Reviews

Lenovo Smart Tab M10 FHD Plus: Space saving second screen

The charging station makes things come together

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I always have trouble justifying the need for a tablet. But the evolving needs of a work from home scheme has made it relatively easier. Certain gaps in the workflow needed to be filled and the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 FHD Plus bridged them nicely.

In the interest of brevity, I’m just gonna call it the M10 from here on out.

For monitoring events and briefings

Diving right in, the M10 was the help I didn’t know I needed. You see, over the course of the quarantine I’ve had to multitask even more than usual. On any given day, I could be writing, copy-editing, or coordinating all while attending an online event or briefing.

Having a tab or the zoom app open on the same laptop as I type away can be a bit disorienting. It’s easy to be distracted by the sound and feel the urge to see what’s going on in the zoom call. That leads you to shifting tabs, thereby shifting your focus from what you’re working on.

Having a separate 10.3-inch screen to physically look at just to check out what’s happening on the briefing or event might not seem a lot at first, but it helps you maintain focus.

Monitoring the Legion Phone Duel launch on the Smart Tab M10

I need to only shift my glance a couple of inches to the right to look at the M10, instead of completely shifting the entire screen of a 13-inch laptop.

It also makes it easier to take notes on important details from a briefing while maintaining a visual on what’s going on. There’s a lot less shifting happening and that’s a big boon in keeping your focus.

It also makes it easier for you to prepare and/or look up references should you need to cite some if you’re going to ask a question during a briefing.

Enough power on its own

It also helps that it’s not eating up more processing power from the laptop I’m using. Live streams, even if you’re just watching, takes a toll on your computer’s chip and RAM. If your laptop isn’t powerful enough, you will experience a slow down.

The M10 runs on MediaTek Helio P22 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. It’s expandable up to 256GB via MicroSD card. Being an independent device helps a ton in this situation.

You also get a 5MP front camera that’s not really all that better than regular webcams and a rear 8MP camera that you probably won’t be using much.

8MP rear camera

For referencing scripts while video editing

I’ve had to do a lot less video editing now, but during my time with the M10, I had to edit a video. Again, the convenience of just looking over to my side to reference the script is a low-key value-add to my workflow.

Instead of shifting my screen from the video editing app to the script, I simply need to glance on the M10 to see if I’m on the right track, following the script.

Having the script on a second screen reduces workflow friction

Why not just get a separate monitor, you ask? Like I mentioned earlier, it helps that the M10 is its own separate device that doesn’t require drawing computing power from my laptop.

There’s also the issue of physical space. Believe me, if it fit my current working area, I would have rushed to build a desktop with at least two monitors to make work so much easier for myself. Sadly, the physical space restricts me from doing so. That’s why having the M10 was the next best thing.

The bundled charging station is a godsend

Bundled is the keyword here. The charging station and its cable comes in the box when you purchase the M10 — along with a charging brick with a USB-C cable for charging the M10 independently.

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

Having it immediately propped up like that makes it easy-to-use in various scenarios. While I mostly had it on my work desk, you can just as easily bring it anywhere with you inside your home.

I didn’t try it myself but you could take it with you to the kitchen and follow a recipe as you try to cook yourself a meal. Theoretically, you can also take it to your workout area so you can quickly reference workouts you want to try.

For a while I even had it on my shelf. I used it once as a sort of a program guide while doing a livestream. It’s also handy in this position when I want to maintain a cleaner desk.

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

It’s still one glance away and I could immediately see what’s going on in a meeting or see our website’s real time traffic without having to press alt+tab on my laptop.

A reliable standalone media device

On its own, it’s also no slouch. Since I’ve used it for monitoring zoom calls, events, and briefings, that should already give you an idea that its speakers are loud enough.

Could it have been louder? For sure, but there’s enough here to not leave you asking for more.

Vivi and Olivia Hye of LOONA

Watching K-Pop videos in-between work was enjoyable. It’s no bezel-less beauty but that’s something you kind of stop noticing when you’re watching LOONA do their thing on stage.

Yves of LOONA

When you’re winding down to end your day, it also makes for a nice Netflix and chill companion. At only 460g/1.01lb, it’s pretty darn light and won’t strain your hands when you hold it for as long as two hours while watching a movie.

