Reviews

Meizu M6s Review: A refreshing sight among budget options

It’s a budget phone that doesn’t feel like one

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Meizu may not be a household name in the  smartphone market, but they’re one of the popular Chinese manufacturers that have the potential to go global. We reviewed the Meizu M6 last year, and we were okay with it as a budget phone. Just last January though, the company announced the M6s which is an update to the M6 but it brought in more than minor upgrades.

Here’s my review of the M6s, which will begin with its physical features.


It has a 5.7-inch HD+ 18:9 display

A taller display for a budget phone!

There’s no physical home button but there’s the pressure sensitive Halo

An on-screen button for navigating through the UI

On the right are the fingerprint reader and power button

A clever spot to place the fingerprint scanner

While on the left are the volume buttons and hybrid card slot

You can’t have two SIM cards without sacrificing extra storage.

It’s pretty crowded at the bottom with the micro-USB port, 3.5mm audio jack, loudspeaker, and main microphone

There’s also a couple of screws

Our unit comes with a bright blue aluminum unibody

Certainly striking and unique among budget phones

Lastly, it has a single 16-megapixel rear shooter

Accompanied by a dual-tone LED flash

Beautifully crafted aluminum unibody

The Meizu M6s has a well-crafted unibody even if it’s priced under US$ 200. Its exterior is made of cold aluminum and a smooth front glass. Since the phone already sports a tall 18:9 display, there’s no space for the usual physical home button. Like with other Android phones, Meizu opted to use on-screen navigation buttons but they also put in a pressure sensor to enable what they call Super mBack. It uses a single virtual button called Halo to perform multiple commands. The Halo can recognize changes in pressure when pressed, so it knows when to go back or go home.

Speaking of the display, it measures 5.7 inches with a resolution of 1440 x 720 pixels. That translates to a 282ppi pixel density which is pretty low by today’s standards. It’s not that obvious to the naked eye though. Overall quality is good with pleasing color reproduction and acceptable black levels.

Another adjustment done by Meizu is that they moved the fingerprint reader to the right side — not on the back like with other phones. This is a similar approach to what we previously saw on Xperia phones, but the M6s’ fingerprint reader doesn’t double as a power button. There’s a dedicated button for power/lock on the right while the volume rocker is on the left. The button placement is a bit confusing at times and I accidentally take screenshots whenever I pick up the phone.

A non-Samsung phone powered by a Samsung processor

Unlike other Chinese phone manufacturers’ budget offerings, the M6s is powered by an Exynos processor — not MediaTek. Mind you, it’s the first phone to have the latest Exynos 7872 six-core processor from Samsung. It also has an ample 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage. So, how does this translate to real-life usage?

The performance is comparable or even better than higher-priced phones powered by the popular Snapdragon 625 (e.g., ASUS ZenFone 3, Moto G5S Plus). Only cheaper phones from Xiaomi like the Redmi 5 Plus can compete specs- and price-wise. Helping the phone perform well is Meizu’s own Flyme OS 6 which is based on Android Nougat. Flyme OS has the same characteristics of other Chinese-made skins on top of Android with no app drawer and customized system apps.

When it comes to gaming, the Mali-G71 GPU bundled with the Exynos processor can take a beating but doesn’t feel like the best in its class. My all-time favorite Asphalt Xtreme is set to “XDPI” by default which is the game’s highest graphics setting while Rules of Survival runs smoothly most of the time. I also tried the new Tekken Mobile game but it’s not yet optimized, or maybe it’s too much for the phone.

The camera gets the job done

Another piece of Samsung DNA that’s on the M6s is found in the cameras. Meizu claims to use Samsung CMOS sensors for both the 16-megapixel rear shooter and 8-megapixel selfie camera. Both also have a pretty wide aperture of f/2.0 which should help take better photos in the dark. Realistically, the rear camera takes good photos under the sun as seen with the daylight samples. It’s a different story though when there’s minimal light available.

Selfies are okay with built-in beautification features which include some makeup filters. It’s a fun tool to have and perhaps the ladies can take advantage of the feature more. There’s not much to say about the cameras’ performance but they get the job done and will do justice to your social media feed.

Surprisingly long-lasting battery

With a 3000mAh capacity, I expected the phone to get me through my usual workday, but what I didn’t expect is that it can even go longer. Based on my real-world usage, a fully charged M6s was able to last for almost 20 straight hours. That includes more than four hours of screen time, constant internet connection via mobile data or Wi-Fi, and heavy use of social media apps.

