Reviews

OnePlus 5 Review: A bit of everything

Published

on

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”]

Philippines

Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro Review: Twice the power, still affordable

But is it worth the hype?

Published

on

By

The year is far from over and neither are phone manufacturers from releasing smartphones. Although Mi 9T Pro isn’t the newest smartphone release from Xiaomi, it’s one of the most talked about smartphones around and is still the flagship killer to, well, kill.

If you previously read our Xiaomi Mi 9T review, you’d know by now that I’m exactly an Android user. I loved the Mi 9T Pro’s smaller sibling however because of its camera prowess and seamless experience despite its cheap price tag.


Now that I have the more powerful Mi 9T Pro on hand, I took it out on adventures the past few weeks to see whether it can actually live up to its flagship killer title.

Same design, different vibe

If you compare the Mi 9T and Mi 9T Pro side-by-side, it’ll be difficult to tell them apart. The symmetry is there. I like the Carbon Black option for its stealth while the Glacier Blue option is striking, in a good way. Although I’m not a fan of flashy design and colors, I love how there are subtle gradations flowing from both sides.

The red power button is still there, giving it a touch of contrast against its blue metallic body.

Speaker grilles, microphone, USB-C port, and SIM card slot below.

The Mi 9T Pro has a Gorilla Glass 5 back. It’s not the newest generation of Corning’s technology but it’s good enough to protect the phone from accidental scratches. The Mi 9T had none, which was a drawback for a smartphone with a glass back. I loved flaunting its back that I decided not to use the included black case. It’s still good as new and has not acquired any scratches. It feels right in my hand and doesn’t slip easily.

Same screen size, different display

Even Suzy looks confused with the differences in AMOLED and Super AMOLED

Xiaomi’s Mi 9T wowed me before because of its 6.4-inch AMOLED display. It’s an excellent panel, for such a cheap phone, with great viewing angles and contrast.

The Mi 9T Pro still packs a similar 6.4-inch display, but with a Super AMOLED display technology. Watching videos even outdoors is a great experience because it’s brighter and overall a better panel.

The Super AMOLED display is drop-dead gorgeous, so is Yoohyeon

I love its fullscreen display. Not having a notch or punch-hole camera makes a difference for me especially when watching videos. Color calibration is accurate and vibrant, making visuals pop.

Watching TWICE’s Feel Special in 4K made me miss Mina more #GetWellSoonMina

There are only a handful of smartphones with 4K resolution — and it’s not the basis of having a great display. It may not be the best display on a smartphone, but the Mi 9T Pro still delivers excellent entertainment experience even with its Full HD+ display. It’s also more power efficient than the AMOLED display found on the Mi 9T.

Flagship performance at half the price

The Mi 9T was already a great smartphone with the Snapdragon 730, but Xiaomi made the Mi 9T Pro even better. This phone is  equipped with a flagship Snapdragon 855 chipset — something you can only find on more expensive smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and OnePlus 7 Pro.

The Mi 9T Pro feels snappier than the Mi 9T — something I noticed immediately. Opening apps, the animation — they all feel faster. The experience is oh-so fluid and smooth. I can now play my favorite Asphalt 9 game at the highest settings that I couldn’t do (or even install) on the Mi 9T before.

Just like the Mi 9T, it also has 6GB of memory, so switching between apps is seamless.

Having a 3.5mm audio jack feels special (pun intended)

A lot of “Pro” products don’t seem like they meet expectations of actual pro users. If you’re the type of person who prefers the traditional way of listening to music, this phone has a 3.5mm jack — something you don’t see in many smartphones these days.

While I can always connect a wireless pair of headphones, the good ol’ audio jack is still very handy in a lot of scenarios. I find it useful when playing music in parties that don’t have wireless speakers. Some people still use wired microphones for audio recording as it’s more reliable. Some monopods require wired cables for you to control shutter releases.

Battery life is outstanding

I’m not proud of it but I’m *that* power user. I fiddle around with my phone and browse my social media feed every five to ten minutes. When I’m bored, I watch videos on YouTube or at least two episodes of a series I’m following on Netflix at around 75% brightness. I also play graphics-intensive games every now and then. Despite all of this, the Mi 9T Pro’s battery lasts me my entire day.

