Hands-On

OnePlus 5 hands-on and photo comparisons

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OnePlus has come a long way from the OnePlus One and its invite-only system. Now on its sixth smartphone release (the OnePlus 4 was skipped, but there’s a OnePlus X and 3T in between), expectations are higher than ever for the OnePlus 5. Here are my thoughts on the new flagship phone.

The look and feel

This newest OnePlus release is said to be the thinnest ever from the smartphone series. It’s a serious-looking device with the right weight to it, making it feel premium from every angle.


The OnePlus 5 comes in midnight black and slate gray. No rose gold or silver for this flagship device — in keeping with the phone’s no-nonsense persona and in line with the company’s promise of offering “devices with premium build quality and high-performance hardware.”

Noticeable is the change in placement of the cameras, which can now be found on the upper-left side of the rear. There is a slight camera bump, but it’s nothing compared to what the OnePlus 3 and 3T had. Personally, I couldn’t care less where the cameras are placed and how they look, so long as they take awesome snaps.

Admittedly, it looks very familiar, but I say you don’t need to deviate from a proven formula. In this case, the design still works as it has with other smartphones. I like how this phone feels in my hands; my tiny, girl hands have become used to holding phones with 5.5-inch Full HD displays — I’ve evolved to technology accordingly.

But seriously, the comfortable grip was made possible by sharpening the edges without overdoing it and hurting my hands in the process. It helps that the matte finish is smooth to the touch without feeling cheap by any measure.

The meat and bones

The OnePlus 5 runs on OxygenOS, which is a lightly skinned take on Android 7.1 Nougat. If you’ve used a OnePlus before — or watched our excellent hands-on video — you already know what you’re getting into. If not, rest assured it has all the basic Android functionality and fluidity, along with a few nifty tricks to lengthen battery life and customize on-screen shortcuts.

The bigger story, however, is its use of a Snapdragon 835 processor, which is the best possible chip you can find on any phone to date. Coupled with up to 8GB of memory and 128GB of integrated storage, you’re looking at the most well-equipped Android device in the market. This is the phone you want if you want to show off to your friends that you have the absolute best.

Its battery is similar to the OnePlus 3T, though software improvements promise 20 percent more efficiency in the use of that 3300mAh capacity. OnePlus’ version of fast charging, Dash Charge, is also back with an even greater promise: a whole day’s worth of power in just 30 minutes of charging time. I have yet to put that to the test during my short time with the phone, but if it’s any better than the previous generation of Dash Charge, I’m already sold on it.

The rear cameras

The pair of main cameras are the real stars of the OnePlus 5 show. Equipped with a 16- and 20-megapixel camera tandem, OnePlus offers a vastly improved photo-taking experiences over past phones. A great feature, and one we’ve been seeing on other smartphones as well, is the built-in portrait mode which results in great-looking photos like this. Notice the natural-looking bokeh mode.

Say hello to Nicole Scott of Mobile Geeks!

The second lens isn’t just for show; in fact, you get 2X optical zoom and 8X zoom via software for the extra space it consumes.

For more serious shooters, a pro camera mode is available, which allows you to tweak photo settings. Personally, I’m more of a point-and-shoot type of girl, and OnePlus also has something for people in that department; the Smart Capture software supposedly adjusts depending on the scenario. I put that to the test:

The selfie camera

The single 16-megapixel front-facing camera did not disappoint, despite looking inferior to its rear-mounted counterpart at first. Its built-in beauty mode has a simple interface which allows you to toggle the level of beautification you’d want applied to your photo.

I loved the beauty mode on this selfie camera. Other smartphones tend to overdo the beauty blur, and although you end up with no blemishes, you also wind up with no nose. The OnePlus 5 smoothens out your face to varying degrees, but the effect isn’t so intense to leave you looking alien-like or plastic-y.

Auto HDR mode is also available on the front shooter, in case you simply want a prime selfie no matter what. What it does is improve the highlights and shadows even when there’s backlighting from a window or single light source. (Because we all deserve that brightness in our lives — no matter how dark some parts get!)

Initial impressions

Marketed as practical phones for those who value money and performance, OnePlus has proven that a power-packed smartphone can come with a reasonable price tag. As a self-proclaimed selfie lover, OnePlus phones weren’t really on my top priority, until now.

With its good track record for quality and adding this new focus on cameras, it seems OnePlus’ new equation for a flagship smartphone is something I am totally on board with.

OnePlus’ company motto is “Never Settle,” and it seems they’re making good on that promise with each and every phone they release.

Pricing and availability is a comprehensive list not worth writing twice, so head on over to our launch story to know the when, where, and how much of the OnePlus 5.

