Hands-On

LG V30 Hands-on Review

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Launched in 2015, LG’s V-series represents a new breed of LG flagships designed to be the ultimate device for creating and consuming content. While each release has given users something to love, that vision hasn’t been fully realized until today’s V30 launch in Berlin.

If there’s something that resonated most during my short test period with this phone, it’s that the V30 has the potential to be the perfect smartphone companion for content creators. And while that may sound like the V30 is a niche device, it definitely isn’t.


Even if you weren’t into its set of pro tools — which we’ll discuss in full later — the V30 has plenty to offer casual users looking for a great all-around phone. It ticks off so many boxes, we don’t know where to begin.

Look and feel

I’ve said it many times over: When it comes smartphones, looks matter, and you’ll find that seeing a device in person is like going on a first date. I want a phone that evokes this indescribable pull, a phone that makes me want to keep picking it up and holding it. The V30 is such a phone.

LG V30 (left), LG V20 (right)

The phone is a stunner. And while I loved the rugged and rubberized feel of 2015’s V10, and the removable metallic back cover of the V20, the new all-glass design of the V30 feels like a step up in the looks department.

The review unit I tested came in Cloud Silver, which had a similar sheen to my Ice Platinum G6, but with a different texture to it. The V30 is also available in three other colors: Aurora Black, Lavender Violet, and the color I really want, Moroccan Blue.

Up front, its display now has very subtle curves, and finally on an LG flagship, a gorgeous near-borderless 6-inch OLED display. The combination is top-notch. And despite the shift in materials of choice, LG says the V30 is still built tough with the same adherence to military standards, although one would assume that glass is more fragile than the silicon and metal of past V-series phones.

Because the front of the phone is all display, there are only three physical buttons on the device, volume buttons on the left, and a power button with fingerprint sensor on the back. The dual-camera module on its rear also takes up a smaller footprint, and because there aren’t any visible antenna bands, the whole back side has a more polished look.

The only real downside is that the glass back, like any other all-glass smartphone, is quite the fingerprint magnet. In case you were wondering: Yes, there is a headphone jack on top of the phone. Down below are the microphone, USB-C port, and speaker grilles.

Camera features

The V30 sports dual cameras, which has become a long-running tradition on LG flagships. As usual, one’s a normal lens, while the other is an ultra-wide-angle lens — perfect for capturing architecture and majestic landscapes.

Both cameras are an improvement over last year’s models, according to LG. The company boasts the use of a clear glass lens that captures more light unlike the conventional plastic material used on most smartphones. The main shooter is still 16 megapixels, but this time has a larger f/1.6 lens. That means there a larger opening for more light to come in, which is great for taking photos at night or in dimly lit places.

Meanwhile, the secondary wide-angle lens has been improved with a 12 megapixels sensor and f/1.9 lens. And, while it fits more elements into a photo, it minimizes distortion (or the fisheye effect) on the image. That was an issue we had with the V20 from last year, wherein there was a considerable amount of distortion on the edges of wide-angle photos.

Being a multimedia tool, it still has the full manual controls for shooting, but the V30 is kicking things up a notch by introducing its Cine Log feature. For the unfamiliar, using Log basically maximizes the dynamic range in order to preserve more details during post-processing. This term is usually tossed around between filmmakers and video editors, so LG has made a clear direction for this handset.

Another feature is something LG calls Point Zoom. What it does is smoothly zoom in on a specific area even when it’s not at the center of the frame — just tap the area and adjust the slider to zoom.

Have a specific look you want for your shots? LG worked with professionals on Cine Effect to offer a set of presents that dramatically change the look and feel of your video. There’s a wide selection, so check out our hands-on video to see them in action! Adding to its slew of video features is high-frame rate recording at 120fps at Full HD

Here’s what V30 photos look like. All these were shot in auto mode:

Software, specs, and security

As expected of any flagship smartphone this half of the year, the LG V30 comes with the best-available processor in the Snapdragon 835. During our time with it, we weren’t disappointed by the performance. Every app ran smoothly, and there were rarely any hiccups or stuttering.

If we’re being nit-picky, the V30 only has 4GB of RAM, which may be behind some other premium phones that offer 6GB, but to be honest, 4GB is more than sufficient. Android 7.1.2, which is the latest build of Nougat, should be optimized enough to keep power-hungry apps at bay, but it’s no Oreo.