Of course, you can always just prop it up on a desk with the charging dock. This frees your hand as you snack on something while enjoying a nice flick.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a must-watch!

Is the Smart Tab M10 your GadgetMatch?

The situation I laid out may seem oddly specific, but if you’re in need of a second screen but don’t necessarily have the working space to accommodate a full-on multi-monitor, the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 FHD Plus is a fine option.

At PhP 13,990 (US$ 288), you get an independent second screen with enough power to handle zoom calls and other media needs.

Heejin of LOONA

The 10.3-inch display makes sure you won’t be squinting trying to make out what’s happening which is what will happen if you do this on your smartphone. You can also opt to not install messaging and social media apps to avoid any sudden notifications that can break your rhythm.

I still maintain that having a tablet feels like a luxury — it’s a nice-to-have and most of us can make do with a phone and a laptop. However, the quality of life benefits merit giving it a consideration.

Reviews

realme GT Master Edition: Not a ‘disruptor’

But it’s still a damn good smartphone

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realme GT Master Edition

The realme GT Master Edition is a fine piece of tech. Spending roughly around 10 days with it, I can say it’s a pretty good midranger overall. So, this review is gonna be short and… I was tempted to say sweet, but I don’t think that’s the taste I’ll leave you with.

I’m going to jump right ahead to pricing. It’s always been one of realme’s strengths; offering great value products. That means you get a little more than what you pay for.

I’m gonna slap on the specs here once more so you can reference it as I babble about my time with the phone.

  • Display — 6.43″ AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate
  • Processor — Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G
  • RAM — 8GB + up to 5GB DRE (Dynamic RAM Extension)
  • Storage — 128GB and 256GB
  • Battery — 4,300mAh, Dual-cell design, 65W SuperDart charging
  • Rear Cameras — 64MP f/1.8 main camera, 8MP f/2.3 119° ultra-wide lens, 2MP f/2.4 macro lens
  • Selfie Camera — 32MP
  • OS — Android 11, realme UI 2.0
  • Color Options — Voyager Grey, Daybreak Blue

Price and availability

The realme GT Master Edition comes in two colors — Voyager Grey and Daybreak Blue. And two variants: one in 8GB+128GB and another in 8GB+256GB. Here are the pricing and pre-order details:

Lazada Exclusive 

  • 8+128GB — PhP 18,990
    • September 24 (Whole day flash sale) — PhP 17,490 (PhP 1,500 discount)
  • 8+256 GB — PhP 21,990
    • September 24 (Whole day flash sale) — PhP 19,990 (PhP 2,000 discount)

Offline Pre-Order details:

  • September 24 – October 1 (with free realme Smart Scale)
    • 8+256GB — PhP 21,990
    • Claiming: October 2 & October 3

It’s right around the ballpark of my personal favorite midranger/sub-flagship — the OnePlus Nord 2 — a phone I was generally happy with.

Build quality and design 

I had already expressed my opinion on the realme GT Master Edition’s design in the Unboxing and First Impressions article. TLDR:

  • The concave vegan leather feels great
  • I appreciate the travel/suitcase theme
  • Not particularly fond of the the designer’s signature (I even mulled over slapping TWICE stickers on it but decided otherwise)

I thought the size was perfect at first. Phones like this that have a 6.43” display are typically the ones I feel are in the sweet spot of not too big and not too small. However, after further use, I felt it could have used a little more chunk.

Without the included silicone-ish case, the phone gradually felt tiny in my hands. But I refused to use it with the case because it takes away from that fantastic leather feel. Perhaps they could have added another component or two to add some chunk and heft. Although, that may have pushed the price up which would betray realme’s whole “disrupt” approach.

That said, it’s not entirely unsatisfactory. And how it feels in your hand will vary differently from mine. One thing’s for sure, most people will love the concave vegan leather back. It’s a material rarely seen in this category and realme deserves props for having the balls to include it here.

