Reviews

Moto E5 Plus review: Large and charged

More than a Plus

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While all the premium smartphones push boundaries in innovation, it’s up to the lower-end models to increase numbers like their shelf lives depend on it.

ASUS and Xiaomi have been the champs at this for as long as most consumers can remember, but brands like Moto have always been around to take away a fraction of that market.

In this review, we look at the Moto E5 Plus, which is special for its massive 5000mAh battery and equally daunting 6-inch display. It unfortunately competes against some stiff rivals in its US$ 200 segment, so some assessment is in order.

Let’s start by looking at its physique.

It’s definitely a handful even for large palms and long fingers

Nearly 10mm in thickness and 200g in weight

The fingerprint reader is right under this logo

This is a clever way to maximize space

Its rear camera protrudes a bit…

Causes slight wobble when laid flat on a table

… but the bundled jelly case evens out the back

It gets really smudgy and tough to clean, though

The thick bezels…

No notch, however

… only add to the already-large real estate

From here, you can see how much space is wasted

The older micro-USB port is used here…

No reversible USB-C for you

… but there’s a handy triple-card tray available

Allows you to have two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time

Oddly, there’s only one rear camera

Despite looking like it has two at first glance

How well does it perform?

Normally, we’d be lenient on an entry-level Snapdragon 430 processor inside a US$ 200 phone, but you can find much faster chipsets at this price range from the likes of ASUS, Honor, and Xiaomi. Yes, the E5 Plus’ chip is efficient, but it’s relatively slow compared to the competition’s.

It doesn’t help that our unit only comes with 3GB of memory and 32GB of expandable storage, so you’re not exactly getting a complete multitasking phone out of this. And although the 6-inch screen is bright and spacious, its 1280 x 720-pixel resolution offers a very low pixel density.

Watching Netflix wasn’t enjoyable on the low resolution

It would’ve been great to have at least a 1080p resolution on a screen this large. Since it comes with decent speakers and a 3.5mm audio port, the E5 Plus could’ve become a much more recommendable budget option for multimedia users.

I wasn’t too impressed either while playing demanding titles like Asphalt 9: Legends and Dragon Ball Legends on the E5 Plus. While the phone did well at the start, it would often slow down when the action gets too intense. In addition, opening heavy apps leads to every other active app shutting down to give way.

Alto’s Odyssey runs well on the Moto E5 Plus

It doesn’t help that the handset only comes with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box with no update to the much fresher Android 9 Pie until now. Motorola used to brag about timely software updates, but has since slowed down in dishing out new flavors, even for its newest flagships.

Still, the interface is quite pure for a skinned Android device, and the added Moto options make the experience feel more complete as compared to vanilla Android. If Pie finally rolls out to this neck of Moto’s woods, the performance may get drastically smoother.

Can it take nice photos?

Interestingly, even though the camera setup on the back seems rather large, there’s only a single 12-megapixel camera inside the bulge; the round space beside the lens simply helps in autofocusing. I don’t understand why the bulge is so huge for such a simple design.

As expected, photos during daytime are okay. The rear camera tends to oversaturate shots when it feels there isn’t enough light. It comes down to personal preference if this is a good or bad thing for you. As for nighttime photography, output is generally noisy and slow.

Here are some samples from different times of the day in various environments:

Moto made sure to throw in some extra settings and modes to keep things interesting, although I was usually satisfied with sticking to Auto mode. Selfies taken with the E5 Plus aren’t that impressive, as well, but I honestly wasn’t expecting wonders from a phone marketed as a battery champ.

Does its battery last as advertised?

Speaking of champs, endurance is the one category the E5 Plus aces. With a 5000mAh battery, how can you go wrong? I myself find phones with a 4000mAh capacity more than sufficient for a full day’s use, so anything beyond that is fantastic.