The software experience on the V30 is great. LG’s Android skin covers the basics and throws in plenty of its own customizations without bogging you down. Things like knocking to turn on the display are always a great touch. First seen on the Q6, LG brings its facial recognition technology to the V30. Not to be confused with an iris scanner, facial recognition uses the front camera for some sort of a biometric scan. If you train the phone under multiple lighting conditions, facial recognition works great except when the light gets too low.

LG has also thrown in voice recognition which lets you unlock your voice with a voice command. While a fun party trick, voice unlock is still a tad bit too slow. I’d still prefer using the fingerprint sensor which is conveniently placed on the back of the phone, away from the camera module!

Unlike any of its predecessors, the V30 does not have a secondary display. In its place, LG added a software feature called Floating Bar. When turned on, you get this little tab that expands to reveal a bunch of shortcuts to apps, contacts, and other tools.

While the 3300mAh battery looks adequate on paper, we’ll have to bombard the V30 as a daily driver before we can say for sure if its capacity is enough. And unlike with the V10 and V20, you can’t simply swap the battery for a fully charged one. Looks like the era of hot-swappable batteries is dead.

Is the LG V30 your GadgetMatch?

Because of the timing of its release, the V30 will most likely be compared to the phones that come immediately before and after it, including the Galaxy Note 8, Pixel 2, and iPhone 8 — all worthy contenders.

Pending the release of the latter, if you compare the Note 8 versus the V30, our answer would require a comprehensive answer. How LG chooses to price the phone will be a big factor; if LG can set it at about US$ 200 lower than the Note 8 (somewhere in the US$ 750 to US$ 800 range), it would be an easy phone to recommend to anyone.

In all aspects, this phone is a standout. It delivers on expectations, does amazingly well where it matters most, and doesn’t compromise. If you’re in the market for a top-of-the-line Android smartphone and have the money for it, then by all means take home a V30. You won’t regret it.

SEE ALSO: LG V30 features 6-inch FullVision OLED, brightest phone camera

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Hands-On

Sights and sounds of summer in the Upper East Side

Capturing New York City on film

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“You need to come back, New York is different in the summer,” a friend urged one absurdly cold day back in May. “It has a different energy to it; it’s more alive,” another friend noted with excitement about the magical effects of the impending warm weather on the city.

Living in a tropical country my whole life and enduring constant humidity year per year, I never really understood the hype. What could be so special about spending yet another summer in another city, I thought.  On the contrary, it’s lower temperatures that always excited me. The thought of layering with soft wool sweaters and thick coats, and wearing thigh-high boots on vacation was ideal. It was something I never get to do on the daily, so I longed for it — until I was forced to live out of a suitcase from winter to spring, that is.


Having gone through the chore of exactly that — wearing wool sweaters, thick coats, and boots just to get eggs at the nearest bodega or go for a coffee run next door — made me appreciate being able to wear just about anything I want in the summer including the potential sweating that goes along with it. After months of freezing weather, summer just feels so liberating that you’ll appreciate the heat even if it means smeared eyeliners and a face so oily you could fry two eggs on it.

That je ne sais quoi of summer in the city is not something anyone can describe with mere words or capture on Instagram without losing its essence. This article certainly doesn’t, but here are some vignettes I caught on film, complete with audio recordings, using the Instax Mini LiPlay, one Sunday morning stroll along Upper East Side.

One large cold brew to go

Like any other day, I start with a nice cup of cold brew. Cafes like Bluestone Lane usually gets packed for brunch. It’s especially nice when the sun is out that friends and families eat al fresco. Listen to the audio recording here.

Hotdogs and city performers

Hotdog stands can be found at every corner of the city. This one is outside the Guggenheim Museum, which tourists flock and buskers frequent. Listen to the audio recording here.

Honking yellow cabs

The sound of the train arriving or cabs honking is normally unbearable, but in New York it’s part of what makes the city full of character. Listen to the audio recording here. 

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

This spot in Central Park is beautiful whether you’re there to see snow falling or flowers blooming; hear trees rustling or dried leaves crackling. Listen to the audio recording here.

Pick a spot at Central Park

Central Park is so big of an oasis that you can have your quiet little spot for reading and alone time, or watch kids and dogs play if you wanted to. Listen to the audio recording here.

Sun’s out, bikes out

Whether it’s for cardio, getting from one place to another, or just for leisure, everyone seems to be on their bikes during summer. Other locals take advantage of this and sell ice cold water for $2 in the middle of the park for anyone who needs to cool down. Listen to the audio recording here.

Grab something quick and cheap

For those who might want a quick bite after a long walk or bike ride, there are food trucks everywhere. Tacos? Check. Gyros? Check. Ice cream? Check. Listen to the audio recording here.

