitely didn’t help the macro lens had some focusing issues, which made it difficult to take proper test shots for this review.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I mentioned at the start of this review that coming up with a midrange device is like a balancing act. One wrong move and you’re remembered for the wrong reasons. Safe to say, OPPO won’t be remembered fondly, but they won’t be laughed at either for this device. The device was okay. It wasn’t a Debbie Downer. It’s safe to say they were able to at least achieve some form Middleground.

But in today’s competitive mid-range landscape, achieving the Middleground might not be enough. Its inconsistent cameras might be an automatic turn-off for some consumers. Its performance isn’t good enough to sway the opinion of hardcore gamers.  However, if you’re someone who wants the promise of futureproofing from 5G and the smooth experience of a 90 Hz display packaged with well-built hardware, the OPPO A74 5G might just be for you.

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Infinix Hot 10S review: Get your #GameOn for Less

What a smoking deal!

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The mobile gaming industry has come on in leaps and bounds with its growing trend in recent years. It’s ushered more demand for smartphones users to level up their game. Different brands have played their cards and released numerous gaming smartphones with another entering the battle royale — Infinix. They’ve consistently created smartphones that are bang-for-your-buck and their recent release for their gaming series, the Infinix Hot 10S, is no exception. 

Now let’s dive in as we check out what makes this smartphone sizzle. 

Fresh for your eyes 

Upon getting this phone, the first thing that really caught my attention was its massive display. It’s probably the biggest that I’ve tried recently. Relative to its predecessor, the Infinix Hot 10, the Hot 10S boasts a 6.82-inch screen but with a 720×1640 HD+ display.

Despite its big size, the phone’s resolution is pretty good. It shows accurate colors and its display also didn’t have any significant color shift on various viewing angles. You can comfortably use your phone while indoors but it can be a bit difficult to view under direct sunlight. 

For Infinix’ Hot series, the Hot 10S is their first smartphone that has a 90Hz refresh rate. It provides ultimate smoothness and visual experience whenever you browse through different sites, watch videos or play games. 

I also appreciate that Infinix provided a clear case and a screen protector since it’s rare for brands to include in smartphone packages. No need to rush out or order online to make sure your phone is protected. 

Up front, you will notice the teardrop notch selfie camera which really doesn’t appeal to me since it’s a bit obtrusive for my taste. Bezels surrounding the screen are also a bit thick especially at the bottom part of the screen. 

The Infinix Hot 10S comes in 4 colors – 95° Black, Morandi green, Heart of Ocean and 7° Purple and what we got was the black variant. With the right lighting and angle, you can see black glittery diamond patterns under a clear laminate. Its construction is made of plastic which really makes it feel like a budget phone but because of the rear design, it looks pretty elegant. 

You can also see its square camera setup cut-out and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor at the upper middle part. 

You can also unlock the Hot 10S via facial recognition and the amazing part was the system still recognized me even if I was wearing a mask. 

On the right side, you can find the volume rocker and power button which I prefer since they’re both clicky. 

And upon checking the bottom panel, you’ll see a 3.5 mm headphone jack, speaker grille and much to our dismay, a micro USB port. This is a disadvantage especially that the Infinix Hot 10S competitors such as realme narzo 30A and Tecno Pova 2 have a USB-C port for charging which is mostly standard in smartphones these days. 

Paramount performance under the hood 

At the heart of the Infinix Hot 10S is a MediaTek Helio G85 processor. It ensures a powerful and swift performance when combined with 6GB of RAM and 128GB expandable storage. The phone didn’t lag or stutter even when I was jumping from one app to another, doing quick gaming and catching up on Loki and some Netflix series from time to time. 

This phone runs on XOS 7.6 custom skin based on Android 11 which is a first for Infinix’ Hot series. While I appreciate that they’ve adopted the latest available Android version, the user interface still looks a bit old-fashioned.

Its app drawer also had ads as well as some preinstalled apps that cannot be deleted.

But the silver lining for the Infinix Hot 10S is its amazing features especially when it comes to security.

Some notable ones are the App Lock where you can lock apps so you can protect your privacy when you have to share your phone with your friends. Another one is the Kid Mode where you can choose apps that your kids can only have access to and change how much screen time they’re getting daily. 

#GameOn

Of course, with the powerful processor that the Infinix Hot 10S has, you can definitely level up your game with this smartphone as gaming is its strongest suit. 

With this smartphone, Infinix introduces Dar-Link Ultimate Game Booster — their own gaming engine which optimizes your gaming experience. It reduces screen tearing, elevates touch panel response and also enhances color reproduction. 

The Infinix Hot 10S also has a Game Zone where you can find all installed games. You can also manage settings and take screenshots and screen records of your games. This phone also features DTS Audio processing that elevates sound effects during gameplay, making your experience more immersive. 

With all these features combined, I thoroughly enjoyed playing the demanding Genshin Impact even if I just had to run it in low settings. Call of Duty: Mobile also ran smoothly in medium settings all throughout my gameplay. 

As for Asphalt 9: Legends and Mobile Legends, there weren’t any frame drops as this phone handled these games pretty well. 

It lets you #GameOn for longer hours with its 6,000mAh battery. With heavy gaming and casual web browsing, I was able to use the Hot 10S for 3 days.

Even if it only came with a 10W charger, juicing up this phone’s battery was still a bit quicker than expected. It only took two (2) hours and 40 minutes to charge it up from 20 percent to 100 percent.  

Snap day and night

Aside from honing your gaming skills, you can also get creative with it as this smartphone also comes with good performing cameras. 

It has a triple camera setup. There’s a 48MP primary lens, 2MP depth camera, AI camera and also includes a Quad Flashlight. 

I took the cameras out for a spin and the primary lens took good detailed photos. However, bright colors tend to get over saturated.

Portrait Mode

As to taking shots in portrait mode, photos also looked great and edge detection was precise enough with a good amount of blur. 

And when it comes to snapping away at night, the Hot 10S’ imaging performance was still great even in low light. Its cameras were still able to take decent and detailed photos, thanks to the phone’s Super Night mode.

Its cameras can take pretty good shots. But there were still some flaws that I think Infinix should have improved on. 

I find it a bit odd that the phone doesn’t have a standard camera mode. Instead, it was instead called ‘AI Cam’. Also, the camera software felt a bit clunky when switching from one mode to another. The camera also would only lock its focus for a short period of time when I try to do it manually. 

Is the Infinix Hot 10S your GadgetMatch? 

The Infinix Hot 10S is definitely a smoking deal if you’re looking for a gaming smartphone for less. With its robust processor, Dar-Link gaming booster, big battery and display, you’re definitely in for the best gaming experience.

 It even comes with good cameras that lets you be creative and helps you capture amazing moments any time of the day. 

Despite having flaws such as having a micro USB port and an outdated looking user interface, the Infinix Hot 10S is definitely still a good catch as its advantages outweigh its drawbacks. 

The Infinix Hot 10S is available in 95° Black, Morandi green, Heart of Ocean and 7° Purple variants and is priced at PhP 5,490 for its 4GB RAM + 64GB internal storage and PhP 6,490 for the 6GB RAM + 128GB internal storage as you can get P500 off on this smartphone on the Infinix Super Brand Days exclusively on Shopee from June 15-18, 2021. 

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