Reviews

LG Velvet review: Flagship reimagined

A refreshing take from LG, a much needed option in 2020

Published

on

I’ve reviewed many different phones this year and consistently the theme has been this: Phone prices are rising; and there are no exceptions. A faster display, multiple cameras, 5G — it all adds up. If you don’t need all of these extras on a flagship smartphone, what options are there for you?

Instead of launching a revolutionary new phone meant to blow your socks off, LG sought to fill that void with a new breed of flagship smartphone with just the essential features: the LG Velvet.

An introduction

I’ve closely followed the evolution of LG smartphones for more than six years now. In the second half of 2020, the Korean company is shifting gears — from a new design ID to a new name.

The first phone out of the gate is simply called Velvet, which is a drastic change from their last phone called the LG V60 ThinQ 5G Dual Screen.

LG says that starting with Velvet they are moving away from the G and V Series and adopting more expressive names that better fit each smartphone. Instead of offering similarly designed smartphones with marginally better specs, which is basically what everyone else in the industry is doing, they want to create differentiated products with a clear character.

The Velvet isn’t meant to be the successor to last year’s G8; neither is it a midrange version of the V60.

Who then is the Velvet for? What consumer need does it address? And is it your GadgetMatch?

READ: LG V60 ThinQ 5G Dual Screen review: 2020’s most underrated phone

Evolved design language

If I were to describe LG phones released over the last few years, several words come to mind: uninspired, unexciting, boring, bland. They looked okay but let’s just say they would never have won a smartphone beauty pageant, so most folks did not pay attention.

With the Velvet, LG set out to focus on its design. Versus last year’s G8 and the V60, immediately you can tell that LG made an effort. From curves on both its front and back, to what they’re calling a raindrop rear camera — with modules that get smaller as they reach downward. I especially appreciate the clear intent to avoid a huge camera bump.

Did they hit the mark? I’m not sure; I’m finding it hard to make an emotional connection with my review device.

After all the rich vibrant phones that have become my daily drivers this year, my LG Velvet is a bland shade of grey. Although, it is available in a host of other colors: Illusion Sunset, Aurora White, Aurora Green, Aurora Silver and something they’re calling New Black.

I am also not sure the curved displays were the best choice and overall it doesn’t necessarily look original.

There is, however, a lot to like about the Velvet. There is a certain subdued sophistication about the phone. I appreciate that it’s not too wide so you can hold it securely with one hand and that it’s light enough so that when you use it with the Dual Screen Case, it doesn’t get significantly heavy.

I also like that the Dual Screen case for the Velvet also comes in matte white. It’s refreshing, and it doesn’t pick up smudges like the mirror finish of the V60’s Dual Screen case.

I love that there are well-designed third party cases available for the Velvet at launch. LG partnered with Korean accessory manufacturer Design Skin. I would go as far as saying that these are some of the best designed cases we’ve seen for any phone.

This case has two card slots, comes in an olive shade and a croc skin finish.

This emerald green one is my favorite. It has an elastic leather strap just like a designer clutch — a stylish way to keep your phone secure when you’re out and about. Hidden underneath is a slot for a card or two.

There are plenty of other case options for the LG Velvet on Amazon ahead of its European and North American debut as well.

A flagship that doesn’t blow your socks off

There are many ways to tackle this next section. It can be about addressing why this phone has a 700-series processor, usually reserved for midrange smartphones, which I feel is the elephant in the room. In the US, the T-Mobile variant is powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 1000C chip. I want to take this opportunity to challenge the status quo and encourage a new way of thinking.

Silicon technology has improved so much over the last few years that it’s gotten to a point where most people don’t necessarily need a phone with a top of the line processor.

This next statement might come off as controversial, but the everyday user does not need a phone with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865.

Snapdragon 765, which powers the LG Velvet, is a very capable processor that can handle the needs of the average consumer. If doing so allows a phone company to pass on savings to you the consumer, I’m all for it.

In essence, I believe that is what the LG Velvet is all about: giving users what they need instead of making them pay for high tech extras that prosumers and tech nerds have come to expect.