The Met

It can get too crowded for my taste, but The Met is quickly becoming my favorite place in the city. It’s where I can run to for shelter when it’s below freezing outside, or when temperatures get higher, walk around the vicinity for no reason or people watch on the steps. I can get trapped here for days and not feel like I’m wasting my time. Listen to the audio recording here.

Witnessing New York City transform from a dark, cold abyss in the winter, to a city with blossoming tress in spring, to the vibrant concrete jungle that it truly is in the summer, is special. If you live in this city, or travel here a lot, it’s something you will learn to cherish once you see and hear it for yourself.

WATCH: Winter in New York

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Gaming

ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DU Hands-on: An immersive experience for less

Striking a balance between performance and affordability

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We’ve got our hands on the ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 and the TUF Gaming FX505DY so you’re probably familiar with how the TUF Gaming series positions itself as the middle ground that offers premium features but with a more affordable asking price.

Another model from the same series has reached our headquarters. This time it’s the TUF Gaming FX505DU which is a newer model in the family. That single letter difference in the model name (DY to DU) suggests that it’s almost the same, with slight differences here and there. Let’s check out what those are.


It’s done with a polycarbonate body

Instead, goes for a more premium metallic shell

ROG DNA is present

Makes the overall aesthetics look edgier

Sports the same 15.6-inch IPS-level 120Hz display

Also with slim side and top bezels

Keyboard is backlit

Although this one has RGB color going on

There are distinct WASD keycaps as well

Still emphasizing its gaming origin

Loudspeakers are located at the bottom

Equipped with DTS Studio Sound

Spacious trackpad

Ergonomically placed, too

All the ports remain on the left

Leaves space when using a mouse on the right

A little subtle on the design, but…

The FX505DU, like its siblings, isn’t as flashy as the company’s more expensive ROG laptops, but it still looks like a gaming rig nonetheless. The lid is plain and straightforward but with that ‘X’ pattern that suggests it’s no common office laptop.

Once you open the lid, the brushed metal design seen on the body makes it look premium. It still has a large chin, but it isn’t much of an eyesore as the slim top and side bezels surrounding its Full HD display will catch your attention right away.

There’s also a webcam for video calls positioned on top so that’s a good thing. When it comes to typing, we don’t have any major qualms about it but I personally could use a bit more travel for the keys. It comes with two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0, an HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Overall, build quality is something that I like about this model as it has been certified to pass military-grade stress tests. Factor in the cool RGB backlighting and its edgy design and you have a good-looking yet tough gaming laptop.

Play wherever you go

Inside, it packs an AMD Ryzen 7-3750H which is then partnered to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1660Ti. Together, they are a combo for fast and satisfactory performance while its 8GB RAM proved sufficient for day-to-day tasks. If needed, the memory could be modified up to 32GB for even snappier performances.

It runs Windows 10 Home out of the box and as for storage, it comes with a 1TB HDD plus a 256GB SSD.

We’ve tried a couple of games on it like Assassin’s Creed: Origins and battle royale titles like Fortnite and CS:GO — just like we did with the previous FX505DY. We’re happy to report that it could handle them easily but noticed a few lags here and there especially when there was a lot of movement happening. Not enough to affect the gaming performance, though, but we thought we’d just let you know.

The built-in loudspeakers sound decent and come with DTS Studio Sound to tweak and make the quality better. Still, it might not be for players looking for high-quality audio and you’d still be better off with dedicated gaming headphones plugged in.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s true that more expensive gaming rigs provide better gaming experience, but what ASUS is going for here with their TUF Gaming series is to strike the balance between performance and affordability.

With the FX505DU and its PhP 71,995 price tag, it offers a competitive gaming experience with 120Hz display, slim bezels, more premium materials, and internals that will ensure you have what you need to be able to have immersive gameplay wherever you go.

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Hands-On

Honor 8S Hands-On: Looks premium, feels basic

Is it worth your money?

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2019 is far from ending, yet phone manufacturers keep producing budget smartphones that cater to the needs of most users. If you can still remember, the Honor 8S was announced in the Philippines in July 2019.

In this digital age, a lot of people are looking for smartphones that do not have a hefty price tag. There are consumers who just want a basic phone regardless of the design. Honor went the other way around with the 8S as they did not compromise the overall look of the phone despite its price.


A refreshing design

The design on the back of the Honor 8S is something you barely see on smartphones today. It has dual-texture with a smooth finish on the upper part, while the bottom has the line texture for grip.

There are two color options: Blue and black. I like black in general but not with phones as it looks basic throughout the years. The blue option is also nothing special; kudos though as the layered design makes the color flow in different directions.