If that’s not enough for you, the M6s has a persuasive battery saving feature that alerts when it’s already below 30 percent. A fast-charging brick is bundled in the box, so charging up the phone is quicker than usual — something other budget phones don’t offer.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for a budget phone that doesn’t feel like one, you have to check out the Meizu M6s. It’s a great phone all around with some limitations to keep the price low. With the M6s, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of an 18:9 display and premium build. The solid construction of the phone is already a good selling point for a budget offering, but the M6s offers more than just that.

The Meizu M6s comes in four different colors: silver, gold, black, and blue — which is the one I have for review. The version I have here retails for CNY 999 (US$ 160) in China which comes with 32GB of storage. There’s a 64GB version for CNY 1,199 (US$ 190) if you want more internal space. Local pricing outside China will depend per region.

Gaming

ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 Review: Another big-screen option

When you don’t want to spend much

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ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 | GadgetMatch

Without a doubt, gaming notebooks are hot items on the market. Laptop manufacturers have been churning out game-ready machines, but there’s one name, one brand that dominates the gaming market: ASUS. The Taiwanese computer maker has captured the majority of the market share thanks to its Republic of Gamers or ROG lineup.

ROG laptops can be really expensive, especially the beastly ones, but ASUS has affordable options, too. If there’s ROG, there’s also TUF which sits in the middle of the premium and entry-level gaming notebooks currently available in the market.


What I have here is the TUF Gaming FX705, a 17-inch gaming laptop that offers respectable gaming power. If you’re looking for an alternative gaming laptop with a large screen, this might just be the one for you.

ASUS’ TUF lineup has a robust look

It passed MIL-STD-810 tests

This one has a 17-inch display with a 144Hz refresh rate

It’s a 1080p IPS-level panel

The webcam is still on top despite thin bezels

ASUS calls the display NanoEdge

All the ports are on the left side

(L-R) Power, Ethernet, HDMI, 3x USB, headphone jack

The keyboard has customizable RGB lighting

With distinct WASD keys as well

The touchpad is responsive when you need it

It uses Windows Precision drivers

Heat also dissipates to the top chassis

To allow more airflow

Not sleek, but definitely not ugly

I’ve seen better-looking laptops within ASUS’ lineup, but the overall design of this TUF Gaming laptop is not that bad. It does have a bit of ROG DNA in its look, which is a good thing. The keyboard reminds me of the ROG Strix Scar II with the unique WASD keycaps. Speaking of the keys, they’re not mechanical, but they’re responsive with a good amount of travel.

The laptop is just about the size of a conventional 15-inch notebook, but it’s got a 17-inch display. Thanks to the screen’s slim bezels, the TUF Gaming FX705 has a smaller footprint. I can fit this 17-inch gaming laptop into my bag that has a slot for a 15-inch notebook.

Its display is not all about the bezels. ASUS claims the 1080p panel has 100 percent sRGB coverage for accurate colors. Also, the 144Hz refresh rate has spoiled my eyes; it should be a standard among gaming laptops.

While the display is indeed a treat, I can’t say the same for the speaker. It gets loud, but doesn’t hit the proper notes. DTS Headphone: X audio software comes pre-installed which should help with the sound quality, but it works best if you already have a pair of quality headphones.

Can play popular titles

Specs-wise, the TUF Gaming FX705 comes with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor paired with 8GB of memory. The unit I have for review has a combo drive of 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD for storage. Graphics performance is handled by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti.

Obviously, the laptop’s setup is more than enough to run everyday applications like Chrome, Office, and whatnot. Although, customers will not buy this to only do office work.

During my time with the TUF Gaming FX705, I juggled between typing and gaming. I was able to quickly play the Resident Evil 2 remake and with the default settings applied, I had no issues with frame rates. I got above 70fps at 1080p, but this is not the highest preset available.

More graphics and resource intensive AAA titles like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey really put the GTX 1050 Ti to the test. By default, the game applied the medium graphics quality preset, but still in 1080p. The prologue of the game was already too much for the laptop with multiple characters fighting around, but it stayed above the 30fps mark. When there’s not much going on, it gets up to 90fps.

To help the laptop cope with the stress, I suggest turning on the Overboost Mode to keep the dual fans kicking. When not playing, the laptop also has a Silent Mode.

