Reviews

OnePlus 5 Review: A bit of everything

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As much as we prefer ranking smartphones by their price range, there’ll always be that one handset that disrupts the system. Month after month, it’s been whatever OnePlus has in its stable.

Like its predecessor, the OnePlus 3T, the OnePlus 5 slid into our definition of “midrange” despite having specifications and features at the level of phones in our premium segment. A starting price of only US$ 479 does that, and sets the latest OnePlus as the go-to, bang-for-buck performer of 2017 thus far.

And yet, in spite of being superior on paper, the OnePlus 5 isn’t a clear-cut upgrade over the 3T — or any of its closest rivals, for that matter. Let me explain.

A borrowed design just doesn’t do it for me…

For a brand that follows the “Never Settle” philosophy, it’s strange to see its flagship smartphone borrow so many design cues from other manufacturers.

Setting aside the expected iPhone 7 Plus comparison, the OnePlus 5 has a strong, strong resemblance to the OPPO R11. So much so, that the case provided by OPPO for the R11 fits on the OnePlus 5. Had the OnePlus 5 come first, this wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but for it to have the same build as a lower-tier phone merely weakens the impact.

Two nano-SIM card slots, yes. Storage expansion using a microSD card, no.

While I understand that OPPO and OnePlus are sister companies, it’s inexcusable for me to see a borrowed design for a phone which appears only once per year.

On the bright side, if OnePlus really had to imitate, this was a good choice. The smooth edges along the 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED display have a satisfying relationship with my hand, and the generous amount of front bezel didn’t bother me once. I just wish there were a bundled case; a week of bare yet careful usage caused scratches on the rear camera bump.

… and not much has changed on the surface…

The usual niceties of OnePlus are still here, from the near-stock Android skin and super-sensitive fingerprint sensor that doubles as a non-clicky home button, to the ultra-fast Dash Charge.

Beginning with the user interface, this is as clean as it gets. The only out-of-place app is Community, which seamlessly connects you with fellow OnePlus users, but is just as easy to uninstall in case you don’t really want it.

Like fellow Chinese brands OPPO and Vivo, the OnePlus 5’s fingerprint sensor is a blast to use. Not once did it fail me, and I appreciate how it’s so well sized and placed in front for easy access while on top of a table.

Lastly, the phone’s fast-charging technology continues to be the best in the industry. We have a nerdy explainer on the differences between each charging tech, but the gist is Dash Charge is the most appreciated for allowing the wall charger to heat up instead of the phone itself — not to mention it’s the fastest tech by far.

As usual, what it sorely lacks is water- and dust-resistance, a pair of features that have become common in the smartphones the OnePlus 5 strives to compete against. Once the next Pixel phone brings waterproofing in, the OnePlus 5 will be the only truly high-end handset to be left out.

… but the experience is so much better.

So, a borrowed design from competitors and same-same features from its predecessor — what’s there to be excited about? Two things: the best smartphone processor in the Snapdragon 835, and a brand-new pair of cameras at the back.

This thing is seriously fast — like unbelievably fast. I’ve had the pleasure of using the Snapdragon 835-equipped Samsung Galaxy S8 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium as long-term daily drivers, but the OnePlus 5 still manages to smoke them in terms of raw performance. The animations are a lot more fluid, apps almost never crash, and everything simply works smoothly.

The 3.5mm audio port is still here!

It’s not that this chip is a battery-draining powerhouse, either. In fact, the OnePlus 5 would last me a whole day of heavy usage with at least five hours of screen-on time. That includes everything I do, from listening to tunes on Spotify while editing articles on WordPress, to browsing the web on Chrome and taking pictures every now and then.

A lightly skinned interface, adequate 3300mAh battery capacity, and highly efficient chipset coupled with up to 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage are reasons behind its overall great performance. The model I reviewed is a half step down with 6GB of memory and 64GB of storage, but not once did it fail me.

And, of course, we have the dual-camera setup on the rear. If you’re familiar with the iPhone and R11’s implementation, you’d know what you’re in for: The secondary lens enables you to zoom in on subjects without a drastic loss in quality and add some background blur to your photos.

Sounds good on paper, but how well does that work in practice? Have a look:

OnePlus worked closely with imaging specialist DxOMark to maximize this phone’s imaging powers, and even though it didn’t trump the competition, we must say the quality is quite good.

Both the rear cameras and selfie shooter show notable improvements over their predecessor. Colors have a little more pop; subjects are definitely sharper; and most of all, there are separate portrait and pro modes that’ll allow you to do more. I honestly didn’t have to rely on pro mode — auto settings always did the trick — but applying a shallow depth look through portrait mode did wonders to subjects standing a few feet away.

And then we have the optical zoom from the secondary main camera. We went into detail about it during our hands-on review in China, and the technique is no gimmick. There’s a slight drop in quality when zooming in under lousy lighting conditions, but the outdoor shots are perfectly fine.

Check ’em out:

 

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I could rave on and on about how the OnePlus 5 is everyone’s GadgetMatch, but like with the OnePlus 3T, you have to consider a couple of caveats.

