Hands-On

Nokia 6.1 Plus hands-on: A compelling midranger

The benefits of Android One

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HMD Global continues trying to lift the Nokia phone brand to where it was before. While they’re still far from being on top again, the current Nokia phones are quite compelling. The latest we have is the Nokia 6.1 Plus, which is practically the Nokia X6 we first heard of in China.

This is Nokia’s first notched phone. While that doesn’t necessarily make it any better, this is a stepping stone for Nokia as they embrace the popular design choice for modern bezel-less devices.

Is the Nokia 6.1 Plus any good? Here’s what I have to say.

It’s got a 5.8-inch Full HD+ display

With a tall 19:9 aspect ratio

The notch houses the front camera, earpiece, and sensors

Thankfully, the notch is pretty small

The chin gives the phones a bit of a balance

It also shows the Nokia logo

There’s a hybrid card tray on the left…

You have to choose between a second SIM or microSD card

… while on the right are the physical buttons

One for power and another for the volume

On top are the audio port and noise-canceling microphone

There are also some antenna lines all around

It’s rocking a USB-C port! 👌

Beside it is the loudspeaker and main microphone

The back is a slab of smooth glass

Like the Nokia 7 Plus but with a different material

The fingerprint reader sits below the camera module

Easily for the index finger

Android One assures you with the latest updates

Quite a lot of other printed words, as well

It owns a common design

Design-wise, there’s not much to talk about. The look and feel of the Nokia 6.1 Plus are not that different from its competitors. It’s got the same aesthetic of the ASUS ZenFone 5 with an aluminum frame sandwiched by curved glass. Nokia claims to use Gorilla Glass 3 to make theirs stronger and scratch-resistant.

The display of the phone measures 5.8 inches, so it’s more pocketable than most smartphones today. It also has a tall aspect ratio of 19:9 which makes it easier to hold in one hand. The Full HD+ resolution is sharp at this size and there’s nothing to complain about the overall quality of the phone’s display.

The notch might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but to be fair to Nokia, this is their first attempt. There are other Nokia phones without a notch that consumers can buy if they dislike it. The cutout is not as obtrusive as the iPhone’s, but there are no complicated sensors for facial recognition. Good thing the rear fingerprint reader is accurate and fast.

Overall, the Nokia 6.1 Plus stays true to the notion of Nokia’s build quality. The design is nowhere near iconic, but you’re not paying much for the phone either.

Performance is smooth as butter

The smooth operation of Android that we come to expect from Nokia phones is also present on the Nokia 6.1 Plus. The handset is powered by a Snapdragon 636 processor paired with 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage. It’s a pretty standard midrange setup that’s able to perform smoothly even with a number of apps running in the background.

I didn’t encounter any hiccups or notice any lag during my time with the phone, but I can say that it loads apps slightly slower than on flagship phones. Of course, there’s no bloatware that hogs resources since the phone is under the Android One program, and it’ll have consistent updates for up to three years.

I wouldn’t say that the Nokia 6.1 Plus is ideal for gaming, but it can handle popular titles. The Adreno 509 GPU that comes with the chipset is more than capable of rendering medium to high-quality graphics depending on the game’s demand. My staple Asphalt 9: Legends racing game runs fine, but it’s definitely not the smoothest I’ve seen.

The camera is more than okay

The Nokia 6.1 Plus is equipped with dual rear shooters and a single wide-angle selfie camera. The main sensor at the back is 16 megapixels accompanied by a 5-megapixel depth sensor. There’s also a dual-tone LED flash to help in taking photos in the dark. For selfies, it’s got a 16-megapixel sensor.

Check out the samples:

Even without Zeiss branding on its cameras, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is able to take decent photos using both the front and rear cameras. They’re not the most appealing stills, but they’ll do good for social media. You can apply bokeh effects with the rear cameras, but it’s a bit cumbersome to use.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you want to stick to Nokia, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is a convincing choice among its midrange lineup. It’s not as impressive as the Nokia 7 Plus we loved before, but it’s cheaper and smaller. For PhP 15,990 (US$ 300) in the Philippines and MYR 1,149 in Malaysia (US$ 280), it’s a pretty good deal. It’s an even better deal in India for just INR 15,999 or roughly US$ 215.

