Reviews

OnePlus 3T review (3 months later)

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The phone of the future is already here; we now have a benchmark for how upcoming smartphones should look; and the world’s third-ranked smartphone manufacturer refined its already great handset. But, I still recommend the OnePlus 3T to all my friends.

We aren’t hiding our admiration for OnePlus’ latest flagship smartphone: It was part of our most recent list of best premium smartphones, and its near-identical sibling won our hearts in 2016. In spite of the incredible phones we’ve been seeing since MWC last February, we can’t help but crown the OnePlus 3T as the best bang for anyone’s buck.

You don’t have to be an Android purist or specs nerd to see how great it is. For only $439 — or up to $300 cheaper than the newest premium phones — you get a timeless design, incredibly solid metal build, one of the fastest processors in the market in the Snapdragon 821, and more than enough memory, internal storage, and battery capacity to satisfy all your needs.

The 16-megapixel cameras on the front and back are pretty good too, and we can say with certainty they keep up with the best of them. Here are some samples:

Without a doubt, you can’t find a better deal at this price point right now. There’s nothing stopping you from going out and choosing this over the rest, unless you’re totally mesmerized by the fanciness of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6, or the camera quality of the Google Pixel and Huawei P10.

Well, there are a few things you must know before buying a OnePlus 3T. These are some quirks we found, which involve the original OnePlus 3, as well.

The camera bump is a sore spot

This didn’t matter as much when the OnePlus 3 first came out, but it’s a lot more glaring now. The OnePlus 3T’s camera hump sticks out without a care in the world, forcing you to either lay it down gently on rough surfaces every single time or just buy a case to even out the back. It also causes the phone to wobble a bit while on a flat table.

Its fingerprint scanner feels slow now

Call this being spoiled, but OnePlus’ Chinese counterparts are doing a better job at speeding up their fingerprint scanners. Even OPPO and Vivo’s entry-level phones beat the OnePlus 3T at fingerprint recognition from a cold start. Don’t worry, though; being half a second slower won’t ruin your day.

Our favorite hybrid smartwatch doesn’t sync with it

We bring our Fossil Q Hybrid wherever we go and sync it with whatever phone we’re using. Sadly, the OnePlus 3T and its modified Android operating system don’t sync with the hybrid smartwatch. Fossil itself confirmed its watch platform doesn’t play nice with this phone’s OxygenOS, even though it’s based on the most recent builds of Android.

Cellular signal lags behind

I’ve had better-than-usual cellular reception on all the Snapdragon 820- and 821-powered phones I’ve used, but the OnePlus 3T’s isn’t on par for some reason. Areas where I’d normally get 4G+ or HSPA+ turn into just 4G and 3G, respectively. It might be the all-metal build blocking some of the signal or compatibility issues with my network carrier’s frequency bands.

No waterproofing or storage expansion to speak of

While I didn’t complain about this last year, it’s gradually turning into a fault for the OnePlus 3T. It seems like water- and dustproofing are becoming must-haves in every phone deemed a flagship, and consumers are growing accustomed to demanding them now. At the same time, storage expansion through a microSD card would’ve been nice, although the dual-SIM tray makes up for it.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

We spent the entire intro praising the OnePlus 3T and practically calling it the best buy in recent memory, only to list a bunch of cons right after. You’re probably thinking: Are you backtracking on your claims, GadgetMatch? or Did OnePlus stop paying you, GadgetMatch?

The answer is no for both. For us to keep this review as unbiased as possible, we had to nitpick every flaw we’ve discovered since the original OnePlus 3 launched. That said, these are so minor we can’t consider them deal-breakers. In fact, most casual users won’t even notice these weaknesses, which happen to be fewer than those we’ve found on other flagship gadgets.

As long as you’re game for a high-end 5.5-inch Android smartphone without extra camera lenses or a curvy display, it doesn’t get much better than this. Until, of course, OnePlus’ next “flagship killer” launches later this year and we have to do these comparisons all over again.

SEE ALSO: OnePlus 3 and 3T imitate Pixel in latest update

[irp posts=”11910" name=”OnePlus 3 and 3T imitate Pixel in latest update”]

Reviews

Honor Band 5 Review: Reliable fitness companion

Counting steps was fun!

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We went hiking with the Honor Band 5 and I learned a few things about hiking, the fitness wearable, and myself — which is mostly just about how generally unfit I am.