As mentioned earlier, water resistance is missing and the overall look is far too similar to other flagship devices. I failed to expand on the lack of microSD card expansion, but that’s something you can cure with cloud storage.

There are two variants available: The configuration with 6GB of memory and 64GB of storage retails for US$ 479, while the 8GB, 128GB version costs US$ 539. Although significantly more expensive than OnePlus 3T pricing, you’re still getting a noticeable bump in performance and features, and that’s another plus for us.

Our particular review unit came from Digital Walker. The model with 64GB of storage is valued at PhP 26,490, and the one with 128GB storage is priced at PhP 30,990.

SEE ALSO: OnePlus 5 Unboxing: Almost too familiar

[irp posts=”16021″ name=”OnePlus 5 Unboxing: Almost too familiar”]

Accessories

Lenovo ThinkVision M14T: Elevate productivity on-the-go

Ultra portable and sexy looking device

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ThinkVision M14T

Many of us have gotten used to the convenience of multitasking on our computing devices. It’s just one of those things that helps make our daily grind much more manageable and efficient. With today’s devices becoming more and more powerful, simultaneously running apps on your phones and a number of browser tabs and windows have become second nature to us. 

With desktop computers having ultra wide monitors and multiple desktop displays, nowadays you can watch YouTube videos, browse social sites, and even do work on side by side opened windows.

Lenovo has brought that same experience to our portable devices with the Lenovo ThinkVision M14T Portable Monitor

Ultimate portability 

The ThinkVision M14T is a 14-inch 1920x1080p resolution, touch screen, IPS display monitor. With much focus on portability, the ThinkVision M14T is just 4.6mm thin and weighs only 698g.

The moment I saw the actual device, my initial impression was just wow. Its sleek and ultra slim form factor with that glossy 14-inch display wrapped with slim bezels just looked impressive. However, that impression faded away quickly.

As I picked up the unit from the box, handling it felt fragile. It is so slim and light that I was afraid to place it anywhere with fear that I might accidentally break it. To address that, a soft pouch does come with the package for its protection. Though, without a dedicated hard case, I wonder if it may actually survive being stored in my bag along with other things.

As easy as Plug and Play

Searching the contents of the box, I was thinking if Lenovo just forgot to pack the power brick in the box because it just didn’t come with one. No, it wasn’t a mistake. The ThinkVision M14T monitor requires only a single USB-C cable to get power, touch or pen input signal and a display signal from its source. 

Plugging it in the USB-C port of the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 laptop, the ThinkVision M14T was instantly detected. And with a press of the power button, the M14T was up and running. I have to say, it amazes me that it is that convenient. Not having to need an external power source was like magic.

At 300 nits of brightness, the M14T’s IPS display panel is bright and vibrant. At its max brightness setting when paired with the ThinkPad X13, the ThinkVision M14T’s display seemed to overpower that of the X13, making the two look a bit unbalanced.

Its base folds out from the bottom of the monitor which acts as its stand. Opened out, the ThinkVision M14T felt stiff, solid and stable.

You can choose which side you’d want to plug your device as both the left and right sides of the base each have a USB-C input. On its right, we have the power button and on the left we have a brightness control switch. Sadly, no other input ports are available other than USB-C.

Precision and response as you like it

The M14T is not only a secondary touch screen display, you may also use it as a tablet complementary to your device with its interactive stylus. This means if you have a device that doesn’t have touch or pen input built-in, the ThinkVision M14T will give you just that.

By this time, most graphic tablet users must have already been exposed to stylus pens being rechargeable similar to the Apple Pencil. The stylus pen that comes with the M14T still uses a single and unusual type of battery (AAAA). Thankfully, a battery does come with the unit.

ThinkVision M14T

Having set my standards high on this aspect, I honestly didn’t expect this combo to perform as good as Wacom drawing tablets and the likes. To my surprise, as soon as I started writing, I immediately noticed how smooth its pen input was. With only minimal latency, the M14T’s stylus registers my movement almost instantly and its dedicated buttons are mapped automatically.

With the monitor folded down on a flat surface, it really did feel like I was doodling on an actual drawing tablet.

The M14T’s 10-point multi-touch input for touch gestures and 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity with its stylus, graphic artists won’t be disappointed with this bundle.

ThinkVision M14T

Is the Lenovo ThinkVision M14T Portable Monitor your GadgetMatch?

The ThinkVision M14T is by no means a perfect device. Having USB-C as the only display input option may have limited its potential for versatility of use. The stylus not having batteries built-in might raise some eyebrows too. But if you’re willing to live with its limitations, Lenovo still has managed to tick many of the right boxes with their ThinkVision M14T Portable Monitor.

ThinkVision M14T

The convenience of having more screen real estate on the go and using a single cable for its operation is just a glorious experience. Ultra portability, decent brightness, good viewing angles, pen and touch input in such a sexy looking device, the M14T would be an ideal companion for just about anyone. 

The good most definitely outweighs the bad with Lenovo’s ThinkVision M14T.

Get the Lenovo ThinkVision M14T Portable Monitor for PhP 19,995.