The phone offers pure Android software with timely updates, a sturdy build, and good performance. It’s an all-around device, but don’t expect it to be an ideal phone for everyone.

SEE ALSO: Nokia 3.1 review: Back to Android One’s beginnings

Entertainment

Sony WH-XB700 hands-on: Extra bass, extra flex

Great for travels and even OOTDs

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Today’s gadgets are no longer just mere products. A lot have found their way to our daily lifestyle so it’s also important that they look good while we use them. And for others who are more trend-sensitive, these devices should blend well with their outfit and even character — all while doing what it’s supposed to do.

When it comes to headphones, Sony wants to offer something that you can bring anywhere during your travels while looking discreet yet fashionable. This is where the WH-XB700 comes into the picture. On paper, it ticks the boxes of what a casual listener is commonly looking for in headphones plus it’s geared towards those who prefer a bit of extra oomph in their bass.

It has a simple and straightforward design

Eye-catching but not too loud

Available in solid blue or black color options

We dig the blue one better

Soft padding on the earcup makes it comfortable

Has large cups which we like

Body is made of plastic so it’s light on the head

No problem using it for extended periods

Connects wirelessly via Bluetooth or NFC

Although an option to use its 3.5mm jack is available

Built-in microphone for hands-free calls

Can also connect to your phone’s voice assistant

Comes with 360 Reality Audio

Immersing you more in your music

The WH-XB700, among other models in Sony’s audio line, can be paired to your smartphone. And, using the company’s Connect app, you can tweak and customize your sound the way you like it. But as Rodneil mentioned in his WF-1000XM3 review (we know, confusing names), you wouldn’t really end up adjusting your settings that much.

In terms of sound quality, this pair of on-ear headphones deliver clear highs and decent mids. Vocals could be more pronounced but it’s still not bad. The lows, however, are indeed extra punchy. So if you like playing bass-heavy music like house, hip-hop, and the likes, you’d probably enjoy the extra kick in these cans.

Since it’s wireless, it has to connect via Bluetooth which means it has a battery. We’re glad to report that it has a decent battery life that doesn’t require you to keep on looking for sockets just so you could continue to use its wireless capabilities.

I brought it on one of my overseas trips and was able to use it at the airport while waiting to board, during the 4-hour flight, and while walking around for the rest of the entire day with a good amount of juice left when I got back to my hotel.

Charging time is also not bad with up to 90 minutes of music time just from a 10-minute quick charge.

Having the WH-XB700 for a while is basically being able to conveniently listen to your tunes anywhere you go. It doesn’t have the best audio quality in Sony’s lineup but having its flexibility for usage on-the-go sort of outweighs this shortcoming.

They are also light on the head and easy on the ears so fatigue has been kept down to a minimum. You also wouldn’t have to keep on charging it since it could last a few days of moderate usage.

The Sony WH-XB700 currently retails in the Philippines for PhP 7,999 (around US$ 150). It’s not the best wireless headphones we’ve tried on but it’s actually competitively priced for what it offers. Plus, it looks nice and goes well with almost anything you put on.

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Features

Sony Bravia X95G and HT-X8500 Soundbar: Perfect home cinema combo

Netflix and chill like a boss

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Before the start of the 2019 I thought new TVs are mostly overrated. Brands will sell you on improved picture quality, better audio, and all of that, but a lot of it felt moot to me.

Every now and then we’ll see something that’s really eye-catching, but other than that, I didn’t think much of Smart TVs. But then I got to try one and I was impressed with what it had to offer. So when Sony offered one for us to experience one of their new ones, I jumped at the opportunity.

Notice how I said experience? That’s because that’s what this whole month with the Sony Bravia X95G and HT-X8500 soundbar — it’s the ultimate home theater experience.