Fast charging just got faster

The Mi 9T already has a USB-C port and an 18W fast charger right out of the box — but the Mi 9T Pro ships with a faster 27W charger with Quick Charge 4+ technology.

It takes around 35 minutes to charge the phone from 0% to 50%. It reached 100% after around an hour and 30 minutes. That’s fast for a smartphone with a 4000 mAh battery.

Modern problems require modern solutions, except for these two

The Mi 9T Pro still features an in-display fingerprint scanner and it works most of the time. Not that I’m complaining, but it will never be as fast as a traditional scanner. A side-mounted scanner is always my alternative pick over this type of reader.

I thought there will be at least a difference when it comes to Face Unlock but it still performs sluggish. I would rather use the fingerprint scanner instead of the inconvenience of swiping and waiting for the camera to pop-up. Face unlock isn’t even as secure as it just relies on camera recognition.

The pop-up camera itself performs well

Don’t get me wrong, the pop-up camera is not bad, well at least in taking selfies. It captures decent selfies even when beauty mode is completely turned off.

I like how the selfies don’t look as saturated as other selfie shooters, which gives it a nice touch in persuading your crush to give you a chance to date you.

People who have shorter arms wouldn’t have a problem as the selfie camera is wide enough to accommodate four (or more) people in the frame — just like how a lot of you accommodate people that will never be a part of your life.

Same triple camera setup, but now snappier

You get the same triple camera setup as the Mi 9T that I loved: 48MP f/1.8 wide, 8MP f/2.4 telephoto, and 13MP f/2.4 ultrawide.

There’s a small difference though: the Mi 9T Pro has laser autofocus. This might not sound like much but taking photos with the Mi 9T Pro felt snappier and photos turn out sharper. It’s an understated but very important improvement.

Unlike with the Mi 9T, I didn’t experience errors while using the Mi 9T Pro’s camera

The camera does well with food subjects

But it’s honestly even better with the telephoto lens

Night Mode works really well

But sometimes, it doesn’t do photos justice

The highlights in the neon signs were dimmed after turning on the Night Mode, which made the shots worse.

Using Night Mode on the telephoto lens is great, too

I really love how it captured the filament in these two light bulbs and produced the right amount of shadows and blur in the background.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The maxed-out 128GB/6GB configuration of the Mi 9T Pro is priced at PhP 20,490, while the 64GB/6GB configuration currently retails at PhP 18,990 — which is just a PhP 1,500 difference from Mi 9T’s 128GB/6GB.

A lot of people have been calling the Mi 9T Pro as 2019’s true flagship killer, not just because of its top of the line specs but also because of its affordable price tag.

If you want to have a powerful smartphone with a bright display, snappy cameras, and unparalleled software experience without spending that much, the Mi 9T Pro is for you. If you don’t need the faster chipset and just want an overall great device, then go for the Mi 9T.

Continue Reading

Reviews

Vivo NEX 3 Unboxing and Review

Vivo continues to innovate

Published

on

This is our Vivo NEX 3 Unboxing and Review.

Last year, just in time for the World Cup, the Vivo NEX was born. A play on the word NEXT, it was a showcase of their innovative chops and a taste of what was yet to come in a phone that you could already buy.


In the span of just over a year we’ve seen its iterations and this month, Vivo launched a new NEX. What new innovations does it have up its sleeves?

Continue Reading

Reviews

Vivo S1 Review: The Skyline’s the limit

It’s near perfect, and that’s why it’s good

Published

on

If there’s one thing people should know about me, it’s that I have a strict preference for smartphones. Well, the only thing that’s strict about it is that I only want smartphones in black. It’s all about the subtlety of the device, that it gives off a premium feel.

Then, I got my hands on Vivo’s latest smartphone, the Vivo S1 with all the color at the back. I could tell that Vivo threw subtlety out the window, but don’t let the bright color fool you. This midrange-near-budget smartphone supposedly packs a punch and some nifty features, as well. But does it live up to its potential, or is it just pure aesthetic?