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Nokia 2.4: Basic budget phone but can keep up

Dependable battery life and surprisingly decent camera shots

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Nokia 2.4

One of the main factors that we look for when choosing a mobile phone is getting the best value for our money, and certainly Nokia does not disappoint.

As they continue to make a stride in the country by offering competitive smartphones, they bring in another budget phone which is the fourth iteration of the Nokia 2 series — the Nokia 2.4.

Before we delve into the nitty gritty details, let’s take a look at the basic specs of Nokia 2.4 to get a glimpse on what you can expect.

Nokia 2.4
Display 6.5″ HD+ 20:9 1600 x 720 pixels
Processor Media Tek Helio P22
RAM + ROM 3GB + 64GB | MicroSD card slot supports up to 512GB
Cameras Dual Camera (13MP Main Camera + 2MP Depth Sensing)

5MP Front Camera

Battery 4,500mAh
Unlock Rear fingerprint scanner
Other connections Micro USB (USB 2.0), 3.5mm jack

A definite looker

As HMD Global is known for creating modern designs even for previous Nokia smartphones, the Nokia 2.4 is definitely stunning with its Charcoal Grey Nordic finish. Its shell may be made of out of painted polycarbonate, but the dual tone gradient and textured cover add plenty of grip and just spells quality.

Nokia 2.4

Up front, you’ll see the top selfie waterdrop-style notch which is actually a bit intrusive for my taste. The bezels surrounding its 6.5-inch HD+ display is also thicker than today’s standards but is barely noticeable as the screen already lets you maximize your viewing experience.

Nokia 2.4

One nice touch to the Nokia 2.4’s design is the Google Assistant button just below the SIM card slot on the left side of the phone. With just a click of a button, you can do quick searches, manage your tasks and get directions on the go.

Moving on to the back, it has a dual camera setup with 13MP as the main sensor and the 2MP sensor for depth, plus a single LED flash. Just below it, you can find the fingerprint sensor which is convenient for quicker unlocking.

But to my dismay, this phone uses a micro USB port, instead of a USB-C port for charging, which results to slower charging of up to 3 hours and slower file transfer.

Ready for what’s next

One major advantage of the Nokia 2.4 is that it’s part of Google’s Android One program which gave me a clean, vanilla Android user experience, free from bloatware that may take up memory and storage.

Nokia 2.4

The Nokia 2.4 is currently running on Android 10 but it will be upgraded to Android 11 when available as you can expect 2 years of software upgrades and 3 years of monthly security updates with this phone.

Passable performance

A bit on the downside, the Nokia 2.4 is not for multi-tasking and intensive games, as expected for a budget phone.

Using one app to another is quite a smooth experience but when I opened multiple apps, I experience a bit of lag and took some time for other apps to run.

As for video streaming, I watched a few episodes of Alice in Borderland and the quality was just acceptable as the phone doesn’t support 1080p videos.

Nokia 2.4

Gaming was also not its strongest feature, especially for graphic-intensive ones. I tried 3D gaming with Asphalt 9: Legends and it worked quite well on low graphics settings but when I shifted the settings to high, the game just crashed.

Nokia 2.4

Battery that lets you go on and on

 The news that leaked around July last year that the Nokia 2 series might even get a bigger battery, coming from the Nokia 2.3 that carries 4000mAh, was confirmed when Nokia 2.4 came with a 4500mAh battery.

Upon using it to navigate through my social media apps, answer a few emails, watch around 3-4 episodes of my current favorite Netflix series and get my music fix every now and then to get my mojo working, the phone lasted for around 2 days.

I fully charged it again and just left it open while still being connected to my Wi-Fi and the phone lasted four to five days. These factors definitely show that the Nokia 2.4 has a battery that you can definitely bank on.

Either day or night

As a budget phone, the Nokia 2.4 surprisingly gives one of the best camera experiences you can have for a phone at its price.

I took it out for a spin during my workout sessions and the primary lens can actually take good detailed photos during daylight while retaining natural colors, compared to Samsung budget phones that usually produce saturated ones.

The night mode of the Nokia 2.4 was also impressive since it was still quite usable in lower light conditions, product decent photos where details were still evident, and colors were still vivid.

Is this your Gadgetmatch?

At a retail price of PhP 6,990, the Nokia 2.4 is pretty competitive. Despite its shortcomings such as having just a passable performance when it comes to multi-tasking and gaming and mediocre display resolution, it makes up for it by its advantages.

If you’re some who prioritizes having a phone with a striking design, dependable battery life, takes surprisingly good camera shots and a promise of timely security updates and software upgrades, then the Nokia 2.4 can actually be your Gadgetmatch.

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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Review: Better than AirPods Pro?

Finally, real Active Noise Cancellation out of the box

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Samsung has unveiled the newest Galaxy Buds Pro alongside the announcement of the latest Galaxy S21 series.

Other than the new design, better sound quality, and surround sound setup, there’s now a real and intelligent Active Noise Cancellation.

But do these earbuds live up to its ‘Pro’ branding? Watch our Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review by clicking the video link right here.

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