It’s a well-rounded smartphone and it comes with support for 5G networks. This is despite the lack of a fast display and out of this world telescopic camera.

In the time that I spent with the LG Velvet, I didn’t experience any hiccups in terms of performance. The phone has enough RAM to handle all the apps that I juggle on a daily basis, and the Snapdragon 765 processor handled everything I threw at it.

Of course Pokemon Go and Raid Shadow Legends might not qualify as graphics intensive games, but my buddies Joshua Vergara and Booredatwork also played a lot of Call of Duty and PUBG, respectively, and they didn’t have complaints either.

Its P-OLED display is bright and vibrant and was a pleasure to consume content on. Like the V60, it has a tear drop notch on the top center of the screen.

Dual Screen, dual fun

Cementing the company’s commitment to this form factor, the Velvet is compatible with its own Dual Screen case. Depending on where you live, it either comes bundled or is a separate purchase.

In our exhaustive review of the LG V60, we explored all the things you can do with this form factor and why it makes sense as an accessory. If you want an in-depth guide on how you can maximize the dual screen experience, read that review here, or watch it here. My thoughts there apply to the Velvet’s Dual Screen experience as well.

I love being able to use it as a controller to level up my game play, tickling my retro bones using Drastic DS to emulate my favorite Nintendo games from my childhood, and using it as an e-book reader using Librera, which is closer to the experience of reading an actual printed book than.

Of course there’s multitasking: having two documents open at the same time, or a web browser in one and Google Docs in the other. Having that second display for a chat app, a video, or my twitter feed is great and makes a lot of sense for someone like me. You can also save shortcuts for apps that you frequently open together: Spotify and Google Maps when you’re driving for example.

One of my favorite use cases, pun unintended, is flipping the case all the way around and using it as a monitor when photographing others. I also love that I can easily prop the phone up when watching videos or even when I’m on a video call.

Stylus support

Just like the V60, there’s support for any Wacom AES pen on the Velvet. If you’re the type who likes being able to jot down notes the old school way, you can purchase a stylus like Wacom’s Bamboo Ink and use it to take notes, sign documents, or draw on your Velvet.

Some will argue that the Galaxy Note comes with a bundled pen and that you can store it in the phone, but old-school note-taking isn’t for everyone. The experience also isn’t as close to pen and paper as the Apple Pencil and the iPad.

What I like about the Velvet, just like the Dual Screen case, is that the extra cost is your choice to make depending on your needs.

Exceptional audio lineage

When it comes to audio the LG V60 is the best phone I’ve reviewed this year. Given its lineage I was curious to see how well the Velvet performed in this department.

The phone comes with stereo speakers, LG’s 3D sound engine, and a headphone jack. The only thing it doesn’t have is Quad DAC support which both the G and V series had been known for. Even in this more affordable segment, LG is still the gold standard when it comes to phone audio.

When reviewing the Velvet, I did my usual blind test by listening to songs I know by heart. Its speakers aren’t as loud as the V60 but they are tuned very well. They sound leaps and bounds better than last year’s G8X. It’s also much louder and richer compared to the Samsung Galaxy S20+.

For even better sound you can toggle ON LG’s 3D Sound Engine via the quick settings panel.

Acceptable camera performance

The LG Velvet has three cameras: a standard 48MP wide angle lens, an 8MP ultra-wide angle with a 120 degree field of view, and a 5MP camera dedicated for measuring depth.

This is an important category so I spent a lot of time putting the Velvet’s camera through its paces. Take a look at these sample shots I took around Brooklyn.

With the sun shining overhead, against the light, or even when the sun started to set, the Velvet’s main camera does the job of capturing good photos.

Night Mode also does a decent job when it got dark.

Its ultra-wide angle camera doesn’t perform as well. It was alright during the day, but poor as the sun started to set. Details become fuzzy when there’s not enough light.

The third camera dedicated to creating background blur does a good job cutting subjects out. Phones usually struggle to separate Chay’s hair from the background but the Velvet managed to do it pretty well.

