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

[irp posts=”15283″ name=”OnePlus 5 launches in North America, Europe, and Asia”]

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 Hands-on: What’s New?

Any differences from last year’s Galaxy Z Fold3?

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Samsung paved the way for foldable smartphones that transform into tablets.

That engineering marvel made the Galaxy Fold possible.

After three years, the Galaxy Z Fold continues to evolve.

The Galaxy Z Fold4, while it may look almost the same as the Z Fold3, offers upgrades that one should consider.

What are those changes?

You should definitely watch our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 hands-on for you to find out.


Pre-order the Galaxy Z Fold4: howl.me/1782498420013699516

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 Hands-on: Flip That!

Watch Before You Buy

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Of all the foldables that have been around for the last few 3-4 years, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip has been the most fun.

Today, Samsung unveiled the new Galaxy Z Flip4.

While it looks exactly like last year’s Galaxy Z Flip3, it comes with some nifty improvements.

But should you rush out and pre-order though?

Head over to our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 hands-on video to know more.


Pre-order the Galaxy Z Flip4: howl.me/1782498419600267258

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The marriage of engineering, technology, and design

The Mate Xs 2 reminded us of what we used to love about Huawei

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Thin. Light. Flat.

These words got me ecstatic, knowing that it’s been years since the first foldable devices came out and these aren’t the words we used to describe them.

Huawei certainly has come a long way, fighting head-to-head with Samsung back in 2019 in bringing a taste of the future.

The company, pressing on after the US-Google-Huawei fiasco, strives to refine its portfolio of foldable smartphones.

Now, in case you’re confused, the first foldable — the Huawei Mate X — was launched in 2019. Huawei introduced the Mate Xs in 2020, and then the Mate X2 in 2021. Later that year, Huawei also brought the P50 Pocket, the direct rival of the Galaxy Z Flip 3.

In 2022, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 undoubtedly succeeds the Mate Xs, continuing its prominent outward-folding design. Let’s take a look at the world’s thinnest and lightest foldable yet.

Elegantly refined in a design that’s imperfectly perfect

One thing I like about Huawei’s smartphones is how they all look classy and elegant. The formula they’ve used to win many hearts over — as seen on the Huawei P and Mate line from a few years ago — is carried vehemently to its foldable lineup.

Up front, when folded, the Mate Xs 2 looks like your regular slate. Tall, boxy yet somehow curvy, and looks and feels sturdy. It has a 6.5-inch OLED display, much like the same slab you see today.

Behind that sleek glass is the folded, extended screen. It makes the device look thick when you check its bottom. But somehow, the cuts and edges fit perfectly, housing the speaker grilles, the SIM Card slot, and the USB-C port.

Flipping the device, you’ll find the extension of the screen. It snugs tightly, locking beside the camera strip together with a button that unfolds the Mate Xs 2.

When you press the button, it releases the lock and the screen rises.

Releasing the lock allows the device to stay in the same position. Yes, it’s still up to you to force it to get that large, square-like screen you expect out of a foldable device.

But let’s forget about that for a moment. Underneath, you can find a diagonal plaid pattern in a leather-like texture. While I loved anything and everything white, Huawei refined the way black smartphones should be. J’adore!

This one has more personality, looks sophisticated, and — beyond the marvelous appearance — has a sense of functionality, too. The texture aids the phone in keeping it durable and scratch-resistant.

A friendly reminder that style without substance is nothing. Don’t be fooled by grand showcases if it only exhibits lavishness without addressing the more important stuff.

Thin but not like ice

Upclose to its back, you can find the hinge gluing the screen together. Huawei attributes its precise and fluid movement to its new-generation Double-rotating Falcon Wing Hinge design.

With this proprietary technology, I’m still gobsmacked by how Huawei packed all the components tightly. This feels like the ASUS Zenfone 8 which shrank its components to achieve a compact form factor, but with a trickier and more intensive process.

Nevertheless, this fusion of engineering and design allowed Huawei to create the thinnest, flattest, and lightest foldable — with no visible crease.

Regardless of the angle and lighting condition, the Mate Xs 2 really doesn’t exhibit any crease on its display.