Bloaty much

One thing I thoroughly disliked about the version of realme UI on the realme GT Master Edition is the incredible amount of bloat on the thing. You know how pre-installed apps take up some of the first home screen and maybe a little bit of the second page of the home screen. Well, this one took over half of the second page. That’s too much.

realme GT Master Edition

Sure, you have staples like Facebook, Messenger, and Netflix installed. But for every single one of those you get crap folders like Hey Fun, Hot Games, and Hot Apps. Yes, you can remove them, but it’s just inconvenient.

Speaking of inconvenient, that’s the only word I can think of to describe the App Market. Yes, it’s the same one found on some OPPO phones. It’s a hassle to have to go to the Google Play Store to install an app, but then have that same app go through the App Market for some security check before you can launch it.

I tried to figure out how to remove that extra App Market layer but eventually lost patience. This might be a minor inconvenience for some, but it is an inconvenience, nevertheless.

realme GT Master Edition

What sucks most is that these weren’t present in previous realme devices we reviewed. The realme UI is relatively clean, so this amount of bloat was a bit of a shock to my system.

Smooth despite the annoyance

I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I hated my time with the realme GT Master Edition. Despite the largely annoying additions when you fire up the device, it remains pretty smooth for whatever you want to do with it.

For me, that’s some casual browsing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as mindlessly scrolling on TikTok before bedtime. I didn’t really do any work tasks on it other than using chat apps for coordinating with teammates and external partners.

realme GT Master Edition

STAYC’s “Stereotype” is stuck in my head

Of course, I also snuck in some Netflix time in there for good measure.

realme GT Master Edition

I’ve been busy so I haven’t caught up to Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha

Most of my game time was also spent playing Marvel Future Revolution — which is the only other game on mobile I can tolerate other than Call of Duty: Mobile.

realme GT Master Edition

Glad to find another mobile game I can somewhat enjoy

I usually play after having lunch or breakfast to finish a mission plus a few sidequests. That takes about 20-30 minutes. The phone performed admirably while displaying fantastic graphics. It did heat up but nowhere near an alarming point.

It can go up as high as 120Hz for the refresh rate, but my personal recommendation is to stick with the default adaptive setting. This way, the phone will identify the best refresh rate for each app and will help conserve battery life.

realme GT Master Edition

realme UI looks just like ColorOS mildly reskinned

Speaking of battery life, this one’s right around what you would expect as well. It can last up to a day and a half for light to moderate usage, and one day for moderate to heavy usage.

Cameras, image processing is fantastic

Most realme midrangers have pretty good cameras. In fact, I even convinced one of my friends to buy a realme phone simply by showing a few sample photos. The realme GT Master Edition is no different. So I’m gonna do the same thing and just drop some samples here.

Food photos

Portrait

Filters 

Night

Indoors

Zoom 

Daylight

I don’t really have much to say in this section. I’m not the type who over analyzes the photo output. What I do know is that you’ll have a generally pleasant time snapping with the realme GT Master Edition.

It captures a good amount of detail, the image processing isn’t too aggressive, and the zoom performed so much better than I expected. Just be wary about using certain features in low light situations. For example, Portrait mode, that’s best when you have plenty of natural light.

If realme is selling you on this phone’s sheer photography prowess, it has every right to do so. It delivers as advertised.

Is this your GadgetMatch? 

realme GT Master Edition

I wouldn’t call the realme GT Master Edition a disruptor, but it’s certainly one of the best devices in this category. My only real gripe is the bloatware but other than that, it’s pretty excellent considering price and performance.

realme could have taken a few steps to make sure this is a 100 percent easy recommendation. But even as it is now, it’s still a product worth your consideration if you’re in the market for a capable smartphone.

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Reviews

Apple 2021 iPad mini Unboxing and Review

Is this the iPad for you?

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After two years, Apple has finally changed the look of the iPad mini!

Gone are the thick bezels and home button in favor of a trendy fullscreen look a la iPad Pro and iPad Air.

Having a smaller form factor doesn’t mean it’s less powerful. While not as powerful as the M1 iPad Pro, the new iPad mini still has an A15 Bionic that’s similar to the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro series. It surely is a step ahead over last year’s iPad Air.

It may not have the most advanced Face ID system, but Touch ID still lives on — now found on its power button.

But are these features enough to make you buy one? Or do you still want the bigger screen of the iPad Air?