Camera comparison

It’s important to manage our expectations based on how much the Velvet costs. I compared it to the similarly priced OnePlus 8, and the pricier Samsung Galaxy S20+.

During the day when the sun is out, the sky blue, and the model straight off the Paris Fashion Week runway, you’d be hard pressed to pick one photo over the other. All phones did great, captured details well, and produced similar colors.

I’d say the same about this ultra wide angle shot. The only difference is that the S20+ has a wider field of view.

It’s a similar case with these photos taken with 2x zoom. Both the OnePlus and Velvet use digital zoom as they do not have dedicated telephoto cameras.

This ultra-wide angle shot is interesting — a test of how all three phones handle backlit subjects. The S20+ and the Velvet handled the harsh lighting conditions very similarly. The OnePlus 8 did the best job at managing highlights. In some cases, it just boils down to camera software, like in this example.

We spent a lot of time comparing the phones after dark. First, this artsy photo of the Manhattan Bridge shot through some fencing.

Next is of the Brooklyn Bridge. I did a poll on Twitter and most of you picked the S20+’s photo, with the Velvet coming in second and the OnePlus 8 third. It’s a tough call and really depends on what people are judging for. Some voted for presumed color accuracy, some for detail, some voted based on which one fits their aesthetic best.

When you switch to the ultra-wide angle camera, this is where the Velvet suffers. Just like in our daytime photos, the Velvet didn’t capture enough detail for it to be usable.

We took more comparisons this time without night mode. For the most part the results were pretty similar across the board.

In this last comparison photo, we didn’t use night mode as well. All three phones handled this back lit shot differently, but I think all of them are post worthy.

Overall it’s no surprise that people chose the S20+’s photo in my Twitter poll. It does after all have the best camera hardware of the trio, but the Velvet’s main camera held its own. It produced accurate colors in low light while being the cheapest phone in this shootout.

Its ultra-wide camera is just a let down, especially considering LG was pioneered this feature on smartphones many years back. Maybe they shouldn’t have included it, that might have brought down the price even further.

All-day battery

The LG Velvet comes with a 4300 mAh battery. It lasts me a full day of average use with a little bit left over for the next day. It’s not as long lasting as the V60 but overall its battery life is great.

Charging speeds are also respectable considering its battery capacity. Using the bundled fast charger, I got to 10% after 10 minutes and 70% after an hour. A full charge took just one hour and 52 minutes.

The Velvet also supports wireless charging, and it works even with the Dual Screen case on.

If you get the Dual Screen case, it comes with a USB-C adapter that magnetically latches into place. I think is a great idea. Once you plug it into the bundled USB-C cable, you’re not going to lose it. In case you do, you can buy a replacement online.

Pricing and availability

The LG Velvet was announced in South Korea earlier this year with a KRW 899,800 (US$ 700) launch price. In Europe, pricing vary per country: In Italy, it was going for EUR 650 (US$ 757), bundled with the Dual Screen case and LG’s Tone Free wireless earbuds.

In the US, it starts at US$588 if you get it from T-Mobile, US$599 from AT&T, and US$699.99. Just note that the T-Mobile model has slightly different specs than the unit we reviewed.

Is the LG Velvet your GadgetMatch? 

Despite not offering the coolest features smartphone nerds rave about, there’s something interesting about the LG Velvet. It’s a much needed class of device for right now. 2020 is the year when brands known for making flagship killers have all but abandoned that calling.

Prosumers who need more computing power, better cameras, and a faster display should definitely look elsewhere.

The LG Velvet is a solid phone. It’s built well, performs great, and most importantly it comes with a price tag that doesn’t break the bank. For that we give it the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval.

Reviews

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Review: Pro Enough?

How does it set itself apart from the rest of the line?

Published

on

While the similarities between Apple’s iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are less distinct than ever, the iPhone 12 Pro sets itself apart enough. Other than that, consumers got more confused with the iPhone 12 mini and 12 Pro Max on the line.

Are you curious to know if the iPhone 12 Pro is your GadgetMatch this 2020?