SEE ALSO: OnePlus 5 launches in North America, Europe, and Asia

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Hands-On

Realme 5 Pro Hands-On: It’s all about the numbers

Finally a real competitor

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Realme has launched a wide array of phones this year and it doesn’t look like they’re stopping anytime soon. The brand is extremely aggressive about marketing and thanks to immense pressure from Xiaomi, Vivo, and Samsung, they’ve unveiled the Realme 5 Pro.

It has a faster processor, quad-camera setup on the rear, and flashier design. While the Realme X is built for a slightly more premium experience, the Realme 5 Pro is intended to be an affordable all-rounder that excels at everything.


A plastic design that looks flashier

We have the Blue variant and Realme calls this a holographic design due to the reflection and slight color gradient. We’ve previously seen this diamond cut design language in a lot of other phones and it offers a new choice to users instead of just relying on a plain metal back.

The phone feels sturdy enough and has slightly curved corners for an ergonomic user experience. Realme says the phone is splash resistant including the buttons as well as the charging port.

Holographic diamond cut back

The power button is located on the right

Volume buttons and SIM-tray are located on the left

Realme has finally endorsed USB-C and the headphone jack continues its legacy

A sharp and well saturated display

The Realme X has an AMOLED panel, but this one sports an LCD screen. This cost-cutting measure shouldn’t be a major drawback since the display is very sharp and bright enough. The colors are punchy, but tend to look too saturated sometimes. Thankfully, you can adjust or even schedule the screen’s warmth.

It’s 6.3-inch screen has Gorilla Glass protection and houses a small water-drop style notch on the top. The bezels are small and the chin is quite paltry as well.

A powerful processor that’s perfect for regular use

Powering the phone is an octa-core Snapdragon 712 processor that clocks at 2.3Ghz. A dedicated NPU looks after AI operations and the base option comes with 4GB of RAM. Storage is expandable via a microSD card.

Four cameras to help you get the best shot

It has a 48-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Rest assured, you’re covered from all ends. Whether its a low-light shot or a huge group photo, this setup is perfect for the average Joe.

For selfies, the notch houses a 16-megapixel front-facing shooter. Realme has added a handful of modes like Chromaboost, Nightscape, and Portrait Mode in the camera app.

ColorsOS to get you through the day

The Realme 5 Pro ships with ColorOS 6.0 and a few minor changes include new icons, smoother transitions, and filtering.

A near-perfect battery

It has a 4,000mAh battery and it is sufficient to get you through a day of heavy usage. It supports VOOC 3.0 fast charging technology and can charge your phone completely in about an hour and a half.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Realme 5 Pro ticks all the boxes, and we’ll be doing an in-depth review soon. For now, it offers a robust camera setup, substantial performance, and a new design. Although, a few cost-cutting measures like plastic build and LCD display are clearly visible.

ColorOS can be a deciding factor since it still isn’t well refined. If you’re looking for a long-lasting phone that has consistent updates, a Nokia-branded phone or Xiaomi’s Mi A3 are the only alternatives in this price segment. And even though the Redmi Note 7 Pro was launched just a few months back, it may have lost its edge in this ever-changing world due to a better processor, versatile camera, and faster charging.

SEE ALSO: Realme 5 series pricing and availability in India

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Hands-On

Sights and sounds of summer in the Upper East Side

Capturing New York City on film

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“You need to come back, New York is different in the summer,” a friend urged one absurdly cold day back in May. “It has a different energy to it; it’s more alive,” another friend noted with excitement about the magical effects of the impending warm weather on the city.

Living in a tropical country my whole life and enduring constant humidity year per year, I never really understood the hype. What could be so special about spending yet another summer in another city, I thought.  On the contrary, it’s lower temperatures that always excited me. The thought of layering with soft wool sweaters and thick coats, and wearing thigh-high boots on vacation was ideal. It was something I never get to do on the daily, so I longed for it — until I was forced to live out of a suitcase from winter to spring, that is.


Having gone through the chore of exactly that — wearing wool sweaters, thick coats, and boots just to get eggs at the nearest bodega or go for a coffee run next door — made me appreciate being able to wear just about anything I want in the summer including the potential sweating that goes along with it. After months of freezing weather, summer just feels so liberating that you’ll appreciate the heat even if it means smeared eyeliners and a face so oily you could fry two eggs on it.

That je ne sais quoi of summer in the city is not something anyone can describe with mere words or capture on Instagram without losing its essence. This article certainly doesn’t, but here are some vignettes I caught on film, complete with audio recordings, using the Instax Mini LiPlay, one Sunday morning stroll along Upper East Side.

One large cold brew to go

Like any other day, I start with a nice cup of cold brew. Cafes like Bluestone Lane usually gets packed for brunch. It’s especially nice when the sun is out that friends and families eat al fresco. Listen to the audio recording here.

Hotdogs and city performers

Hotdog stands can be found at every corner of the city. This one is outside the Guggenheim Museum, which tourists flock and buskers frequent. Listen to the audio recording here.

