Reviews

Moto Z3 Review: It’s all about the Moto Mods, again

Is Motorola dropping Moto Mods soon?

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Motorola‘s flagship series finally has a 2018 successor, but is it the Moto phone we’ve been expecting? This is the Moto Z3 and it could be the last Z-series phone that’ll support existing Moto Mods, because it’s the end of Motorola’s promise.

I took the Moto Z3 for a spin and here’s my review.

It now has a bigger 6.01-inch Super AMOLED display…

Protected by Gorilla Glass 3

… with minimal bezels and no notch!

The earpiece also doubles as a loudspeaker

There’s a bit of chin, but I don’t mind

A subtle Motorola branding lies here

The fingerprint reader has been moved to the side

It’s embedded in the aluminum frame

The textured power button is pretty small

It’s kind of hard to reach

The card tray is accessible from the top side

Our Verizon model accepts a single nano-SIM and a microSD card

Of course, the USB-C port is at the bottom

The phone is a bit thicker, but there’s still no headphone jack

The back is also a slab of Gorilla Glass 3

I’m digging the Z3’s sophisticated look

The Moto Mod connector kinda ruins the simplicity of the rear

Hopefully, the next design will be a lot cleaner

The round camera ring continues to be iconic

It sees right through any Moto Mod

Similar design for three years straight

Motorola needs to create a different design soon, because the Moto Z series’ looks have become boring already. There’s a reason why Motorola had to stick with the original Moto Z though, and that’s because of Moto Mods.

The Moto Z3 is the third-generation flagship for the Moto Mods platform and Motorola is able to fulfill the three-generation compatibility promise. This means that all Moto Z phones, even the first one, will keep working with any of the existing Mods. Our old Moto Mods in the office work well with the latest Moto Z3.

To keep up with the borderless trend, Motorola maximized the screen area without drastically changing the size of the phone’s body. As a result, we get a taller 18:9 display that measures 6.01 inches. Unfortunately, the Moto Z3 has fewer pixels than previous Moto Z phones: 402ppi vs 535ppi.

The Moto Z3 is also slightly thicker to accommodate a bigger battery, but Motorola still omitted the 3.5mm audio port. Nevertheless, the sharp edges and flat back make the phone feel thinner on hand.

The usual flagship specs

The best thing about owning a Moto phone is about the software. Even before Android One, Motorola already offers clean Android software with very little customization. Bare Android can sometimes feel lacking, so the extra features are very welcome.

The Moto Z3 comes with Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box and is loaded with Moto Experiences like Moto Actions, Moto Voice, and Moto Display. Motorola even has their own One Button Nav that is quite similar to Android Pie’s method. There’s nothing to complain about the added features, as they are nicely integrated into the phone.

The same can be said about the performance of the Moto Z3. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor paired with 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage. It’s quite surprising to see the older 2017 flagship chipset in a 2018 phone. With this configuration, the Moto Z3 is practically in the same league as the Moto Z2 Force.

Performance-wise, the Moto Z3 never felt sluggish. The clean interface helps maintain the smooth performance like it’s brand new. It’s also great for playing intensive games and there’s no issue whatsoever with graphics performance. The Snapdragon 835’s prowess can still go a long way even in the years to come.

Impressive dual shooters

The camera hardware of the Moto Z3 remains unchanged from last year’s Z2 Force. There are dual 12-megapixel rear cameras: a color sensor with an aperture of f/2 and a monochrome unit. They are equipped with both phase-detection and laser-assisted autofocus.

Overall, the Moto Z3 can shoot pleasant images but it’s not as great as the Pixel 2 or the iPhone X’s. Captured details are generally good, especially when there’s plenty of light. Colors seem to be okay as well, but the dynamic range is just average. Like other dual-camera phones, the Moto Z3 can also shoot portrait shots with soft bokeh.

Check out the samples:

An 8-megapixel front-facing is present to take selfies; though, the front dual-LED flash from previous Moto Z phones is no longer available.

Check out the samples:

The selfie camera is pretty good in taking well-exposed images. Beautification and portrait selfie modes are available if you feel like using them.

Longevity is a key to become a great phone

I’ve always been a fan of Motorola’s battery performance, so I had high expectations of the Moto Z3. Good thing it doesn’t disappoint.

Despite the modest 3000mAh battery, the phone is able to last me a day and a half of moderate use. During heavy usage, I get around six hours of screen-on time out of 15 hours of continuous use.

Fast charging is also something you’ll enjoy with the Moto Z3. The phone already comes with a TurboPower-enabled charger in the box. Using the bundled power brick, the phone’s battery will get to 52 percent in just half an hour. A full charge will take about an hour and a half.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Moto Z3 is quite hard to get. In the US, it’s only available through Verizon. In Asia, you’ll have to fly to China to get the dual-SIM variant.