It makes the smartphone usage pleasant to the eyes — and even your fingers, simply because the crease is barely felt. And frankly, you’re more likely to swipe and scroll on the right side of the phone instead of the part where the hinge is.

While the Mate Xs 2 is pretty thin, weighing only 255g with a thickness of 5.4mm when unfolded, it’s easy to carry and hold.

Even when folded, which comes with a thickness of 11.1mm, the Mate XS 2 is easily gripped and fits your spaces like any slab smartphone.

Gorgeous, “sturdy” display

Besides the huge leap in engineering and design, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is emblazoned with top-of-the-line display technology.

With already a creaseless screen, the unfolded device sports a 7.8-inch high-resolution OLED display. It reportedly packs a billion colors and supports P3 wide color gamut.

With an artistic rendition of Weathering With You through a 4K wallpaper, the Mate Xs 2 exhibited rich and vibrant colors.

Watching a show is quite different though, especially with its strange aspect ratio. It doesn’t provide a full-screen experience even if you rotate the screen.

But fold the phone back… and you can enjoy an immersive viewing experience. It was delightful to watch Encanto and sing along with Isabela and Mirabel Madrigal.

Aside from the beauty and grandeur of the Mate Xs 2’s display, Huawei made sure it’s durable. The Mate Xs 2 adopted a bulletproof Composite Structure screen with a protective film, support layer, and rotating shaft.

I haven’t had a chance to test its resistance to drops, crushing, or impact. I still believe foldables are fragile, even with their claims of being ‘sturdy’ and ‘reliable.’

What I worry about is the folded part of the screen, since, without a case, the surface directly touches the folded rear. While Huawei assures us with an aluminum alloy protective frame around the screen that keeps it scratch-resistant, I can’t help but feel anxious whenever I place it on any rough, hard surface.

Is there power under the hood?

Okay, let’s talk specs. Huawei, for most of its flagship devices, pushes the limits of its hardware. It runs on EMUI 12, comes with an 8GB RAM and 512GB of ROM, a 4600mAh battery capacity capable of 66W SuperCharge, and a 120Hz refresh rate.

The only drawback that got me taken aback is its processor. Sadly, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 houses a Snapdragon 888 4G. While we have the thank the US government for that, the processor is somewhat limiting especially in terms of future-proofing.

Don’t get me wrong, Snapdragon 888 is still powerful. But plenty of chipsets are going above and beyond, and this flagship foldable getting left behind.

As for the user experience and the lack of Google Mobile Services (GMS), this has been addressed multiple times — from ways to augment your experience to the improvements Huawei made, especially for HarmonyOS. But that’s a story for another time because there are plenty of features to talk about.

Are the cameras still flagship-grade?

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 houses a 50-megapixel True Chroma camera system, including a 13-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens, and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera. Upfront, it has a 10.7-megapixel selfie camera.

A few tests here and there made me think that the photos are color-accurate, detailed, and flagship-worthy. But that wouldn’t be fair to be this subjective when I hardly have any photos to showcase. Hang tight! As of this writing, we’re brewing something cool about its cameras.

Anyhoo, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 — like its previous iterations — comes with a Mirror Shooting mode where the photographer can take a photo while the subject can see how they look on the rear screen.

This is similar to most foldables nowadays. Frankly, it’s a handy feature that might come in handy when you travel or want to capture an iconic moment.

Remembering the love for Huawei

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 reminds me of everything we’ve loved about Huawei. Elegantly-designed smartphones. Sleek and vibrant display technology. Impressive hardware. Huge leaps in engineering and design. Actual innovation.

The only barriers that propel it from taking back its crown are the people who can’t adapt to a new user experience, and the geopolitical issues surrounding the company. Nevertheless, the Mate Xs 2 is Huawei’s proof that they can still be a trailblazer, and they’ll probably keep on doing so.

Price and availability

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 retails for PhP 99,999. It will be available in Shopee, Lazada, or the Huawei Store. Learn more about the flagship foldable on Huawei’s website.


Editor’s Note: The article has been updated with new information. Previously, the story indicated pre-order details.

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