Ultimate Netflix Experience

I hate to sound too hyperbolic but this TV and soundbar combo is truly a match made in home entertainment heaven. This is especially true if a lot of your entertainment revolves around Netflix.

The Sony Bravia X95G is one of few TVs that is recommended by Netflix. It has a Netflix Calibrated Mode so if you’re hooked on any of Netflix’s Originals, you will experience them the way its creators intended them to be experienced when you watch on this TV.

Even the remote control has a dedicated Netflix button that will take you right to the app. It’s also equipped with a mic so you can tell the remote what you want to watch and more often than not, it’ll get the title right.

Watching a few episodes of Vagabond on this TV was something else. The show has a cinematic level of production and it really comes through while watching on the TV. Female Lead Suzy Bae looks extra gorgeous and some scenes really feel like they’re right there with you in the living room.

Taking it up a notch with the HT-X8500 soundbar

What really rounds this up as one of the best experiences though is when you hook the TV up with the HT-X8500 soundbar. It’s not the “smart” soundbar that most other brands offer these days but that actually works in its favor. It’s literally plug and play.

It also doesn’t have any subwoofers you need to attach to it. Instead it has twin forward facing woofers. This not only gets the job done, but it also saves you some space.

With Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the soundbar is able to create this truly wraparound sound. If you dim the lights just right, it truly does feel like your own cinema right at the comfort of your own home.

Connect your consoles neatly

Cables are always messy and the way the Sony Bravia X95G deals with it is by having the cables have a path straight down to its two stands. This helps you come up with a clean setup when you connect whatever console you have at home.

Speaking of which, we connected a PlayStation 4 and the TV’s HDR tech kicked in right away. Right after firing up the PS4, the TV will prompt you to adjust the HDR for the best experience. You only have to do this once but can be adjusted anytime.

If you have more than one console, you need not worry. The TV has four HDMI ports. Three at the bottom and one at the side. It also has three USB ports for whatever you may need them for.

Everything good about Android TV

The Sony Bravia X95G is also an Android TV through and through. This means you get Android on TVs the way Google intended them to be experienced. It’s kind of like a Pixel but it’s TV. And just like the Pixel, this means you get security updates before any other Smart TV.

That said, Android TV still has plenty of room to grow. I would argue that LG’s WebOS and Samsung’s Tizen have come a long way in making sure the TV OS experience is more user-friendly and intuitive.

Not just for movies

Of course, you probably won’t only be watching Netflix on your TV. We don’t have a cable subscription so we can’t tell you how good it translates in this TV. What we do have is YouTube, and even the varying qualities of video uploaded on the platform translates nicely on the TV.

The Sony Bravia X95G is not OLED or QLED which appear to be the leading technologies in the space. It’s a more traditional HDR LED Screen but what really takes the picture quality to another level is Sony’s X1 Ultimate processor.

The chip is able to mimic the high dynamic range and deep blacks of an OLED. At this point, nothing will beat actual OLED but this is about as close as you can get. And it’s pretty darn close.

Just take a look at the photo below. It almost looks like I’m face to face with TWICE’s Momo. The Lord knows how I wish that to be true, but it’s just a TV — one with really amazing tech behind it.

The best home cinema combo

The Sony Bravia X95G starts at PhP 88,899 — that’s for the 55-inch variant. The unit we had was a 75-incher. Meanwhile, the Sony HT-X8500 soundbar costs PhP 22,299.

Together that’s about the cost of the same size OLED or QLED TV but if you get the combo, you already have for yourself what’s easily one of the best home entertainment systems one could ask for.

It’s an incredibly satisfying entertainment experience that would have you Netflix and chilling like a boss.

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Hands-On

AirPods Pro Unboxing and Hands-on

Noise cancellation in a small form-factor

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Just like a Beyonce album, Apple just dropped the new AirPods Pro today! Thankfully I got them early, this is our Unboxing and Hands-On.

These new Pro AirPods sound better, fit more snuggly, and are noise cancelling. All while being more petit than before. Hands-On video is live on YouTube!

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