Looking at it even felt nostalgic as I remember the Lenovo Vibe Shot and some old Sony Cyber-shot digital cameras that have the same design language.

Long live, headphone jack!

In this country, a lot of people are still using wired earphones (or headphones). No one really likes dongles but people invest on them anyway just to use 3.5mm-powered audio peripherals properly. Unlike Samsung who started ditching the audio jack, Honor giving 8S a headphone jack is a relief.

C’mon guys, it’s 2019!

If I would wish any New Year’s Resolution for phone manufacturers, that would all be about using USB-C for budget smartphones instead of the old-school micro USB. It’s 2019, USB-C is the standard: faster data and charging speeds, less cable clutter.

The front design will not disappoint you

Although notches do not look cool anymore (as if they ever were), budget smartphones with tiny ones still look better than having thick top and bottom bezels.

This budget smartphone is packed with a 5.71″ FullView DewDrop Display. The screen is not as crisp or bright as any other IPS-LCD smartphones out there, but it gets the job done. It’s enough for indoor usage and visible when the sunlight is not too harsh outside. Just remember to untick Auto-Brightness in Settings and maximize the brightness slider to its full potential when you are using it outside.

You can still hide its DewDrop notch

This feature is common among Huawei and Honor devices but I still like how you can hide the notch as it may bother some (or most) people. After all, activating the feature will make the phone look symmetrical in design because of the equal distribution on the screen’s upper and lower part.

It feels basic, but in a good way

Unlike other smartphones with a glass back, the Honor 8S feels lightweight due to its polycarbonate back. For people with small hands, this phone is grippy enough.

One-handed usage, anyone?

If you previously read my Xiaomi Mi 9T review, I told everyone how I like big phones because I have big hands. This time, the Honor 8S is nowhere near that category. Technically, its fullscreen display sounds big on paper but based on my experience, most people would enjoy holding it even with a single hand — more ideal when you watch videos on YouTube or Netflix.

Your Social Media phone on-the-go

#StanLOONA

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name them. The phone performs just right when it comes to social media apps. Posting, tweeting, sharing Instagram stories, they all work just fine.

Performance is just right for its price

Just a refresher, this phone packs a MT6761 Helio A22 chipset by Mediatek. This is the base model so it is equipped with just 2GB RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. Worrying about more storage for your photos and videos? It still supports microSD expandability of up to 1TB.

Performance-wise, there’s nothing astonishing. To be blatant, I have experienced hiccups while using the phone, from scrolling through home screen pages, dragging down the notification menu, and even playing with games such as the not-so-graphics-intensive Alto’s Odyssey. I was not expecting anything grand. It’s just that, other budget smartphones are still capable of performing well. Too bad the Honor 8S is not one of them.

You have no choice

This phone doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner, but the Face Unlock does the trick. It works well under dark lighting conditions, just like how it was advertised. I guess having this “security” measure is better than just typing your PIN every single time.

The design doesn’t speak for its cameras

The Honor 8S’ camera-centric back design doesn’t speak well for its 13-megapixel rear camera (with a wide aperture of f/1.8).

I understand that this is a budget smartphone, but I think camera quality should not be an exception as several budget phones proved that they can still shoot good photos despite the price range they belong to.

I would not give this phone a hard time as some photos look decent enough, but after much observation, some photos would start looking grainy once you get to shoot indoors, even if natural light is present.

It was also surprising to see a “Pro” camera mode. Too bad trying it does not give justice to the photo itself. Night shots are nothing different. Even the selfie camera is lackluster.

Battery performance is surprisingly good (but not its charging time)

The Honor 8S only packs a 3,020mAh battery. Although the phone’s performance is sluggish because of the chipset, it is power-efficient enough to make the phone last.

Forget the numbers! With normal usage, it survives for a day. In times when you want to detoxify out of social media by not using your phone and just let it standby, it would last you two to three days. With those extra power-saving modes, the phone could even last for almost a week.

Charging time is not in any way fast as it would take two hours (utmost) to fill it up — I mean what should we even expect from a micro USB-equipped phone?

Is the Honor 8S your BudgetMatch?

The Honor 8S currently retails for PhP 5,490 (US$ 105). There are other selections when it comes to budget smartphones, and this phone is a runner-up in that list.

If you are the kind of user who just wants a smartphone that looks good regardless of the overall performance, the Honor 8S is right for you. This is specifically recommendable for parents (or grandparents) and kids alike — basic phone functionality without minding additional bells and whistles.

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