Keep it plugged in

I have yet to try a gaming laptop that can last for hours unplugged. Never leave the TUF Gaming FX705’s charger behind, because you’ll always need it. Not that the laptop can’t be used on battery power, but you can’t game for long. At best, I was able to do typing and browsing for about four hours on battery mode, which is not bad.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

ASUS has a lot of gaming laptops available. There are plenty of options to choose from, so why get the TUF Gaming FX705? I’d say it’s the most balanced and well-rounded. Too bad that it can’t take advantage of its 144Hz display all the time, but it’s a nice to feature to have.

The TUF Gaming FX705 I have here retails for PhP 81,995 in the Philippines. If you have extra cash, you can get the GTX 1060-equipped variant for PhP 91,995 for better graphics performance. The more expensive variant also comes with an upgraded 256GB SSD.

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Realme 3 Review: The complete budget package?

Cheap doesn’t always have to be bad

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Realme is a young smartphone brand; some might not even be familiar with it. But, with OPPO acting as their parent, they’re not tapping into unfamiliar territory. The company introduced itself last year with a goal of capturing the budget segment.

Initially, they repacked OPPO phones and sold them at a cheaper price. Realme phones started to take shape with the release of the Realme 2 and 2 Pro. Now, we have the Realme 3.


With stiff competition from Xiaomi and even OPPO, can the Realme 3 triumph? Also, is it a good budget device on its own? Let’s find out in this review.

It’s got a 6.2-inch display with a teardrop notch

Resolution is just HD+

The power button sits on the right side…

At least it’s easy to find

… while the volume keys and SIM tray are on the right

It accepts a microSD and two nano-SIM cards

The micro-USB and 3.5mm port are at the bottom

Along with the microphone and loudspeaker

The back is glossy and has the fingerprint reader in the middle

Plasticky, but it’s fine

The camera module has a small yellow ring for added flair

It highlights the main 13-megapixel shooter

The phone comes in either blue or black

They are called Radiant Blue and Dynamic Black to be specific

Gradient and unibody

The plasticky body of the Realme 3 is no different from the rest of the budget phones in the market. To make theirs different, the Realme 3 uses a unibody design. The glossy back panel of the phone wraps all the way up to the display. It doesn’t have a side frame that joins the front and back panels, or at least it’s not visible on the outside. It kinda reminds me of the OPPO F5’s body but with a different finish.

While the Realme 3 can be considered to have a unibody design, it’s not as seamless as more expensive devices. Still, this approach is more pleasing, not only to the eyes but also to touch.

When it comes to the display, the Realme has to make a compromise. The phone’s screen is practically borderless with a claimed 88.3 percent screen-to-body ratio and a tiny notch, although the HD+ resolution is nothing to write home about.

Nevertheless, the lack of sharpness doesn’t equate to overall bad display quality. The panel is bright enough to be used outdoors and it shows images and videos vividly. I’ve seen worse in this price segment, so the Realme 3’s screen gets a passing grade.

New and improved interface

Realme is OPPO’s sub-brand, so it’s not surprising to see them sharing resources. In order for Realme to give a great user experience, it borrows OPPO’s ColorOS. Those who prefer a clean install of Android will have to look somewhere else like Nokia’s Android One lineup or the pure Android-touting ZenFone Max M2 from ASUS.

ColorOS generally looks pleasing, but it’s missing some of the essential Android features. Thankfully, the Realme 3 comes with ColorOS 6, the newest version available, and it’s already based on Android 9 Pie.

If you think about it, the Realme 3 is one of the budget phones currently available that’s running on Android’s latest version. It even has newer software than OPPO’s more expensive models. We don’t know if the Realme 3 will make the jump to Android Q, though. ColorOS don’t have a strong reputation when it comes to major updates.

So, what does ColorOS 6 bring to the table? First of all, you can finally dismiss notifications by swiping it; a feature that took years to come to ColorOS. Also, you can interact with the notifications, and there’s now an option to have an app drawer. ColorOS 6 looks clean and minimal as well.

When it comes to performance, I have no complaints. The phone runs smoothly and can handle multiple running apps. MediaTek’s Helio P60 processor is the brain of the phone paired with 4GB of memory. It also has 64GB of expandable storage to store all your files. For a phone in this price range, the Realme 3 offers a lot in performance.

Gaming-wise, the Realme 3 can pass as a decent gaming phone. Despite being a bit older, the Helio P60 with its Mali G72 GPU can play some games even on high graphics settings. Demanding titles (or unoptimized ones) must be played on medium to low settings to keep the frame rates high.