You can find out more in our iPhone 12 Pro review by clicking this link.

Continue Reading

Reviews

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Superstar Shoes Review

Walk in Miles’ shoes

Published

on

For those of you that might have bought the Spider-Man: Miles Morales game you may have noticed that it appears that Miles has switched allegiance.

From the sweet Air Jordan 1 Highs that he famously rocked on the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse animated film to this — a new pair of black and red Adidas Superstars that he wears in the game.

This has been super controversial, both in the sneaker community and the comic book community as well to an extent. Like many others, I agree that the Jordans were a part of Miles and the story line of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

But here’s a thing — this is the 2020 game. It’s a completely different story line to the 2018 animated movie.

So as much as it might be painful to see Miles sporting something other than his Jordans, think of this as Miles from another universe — because that’s really what he is. A universe where he just so happens to be a huge three-stripe fan.

The Spider-Man Miles Morales Superstars dropped this November 19th for US$ 75 in the US.

Unspectacular box

Starting with the box — it’s disappointing to see that Adidas keeps slacking off when it comes to the unboxing experience. They had a chance to create a really cool box for this collab, but nope, we have the usual blue Superstar box.

Opening it up, you have the usual Superstar wrapping paper, and the shoes, with the usual Superstar size tag and this Marvel Gamer verse tag.

Coming to the shoe itself and starting with the toe box, you have the usual Superstar Shell Toe, that’s in a black color here instead of the usual white color.

Moving along the upper of the shoe, it’s in a red leather material with the Adidas Three Stripes on the side in a black color.

This black and red design is supposed to be a nod to the Spidey suit that Miles Morales wears in the game.

Above the black three stripes on the mid-panel you’ll see the word “SUPERSTAR” in black to the side of it.

Coming to the top of the shoe you’ll see the usual Superstar regular lacing system with these flat black laces. Unfortunately, no extra pair of laces here.

You’ll also notice a tiny black lace tag here with the PlayStation symbol. Since this awesome game is only available on PS4 and PS5.

Miles Morales Superstar

Moving on, underneath the laces you have this black leather tongue which seems to have a bit more padding than usual. This is to make them feel even more comfortable on feet, compared to a usual superstar.

At the top of the tongue is the usual branding tag with the Adidas trefoil branding. It’s in this red black on the back leather, keeping in theme with Miles’ Spider-Man suit.

Coming to the inside of the shoe, you’ll notice the Marvel branding on the inside of the tongue, along with a black leather sockliner that feels pretty good against your feet.

There’s the usual Adidas superstar outsole, this time in a black synthetic leather with the Adidas branding in a red color towards the heel.

And then lastly, coming to the back of the shoe you have the usual Superstar heel tab but this has the Spider-Man logo in black and red occupying the heel tab.

Miles Morales Superstar

I know Adidas did this to give it some Spider-Man feel… 

because as you probably noticed there’s not a lot of it on the rest of the shoe, apart from the Miles Morales suit colors used.

Below that you have the same red synthetic leather material as the rest of the upper.

Moving on, that entire upper sits on the usual Superstar rubber midsole. But this time instead of the usual white rubber midsole and outsole, we get this black rubber midsole with this lining of the red outsole below it.

And then, coming to the bottom of the shoe, you have this red rubber outsole in the usual superstar thread pattern.

That’s about it in terms of design.

Fit and sizing

Coming to fit and sizing, the Adidas Superstars tend to fit true to size but Adidas sizing is pretty unpredictable.

I feel like these fit just like any other pair of superstars, true to size but if you have wide feet like I do, I definitely recommend going up half a size.

For example I’m a size UK 11 so I wanted to go up to a UK 11.5. Unfortunately, there were no half sizes available so I went up to a size UK 12. It fits okay but I have a bit more room in the toe box area than I’d like.

In terms of comfort, honestly it kinda feels like every other pair of Adidas Superstars but slightly more comfortable because of that well padded tongue. When it comes to cushioning, it’s a rather stiff, flat kind of feeling underfoot since there’s really not too much going on there..