In the case of this handset, battery endurance is outstanding. I could easily get over a day of usage out of a full charge — two whole days if I turn on Wi-Fi and mobile data sparingly. This feature alone makes the price of admission worth it.

To put that into perspective, I could finish an entire second season of Iron Fist — which contains ten episodes — on a single charge with some juice left to spare. This instantly makes the E5 Plus a go-to choice for long-haul flights without other forms of entertainment.

Sadly, there’s a downside: The large battery takes ages to charge. It can take more than three hours to get to a hundred percent using the bundled charger. If you try using a faster adapter, you could top up in less time, but not by much. The fastest I got was two hours and 50 minutes.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Without great cameras or a sharp screen to its credit, the Moto E5 Plus heavily relies on its hefty battery to attract users. It doesn’t help that the software feels outdated, and speed isn’t a strong point, either.

On top of all that, the E5 Plus sits in a tricky position. With a price of EUR 170 in Europe, INR 11,999 in India, and PhP 9,999 in the Philippines, there are several options available that can beat this Moto in more ways than one.

We have a whole list of smartphones that give the E5 Plus a run for its money. Of all the phones in this segment, however, the E5 Plus has the most unique and sturdy design, as well as the cleanest Android interface.

I’d recommend this to the budget-conscious who value all-around endurance and clean software more than anything else. Even in the higher-end categories, those are becoming increasingly rare.

Gaming

The realme 8 dares to be more

You’re in for a treat

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realme 8

realme has been bringing in the big guns with their smartphone releases. But, it doesn’t come unwarranted when they’ve been stacking good specs instead of just gaming features. They get it: you want to do more than just play games with their phone line-up. Which is why, they released the realme 8 series.

The realme 8 is pretty much the little bro of the realme 8 Pro. It’s got most of the bells and whistles without the big bro powers. So, how does the realme still stack up to be the best all-around smartphone out there for you?

realme 8

Stunning looks that might fool you

The realme 8 has a 6.5-inch AMOLED display with 180Hz Touch Sampling rate. If touch sampling rate isn’t a metric you’re familiar with, it’s your display’s responsiveness to touch. Refresh rate is a whole different metric; it measures how well your display renders frames per second. Both are tangent features of the display. So, they’re different but, equally as important for gaming on your phone.

If you like strutting in style with your phone, the realme 8 teeters into keeping it flashy yet low-key. The phone features a reflective panel with “DARE TO LEAP” across its logo corner. Plus, realme sticks to classy colors with either Cyber Silver or Cyber Black available for the realme 8.

realme 8

The feelsgoodman specs

Let’s cut to the chase. The realme 8 is a great phone. The phone is decked out with an MTK Helio G95 octa-core processor, which pretty much grants the phone its unapologetic great performance. Whether I was browsing social media, binge-watching videos, or playing games, this phone didn’t stutter once.

realme 8

The phone delivers on buttery-smooth graphics. And, games like League of Legends: Wild Rift, Mobile Legend: Bang Bang, PUBG Mobile, and Sky run smoothly on the realme 8. But, are we really meant to be surprised by that? With the phone’s 8G RAM and 128G internal storage, lags just don’t exist in the same sentence. On top of all that, it manages to stay lightweight. The realme 8 weighs only 177g which is pretty impressive with all the features it packs.

realme 8

Battery can take a beating

Yes, it’s almost criminal. The realme 8 comes with a 30W Dart Charge brick. Which ideally charges the phone up to 50 percent within a matter of 26 minutes. I know what you’re thinking. This sounds too good to be true. Well, unlike the stacked disappointments of the past year, the realme 8 pulls through. It went from zero to 20 percent within 10 minutes which is pretty quick.

realme 8

With a 5,000mAh battery inside, the realme 8 can survive well over a day. It came in handy when I’d accidentally left it out uncharged overnight and still used it the next day. But, I’m guessing it would have been a whole different story had I thrown it into ungodly playing and binge-watching hours.

