Motorola Moto X4 Review: Beautiful and fragile

This phone is just gorgeous!



The upper midrange phone market has a new contender. Back when Motorola was still under Google, the Moto X was a flagship phone which focused more on actual features than beastly specs. Fast forward to 2017, we now have the fourth-generation Moto X4. It feels familiar but at the same time different.

Before we get to the deets, let’s run through the body of the phone.

It’s got a 5.2-inch Full HD display

It’s also super saturated by default

No dual front cameras, but it has a bright LED flash

Selfies in the dark!

Power button and volume rocker are on the right

Both are easily distinguishable

The bottom houses the USB-C and 3.5mm audio ports

The certification labels are also found here

The glass back’s reflection is gorgeous

Complete with a shiny and wavy light streak

The beautiful back is bothered by a tiny hole

Unusual spot to place a microphone

Currently the prettiest Motorola phone

It’s easy to say that the Moto X4 is Motorola’s prettiest phone so far, or maybe one of the prettiest since the Moto RAZR. The Moto X4 has a smooth and shiny glass finish (front and back), unlike other Motorola midrange phones like the Moto G5S Plus and Moto Z2 Play, which both have cold aluminum bodies. Its 5.2-inch Full HD display also makes the phone fairly compact despite having the usual amount of bezels all around.

We reviewed the Moto Z2 Play, and the Moto X4 surely wins in terms of one-handed usage thanks to its palm-friendly curves. While the glass back looks more pleasing, especially when light strikes it, the phone lacks Moto Mod support since there are no connector pins on the back. It could have been nice if Moto threw in wireless charging, but the glass is just for vanity.

What the Moto X4 has which other midrange phones don’t is waterproofing. Other Motorola handsets usually have minor protection against liquids with nano-coating, but this one is completely IP68-certified so you can take it to take pool and swim with it. Just the pool though, and not the beach.

Moto X series steps down to midrange power

One other thing to point out about the Moto X4 is its processing power. Moto fans (including me) were surprised that the X series came back to the market as a midranger. It looks like we’re not getting a true Motorola flagship this year that’s available across the globe. The shatter-resistant Moto Z2 Force is only in select regions, so we gotta wait for next year. Maybe an 18:9 phone soon?

Our unit has a Snapdragon 630 processor with 4GB of memory for multitasking and 64GB of internal storage. It’s a dual-SIM variant which has a hybrid slot for a microSD card just in case you need it. Despite not having the best processor around, the Moto X4 never lagged during usage. Prior to using the Moto X4 as my daily driver, I’ve been using the Moto Z2 Play (because of the useful Incipio battery Moto Mod) and both are on par in terms of performance. I kinda miss the AMOLED panel though, which is super useful for the Moto Active Display feature.

Since it’s a Motorola phone, you get a somewhat bare version of Android Nougat (no Oreo, yet). There are a few Microsoft apps pre-installed to get you started in doing mobile office. A midranger like the Moto X4 performs pretty well in gaming. Some titles can be played in high settings like Asphalt Extreme, but NBA 2K17 needs to be set somewhere in the middle if you want really smooth frames.

Wide-angle camera is always fun to use

Two is better than one, right? The Moto X4 has dual rear cameras and they’re similar to the likes of LG phones which have a super wide-angle secondary lens. We’re talking about a 12-megapixel f/2.0 primary camera with Dual Pixel autofocus and an 8-megapixel ultra wide-angle shooter without autofocus. While playing around with the super wide-angle lens, it felt like I had a smarter GoPro in my pocket. Selfies is also a thing for the Moto X4 with its 16-megapixel front-facing camera which has its own LED flash.

Quality-wise, the photos taken look great. Dual Pixel works like a charm when shooting in dim places and locks the focus onto the subject really quick. The wide-angle lens doesn’t have any focusing mechanism because it doesn’t really need one. Also, the phone has some sort of portrait shooting mode called Depth Enabled. It works okay if you like to have a creamy bokeh effect, but the camera launcher stutters a bit. The selfie mode doesn’t do justice to the high-resolution sensor, but there’s a beauty mode at least.

Battery lasts longer than expected

Equipped with a non-removable 3000mAh battery, the Moto X4 can last the whole day with moderate use. With a full charge, I start my day around eight in the morning and commute to work for an hour or two while I listen to Spotify or watch something on Netflix to keep myself sane while stuck in traffic. I switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data during work hours, and just before heading home, I have more than enough juice to once again brave the rush hour on the road. I average around four to five hours of screen-on time.

