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Nokia 7 Plus Review: The Android One midranger

Pure Android software with midrange power

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After making it my daily driver for a week, I can now finally share my review of the Nokia 7 Plus — HMD Global’s latest bet in the upper-midrange segment. If you think Android One is just a label to make budget phones appealing to the software update-conscious consumers, think again. Times have changed; the Nokia 7 Plus is an Android One phone with more than enough power to compete with flagship devices.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the Nokia 7 Plus starting with the physical aspect of the phone.

Up front is the beautiful 6-inch Full HD+ display

It’s surrounded by minimal bezels but it’s definitely not borderless

The top portion has the earpiece, sensors, front camera, and Nokia logo

There’s no LED notification light, but it has an ambient display

The sides are made of copper including the volume and power buttons

The sides are pretty sharp while in hand

The hybrid card tray is on the left

No triple card slot here

On top is the 3.5mm headphone port

The legacy port is present!

At the bottom are the microphone, USB-C port, and loudspeaker

The loudspeaker is just mono. ☹

There are two cameras and a rounded fingerprint reader on the back

Zero antenna lines

The back is sleek with copper accents for the cameras and scanner

The accent makes the phone look sophisticated

Utilitarian but has a nice touch

When Nokia came back to life under the helm of HMD Global, the phones they have been releasing so far are utilitarian in design except for the Nokia 8 Sirocco. There’s nothing wrong with that since the build quality of new Nokia phones is top-notch. The Nokia 7 Plus is not that different with the use of 6000-series aluminum, but they did try to make the phone stand out by lining the sides with copper. Both the black and white models have a similar finish with a ceramic-like coating which is a nice touch and certainly makes the handset feel grippy in hand. Also, there are no unsightly antenna lines on the back.

The device sports a 6-inch IPS LCD with an 18:9 aspect ratio. It has a Full HD+ resolution, so it’s sharp but not the sharpest around especially at this size. As an added bonus, it’s protected by Gorilla Glass 3 against minor scratches. The display is vibrant and can get pretty bright, making it usable even when under bright sunlight. Gaming and video streaming are also immersive thanks to the tall aspect ratio. It’s not exactly as bezel-less as other phones, but at least it doesn’t have a notch.

Android One with even more speed

When Android One was introduced four years ago, it was designed to give a Nexus-like (or Pixel-like) Android experience. True to Google’s promise, they were able to deliver smooth Android performance even for phones under US$ 150 like the Cherry Mobile One G1. Fast forward to 2018, the entry-level segment is now covered by Android Go and Android One is now also available for midrange and premium handsets just like the Nokia 7 Plus. If you’re confused about the difference between the two, we have an explainer which you can read here.

The Nokia 7 Plus is powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor, making it an upper-midrange phone in terms of processing power. It’s more powerful than most midrange handsets and currently has the same chipset architecture as flagship devices. Paired with 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage, it’s a truly capable phone that can take a beating. Did I mention it’s powered by pure Android software?

Gaming performance is handled by the Adreno 512, a flagship-grade graphics unit for Snapdragon processors. As expected, the Nokia 7 Plus can render high frame rates even with graphics-intensive titles. My staple benchmark game — Asphalt Xtreme — easily ran on the highest settings. I also tested Modern Combat 5 and Riptide GP: Renegade which both ran smoothly even with graphics settings cranked up.

Zeiss optics on both sides

While Huawei has a partnership with Leica, Nokia has Zeiss — at least to create their lenses. The popular duo from the good old days of the N Series is back and the Nokia 7 Plus has Zeiss optics on both its front and back cameras. The dual camera setup on the phone’s back is a 12- and 13-megapixel combo with the former having a bright f/1.8 lens and the latter owning 2x optical zoom.

We have high expectations from the Nokia 7 Plus’ shooters due to the Zeiss label and thankfully, they don’t disappoint — most of the time. Shooting photos with the main camera is a no-brainer and every photo I take comes out nice, may it be under the bright sun or in the dark. Unfortunately, the Live Bokeh feature uses the secondary sensor which has a smaller aperture thus darker images, especially in low-light.