Keep in mind that our unit is the global version and it’s different from the one that was launched in India. That is why it sports a Helio P60 processor rather than the newest Helio P70. As of writing, the Helio P70 version is exclusive to India.

Surprisingly impressive cameras

The Realme 3 is probably one of the best cheap phones that can take photos really well. I don’t normally expect good stills from budget phones, but the Realme 3 really impressed me. It’s equipped with a main 13-megapixel f/1.8 camera and it’s accompanied by a 2-megapixel depth sensor. There’s no ultra wide-angle or zoom lens here.

Equipped with AI, the rear cameras take amazing photos considering the price of the phone. Other budget phones tend to oversharpen their stills, but not the Realme 3. My only gripe about the phone is the aggressiveness of its HDR feature which makes the image look a bit unnatural. Also, slight movements can result in blur. Check out these samples:

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When the night comes, the Realme 3 can still take sharp and well-exposed images thanks to its Nightscape feature. As far as I know, the Realme is the first to introduce a multi-frame, anti-shake algorithm to its price range. Basically, the phone takes a few photos within three seconds and stitches them all together. Here are some samples:

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As for selfies, the tiny notch in front houses another 13-megapixel sensor. Coupled with AI, the Realme 3 takes good-looking selfies. It features AI beauty mode and simulates bokeh for a more pleasing self-portrait..

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A battery that can last for hours

One of the most important feature I look for (I think everyone should) in a smartphone is battery life. Longevity is crucial, especially if a phone has a lot of features to brag about. Budget phones nowadays don’t sacrifice battery life, and that includes the Realme 3 with its 4230mAh capacity. On top of that, the bundled charger is also a pretty fast 10W brick.

Even with heavy use, I didn’t have any trouble using the Realme 3 as my daily driver. It can last a whole workday with enough juice to keep playing music while I commute back home. My usage includes all-day social networking, chats, emails, and a few minutes of gaming. The phone can easily last for two days if you don’t use it as much as I do.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

As a budget phone, Realme 3 ticks all the boxes: nice design, good cameras, decent performance, and long battery life. For only PhP 9,990, it can easily be your GadgetMatch. Not just because it’s cheap, but because it’s a good phone overall. It has its potential downsides, especially when it comes to software updates, although that shouldn’t be a big issue for most. You can even get it for as low as PhP 6,990, but with lower memory and storage space.

Of course, the flashy design and maybe the UI of the Realme 3 may not be everyone’s cup to tea. But, for those who don’t care about these and just need an affordable phone that won’t disappoint, the Realme 3 is a great deal.

SEE ALSO: Realme C1 Hands-on: Redefining entry-level devices

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ASUS ROG Strix Scar II (GL704) Review: Feels smaller, performs better

Now with RTX graphics

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This is not the same laptop we reviewed before from ASUS. They do look alike and even have identical names, but this one is the bigger brother. This is the GL704 model of the ROG Strix Scar II with a 17-inch display.

It’s not every day that we get to play with 17-inch laptops, because they are simply cumbersome to bring around. They’re heavy and bulky, plus they don’t easily fit inside laptop bags. This one is different though; it’s like a 15-inch notebook thanks to its ultra-slim bezels.


Not only that, but it also has the latest discrete graphics available for laptops — the GeForce RTX series from NVIDIA.

What is it like to bring around a 17-inch gaming laptop? Here’s my review.

It’s got a high-gloss metal lid

The ROG logo still lights up, too

There are plenty of ports on the left

(L-R) Power, Ethernet, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, 3x USB-A, 3.5mm audio 

With a few more on the right

(L-R) SD card slot, USB-C, USB-A, Kensington lock 

The back is where the heat comes out

Away from the user 

The keyboard is FPS-friendly

You won’t miss the WASD keys for sure 

There’s another ROG logo inside

To remind you that it’s a gaming laptop 

The ultra-narrow bezels are to die for

Kinda reminds me of the Dell XPS 13 

It looks very familiar

The GL704 is essentially an enlarged version of the previous 15-inch variant. Right off the bat, you can tell that this is an ROG laptop. It has the aesthetics of a gaming notebook complete with a camouflage pattern and RGB lights.

The chiclet keys which ASUS calls HyperStrike Pro are not mechanical, but they are clicky and well-spaced. Since the Scar II is designed for FPS games, it has transparent WASD keycaps. If you’re more into MOBA, you should look into the Strix Hero II.