There’s Quick Charge 3.0 on board, and a compatible fast charger is included in the box. A zero to 25 percent charge takes only 15 minutes, while a full 100 percent charge takes about an hour and 15 minutes.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

After using the Moto X4 for more than a week, it crossed my mind that this phone battles its own cousin — the Moto Z2 Play. Both are similarly priced, but they offer something different from each other. For instance, the Moto X4 is waterproofed and sexy while the Moto Z2 Play is industrial-looking and has modular accessories available. Both are on par in performance and display quality (minus the true blacks of Z2 Play’s AMOLED), but their size difference is something one should consider, too.

Grab the Moto X4 if you want a packaged Motorola smartphone concealed within a beautiful glass body. The phone retails for PhP 23,999 in the Philippines and INR 22,999 in India for the same 4GB/64GB configuration. If you can, there’s an Android One version of the Moto X4 in the US which is available for US$ 325 under Google’s Project Fi network.

SEE ALSO: Moto G5s Plus Unboxing and Hands-on

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ASUS VivoBook X412F Review: A great midrange option for work and school

For those who need a fresh start



Not everyone can afford a premium device. Even if the specifications entice you to buy that nice laptop, the ultimate decision point is in its price and value to you. Parents and young professionals starting a new job would know.

ASUS regularly comes up with great midrange selections for students and young professionals. That seems to be what the ASUS VivoBook X412F is: an all-around midrange device for productivity and day-to-day tasks. But if you’re currently a student or working full-time, should you consider this device?

Here’s a rundown of the device’s specifications:

It has a 14” HD anti-glare display

It’s powered by an Intel Core i3 processor and an NVIDIA MX230 graphics card

It comes with both a USB Type-A and Type-C port

Has a fingerprint reader on the touchpad

It gets the job done for its intended purpose

The model I used came with an Intel Core i3 processor, which won’t deliver great performance on paper. But after using it for a while, I can say that it really isn’t the case. It kept up with the numerous tasks I threw at it, whether it was writing documents or watching videos. Do take note that this device only comes with 4GB of RAM, so obviously you won’t be able to do a lot more.

It also helped that it comes with a 256GB solid state drive installed. Using SSDs provide a significant boost in loading times, which allowed me to get more tasks done. I would still prefer to have the more powerful Intel Core i5 option installed to maximize performance.

You can play games on it, just don’t push it

The VivoBook X412F comes with an entry level NVIDIA MX230 graphics card. Upon reading this, my initial thought was that gaming was possible — and it was. The catch is, well any game that doesn’t require so much graphical power will run smoothly. Games like CS:GO, Minecraft, and Rocket League do reach a hard 50 to 55 frame per second cap.

But like any other non-gaming laptop, using this strictly for gaming is highly discouraged. This device was not exactly designed to be a gaming machine, even if you get the units with more powerful processors on it. Plus, you will definitely feel the heat on your keyboard when you play for too long. So, I’m not saying that you can’t use it to play games; don’t use it just to play games.

It lasts relatively long, as long as you’re using it properly

Upon initial testing, I did get around five to six hours on one full charge. It’s long enough for you to just browse the internet, watch a few videos or movies, and type down reports. Doing some form of photo or video editing decreases that number by just a bit. It took two to three hours to fully charge the device from zero.

Battery life when playing games on it is just what you expect it to be. I got close to two hours and 30 minutes before having to plug the charger. Again, you can play games on this device but it’s not meant for strictly just gameplay. 

The webcam is surprisingly decent

One of the key critiques I’ve had over most laptops centers around their webcams. Most built-in HD webcams, when used for the first time, are not as “high-definition” as promoted. Images and videos either look blurry or grainy, which won’t help during conference calls.

With the VivoBook X412F, the webcam is decent at best — which is all you could really hope for. Under good lighting conditions, image quality on this 720p webcam feels more “high-definition” than most. I observed relatively less grain than most other laptops I’ve tried, which is great for video calls at least.

Other features worth considering before you buy

The VivoBook X412F comes with a fingerprint reader on the touchpad. Setting up Windows Hello was pretty fast, but I found the sensor to be pretty sensitive after. Even if I had already cleaned my fingers and wiped out the sweat, the sensor sometimes won’t read it.