But, to its credit, it is a very stable shoe and it’s pretty durable. So if you want a really stylish pair of everyday sneakers, and you’re okay with how the Superstars feel underfoot, this is a pretty solid option to check out.

Is this your SneakerMatch?

As much as I know that these are supposed to look exactly like the shoes Miles wears in the game, I have to admit, I’m kind of a little disappointed.

I just feel like there’s more they could have done, with the color blocking and the PlayStation and Spider-Man logos. They could have also, at least, made the box in the Miles Morales Black and Red colors.

Miles Morales Superstar

I feel like these are shoes made for kids, who would love to wear what Miles Morales is wearing in the game, which is totally okay. Granted, Miles was actually wearing mid-top Superstars in some suits, but it looks like the physical versions are only available in low-tops.

But these are not really for the same crowd of comic book nerds like me who would have copped the Jordan 1 Origin Story, which I feel was much nicer put together.

But then again, maybe this is the best that Adidas’ designers would come up with after talking to Marvel, Sony, and Insomniac Games who had to produce the same shoe in the game as well.

Miles Morales Superstar

At the end of the day, if you want to wear the same shoes as the coolest Spider-Man, here ya go. They’re comfortable, they stand out, and if you’re a Spider-Man Miles Morales fan, you’re going to love these.

Plus how cool is it to wear the same shoes as the in-game Miles, right?

SEE ALSO: Spider-Man: Miles Morales PS4 Review

Continue Reading

Lifestyle

MOK & MOK Mini review: Smoking just got smoke-free!

The future of tobacco?!

Published

on

MOK Mini

Government warning: Cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.
The following is intended for readers 18+

Over the past decade, we’ve seen various changes in the smoking and tobacco industry. Technology played a key role in developing new ways of smoking that, surprisingly, people are adopting. From traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other vaping devices emerged.

The revolution doesn’t stop, seeing how Heat-not-Burn (HnB) devices arrived. This innovation is setting the stage for a smoke-free smoking experience. Such an example is MOK — which is now conquering Asia and Europe.

A bit of history, MOK arrived last 2019 in the Philippines. With a disturbing issue in second-hand smoking, the arrival of this HnB device was promising for the archipelago. I’ve always wanted to test it, but it was only a year later when I got my hands on MOK’s revolutionary devices: MOK and MOK Mini.

MOK

The first HnB device MOK offers… is named MOK. It’s a split device comprised of a holder (which I call a heating stick for sticks) and a pocket-sized charger where you can insert the holder for charging and safekeeping.

MOK Mini

The unit I have came in Navy Blue with gold accents. However, its shade of Navy Blue looks like Onyx in most circumstances. Nonetheless, it came in a matte finish for an easy grip.

The combination of gold accents and matte finish made it look fancy, allowing MOK to evoke a classy and luxurious appeal. It complemented my accessories and didn’t look out-of-place when placed together with my Playboy Clutch bag.

Using MOK is pretty straightforward. Simply insert its specially-designed COO sticks in the holder, then press the button for two seconds to turn it on. The light will turn blue and blink to tell you it’s turned on.

Once the blue light stopped blinking, it will start the heating process. Afterward, the light indicator will turn from blue to red to signify that it’s safe for you to start using the device. MOK makes it easy for you by vibrating every time the mode changes, so you don’t have to count or wonder when it’s ready to use.

When the light indicator is gone, that’s when you know the holder needs to recharge. The holder can last up to four minutes. This is where the pocketable charger comes in handy — to allow you to consume up to 20 sticks if it’s at 100% capacity, which can last for one hour and 40 minutes. That is if you’re a heavy smoker.

From my own and my smoker friends’ experience, we got lazy to charge the holder every time we need to consume a new stick. The laziness that comes can make or break the smoker’s experience: either we learn how to reduce consuming more than one stick, or we go back to using traditional cigarettes.

What’s in the box?

MOK comes in a fancy box. Inside is a pocket charger, a holder, 10 cleaning sticks, a cleaning brush, a micro USB charging cable, an instruction manual, and a quick how-to guide.