Head over to our 2021 iPad mini review to know which iPad is your GadgetMatch.

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Reviews

Redmi 10 review: Page out of a premium playbook

That 50-megapixel shooter is the saving grace

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Budget phones used to be just budget phones. They used to lack groundbreaking features to make your experience seamless. And you’ll need to shell out a lot of cash just to get a decent phone that actually works. But I was speaking about budget phones from around five years ago.

In 2021, smartphone companies are reinventing what it means to have an entry-level handset. Xiaomi’s sub-brand Redmi, which has been leading the segment for a few years now, seems to set the course again on a new range of affordable smartphones.

Meet the Redmi 10 — the successor to its popular Redmi 9 — offering premium-like design and smart features but with a price tag that you can easily reach.

Finally looking like its siblings

The Redmi 10 rehashed its looks, looking differently than its predecessor. It employed the same design language found on other Redmi and Xiaomi smartphones, which was a trend started by Samsung — trickling down from its flagship to the more affordable Galaxy A series.

Somehow, it’s working since the Redmi 10 looks sleeker and it can be quite difficult to tell the difference compared to the Redmi Note 10 Pro. And even the Xiaomi 10T Pro. Unless, of course, you’re a tech junkie and a Xiaomi fan. But that’s probably the case when you have the Carbon Gray color option.

Nonetheless, the Redmi 10 in Carbon Gray looks neutral yet sleek with its frosted glass-looking back which is just actually plastic. But it makes up for being lightweight so it doesn’t put a strain on your hands for endless scrolling on TikTok. Just a heads-up, though. Carbon Gray is a smudge-magnet so you need to slap a clear case on — which comes in the box.

Moving to its frame and details, it’s also made of plastic but it comes with sweet, round edges and flat sides. Which I appreciate because the era of curved phones is now in my past.

SIM tray

The left side houses the SIM tray while the volume rockers and the power button doubling as a fingerprint scanner are found on the right.

Power button/fingerprint scanner and volume rockers

Speaking of which, gliding your fingers across the scanner will prompt it to read your fingerprint easily — but it takes a second to boot the phone.

On the top side of the frame, you can find a stereo speaker, IR blaster, and the well-loved 3.5mm audio jack.

On the bottom side are the other loudspeaker and a USB-C port.

Performing quite well for your needs

Let’s talk about the design again, but on the front panel of the phone. The Redmi 10 sports a 6.5-inch IPS LCD panel with 2400×1800 resolution. It’s adorned with thinner bezels equal on all sides except the chin. The punch-hole cutout seems bigger than other smartphones employing the same approach, too.

Despite the front design that clearly indicates it’s still a budget phone, the magic lies behind it. The Redmi 10 comes with the latest MIUI 12.5 based on Android 11. Having said that, you can expect that even if you have an entry-level device, Xiaomi will still supply you with core Android updates.

It also has a 90Hz refresh rate — which seems to be a staple to most smartphones. People are always clamoring about higher refresh rates for their gaming needs, and to be “in”. It also comes with AdaptiveSync, which adjusts the refresh rate depending on the content being viewed.

When you watch on Netflix, or if you play online games, AdaptiveSync will adjust accordingly. So you don’t have to worry about the battery life that easily drains when using a higher refresh rate. But then again, the Redmi 10 sports a 5,000mAh battery. It lasted me a day of heavy use and lasted up to three days when I put it on standby.

Although, my only problem would be its max 18W capacity when it comes to “fast” charging. So the 22.5W charging brick included won’t be of any help. It takes more than an hour to fill the juice, making it your cue to detach from your phone for a little while.

The dealbreakers

I only played Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on the Redmi 10 since it’s the only mobile game I play right now. I put it into the highest settings possible, in which case it performed decently.

However, I experienced the same type of drag I had when I used the Infinix Note 10 Pro. There was a noticeable delay — which lasts for one to two seconds — when toggling buttons and switching scenes inside the game. The delay still occurs even if you change to the lowest setting possible.

I’m starting to think that it’s a similar theme for budget phones, but it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker especially when you consistently play in the budget segment.