It also comes with a chiclet keyboard without the number pad on the right side. Key travel, for me was decent and took just a short while to get used to. Sadly, it wasn’t backlit which I would have liked — especially for working late at night. 

Finally, you get what you can with its display. It’s only a 14-inch HD display, which doesn’t leave you much room for proper viewing angles and color accuracy. The one good quality it has, in my opinion, is that it’s an anti-glare screen. I used the device outdoors several times, and even at 70 percent brightness I could still see the contents of my screen.

Is the ASUS VivoBook X412F your GadgetMatch?

The ASUS VivoBook X412F is one device that truly caters to those who want an affordable yet premium experience. It comes in a package that promises great productivity and portability, and lasts a long time. It’s a total fit for students and young professionals looking for their first school or work laptop. Of course, that’s only the case as long as it is used for its intended purpose.

With a device like this, you can only do so much. While tasks such as photo, video editing, and gaming are possible, it proves to do more harm than good. If you really want to get the most value out of this laptop, I suggest you use it mostly for its intended purpose.At PhP 32,995 (US$ 629) for the 256GB + 4GB RAM unit, the ASUS VivoBook X412F is a great productivity device for work and school. That is, if you will use it for work or school-related activities.

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Nokia 8.1 review: What took you so long?

Solid but feels dated



There’s a Filipino song called “Bakit ngayon ka lang?”. Loosely translated, it means “what took you so long?”. The song talks about a missed romantic opportunity — of someone else coming along while you’re already committed to another. That’s almost exactly how I feel about the Nokia 8.1.

The phone — known in other markets as the Nokia 7X — was first announced in December 2018. A full seven months later, it arrived in the Philippines. And a lot has happened in those seven months.

Performance on par with midrangers today

Before I proceed, let’s get some of the specs talk out of the way. The device is powered by the Snapdragon 710 SoC along with 6GB of RAM with 128GB of internal storage which is expandable via a microSD card. That’s not bad. At all. It’s even near-flagship territory… in 2018.

One thing about the Nokia 8.1 though that will never feel dated is its OS. The phone is part of Google’s Android One program which means this is running Stock Android. If you like it vanilla — like a lot of purists do — then this is one of the phones that offer that clean experience. Right now it’s still on Android P, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can side load Android Q beta as it is a partner device for Android’s developer preview.

Google cards are quite useful

The chip together with vanilla Android makes for a smooth and snappy experience. Most of the time I’m either just browsing or working on my phone and doing so on the Nokia 8.1 one was a very pleasant experience.

I have said this countless times but in case you’re new here, I don’t really play mobile games. The only time I ever really do so is when I have to test phones. On the Nokia 8.1 I only played Honkai Impact 3, which is a pretty graphics heavy game. The phone had zero trouble running the game and it looked especially stunning on the phone’s 6.18-inch PureDisplay screen (which we’ll get to shortly).

This means the phone will likely have zero problems running some of the most played games today like PUBG and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. If you play these games with this phone and don’t get that Chicken Dinner or that MVP, then you only have yourself to blame.

A display sent from the heavens

The PureDisplay screen technology is really pulling its own weight. When Nokia said this phone offers a higher contrast ratio and sharper output, it felt like it was even underselling it. The screen is vibrant and the colors and images look sharp all without looking too saturated.

It doesn’t have any of that crazy 90hz or 120hz display that we’ll find on 2019 flagships, but dare I say, the Nokia 8.1 probably has the best display in its price point.

I hid that notch eventually

I’ve often found myself happily watching on this phone while slowly being sucked into the YouTube rabbit hole. Speaking of watching videos on this display, I opted to turn the notch off altogether. The notch still looks like the one present on the iPhone X which came out in 2017. It’s 2019 and personally, I’d rather have a full bezel than be bothered looking at that kind of a notch.

Watching vertical FanCams is great on this thing

That said audio on this thing is far from perfect but it’s passable. The sound it produces isn’t as full as I hope to hear from phones when in speaker mode, but you can remedy all that by plugging in headphones because our good friend jack is still present on this device. Listening on wireless earbuds also offer a nice experience.

The build screams premium

One of the first things I noticed about the Nokia 8.1 is its build. The body is built with 6000-series aluminum with an all-glass back. And it feels pretty darn expensive. So much so that I was wondering why it didn’t come with any case in the packaging.