After a full day of gameplay, binge-watching, podcasts, music, and social media shenanigans, the phone gets close to 15 percent at the end of the day. This is impressive with most phones tossed my way with charging alerts by the tail end of my day.

So, if you’re like me, this phone is pretty reliable. It can take a beating and then some. And, when it does need charging, it won’t take long before you get enough juice in to use it again. It’s good to note that it also supports 15W PD charge, lending versatility on its side.

realme 8

Not just a gaming phone

The realme 8 is decked out with all the features you want from a gaming phone but rounds it all out with amazing smartphone features. So, calling this a gaming phone doesn’t feel fair considering it does well even outside the gaming-perfect specs.

One feature that often gets left out with your typical gaming-centric phone, would be the camera. As for this phone, it’s got an AI Quad camera setup. It’s got a 64MP wide-angle lens, an 8MP ultra-wide lens, a 2MP macro lens, and a second 2MP depth sensor. On the front, the realme 8 has a 16MP shooter with panorama capabilities.

Panorama on the realme 8

Low lighting is just the bane of every mobile phone photography’s existence. If lighting isn’t on your side, most phones will struggle. The realme 8 is sadly not an exception. But, when the sun’s on your side, the photos are pretty good.

The macro looks decent. Just make sure you flood the room with good lighting!

 

The night mode is good too! Stable hands for this mode is key.

The bokeh mode and wide shots on the phone are detailed. Recording videos doesn’t skimp on the 4k experience which is good too. Overall, the phone delivers on all fronts including its camera features. But if you’re looking for big bro camera stats, you should check out the realme 8 Pro.

realme 8

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The realme 8 ticks all the boxes of a quality smartphone. Its got great performance across the board takes really great pictures, has a smooth and responsive display, and lasts for quite some time. And, even if you run out of battery life, its Dart Charge won’t have you away for long.

Overall, this smartphone offers a daring deal. It gives you everything you need and want–and then some more. And, with its PhP 13,990 price tag, it’s the smartphone to beat. Better yet, you can avail of the PhP 1,000 worth of discount on the realme 8 during the flash sale on Lazada starting May 12!

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Laptops

Huawei MateBook D 15 2021: An all around solid choice

It’s no ‘beast’ because iit’s not trying to be

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Being a dominant player in the smartphone scene, I’ve always been curious about how Huawei’s laptops perform.

Having forged their name onto the spectrum of smartphone enthusiasts with their premium Mate series, we know that Huawei has the ability to craft the same caliber for their laptops.

Carrying the Mate branding with its name, let’s take a look if the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen also has the right to be called premium and carry on this reputation.

Performance you didn’t see coming 

The MateBook D 15 2021 is running on the 11th generation of Intel’s Core i5 processor, the 1135G7. Paired with this is the Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and 512GB of SSD internal storage.

On paper, the specs of the 2021 D 15 isn’t really something many of us would consider sensational, but surely this would be more than enough for online classes or even light to heavy work.

I tend to do a lot of photo editing on Adobe Lightroom so I could say that my power requirements do demand a bit of muscle power. The 11th gen Core i5 on the D 15 is able to handle this quite smoothly even with some headroom for web browsing and other multitasking tasks thanks to the considerable amount of RAM.

As you power on the device, you’d immediately notice the swift performance of the D 15.

A surprising contributor to this is its Smart Fingerprint power button which has been carried over from the previous generations of MateBooks.

Automatically tagging your biometrics upon pressing the power button, this move eliminates the need to input your login details which drastically decreases the boot time. I understand this may vary from other users but having recorded the BIOS time at only 2.5 seconds, this has been the fastest boot up time I’ve ever encountered on a laptop.

Classic never goes out of style 

“It looks like a MacBook” was the first comment I’ve heard from the people I was with as soon as I took out the D 15 from the box. Yes, you’ll definitely see the resemblance with Apple’s MacBook line but that’s not to say that it’s a bad thing especially if there are things that Huawei has improved on. Thankfully, this is exactly the case with the MateBook D 15’s body.

