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

Xiaomi Mi 9 Hands-On: 2019 Flagship Killer?

BEAST!

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Top of the line specs, amazing cameras, and high-speed wireless charging. MWC hasn’t even officially started yet, so it might be premature to say this, but has Xiaomi just unveiled the 2019 flagship killer?

We recently got to spend time with Xiaomi’s latest flagship and this is our hands-on video.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy M20 hands-on: Give the users what they want

Awakening of the sleeping giant

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Samsung has been the smartphone market leader for half a decade now, and its flagship phones continue to be an inspiration for everyone. However, while the brand is dominating in developed markets, it has taken a massive beating in the developing ones.

Thanks to players like Xiaomi, the South Korean brand has consistently lost market share in countries like India. Samsung slowly prepared itself to change strategy by the end of last year and intends to go hard in 2019. It announced the new Galaxy M-series lineup of phones in the budget segment and the M10 and M20 are the first ones to roll off the shelf.

The M20 has been launched in India for INR 10,990 (US$ 154) and comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. The option with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage costs INR 12,990 (US$ 182). The phone goes up against the Redmi 6 Pro, Realme U1, and even the Mi A2.

To start with, Samsung has opted to go with a basic design, consisting of a plastic body that is curved at the edges and is pretty glossy. The phone is extremely comfortable to hold, and the build quality is top-notch. Even the buttons are very tactile and bezels are smaller.

On the front is a 6.3-inch TFT display with a Full HD resolution and small water-drop style notch on the top. This is the first Samsung phone to feature a notch, and the display quality is surprisingly good. The color production is vivid and satisfying, while the viewing angles are perfect. It is easily visible even under direct sunlight.

For authentication, a fingerprint scanner is located on the rear and it is fast enough. You also have the option of face unlock and it works quickly in well-lit conditions. It has dual-SIM support and there’s a separate slot for microSD card, as well.

Powering the phone is an octa-core Exynos 7904 processor, which is considered to be on par with the Snapdragon 636. It is a very power-efficient processor with more emphasis on the cameras. Day-to-day tasks are handled smoothly and games like PUBG are playable with low graphics.

It has a dual-camera setup on the rear, consisting of a 13-megapixel primary shooter and a 5-megapixel wide-angle sensor. The pictures clicked during daytime are decently saturated but lack sharpness. Even focus tends to get slow in low-light conditions. The wide-angle lens works best in bright surroundings only and is a very handy tool. For selfies, it has an 8-megapixel shooter with built-in beauty enhancements.

It ships with Samsung Experience 9.5 out of the box and is actually well optimized. There is barely any lag and the UI offers a plethora of customizations and features. The company announced that the Android Pie update will be landing soon. Lastly, it has a massive 5000mAh battery that’ll get you through two days of usage.

Xiaomi has been successful because it offers users a balanced product that suits everyone’s needs. With the M20, Samsung goes down the same road. While the recently announced A-series phones were for photography enthusiasts, the M20 is good enough for everything.

The M20 is no disruptor, but an indication that Samsung is gearing up. And as a generation-one product, it’s performing fairly well.

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Cameras

Fujifilm Instax SQ20 hands-on: How good is it?

Trying out the new Motion Mode on doggies!

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Fujifilm’s sequel to their first ever digital/analog hybrid is here and it’s looking better than ever. The Instax SQ20 is one classy-looking instant camera but what can it do? With a set of built-in filters and new features like the Motion Mode, it looks like a promising device.

I finally try it out, with help from some doggies, on our hands-on video.

The SQ20 retails for US$ 199 in the US, PhP 12,999 in the Philippines, and SG$ 299 in Singapore.

In case you’re having trouble viewing, watch HERE.

READ ALSO: Fujifilm Instax SQ10 review

READ ALSO: Prynt Pocket unboxing and review: A printer that prints videos?

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