At first I was really hesitant to bring this around due to the lack of a case, but over time, my hands have grown accustomed to the glass finish. And I feel blessed every single time I touch it. There’s something about the build in finish that just screams premium.

The fingerprint sensor is at the back. And it feels like a blessing every time I touch this thing

It’s not fragile at all though. Being the clumsy oaf that I am, I may have accidentally dropped this phone twice already. The phone sustained zero scratches and zero damages. This is one tough cookie.

Pretty darn good cameras

I have to come clean and say I never really had too many chances to take photos during the testing phase. I’ve mostly just been at my desk or in a conference room which aren’t really ideal for taking photos.

The second lens acts as a depth sensor

So for samples I just took some quick shots around my place using the ZEISS-powered 12- and 13-megapixel dual-cameras. Hopefully I find some time to get a life outside of work for the next review. If you know a girl looking for a date, feel free to hit me up. I don’t bite… unless? Anyway, check out the samples below.

Quick note, features like Pro mode and Bokeh are also present on the 20MP front-facing camera.

Is the Nokia 8.1 your GadgetMatch?

And so, here we are. I’ve had nothing but mostly nice things to say about the Nokia 8.1. For a phone that was launched in late 2018, it can still square up with several midrangers in 2019. But the price, therein lies the rub.

At PhP 19,999, it’s not crazy expensive. It’s just that for a few thousand pesos less, there are actually better options. It’s hard to justify this purchase when  phones like the Realme 3 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 9T exist — both of which came within the seven months that the Nokia 8.1 was nowhere to be found on the archipelago.

Calling the folks at Nokia to bring their phones to the Philippines faster next time

Sure, those don’t have the build that the Nokia 8.1 has but the Realme 3 Pro offers much of the same performance for a more affordable price. And the Xiaomi Mi 9T actually feels like a 2019 phone with its triple-camera setup and a pop-up camera that makes way for an actual full screen display.

If you’re a Nokia stan — and I know there’s a lot of you out there — I can’t fault you for wanting this device. I get it. It’s pretty nice. But it’s really just a little too late. Timing is everything. Both in love and in smartphone releases.

*plays “Bakit ngayon ka lang?

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Traveling with the Moment Lens

Is the Moment lens a worthy travel buddy?



Phone photos become our very own souvenirs whenever we travel. More than something we upload on social media, they’re pleasant memories we can flip through when we’re back to the reality and routine of our lives. As such, it pays to have beautiful shots of the landscapes and sights we visit.

Earlier in July, I went to Hokkaido, Japan. To help me achieve said beautiful shots, I had with me a Google Pixel 3 and an 18mm wide-angle lens from Moment. It was my first time using a Moment lens. If you’re not familiar with Moment, they make special phone cases that can be pimped up with lenses that help elevate the photos you take.

Is the Moment lens a worthy travel buddy? Yes and no.

It’s great for taking landscape shots

Any tourist attraction can be turned into desktop wallpaper with the wide lens.

You also get to see the bigger picture. There’s a certain splendor added to a façade when you capture it from a wider angle.

It’s handy for when there’s limited space

In one of the farms we went to, there was a veranda where we wanted to take photos. It was great for portraits but not for capturing my outfit. There was not much space for the person taking the photo to move back to, so we got help from the wide-angle lens to capture a wider perspective and a full body shot.

It’s a hassle 

While it’s easy to plug the lens onto the case, the extra step of looking for the lens inside the bag is a hassle, and ironically, takes you away from the moment you’re trying to capture. Imagine getting a stranger to take a group photo of you and your friends at a restaurant — everyone would be waiting for you to find the lens in your purse and attach it to the phone — it ruins the moment a little bit.

I can also do without the extra weight and the extra space it takes up in my tiny bag. A less rugged-looking case would also be nice.

The Moment lens does offer wonderful improvements to my vacation shots. If you’re particular about how artfully angled your shots are, you’ll find that a wide-angle lens is a great addition to your arsenal. However, if you’re like me who is content with what your camera phone has to offer, you may find the lens unnecessary. With the Google Pixel 3 and a little post-processing, I was actually able to get nice shots even without the Moment lens.

“Ironically, the Moment lens takes you away from the moment you’re trying to capture.”

Traveling means you have limited time to spend in a place. Make the most out of it with a device that has all the camera features you need. In 2019 there are already plenty of phones with built-in wide angle and telephoto features, from different price points that you might want to consider instead.

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