The MateBook D 15 2021 has smoother and rounded edges compared to that of a MacBook Pro which makes it more comfortable for your wrists to rest on while still bringing with it that sleek and professional look that we’ve grown to love.

For a 15-inch body, you’d notice that this MateBook is incredibly thin and light weighing in only at 1.56kg and just 16.9mm thin. An easy carry to coffee shops or even just transferring from room to room at home.

Kind of a nitpick on my part though but one comment I do have with this build was it had a very slight body flex on the right hand portion of the palm rest. I don’t know if this was an issue on the particular unit I’m using but whenever my hand lands on that part, it does feel like it sinks down a tiny bit.

More screen for work and play 

Mentioning the size earlier, the MateBook D 15 2021 has a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display panel. A bit bizarre though, is that at only 250 nits this display felt a lot brighter. I mostly stay just around two or three notches above the lowest brightness setting to keep it at comfortable reading levels.

I wasn’t very concerned with eye strain however, as this display has been certified under TÜV Rheinland’s reduced blue light and Flicker-free qualifications.

With super-narrow 5.3mm bezels and a rating of 100% on its sRGB color gamut, this display is just a tempting movie companion. The large size, almost bezel-less screen and accurate color reproduction truly makes video consumption an immersive experience.

No cramps for your fingers here 

Looking at the D 15, you’d notice immediately that the keyboard is decently sized and its spacing is quite substantial. Key travel on this however, wasn’t very long. While I personally would prefer keyboards with longer key travel over one with a bigger size, the key travel on the D 15 was where it somewhat fell short for me. That being said, I do think this is a matter of personal preference so this isn’t really something that would ruin the MateBook experience. 

You’ll also notice that for a 15.6-inch device, this doesn’t have a number pad on the side of the keyboard which I think contributes to how Huawei managed to extend the spacing of its keys and incorporate a decently sized trackpad below.

Speaking of the trackpad, I really appreciate its size as it’s able to accommodate my multi-finger gestures with precision and with only very minimal input errors.

Still placed between the F6 and F7 keys on the top is the iconic recessed 720p camera that the MateBook line pioneered.

 Power overwhelming

I personally see the battery and charging features of the D 15 to be its main strength. It took me a good 9 hours and 30 minutes running off of its 42Wh battery before it shifted to power saving mode. Meaning, this laptop can easily run you for more than 10 hours under controlled conditions and once you’re able to plug it in an outlet, its fast charger would only take you about an hour to charge it back up.

The 65w charger is quite comparable to a size of a smartphone charger that would barely add weight to your everyday carry. The charger also uses a detachable USB-C to USB-C cable. This makes it easy to replace if ever it gets worn out.

Also, this same cable can be used to charge our smartphones either from the charger or from the laptop as the 2021 D 15 also has support for reverse charging.

Next level of connectivity

A neat addition also on the MateBook D 15 is the inclusion of the new Wi-Fi 6 technology. This gives the D 15 the ability to connect to more frequency ranges for a cleaner and less interrupted connection. While this does require that we connect to a Wi-Fi 6 capable wireless network to fully take advantage of it, it does give us some sort of complacency with some future proofing. Giving us more reasons to hold on to our device for a few more years from our purchase.

In this category we also have quite a selection of ports with the inclusion of a USB 3.2, HDMI and USB-C port on the left side and two USB 2.0 and a 3.5mm audio port on the right.

Tap and drop files? Yes please!  

A handy feature for people who already belong in Huawei’s ecosystem is the Huawei Share with Multi-screen collaboration.

This feature enables Huawei smartphones to connect and share files, apps and even your phone screen with the D 15 by just tapping it on the dedicated Huawei Share portion of the laptop.

Gimmicky as it may sound at first, I have to say, it really does work. And if transferring files from other devices is something you do often, this might be a feature that you could maximize.