The hike took place at Masungi Georeserve. It’s a conservation area in the Philippines that’s about 47 kilometers away from Metro Manila. One of the staff told us that during the prehistoric era, the entire reserve was submerged in water. Millions of years later, it’s now a mountain range inhabited by different species of plants, insects, and animals. Fun!

A view of a section of Masungi Georeserve

Unlike other trek sites, the Masungi Georeserve is  more… tamed. The rangers have built a path for curious hikers but if, like me, you have zero experience trekking or hiking, then don’t think for a second that this is going to be easy.

You need to have the right gear

The thing about having fitness goals (or just goals in general, really) are they need to be measurable for you to know your progress. With the Honor Band 5 slapped on my wrist, I was excited to find out several things but I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did when the hike wrapped up. More on this later.

MJ showing he has all the right gear for the hike

Another proper gear you need to take note of is your shoes. Just as there’s a pair meant for running, playing basketball, and training, there are also shoes made specifically for hiking.

I went out of my way to get a pair prior to the hike and it made a huge difference. I had a relatively easier time going through the terrain than some of the people I went with who wore regular running or training sneakers. This meant I had one less thing to worry about.

Getting started

Before we started, we first set up the Honor Band 5. To do so, you’ll need to download the Huawei Health app. Through the app you can see all your metrics as well as update the firmware and download more watch faces.

There were a variety of watch faces. They ranged from simple ones that just show you the time and the number of steps you’ve taken to those that showed the time, steps, and even heart rate.

For this particular trek, I wanted to check on my heart rate. I was happy to know it was still beating despite multiple failed romantic pursuits. In fact, it spiked more than I thought it would during the hike.

Design-wise, none of the watch faces really stood out. But there are enough options that I’m confident you’ll find something you’ll like and would want to stick with.

Tracking is insightful and fun

Onto to the hike! We were told it would take about four to five hours to complete the route. Naturally, we took longer than that. To completely track everything you need to go to workouts and choose outdoor walk.

The Honor Band 5 supports other workouts too like outdoor and indoor running, outdoor and indoor cycling, free training, and much more.

The trek had several stops — some were for resting, others were for the accompanying ranger to tell us more about the reserve. At each stop, I would check on the watch to see how many steps I’ve taken so far. Especially since the trail varies from straight and narrow paths to ones that require climbing.

The trek involved climbing down nets like this

Having the heart rate monitor up, I also made a conscious effort to check on my breathing. I’ve never really had strong lungs. Even when I still used to play basketball regularly when I was a lot younger, I was quick to run out of breath.

When I saw my heart rate going up so much higher than usual, I made it a point to stop for a while and take a few deep breaths to gather myself. The SpO2 Monitor2 also came in handy here. It detects your level of oxygen at different altitudes and thankfully mine stayed in the normal range for much of the trek.

There were too many of these nets. Not apparent in photo is the fear and dread I felt climbing down

Additionally, the colored amoled display on the Honor Band 5 made it easy to check on my numbers. This is also through even when it started to rain. I could still see the numbers clearly despite the watch being drenched.

The Honor Band 5 is water resistant for up to 50m. So not only can it survive the rain, it’s also made to accompany you during your swimming sessions.

Taking a closer look at the numbers

After the hike, you’ll need to stop the tracking so you get your entire workout summary. It took us nearly eight hours to complete the trek and the rest of my numbers are pretty interesting.

The Masungi Georeserve took our collective breaths in more ways than one

I took a total of 11,611 steps on an average cadence of 24 steps per minute with an average speed of 1.78km/h and an average heart rate of 129 bpm. If you thought that was confusing, it only means I’m about as out of shape as I expected myself to be.

You can check your data against what is supposed to be the average for a healthy human being. With this you can start working towards that goal. The idea is to gradually reach a state of being healthy and tracking your numbers will help you do that.

Other features and final thoughts

The Honor Band 5 also has a few other nifty features like Find Your Phone. Say you forgot where you last put your phone, the fitness band can ring it for you.

There’s also TruSleep tech that I didn’t get to try as much on this device but I did on the Honor Watch Magic so watch out for that article as well.

Just me trying to look triumphant midway through the hike

The Honor Band 5 promises up to 14 days of battery life. I had it on for a few more days post the trek and didn’t really charge it up until the 10th or 11th day. Which is still pretty darn good.