Even though it’s not branded as a selfie-centric phone, the Nokia 7 Plus should be part of the growing list. The 16-megapixel front camera is an amazing selfie shooter sans the beauty mode. I prefer taking selfies without the beauty filter and bokeh on. Simply check out the samples above.

One for the road

Another fantastic trait of the Nokia 7 Plus is its battery life. New phones with taller aspect ratios get bigger displays but their battery capacities usually remain the same — not the Nokia 7 Plus. Inside the phone is a 3800mAh cell which is impressively big considering the phone’s slim profile.

As a daily driver, the Nokia 7 Plus is reliable especially if you need to be constantly connected online. I have my Wi-Fi and mobile data always on, as always, and still, the phone was able to get me through my whole day. A full charge was able to last for almost 16 straight hours. My usage includes hours of gaming, social media, and web browsing with messaging apps that keep buzzing on the side. I’d say my time with the Nokia 7 Plus has been busier than the usual and good thing it can keep up.

The phone drains slowly, but it charges pretty fast! Using the bundled fast charger, I was able to top up 20 percent in just 15 minutes and about 45 percent in half an hour. A full charge takes two hours because the charging rate slows down to avoid overheating.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I can’t think of any direct competitor to the Nokia 7 Plus, making it an easy choice when looking for a great midrange Android phone that has nearly everything. It’s truly a practical phone for just PhP 21,990 in the Philippines or INR 25,999 in India. It’s a bit more expensive in other regions like in the UK (GBP 350), but it can still be considered affordable compared to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018).

The position of the Nokia 7 Plus is a bit tricky since it’s more expensive than the usual midrange Android category which is currently dominated by the Vivo V9, OPPO F7, ASUS ZenFone 5, and Huawei P20 Lite. If you can spend a bit more cash, you should definitely check out the Nokia 7 Plus. It’s got a more powerful processor, capable cameras, long battery life, and most importantly, Android One software. If there’s anything that other phones can’t offer, it’s the sustained software updates. Actually, I just got my monthly security patch while writing this review.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 Review: Ahead of Its Time!

Experience the future for $1999

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The first Galaxy Fold may have encountered several issues, but this year’s Fold is all about polishing and revamping things.

With a more durable hinge mechanism, maximized screen, improved materials, better cameras, and the fastest internals around, the Galaxy Z Fold2 is an impressive engineering feat.

$1999 isn’t cheap, but this device is meant for those who want to experience the future in their hands today.

Head over to our in-depth Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 review here.

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Huawei Watch Fit review: Great for getting you moving

A fantastic wearable that comfortably sits between smart bands and full on smartwatches

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Our friends over at Huawei must’ve noticed that I have slowly been gaining weight over the duration of the community quarantine. That’s why they sent over the Huawei Watch Fit for me to try.

To be honest, I was very reluctant at first knowing how my habits tend to generally lean more towards getting fat vs getting fit. But our Huawei friend *coughs* Dezza *coughs* convinced me, so here I am giving it a go.

The timing was rather unfortunate as it was going to be a rather busy week. For me, that means being glued to my chair as I type away articles for various launches and coordinate for a handful of projects. There wasn’t really time for me to get in a headspace to want to workout. Especially since the only workout I actually enjoy — basketball — is still prohibited due to the pandemic.

These may or may not have contributed to my stress levels as measured by the smartwatch.

I realize these all sound like excuses, and perhaps they are. But this is my reality as I slapped on the Huawei Watch Fit and went on with my days.

Before I go on any further, let’s first take a look at the watch.

It has a 1.64-inch colored display

At first I thought this would be too small. However, the screen size sits nicely between smart bands and those round 42mm smartwatches. After using it for a while, the display starts to look larger than it actually is.

A silicone strap that feels nice on your wrist

We got the mint green version (which comes with a silver body). The other variants are Black body with Graphite Black silicone strap, and Rose Gold with Cantaloupe Orange Silicone strap.

If you’re not happy with those options, the Huawei Watch Fit is supposed to work with standard straps so you can mix it up depending on the occasion. I’ll ask Huawei if they will launch more strap options in the future and will update this accordingly.

Magnetic charging

Flip it over and you’ll find the magnetic charging things. You’ll want to keep the charger that comes with the box as there isn’t really any other way to fast-charge this wearable. Getting all you juiced up from zero should take about an hour.