And even with a Helio G88 processor, the phone heats up a little while you’re playing mid-game. Nonetheless, it still performs decently as expected out of an entry-level handset. To expect more from it is just asking too much — there’s a Redmi Note 10 Pro if you want better performance at an easily reachable price tag.

The Redmi 10 comes in various configurations depending on your country: 4GB/64GB, 4GB/128GB, and 6GB/128GB. It has expandable storage through a dedicated microSD card slot.

What worries me is that the internal storage uses an eMMC 5.1 chip, not the UFS. So the reading and writing of data is slower and might wear out over time. Translation: slowed down performance after considerable updates.

So if you’re thinking of multitasking and using this phone for work, I’d advise you not to. Use it casually so you can make it last longer.

Specs

Processor

MediaTek Helio G88

Configuration

4GB/64GB, 4GB/128GB, and 6GB/128GB

Battery

5000mAh + 18W charging

OS

Android 11, MIUI 12.5

Front camera

8MP

Rear camera

50MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP

Display

6.5” FHD+ IPS LCD

90Hz refresh rate

2460×1080 resolution

Dimension

162 x 75.5 x 8.9 mm

50-megapixel goodness?

It’s rare for an entry-level smartphone to have a high megapixel count. In a way, the Redmi 10 is raising the bar for smartphones in the budget segment. After all, it delivers a quad-camera system: a 50-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, a 2-megapixel macro shooter, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. On the front, it has an 8-megapixel selfie shooter.

For most people, this kind of camera setup works. So we took a few samples to see if the Redmi 10 can cover the bases.

For regular shots, the Redmi 10 takes decent captures both indoors and outdoors. As long as it comes with sufficient lighting. When taking backlit shots, the Redmi 10 doesn’t post-process and keeps shadows dark.

When using the ultra wide-angle lens, the Redmi 10 struggles with exposure and highlights both day and night.

Food photos aren’t tasty-looking due to their lack of vibrance, even if you use the AI Cam. To make it look even more appetizing, I used the 2X optical zoom to capture more details and take better flat lays.

Cutouts are okay whether auto shots at night or even the portrait mode. Except photos don’t look as detailed as they should.

The same goes for shots taken at night using auto mode and night mode.

Of course, we took samples using the 50-megapixel shooter. It did well during daytime shots, retaining as many details as it can but compromises when it comes to color accuracy. At night, on the other hand, still struggles with exposure and highlights — a noticeable flaw for a supposedly great quad-camera system.

Moving on to selfies, its 8-megapixel front shooter pads a slight beautification to its photos even if you turn off its beauty mode. Color balance also varies depending on the lighting condition.

In a way, it delivers how it’s supposed to. If anything, a filter wouldn’t hurt if you want to correct the color balance of the photos. There are built-in presets, but you can never go wrong with Instagram filters!

Is this your BudgetMatch?

There are things to love about the Redmi 10, and there are things that might raise some red flags. Depending on your needs, the Redmi 10 can cover the base and perform decently as expected of an entry-level smartphone. It’s got a sleeker look, a 50-megapixel shooter that you can show off, a 90Hz refresh rate — all at an affordable price tag.

But if you’re asking for it to do more, then you’re way better off choosing something else. For nearly the same price, there’s the POCO M3. For those who need better performance for all-around use, add a few more bucks and you can get the Redmi Note 10 Pro.

On another note, the realme 8 5G is also a good alternative granted you can increase your budget by a tad. It has similar features — a 90Hz refresh rate, same display and panel, same battery, and charging capability. But more importantly, it has 5G connectivity which helps for future-proofing.

Frankly, the Redmi 9T appears so much better it feels like this one’s a downgrade. The only salvation for the Redmi 10 is that it’s got a better look, smarter features, and it has a 50-megapixel shooter compared to the alternatives mentioned.

If all your needs are covered, then this could be your BudgetMatch. But to most people, the Redmi 10 falls short especially when it comes to that eMMC 5.1 storage — when most smartphones are using UFS already.

The Redmi 10 retails for PhP 7,590 for the 4GB+64GB variant, and PhP 8,590 for the 6GB+128GB variant. It comes in three colors: Carbon Gray, Pebble White, Sea Blue. It’s available for purchase at Xiaomi’s official stores and authorized retailers.

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