Reviews

Nokia C1 review: You get what you pay for

A surprisingly affordable Android Go smartphone

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The competition in the budget smartphone segment is intense. Every month, smartphone companies churn out budget devices that appeal to people that don’t exactly have plenty of cash to spare. While most Chinese tech companies have already perfected the formula for a winning budget device, others are still getting there.

That is the case with the Nokia C1. While the asking price of this phone is surprising, the features that come with it may not impress some people. However, it’s better to expect what you’re getting for a phone that costs less than PhP 3,000. Using this is a matter of moderating one’s expectations. After all, this is an entry-level phone.

So, what can you expect from Nokia C1?

No-nonsense design

Here’s one way to put Nokia C1’s design: it’s simple and refreshingly bland. I said refreshingly bland because this device is a break from the gradient design of most phones out there. It may not be flashy, but its simple, monotone-back design is a striking change in a sea of smartphones with enormous camera bumps and gradient backs.

Plus, there’s much to love with the Nokia C1 in black. It’s discreet, and you can see the signature Nokia logo stand out. As a bonus feature, the phone doesn’t have a camera hump. Nokia positioned the rear camera in the upper center of the device. Honestly, I prefer this camera positioning over other phones released recently — including flagship ones.

Moving over to the front, you will see bezels that pale in comparison to this year’s smartphones. It’s fine. I don’t mind the bezel at all when they’re so symmetrically positioned. If you hate notches in smartphones so much, you’ll find consolation in the lack of one. The top bezel houses the loudspeaker, a camera flash, and the Nokia logo (again). Nokia really wants to remind you that it made this phone.

So-so display

Nokia’s latest budget entry is a step behind this department since most devices today feature an HD+ display as a bare minimum. The display, owing to its low 960 x 480 resolution, is literally blurry. I can almost see the individual pixels on this device when I look at it from a close distance.

As a cost-cutting measure, Nokia put an IPS LCD panel instead of an AMOLED panel. Blacks appear as a washed-out gray color, and there’s not much to talk about the display’s color saturation. The display’s brightness is fine as long as you don’t plan to use the device in direct sunlight.

Performance that can’t keep up with the times

Disappointingly, Nokia C1’s performance can’t keep up with the times. Nokia hasn’t specified exactly what processor was used for the phone. That doesn’t matter, however, as the device’s processor is just enough for light smartphone usage. It’s powered by the lightweight Android Go OS, but you’ll hardly see any differences compared to a full-fledged Android.

Since this is an Android Go Edition device, you’ll spend a lot of time with lite editions of Google apps. These lite apps — Google Go, Gmail Go, Maps Go, YouTube Go — come preinstalled. Plus, Google recommends the lite version of popular apps when you search in the Play Store.

There’s a reason why I think you will need to download lite versions of popular apps for this device. No, it’s not the storage — the 16GB of storage, while inadequate, can be expanded with a MicroSD card. What is not enough, however, is the amount of RAM this device wields.

With only 1GB of RAM, you’ll surely be looking at a blank screen for a few seconds before an app opens. There is a considerable lag with app animations, and certain tasks take minutes to finish.

Don’t expect to game on this device too. The weak processor combined with a little amount of RAM is an indication that this is not built for gaming. For me, the device is fine for a casual gaming session. Surprisingly, the device handled Asphalt 8 on low to medium settings just fine.

Connectivity is also an issue. I’m really annoyed that Nokia didn’t even bother to include 4G connectivity since most networks around the globe now support 4G as a bare minimum. So, you will be stuck between 2G or 3G all the time with this device.

Low-quality cameras for an occasional snap

Nokia C1’s price accurately reflects the state of its cameras. In the back, you’ll find a 5MP snapper and an LED flash. Yes, there are no fancy telephoto or ultra-wide-cameras here. The low-res wide-angle camera shoots images and videos that come straight from a phone of a bygone era. Simply put, the images taken by this device are worse.

Most of the time, daytime shots are blurry. In this image taken on a gloomy weather, I can’t easily determine the finer details in the grass. Details are smeared — honestly, the images look like an oil painting.  There is not enough saturation, and the colors are all washed out. Dynamic range is absent, and noise is visibly present.

Shooting at night? Forget it, since the shots taken at night is just unusable. The camera’s low resolution is much evident when shooting at a darker environment. Fine details are absent, and the colors are washed-out. Noise is also visible all throughout.

The device’s selfie camera also tells the same story as its rear camera. Even though I don’t usually take selfies, I can tell from the photos that it carried the weakness of the rear cameras into the front. Plus, there is no option to shoot bokeh portraits.

In the end, I don’t recommend taking a picture with Nokia C1 unless you don’t mind capturing low-res, washed-out photos every day.

Dismal battery life

For a device packing entry-level specs, you would expect Nokia to bundle a large battery as a consolation. However, that is not the case since the Nokia C1 packs a dismal 2500mAh battery. I found out that the device lasts for a day on a normal usage scenario. I defined normal usage scenario here as light browsing on the Internet, streaming Netflix or YouTube videos, and responding to messages and calls.

Don’t rely on the device to last you a day if you’ll do some gaming here though. Games typically consume two to three percent of the battery after a minute or so.

Charging is also a disappointing experience. Remember, this is an entry-level device, so fast-charging had to be left out in order to save cost. As a result, charging from 20% to 100% will take a painfully slow four hours.

Do remember, however, that it does come with a removable battery. So, you can just swap an extra battery when you’re low on juice. Still, who removes their smartphone batteries in this day and age?

MicroUSB and a trusty headphone jack

Instead of adopting USB-C connectors for Nokia C1, the company decided to stay behind and put a MicroUSB instead. That’s not an issue if you have a lot of MicroUSB cables lying around, but most people are now adapting to a world where USB-C is the norm. Maybe, in future iterations of this device, we can expect a USB-C connector. But for now, we have to be content with what Nokia provided for us.

We have to give credit to Nokia though for retaining the headphone jack on its budget devices. At home, I still use a speaker that connects only through an AUX cable. The headphone jack reminds me of the long lost convenience of simply connecting a cable and pressing “play” on a device. Nowadays, I use a Bluetooth headphone and adapter to listen to music, and I can tell you that it’s not convenient sometimes.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If there’s any saving grace to this device at all, it will be its asking price. Nokia C1 starts at jaw-dropping PhP 2,990. For an Android Go smartphone, this is a fair asking price. The price alone is enough for those with a very tight budget to forget its shortcomings. Tempering your expectations is a must for something marketed with a super-low price.

Honestly, I think the Nokia C1 makes a nice throw-away/back-up phone too. As an Android smartphone, you can download popular apps and make sure that you’re not missing out on anything. The feature list of this device is respectable, and you’re better off buying this phone than any other feature phone if you’re looking for a back-up.

Overall, the Nokia C1 is a capable entry-level phone that carries a super low price to attract first-time cash-strapped buyers. However, buyers who can afford a bigger budget must look elsewhere for their next smartphone.

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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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