Is the HUAWEI MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen your GadgetMatch?

The MateBook D 15 2021 isn’t what we may call a “beast” of a device as it really isn’t trying to be one. This is mainly designed with professionals in mind or simply people who’re looking for convenience, comfort and just an overall pleasant user experience and it does that very well.

A decent performer, sleek looker, ultraportable 15.6-inch device with a lot of nifty features with the Huawei ecosystem, Wi-Fi 6 and its smart fingerprint power button, the MateBook D 15 2021 is what we could really call a versatile machine.

But here is where it gets a little bit tricky. The MateBook D 15 2021 with the older Intel 10th Gen processor is also currently an available option from Huawei. A less powerful alternative but one that could set you back a few pesos which also gets you most of what the 11th Gen version offers.

If you’re willing to spend a little more for better performance though, the D 15 11th Gen is no doubt a solid choice.

The Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen with 16GB RAM is available in Mystic Silver for PhP 59,999.

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Accessories

Viewsonic Woodpad 10: The wooden drawing tablet you never knew you needed

Just don’t put it anywhere near your kitchen area

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Viewsonic Woodpad 10

Nowadays, products (not furniture) made out of wood dominate the interest list of most people — myself included. Whether that may be a monitor riser, headphone stand, wrist rest, and even as electric fans, wood simply is the way to go.

Well, Viewsonic also has something up in their sleeves. Their Woodpad line offers a unique-looking drawing tablet that suits every artist’s clean and minimal workspace. Here, we’re specifically checking out the Viewsonic Woodpad 10.

Viewsonic may not be the best brand when it comes to graphic tablets but they surely are a reputable Taiwan-based brand for computer peripherals. But would this drawing pad suffice? Let’s find out.

Wooden product in a non-wooden packaging

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

The packaging is actually nothing special but I have to point out that it looks cleaner and more premium than its other tablet counterparts.

And yes, the box is made out of a solid piece of cardboard in black, not wood. I’m not saying it should though since wood is harder to produce and will be a lot heavier when packed and shipped.

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

Inside, you get the Woodpad 10, as well as its stylus that matches the wooden aesthetic of the tablet. There’s also a super long cable (also in white) for connection, and three extra nibs with a nib remover in case your existing nib gets ruined.

Sleek and classic-looking

Say goodbye to your “wood” stickers and wallpapers! The Viewsonic Woodpad 10 is crafted from lightweight and renewable bamboo. Ironically, Wacom’s discontinued “Bamboo” product line (replaced by Intuos) is made from plastic, not even bamboo.

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

The “Woodpad” text with its leaf product emblem is carved on the drawing pad, mimicking a solid chunk of wood. Its bundled pen stylus is also one of a kind with its cream and white color combination. That’s something you don’t see among styluses because they usually come in black.

Of course, you wouldn’t expect a graphic tablet to have a jagged surface area. This drawing tablet has a super smooth finish even if it’s made up of bamboo. You just have to keep it beside you and not near your kitchen area. If not, expect someone will use it as a chopping board.

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

The Woodpad 10 is oh so thin at 7.5mm and super lightweight, just under 0.3kgs. This makes it convenient if you’re always on the go as you can just insert it in your laptop sleeve.

Overall, this is a solid piece of accessory that blends well in most rooms. This is mostly suited for people who dig that “Muji” (white and wood) vibe like I do.

Battery-free = worry-free

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

Both the Woodpad 10 and its stylus are battery-free. Meaning, you don’t have to worry about overheating and dying batteries over years of usage. While the pen works without any power, the graphic tablet connects from micro USB through your device’s USB-A port.

For most devices, I complain about not having a USB-C port. But the thing is, this is a product that doesn’t require fast charging nor data speeds. Equipping this with a USB-C would probably cost more since micro USB is still not obsolete. You just have to keep your dongles for this one.