The only special feature of the Moto Z3 is the Moto Mods. If you want a future-proofed phone from Verizon, the upcoming 5G Moto Mod which will make the Moto Z3 a 5G-capable phone. Other than that, there’s not much to like about it, aside from the usual Motorola traits.

Verizon is charging just US$ 20 a month for this device or US$ 480 in full, and honestly, it’s not a terrible deal. The phone is best suited for re-contracting Verizon clients. With the telco’s 5G network coming next year, it’ll be an attractive phone — at least for Verizon customers.

SEE ALSO: Motorola confirms eight Moto phones are getting Android 9 Pie

Reviews

Vivo V17 Pro Unboxing and Review

Overpriced and gimmicky?

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Vivo’s newest smartphone has cool camera features, including the world’s first dual pop-up selfie camera.

But is that enough for you to want to upgrade, or is the Vivo V17 Pro overpriced with a lot of gimmicks?

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Her GadgetMatch

LG Pra.L’s Galvanic Ion Booster makes your skincare products more effective

Makes your visits to the facial clinic less frequent

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The marriage of beauty and tech is not an entirely new thing. Ionic products, tools that are supposed to help slow down the signs of ageing, even water bottles that will supposedly make water better for your skin — they have been around for a while. LG’s new, Pra.L line is one of the most recent launches which was met with both shock and awe. This is mainly due to the new claims of what their high-grade devices can do but also because of the price tag they come with.

I personally love this whole movement. In the advent of the informed consumer trend, more and more people are becoming concerned about what they put on their skin. It’s highly common now that women who are into skincare are vigorously discussing ingredients. A lot of us are also becoming more interested in the details of what aestheticians are doing for us.

The entire Pra.L line is practically a beauty clinic within the convenience of your own home. It is democratizing the technology of some of the most common, non-invasive treatments and making it accessible to consumers who want to do things on their own.

One of the notable devices in the line is the Galvanic Ion Booster. The idea of an ion booster to help skincare products penetrate deeper into the skin is not entirely new. LG’s version of the device, however, is definitely a cut above most of the products in the market.

As someone with sensitive skin which is on a recovery period from hormonal breakouts, I tend to be quite picky with anything I put on my skin. It has also been recommended that I go for simpler routines using as few products as possible. With little product, you’d want them to be as effective as possible. This is where this device comes in.

Ease of use

For the past month, I’ve been using the Galvanic Ion Booster religiously — morning and night. I would use the cleansing mode with my CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser (green bottle, for normal to dry skin). The device literally tells you which part of your face you should be using it on. The voice is not too loud but perky enough to get you out of your own head. Just in case you get too in the zone. Using galvanic ion technology, the device helps the cleanser draw out the impurities in your pores. Expect a slight vibration that is more relaxing than uncomfortable.

For the boost mode, I either use it with a vitamin C serum or The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA. Both serums are helpful in brightening the skin and fading out the marks left behind by intense breakouts. For the boost mode, the same technology is applied but in a reverse direction, helping the product and its ingredients penetrate your skin deeper. The boost mode is something I enjoy a lot as you can actually feel your products getting absorbed right away. I top everything with a gentle moisturizer from La Roche-Posay and on days when it’s extremely dry outside, a face oil from Australian indie beauty brand Ipsum.

I also use it with retinol treatments once a week but would make sure I double up on sunscreen the next day. The heat and vibration from the device do render retinol to be more effective. However, it will also make your skin more susceptible to sun damage.

When a stubborn pimple decides to pop up unannounced, I also use the boost mode to help my Mamonde AC Balance Spot Serum be absorbed faster. I wake up the next day with the little bugger dry and ready to be forgotten in the next couple of days.

Worth the price tag?

The device’s triangular head is made out of medical-grade titanium, making it safe for use on your skin. The shape is also effective in reaching the small nooks around your face like the sides of your nose. I just make sure to clean the device with running water and wipe it dry before putting on the cover.

LG’s Galvanic Ion Booster also has a good weight to it without being too heavy. The device also travels well — it comes with its own carrying pouch — and can charge with a micro USB cable or through the charging dock it comes with. The sleek design of the device makes it an easy hold and a joy to use. This, despite having to move it around your face for about three minutes per mode. Sounds like a short time but not when you’re a busy, working woman. I found it to be a lesson in slowing down and just making sure I enjoy doing my skincare routine instead of rushing through it like a chore — a form of self-love if you will.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

After a month of use, my skin feels more plump and healthy. It’s also brighter and blemishes became more manageable. I can highly recommend this for the skincare junkie; It’s a game-changer.