Honking yellow cabs

The sound of the train arriving or cabs honking is normally unbearable, but in New York it’s part of what makes the city full of character. Listen to the audio recording here. 

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

This spot in Central Park is beautiful whether you’re there to see snow falling or flowers blooming; hear trees rustling or dried leaves crackling. Listen to the audio recording here.

Pick a spot at Central Park

Central Park is so big of an oasis that you can have your quiet little spot for reading and alone time, or watch kids and dogs play if you wanted to. Listen to the audio recording here.

Sun’s out, bikes out

Whether it’s for cardio, getting from one place to another, or just for leisure, everyone seems to be on their bikes during summer. Other locals take advantage of this and sell ice cold water for $2 in the middle of the park for anyone who needs to cool down. Listen to the audio recording here.

Grab something quick and cheap

For those who might want a quick bite after a long walk or bike ride, there are food trucks everywhere. Tacos? Check. Gyros? Check. Ice cream? Check. Listen to the audio recording here.

The Met

It can get too crowded for my taste, but The Met is quickly becoming my favorite place in the city. It’s where I can run to for shelter when it’s below freezing outside, or when temperatures get higher, walk around the vicinity for no reason or people watch on the steps. I can get trapped here for days and not feel like I’m wasting my time. Listen to the audio recording here.

Witnessing New York City transform from a dark, cold abyss in the winter, to a city with blossoming tress in spring, to the vibrant concrete jungle that it truly is in the summer, is special. If you live in this city, or travel here a lot, it’s something you will learn to cherish once you see and hear it for yourself.

WATCH: Winter in New York

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Gaming

ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DU Hands-on: An immersive experience for less

Striking a balance between performance and affordability

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We’ve got our hands on the ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 and the TUF Gaming FX505DY so you’re probably familiar with how the TUF Gaming series positions itself as the middle ground that offers premium features but with a more affordable asking price.

Another model from the same series has reached our headquarters. This time it’s the TUF Gaming FX505DU which is a newer model in the family. That single letter difference in the model name (DY to DU) suggests that it’s almost the same, with slight differences here and there. Let’s check out what those are.


It’s done with a polycarbonate body

Instead, goes for a more premium metallic shell

ROG DNA is present

Makes the overall aesthetics look edgier

Sports the same 15.6-inch IPS-level 120Hz display

Also with slim side and top bezels

Keyboard is backlit

Although this one has RGB color going on

There are distinct WASD keycaps as well

Still emphasizing its gaming origin

Loudspeakers are located at the bottom

Equipped with DTS Studio Sound

Spacious trackpad

Ergonomically placed, too

All the ports remain on the left

Leaves space when using a mouse on the right

A little subtle on the design, but…

The FX505DU, like its siblings, isn’t as flashy as the company’s more expensive ROG laptops, but it still looks like a gaming rig nonetheless. The lid is plain and straightforward but with that ‘X’ pattern that suggests it’s no common office laptop.

Once you open the lid, the brushed metal design seen on the body makes it look premium. It still has a large chin, but it isn’t much of an eyesore as the slim top and side bezels surrounding its Full HD display will catch your attention right away.

There’s also a webcam for video calls positioned on top so that’s a good thing. When it comes to typing, we don’t have any major qualms about it but I personally could use a bit more travel for the keys. It comes with two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0, an HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Overall, build quality is something that I like about this model as it has been certified to pass military-grade stress tests. Factor in the cool RGB backlighting and its edgy design and you have a good-looking yet tough gaming laptop.

Play wherever you go

Inside, it packs an AMD Ryzen 7-3750H which is then partnered to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1660Ti. Together, they are a combo for fast and satisfactory performance while its 8GB RAM proved sufficient for day-to-day tasks. If needed, the memory could be modified up to 32GB for even snappier performances.

It runs Windows 10 Home out of the box and as for storage, it comes with a 1TB HDD plus a 256GB SSD.

We’ve tried a couple of games on it like Assassin’s Creed: Origins and battle royale titles like Fortnite and CS:GO — just like we did with the previous FX505DY. We’re happy to report that it could handle them easily but noticed a few lags here and there especially when there was a lot of movement happening. Not enough to affect the gaming performance, though, but we thought we’d just let you know.

The built-in loudspeakers sound decent and come with DTS Studio Sound to tweak and make the quality better. Still, it might not be for players looking for high-quality audio and you’d still be better off with dedicated gaming headphones plugged in.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s true that more expensive gaming rigs provide better gaming experience, but what ASUS is going for here with their TUF Gaming series is to strike the balance between performance and affordability.

With the FX505DU and its PhP 71,995 price tag, it offers a competitive gaming experience with 120Hz display, slim bezels, more premium materials, and internals that will ensure you have what you need to be able to have immersive gameplay wherever you go.

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