While this is a Plug-and-Play device for both Windows and Mac, there’s a reminder to install the drivers first through their Downloads page to maximize it. With my experience in Mac, it wasn’t able to automatically install the drivers so I manually installed it.

Without these drivers, pressure sensitivity won’t work regardless if you have Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketchbook, PaintTools SAI, or other sketching apps in installed in your machine.

Smooth-sailing performance

On paper, the Woodpad 10 has a 10-inch surface area. Other than that, it supports 4,096 levels of pressure with 250pps (points per pressure). And just like a true paper, the Woodpad 10 performs and functions well just like any other graphic tablet because of its 0.25mm pen accuracy.

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

While the stylus isn’t battery-powered like Samsung’s S-Pen and the Apple Pencil, it still supports pressure sensitivity so your artworks would look better and versatile with thin and thick brush strokes.

It also supports pen tilting so you can also do shading just like you would on a traditional pencil. The attached pen tip is also said to last of up to 150,000 taps before it needs to be replaced with the extra nib.

Verdict from both a casual and a professional artist

Admittedly, I’m not the type of creative who’s good at drawing and sketching. I used to draw cringey chibis and some doodles way back in high school, but times have changed — and my skill simply vanished into thin air. Anyhow, I still tried testing it and here are some works I did using the Woodpad 10.

 

 

With the pandemic far from ending, it makes me miss traveling even more. I then decided to just sketch out some of the places I’ve been to just re-live the experience.

 

Some of those in my list are Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, Taiwan’s Taipei 101, and the National Museum of Natural History in the Philippines. With these rough sketches I produced, I was able to verify that its pressure sensitivity works well — evident through the weight of strokes. At the same time, it really felt like I’m using a paper, not a drawing device.

Not sure if it’s because of my bigger hands but the bigger surface area was advantageous on my end. I can’t imagine myself using a smaller 7-inch drawing pad anytime soon or I might suffer from arm sore.

To finalize my drawing experience, I just tried sketching my frustrations — having no motivation and feeling blah in the past few days. I also tried writing Korean lyrics from Lee Hi’s HOLO (watch the music video here) to remind myself that everything will be okay eventually and one day IT will stop. Maybe not now, but soon enough.

I also lent this unit to my great artist friend Angeline (@titaeny) for her to try out the Woodpad 10. This is to check if the graphic tablet can really keep up with the industry’s standards. Obviously, my sketching skills are not even as good as the drawing/sketching talent she possesses. Here are some of her best outputs.

AoT’s Eren and Levi, TWICE’s Chaeyoung, and yes, she’s one of the biggest Taeyeon (SNSD) stans out there

You can check more of her great works via her Twitter account, as well as her Instagram and Bēhance portfolio.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Viewsonic Woodpad 10 has a retail price of PhP 6,599. Users from the Philippines who are interested to check it out can visit this product site by OnwardPH. Also, there’s a less pricey Viewsonic Woodpad 7 priced at PhP 4,099 with a smaller 7-inch drawing area.

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

Artists would know that Huion has more affordable offerings but with Viewsonic’s brand reputation and Woodpad’s unique wood aesthetic, you simply can’t go wrong choosing it. It’s also a great deal considering Wacom counterparts offer smaller 7-inch tablets that’s closer to the Woodpad 10’s SRP.

It doesn’t matter if you’re fond of drawing and sketching. As a casual user, I enjoyed using the Viewsonic Woodpad 10 and how it performed with its pressure-sensitive wooden pad.

If you’re like me who wants to have a graphic tablet that doesn’t look as tacky as other brands, Viewsonic’s Woodpad 10 is a must have. If you’re also willing to pay extra for that wood “aesthetics”, this is your best option.


For more great products and accessories like Viewsonic’s Woodpad series, visit OnWardPH or follow them through their Facebook and Instagram accounts (@OnWardPH) for you to keep posted.

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