The device retails for SG$ 529 which might seem like a huge blow to the wallet. However, prevention is definitely less expensive than cure so think of it as an investment for the future.

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Reviews

OPPO Reno 2 review: On the right track

Rebranding done right

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It wasn’t too long ago when OPPO launched the Reno, the company’s new branding for its smartphones; gone are the F series and the R series. Several months and variants later, it’s now time for its successor.

OPPO is sticking to its new design language

With the Reno, OPPO also introduced a new design language — something that’s truly their own. While the OPPO Reno 2 is narrower and slightly lighter than the first OPPO Reno on paper, this phone is still massive.

OPPO made the back curvier so it’s now more comfortable to hold, even with the case on. Most people could care less, but I really appreciate how secure and premium the bundled leather-like case is. I wish more phones came with something like this.

There’s a headphone jack at the bottom, too. We’ve gotten used to wireless headphones by now but having a headphone jack is still a welcome feature. It’s nice to be able to watch Netflix outdoors like when you’re waiting for the bus without worrying whether your headphones are charged.

Speaking of watching Netflix, the Reno 2 can hold its own even outdoors — its AMOLED display is bright. The unobstructed display is beautiful and a pleasure to use.

Great cameras

Like a lot of other smartphones we’ve seen this year, the OPPO Reno 2 has a 48MP wide angle lens, 13MP telephoto lens, and an 8MP ultra wide angle lens. There’s also a fourth camera — a 2MP monochrome sensor, which should help take better low light photos and portraits.

The phone also features a 5X hybrid zoom and 20x digital zoom. Periscopic zoom is an impressive achievement for smartphones, and it’s nice to have really, but we haven’t really found any practical uses it for it. In fact the only time we probably ever use this feature is when we’re reviewing phones and taking sample photos.

What we find more useful is the ultra wide angle lens — for when you’re taking photos of food and want to be a little more discreet about it, or for when you just want to show off both your outfit and your background. It’s great for taking photos of sights too when you’re traveling.

Portrait mode 2.0 is supposedly better, but unless it can truly separate your hair against the background, we’d still use it sparingly. Just because you have portrait mode, it doesn’t mean you should use it all the time.

The same goes for bokeh effect on video. It’s supposed to mimic that background blur a professional camera is able to make when shooting video but the technology just isn’t there yet. What we really like though is the Reno 2’s improved video stabilization — it works really well.

There’s also ultra dark mode, which captures low light photos better — even tricky scenarios like NEON signs or backlit photos.

The pop-up selfie camera is here to stay

A few years ago OPPO was all about the selfie. In several markets in Asia they were known as the “selfie expert”. Even if OPPO already dropped that strategy, you still get an array of beauty customizations when taking selfies.

Although we prefer turning it off completely as even AI Beauty Mode does more than take out temporary blemishes.

The Reno 2 also retains the freefall protection feature. In case you drop your phone while taking a selfie, the pop-up camera will automatically retract.

Gaming performance

The Reno 2 sports an upper midrange Qualcomm chipset called the Snapdragon 730G. Even if it doesn’t have a high end processor, it holds up really well because of its Adreno 615 graphics card.

If you still play Pokemon Go like me, just know that this phone won’t experience any hiccups even while you’re in the middle of a raid.

Solid battery life and super fast charging

We’ve been using the OPPO Reno 2 for about a week now and it lasts a whole day of heavy use, or a day and a half of moderate use. That’s a lot of photo taking, navigating, playing Pokemon GO, browsing social media, and texting even until night time — thanks to its huge 4000 mAh battery, dynamic AMOLED display, efficient processor, and optimized Color OS 6.

When it’s out of juice, topping it up is easy because of OPPO’s proprietary VOOC charging. It can get to 50% in just 30 minutes.

Is the OPPO Reno 2 your GadgetMatch?

I remember when we would review OPPO’s R series a year or two ago, we’d always had apprehensions in recommending them. Their price to performance ratio didn’t always make sense.

At EUR 499 and GBP 449, the Reno 2 is priced cheaper than the R series at launch. It delivers in every aspect. Even if most of its features are gimmicky and not exactly practical for everyday use, it’s a great phone overall that can handle anything you throw at it.

It’s a pleasure to use and a pleasure to hold. It ticks two things that are most important to us: great cameras and battery life. It even has a USB-C port, super fast charging, and a headphone jack.

There’s also that je ne sais quoi — you know when you hold a phone you’re inexplicably drawn to it? This is one of those phones.

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