MOK Mini

MOK Mini is the smaller version of MOK, which makes it more pocketable than its sibling. It can easily slide to pretty much anything, which makes it perfect for my girl friend who doesn’t like carrying anything that won’t fit in her compact sling bag.

MOK Mini

It’s currently the smallest HnB device available, working smartly to deliver the same satisfying flavorful experience. It preheats faster at just 12 seconds while allowing you to consume up to 12 sticks at 100 percent battery capacity. Every stick can be experienced for at least 4 minutes, so you can do the math.

Just kidding, we don’t like to do the math. The MOK Mini lasts for less than an hour in continuous usage. It doesn’t come with a separate charger so its battery life can be easily depleted. Although, it charges fairly quickly for an hour and a half using its USB-C cable.

What’s in the box?

MOK Mini comes in a smaller box. Inside, you can find MOK Mini, a MOK cleaning brush, a USB-C charging cable, and a quick how-to guide.

Heat, not burn! What’s the process like?

MOK Mini

Both devices use MOK’s proprietary Heatmaster system — a cutting-edge technology designed to heat specially-designed tobacco, instead of burning it. It’s a flavorful experience similar to traditional cigarette smoking, only without the smoke produced.

When there’s no smoke, you get to puff the nicotine to yourself without inhaling harmful chemicals passing toxins (created by smoke) into an innocent individual near you. In essence, the non-combustible process made MOK’s promise true: a smoke-free, enjoyable experience.

The future of tobacco?

MOK is exclusively enjoyed with COO — specially-designed Heat-Not-Burn sticks that offer the same tobacco experience. It uses real tobacco leaves and comes in three variants: Golden Hue for a balanced, classic tobacco taste; Blue Hue for a refreshing hit of menthol; and New Wave Capsule, mint with a bit of lime.

If you’re wondering if you can use existing cigarettes in the market, no, they won’t fit. I tried it first-hand out of curiosity. Although, having MOK and using exclusive sticks made it feel like I’m part of an exclusive community — of casual and heavy smokers switching to an alternative with lesser risks.

In some countries, HnB devices are being used to swing heavy smokers into consuming less. For MOK, they aim to capture the existing smokers as their market, to help make the world smoke-free, one smoker at a time. They don’t even sell to consumers who aren’t smokers.

The goal is simple: reduce smoke and then hopefully quit someday. Slowly, but surely. If this is the future of tobacco, then it’s a future worth considering.

Maybe one day, second-hand smoke will be a thing of the past and all we have are battered lungs of smokers who really don’t have it in them to quit. Just kidding. Or maybe not.

Is the Mok Mini your GadgetMatch?

MOK and MOK Mini offers an alternative to smokers wanting to reduce their tobacco consumption and hopefully quit one day. For others, these HnB devices allow them to enjoy a guilt-free tobacco experience: no more second-hand smoke for other people. Yay?

For the right reason, MOK and MOK Mini makes for a revolutionizing accessory. The two HnB devices’ differences in size, battery capacity, and design can surely fit any smoker’s lifestyle. Here’s to hoping it can pave the way to a better future.

MOK Mini

MOK and MOK Mini is available in Japan, Korea, Maldives, and European Countries.

In the Philippines, MOK and MOK Mini retails for PhP 3,490 and PhP 2,490 respectively. Its COO HnB sticks are priced at PhP 120 for a pack and PhP 1,200 for a ream. It is currently available at MOK specialty kiosks in Eastwood Mall, MetL!ve, SM North EDSA, SM Manila, and SM Sta Mesa.

You can get it online through MOK’s official stores in LazMall and Shopee Mall, as well as from 60 major vape shops within Metro Manila. Nearly 500 branches of 7-11, Family Mart, and Lawson offers MOK’s HnB devices, too.

It’s also conveniently available in selected GrabMart hubs. Delivery of orders is guaranteed within 90 minutes or less, that is if the hub is near you. Purchasing from official retail partners promises a twelve-month warranty.

SEE ALSO: 9 gift ideas for the man of your life

Continue Reading

Trending