Philippines

Nokia 8.1 review: What took you so long?

Solid but feels dated

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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?

Automotive

Chevrolet PH offers new Colorado Trail Boss

A new Boss steps into the pickup segment

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Chevrolet Philippines, through The Covenant Car Company, Inc., introduces the new Boss in the pickup segment — the Colorado Trail Boss.

Just like the Colorado High Country Storm that we took for a spin, the new Trail Boss is a tweaked out variant with mostly exterior changes that cater to fans of blacked out, all-rugged look.


This means getting rid of its chrome trims and replacing them with black accents. A black front grille with black bowtie badge now adds that stealthy appeal. The 18-inch alloy wheels also sport the same color and a Colorado decal and Trail Boss badge are stamped on the tailgate. And rounding up the additions to this variant is a unique tactical sport bar.

Apart from those, the Trail Boss is basically the 4×2 LT variant of the company in the Philippines. It’s powered by a capable 2.8-liter Duramax VG Turbo engine that outputs 200 horsepower and 500Nm of torque mated to a 6-speed AT. Water wading is at 800mm, payload capacity at one ton, and towing capacity is up to three tons.

Other highlights include Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and electric power steering. Meanwhile, safety is in check with its Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Limited Slip Differential, and Engine Immobilizer.

On top of those, it’s backed up by the Chevrolet Complete Care Program which includes a special five-year warranty coverage, three-year bumper to bumper warranty, plus a two-year warranty on the powertrain or 100,000km.

The new Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss is now available in all authorized Chevrolet dealerships in the country. It is priced at PhP 1,368,888.

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Automotive

The new MG 5 sedan makes premium features more accessible

Another competitive player in the market

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MG Philippines has unveiled its newest entry in the local subcompact segment. Called the MG 5, it’s armed with features usually seen on more expensive models and boasts ample space all around.

The sedan, while there is nothing too striking about its design, is still pretty stylish with its LED lights, flowing lines, and a prominent grille. This is just what we’d expect from the brand as we’ve experienced with the MG ZS.


In terms of dimensions, the MG 5 is the longest and widest in its class. It also has the longest wheelbase which results in more legroom for the front and rear occupants of the vehicle and added cargo space.

Inside, There’s a push start/stop button while a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system is installed and supports Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Meanwhile, the flat-bottom steering wheel has been mounted with buttons for audio and menu navigation.

For those instances that you need to maneuver around tight spaces, a 360-degree vehicle view is at your fingertips and shows the top view of the car. Power driver’s seat and auto on/off headlamps are also at your disposal.

Running the show is a 1.5-liter engine producing 114 horsepower and a torque output of 150Nm which the company is proud to claim the best in its class. You can get the MG 5 in two configurations — a five-speed manual transmission and a CVT gearbox with manual mode.

Driver and passenger airbags are installed while four-wheel disc brakes put the vehicle to a stop. There’s also a tire pressure monitoring system for added safety. Other bells-and-whistles include Hill Start Assist, Auto Brake Hold, electronic climate control, reverse camera, and a sunroof.

There are four variants to choose from:

  • 1.5L STD 5MT – PhP 658,888
  • 1.5L STD CVT – PhP 718,888
  • 1.5L COM CVT – PhP 848,888
  • 1.5L DEL CVT – PhP 938,888

To further sweeten the deal, getting one includes a 5-year/100,000km warranty and 1-year free periodic maintenance service (PMS). A mobile app is also free to download for easier scheduling while other services like 24/7 roadside assistance are available.

The MG 5 is now available for purchase at all authorized MG Philippines dealership.

 

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Automotive

Toyota PH enters the hybrid space with its new Corolla Altis

The Corolla line continues

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Toyota Motor Philippines has just unveiled the newest Corolla Altis. There are five models to choose from including the company’s first hybrid variant in the country.

The new Altis comes with a fresh exterior and what sells it most are the pair of headlamps that wrap around its body. A large black grille adds weight to the front fascia and is then flanked by accented fog lamps.


Going around will also reveal an updated look. The taillights have been tweaked with added character in them — check out that strip of red light piercing through the trunk lid.

Inside, it carries a more straightforward approach with fewer frills and decorations. There’s a floating touch display right at the center and a simple layout for the climate control’s buttons and knobs right under it. A tri-spoke steering wheel is then mounted with buttons for media navigation and cruise control.

The top of the line variants get leather seats, an eight-way power-adjustable seat for the driver, reverse camera, and parking sensors.

It’s also got a lower center of gravity so you feel more confident taking on curves with a bit of speed. And in order to further improve visibility for the driver, the windshield has been increased and the A-pillars were made slimmer.

For a Corolla Altis with an internal combustion engine, it gets a 1.6-liter Dual VVT-i engine mated to either CVT or a six-speed manual transmission. If you’re choosing the hybrid variant, however, you get a 1.8-liter engine and an electric motor. Combined, they have an output of 121 horsepower.

Focusing more on the 1.8 V Hybrid variant, it has a set of features that further improve safety for the everyone inside the vehicle. It boasts a pre-collision system, lane tracing assist, dynamic radar cruise control, and more using a camera mounted at the top of its windshield.

It also comes with different driving modes like Eco, Normal, Sport, and EV that makes it run purely on electricity.

Pricing for the new Corolla Altis follows:

  • 1.6 E MT — PhP 999,000
  • 1.6 G MT —  PhP 1,045,000
  • 1.6 G AT — PhP 1,115,000
  • 1.6 V CVT — PhP 1,185,000
  • 1.8 V Hybrid CVT — PhP 1,580,000

The lineup is available in different colors, namely: Attitude Black, Red Mica Metallic, Silver Metallic, Freedom White (for G and E variants), Celestite Grey Metallic (for HEV, V, and G variants), and White Pearl (for HEV and V variants).

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