It has a 6.38-inch Super AMOLED FullView display

It comes with an AI triple camera setup at the back

It has an In-Display fingerprint sensor

It comes in two colors: Skyline Blue and Diamond Black

It’s that fast, powerful, and responsive

The Vivo S1 comes in a 128GB + 6GB RAM package that invites a lot of people when you hear it. In 2019, I feel it’s only right to offer smartphones with that much storage and efficiency, and this device is no different. It’s real fast, with a very responsive Funtouch OS 9 to complement it.

Most heavy-duty, RAM consuming apps and games did not deter the phone’s overall performance. I managed to use all of my social media apps, YouTube, and some games running on idle without any lag time. I even tried using the split screen feature on several apps, and still no observable lag in between.

There is an unreal battery inside it

This smartphone comes with a whopping 4500 mAh battery inside, with Vivo touting it can last for more than a day. True enough, it took about 28 hours of regular usage for social media, YouTube, and a few games before I got the battery to zero. I am thoroughly impressed with how this battery held itself together even after a full day’s use.

It also helps that Vivo even included a Fast Charging feature to its charging brick. One full charge took an average of two hours, which is great considering it’s still using a micro-USB port. Come on Vivo, it’s 2019; put a USB Type-C port in there!

It has a dedicated, and effective Game Mode on

One of the things I appreciated about the Vivo S1 was its Game Mode every time I start a game. Enhancements often include devoting more memory for RAM-heavy games, optimizing battery life while playing, and turning off some notifications. I felt this was a big step in incorporating such enhancements during gameplay. Also, at least you get to play in silence instead of having someone’s Messenger head icon pop up.

It also helped that the software optimizes these games on a regular basis. I think that’s one major aspect other companies should try to incorporate with their optimizing software for games. Every time I start up a game, gameplay feels much smoother — especially on MOBA and FPS games.

Triple the cameras and the quality is pretty great

I’ve had different experiences with triple camera setups across devices. Some of them have the details down but miss out on accurate coloring. Others do the exact opposite, producing saturated images or colors without much attention to detail. With the Vivo S1, it’s quite different.

Image quality during daytime and under ample lighting conditions is superb. I noticed a bit of smart blurring with outside shots with just one tap, plus no details were left behind. Even under gloomy weather, colors turned out great and accurate without need for editing. Selfies under the same conditions share the same quality, as well.

It’s an entirely different story when you try to shoot photos late in the afternoon till the night. It’s obvious that the sensors take a bit of time to adjust for low light scenes. The results leave a little much to be desired, with the images having a little bit of grain. Colors are not as accurate, yet details are still recognizable.

Small details that deserve your attention

There are other things that I believe deserve people’s attention with the Vivo S1. First, I think it was clever for Vivo to include a rubber phone case that covers the charging port. It keeps the phone safe, as the port is protected against possible shocks. Although, since it’s made of rubber plastic it is quite flimsy so just be careful tugging it out.

Second, the In-Display fingerprint sensor is pretty easy to set-up and use. Fingerprint recognition is spot on, and I could unlock the device instantly. It also does this swirl effect when you lift the device from a surface, anticipating your fingerprint.

Finally, the headphone jack in 2019 is still a welcome addition to smartphones despite everyone going wireless. It fits well within a budget category for a smartphone that touts near-premium specifications. The built-in speakers also sound great, with some depth when you’re listening to music or videos.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

At Php 14,999, the Vivo S1 offers the complete package of great performance and image quality. If you’re not heavy on using it to take selfies or videos, you will definitely feel just how powerful and fast it is for everything else. From social media apps to games, this is a great pickup for anyone with the budget for it.

For those who want to start on mobile photography, there’s potential for this phone. Overall image quality is fantastic under ample lighting conditions. It helps to be wary of your surroundings when you’re taking outside shots, and take note of the smart blurring in between. Take advantage of the different shooting modes as well.

Overall, the sky’s the limit for the Vivo S1. While it does come in aesthetically bright colors, the device lives up to its potential to be a great device for everyone.

Continue Reading

Trending