At PhP 1,699 (US$ 33), the Honor Band 5 lives up to its billing as your personal fitness tracker. The colored AMOLED display is great and the tracking is where you’d expect it to be. It’s also comfortable enough that you won’t mind having it on while you workout.

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Reviews

Vivo V17 Pro Unboxing and Review

Overpriced and gimmicky?

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Vivo’s newest smartphone has cool camera features, including the world’s first dual pop-up selfie camera.

But is that enough for you to want to upgrade, or is the Vivo V17 Pro overpriced with a lot of gimmicks?

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Her GadgetMatch

LG Pra.L’s Galvanic Ion Booster makes your skincare products more effective

Makes your visits to the facial clinic less frequent

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The marriage of beauty and tech is not an entirely new thing. Ionic products, tools that are supposed to help slow down the signs of ageing, even water bottles that will supposedly make water better for your skin — they have been around for a while. LG’s new, Pra.L line is one of the most recent launches which was met with both shock and awe. This is mainly due to the new claims of what their high-grade devices can do but also because of the price tag they come with.

I personally love this whole movement. In the advent of the informed consumer trend, more and more people are becoming concerned about what they put on their skin. It’s highly common now that women who are into skincare are vigorously discussing ingredients. A lot of us are also becoming more interested in the details of what aestheticians are doing for us.

The entire Pra.L line is practically a beauty clinic within the convenience of your own home. It is democratizing the technology of some of the most common, non-invasive treatments and making it accessible to consumers who want to do things on their own.

One of the notable devices in the line is the Galvanic Ion Booster. The idea of an ion booster to help skincare products penetrate deeper into the skin is not entirely new. LG’s version of the device, however, is definitely a cut above most of the products in the market.

As someone with sensitive skin which is on a recovery period from hormonal breakouts, I tend to be quite picky with anything I put on my skin. It has also been recommended that I go for simpler routines using as few products as possible. With little product, you’d want them to be as effective as possible. This is where this device comes in.

Ease of use

For the past month, I’ve been using the Galvanic Ion Booster religiously — morning and night. I would use the cleansing mode with my CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser (green bottle, for normal to dry skin). The device literally tells you which part of your face you should be using it on. The voice is not too loud but perky enough to get you out of your own head. Just in case you get too in the zone. Using galvanic ion technology, the device helps the cleanser draw out the impurities in your pores. Expect a slight vibration that is more relaxing than uncomfortable.

For the boost mode, I either use it with a vitamin C serum or The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA. Both serums are helpful in brightening the skin and fading out the marks left behind by intense breakouts. For the boost mode, the same technology is applied but in a reverse direction, helping the product and its ingredients penetrate your skin deeper. The boost mode is something I enjoy a lot as you can actually feel your products getting absorbed right away. I top everything with a gentle moisturizer from La Roche-Posay and on days when it’s extremely dry outside, a face oil from Australian indie beauty brand Ipsum.

I also use it with retinol treatments once a week but would make sure I double up on sunscreen the next day. The heat and vibration from the device do render retinol to be more effective. However, it will also make your skin more susceptible to sun damage.

When a stubborn pimple decides to pop up unannounced, I also use the boost mode to help my Mamonde AC Balance Spot Serum be absorbed faster. I wake up the next day with the little bugger dry and ready to be forgotten in the next couple of days.

Worth the price tag?

The device’s triangular head is made out of medical-grade titanium, making it safe for use on your skin. The shape is also effective in reaching the small nooks around your face like the sides of your nose. I just make sure to clean the device with running water and wipe it dry before putting on the cover.

LG’s Galvanic Ion Booster also has a good weight to it without being too heavy. The device also travels well — it comes with its own carrying pouch — and can charge with a micro USB cable or through the charging dock it comes with. The sleek design of the device makes it an easy hold and a joy to use. This, despite having to move it around your face for about three minutes per mode. Sounds like a short time but not when you’re a busy, working woman. I found it to be a lesson in slowing down and just making sure I enjoy doing my skincare routine instead of rushing through it like a chore — a form of self-love if you will.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

After a month of use, my skin feels more plump and healthy. It’s also brighter and blemishes became more manageable. I can highly recommend this for the skincare junkie; It’s a game-changer.

The device retails for SG$ 529 which might seem like a huge blow to the wallet. However, prevention is definitely less expensive than cure so think of it as an investment for the future.

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