What makes this keyboard game-friendly are the little adjustments that make a world of difference. There are gaps between the function keys for easier identification, the spacebar is slightly extended and reshaped for fewer misses, and the arrow keys are not cramped.

As for the trackpad, it has a smooth surface and it uses Windows Precision drivers. It has support for all the Windows 10 gestures and two separate buttons for left and right click. While the trackpad is a good one, ASUS also bundles the Strix Scar II with a gaming mouse.

Inside the box, you get a free ROG Impact mouse which I find responsive. The mouse has an RGB ROG logo which is customizable via ASUS Aura Sync, as well. It also has a DPI switch smack in the middle that’s handy in combat games. You’ll just have to get a nice mousepad to match the peripheral.

The overall construction of the Strix Scar II is near premium. By mixing metal and hard plastic, you get the best of both worlds. The aluminum cover lid defines the craftsmanship of the laptop, while the majority of the chassis is understandably made out of polycarbonate to help with the thermals.

Speaking of, ASUS is proud of their new HyperCool Pro thermal system which doesn’t only keep the laptop’s temperature in check, but it also expels dust particles and dirt that may get trapped inside the fans.

Specs make the difference

The main reason why you should get the GL704 is its graphics card. It’s one of the first in the market to have the latest GeForce RTX graphics from NVIDIA. The particular model I have for review sports the RTX 2060 with 6GB GDDR6, although it also comes with the more capable RTX 2070.

The full specs of the laptop include an Intel Core i7-8750H processor and 16GB DDR4 memory. For storage, it has a main 256GB PCIe SSD and secondary 1TB SSHD for the large chunk of files like your AAA games.

On the software side, there are a lot of pre-installed apps to complete the ROG experience like the ROG Armoury Crate which acts as a hub to check the laptop’s condition. There’s also GameFirst V for network optimization, ROG GameVisual for tweaking the display, Sonic Studio III for adjusting the audio, and Sonic Radar III for optimizing the surround sound effect on supported games.

There aren’t many titles out there that take advantage of ray tracing, which is the main selling point of the new RTX graphics. Good thing Battlefield V got updated to support ray tracing for improved reflections. However, Battlefield V is such an action-packed game that you might not fully notice the improvements during combat.

Here’s a comparison with ray tracing turned on and off. The game’s settings panel doesn’t allow for complete shutdown of ray tracing, so the closest to off is low. The preset graphics has to be set to low as well, which drastically changes the whole environment.

Anyhow, ray tracing is all about realistic and real-time reflections. You can see the water puddles nicely show the capabilities of RTX. Everything is shinier with ray tracing. In ultra settings, Battlefield V on the Strix Scar II averages around 55fps and spikes above 60fps when there’s not much going on in the scene.

Outside ray tracing, the Strix Scar II can easily handle other popular titles. I was able to enjoy Apex Legends on its highest-possible settings at around 110fps, while Fortnite averages 100fps

Is ray tracing worth the upgrade? That depends on where you’re coming from. Those on GTX-series graphics might not find RTX on mobile to be lucrative enough, and they can skip this for now because the previous generation’s graphics cards are still some of the best out there. Also, the number of titles supporting ray tracing won’t excite the whole gaming population.

It’s not an Ultrabook

Nobody should expect long battery life from a gaming laptop, at least for now. When playing games on the Strix Scar II, you should have it plugged in to ensure that the graphics card is not working with limited power.

When you do need to unplug and use the laptop remotely, you have three hours before the laptop puts itself to sleep and wait for its charger. Charging the Strix Scar II will take about an hour and a half using the included 230W power adapter.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The ROG Strix Scar II is ASUS’ special machine for those who are competitive in FPS gaming. It’s also a treat to AAA-title gamers thanks to its upgraded RTX graphics. It’s the smallest 17-inch gaming notebook with next-generation performance, so what more could you ask for? Aside from a better webcam placement and battery, of course.

A machine this good comes at a price. It starts at PhP 124,995 (US$ 2,400) which gives you RTX 2060 graphics. If you want to have a more powerful 17-inch gaming laptop, you could get the RTX 2070 variant for PhP 149,995 (US$ 2,885).

A piece of advice: If you’re getting a gaming notebook and have the money for it, you should go for the high-end model because you won’t be able the upgrade the graphics chip after purchase.

SEE ALSO: The ASUS ZenBook S13 does the job while looking good

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