While we’re at it, Huawei claims it’ll last for 10 days. This isn’t the case if you use the Always-On screen option. But the raise to wake function is so good, you can just completely disregard always-on. I’m currently on my 4th day from charging it up to 100% and I’m sitting at 56% at the moment.

A sh*t ton of watch faces to choose from

It comes with a HUGE selection of watch faces. You can go for sleek and subtle, loud and colorful, or just flat out cute.

For good vibes, I stuck with the cute option (the Shiba Inu one).

Full screen touch and side button 

Navigation is easy. You simply swipe through the screen for a quick look at the different stats like heart rate, stress level, weather, and steps.

The side button gives you deeper access to the smart watch’s other functions like Settings and all the different workouts.

Plenty of workouts, can really get you moving

The Huawei Watch Fit has 96 workout modes. These vary from indoor and outdoor runs, swimming, yoga, dance, martial arts, and various other sports (scanned real quick for basketball and it wasn’t there. Sad).

Point is, there’s most definitely something here that would fit your workout routine. I haven’t found mine. Instead, I’ve been using the quick re-energize activities.

The Huawei Watch Fit makes it easy to follow the workouts as it has visual cues on how to execute them. I found these extremely helpful. The watch will buzz to signal you to start and will buzz again to wrap up your first set of a particular movement.

The re-energize routine takes about two minutes and 30 to 40 seconds to complete. I try to do it every time the watch prompts me to “get active.” It’s helped me be more mindful about taking breaks in-between tasks. And the quick routine really did a lot in re-energizing me for a few more rounds of sitting on my ass while typing away on the laptop.

A friend has invited me to try a dance class and while I have two left feet, I am considering taking that challenge on for the workout. I will update this article should that push through.

Overall tracking seems accurate

I didn’t have another device to compare with it in real time, but based on my previous experiences with other smart bands and smartwatches, the tracking on the Huawei Watch Fit has been fairly accurate.

My heart rate hasn’t really changed much from when I was using other smartwatches so that was an easy benchmark to check.

My sleep habits, unfortunately, have also pretty much remained the same. Which isn’t exactly a good thing as I rated low on deep sleep and late on time of hitting the sack. But I figure this is true for most people ever since we’ve been in community quarantine.

I walked around our compound over the weekend and really observed the step counter, and while it may record one step too many at certain times, it rarely happened to cause any real concern.

It also has a blood oxygen sensor — a key feature that health experts have pointed to in determining whether you should seek medical attention or not. I tried it and I may be due for a consultation. 😬

Other helpful features

The Huawei Watch Fit is also home of other staple smart watch features. These include: Find my phone, Remote camera shutter, music player control, and many more.

There’s also a Cycle Calendar that should prove useful. Too bad I’m not female so I couldn’t try it out. It’s also only available in certain markets, which is a little puzzling because I’m pretty women everywhere go through a menstrual cycle.

Is Huawei Watch Fit your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 4,999/ EUR 129 (US$ 153), the pricing seems on point. The Huawei Watch Fit’s health and fitness features are robust, there’s a decent selection of variants at launch, and it will seamlessly blend in your workout and casual fits.

The materials used also feel premium and the smart watch doesn’t look half bad at all. It’s certainly something I wouldn’t mind flaunting to other people.

When you’re ready to step up from a smart band but aren’t quite ready to splurge on a full on smart watch, the Huawei Watch Fit sits comfortably in that middle ground, ready to be your health and fitness companion.

BUY HERE

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ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro Review: A Surprising Contender!

Flipping camera isn’t a gimmick after all

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ASUS’ newest ZenFone 7 Pro may still look like last year’s ZenFone 6, but it has gotten totally bigger and better.

It may have a similar design language but the larger form factor houses all the speedy internals — a full-screen display, Snapdragon 865+ chipset, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, and an enormous 5000mAh battery. But that doesn’t end there. The large flipping camera mechanism that houses a trio camera setup makes this a suitable smartphone for shooting and vlogging.

With a price tag of just under EUR 699 (US$ 830), is the ZenFone 7 Pro a worthier flagship choice?

Watch our ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro review (with a lot of photo samples and comparison) here.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro: Unboxing and Hands-On

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