Reviews

OnePlus 6T Review: Not a flagship killer

But still a heavy hitter

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OnePlus’ latest smartphone won’t be slaying flagships anytime soon. However, it doesn’t mean the OnePlus 6T is no longer a heavy hitter.

For the most part, the OnePlus 6T still brings to the table a lot of the good things we’ve come to expect from the company. You still get top-of-the-line specs with our particular model rocking the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC along with 8GB of memory and 128GB of internal storage.

The red silicone case is a great counterpoint to (and protection for) the bland glass back

Smooth and snappy

The phone’s tagline is unlock the speed and while it alludes more to the screen unlock feature which isn’t exactly new, you truly are unlocking something incredibly fast and smooth. This is my first time back with a phone using the OxygenOS user interface (UI) and the snappiness is almost unreal. It’s also the cleanest Android skin out there.

OnePlus’ signature alert slider is still here

Outside of the clean design, there are gestures that have been present on OnePlus phones for a while now. My favorites are the double-tap to wake and three-finger screenshot.

There are other gestures too like drawing certain letters on the screen which you can customize to do anything from launching the camera app and turning on/off the flashlight, to opening the app.

OxygenOS is clean AF

Some nice touches that I really like are the dark theme and the option to choose the accent color of the UI. These are little things but they work so well in accentuating the clean and overall pleasant experience with OxygenOS.

Some additions, some omissions

Perhaps the most notable addition is the screen unlock feature which puts the fingerprint sensor under the display. It’s tech that’s present in most flagships today. The screen unlock on the OnePlus 6T isn’t perfect but it’s still far and away a much better experience than the one Xiaomi put on the Mi 8 Pro — a phone with similar specs and pricing (under US$ 600) and could be classified as the 6T’s direct competitor.

Double-tap to wake + Screen Unlock is a nice combo

There’s no LED notification light and while it’s something some people might find trivial, it’s a little feature I find quite useful and wish OnePlus would bring back on the next phone.

The 6T is the first OnePlus phone to take away the headphone jack. The company had an unsatisfying explanation as to why they went in this direction but they do address it by including a USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter in the box.

Twice’s Chaeyoung looking mighty fine

This might’ve been a big deal had I not used a few phones without a headphone jack prior to this review, but this isn’t the case now. I have mostly gotten used to it and can say that I’m fine with Jack going away for good, especially if your only concern is consuming media.

Pretty good media device

Speaking of consuming media, the 6.41-inch AMOLED display is fantastic. Colors look great, and watching videos feels immersive. I did notice a few differences depending on the app you’re using.

When you go full screen on YouTube, it makes use of all the available display. That means the notch, no matter how small, becomes quite noticeable.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an amazing film. Go see it!

The same isn’t the case when watching on Netflix. The app automatically hides the notch which I think is a better implementation of the full-screen view. Of course, this can all be easily fixed by just hiding the notch altogether.

Deku realizing he can use his legs. Season 3 of My Hero Academia is now on Netflix!

One drawback is the audio. While it’s better than the OnePlus 6’s and it can get quite loud now, the quality still has plenty of room for improvement. I found it lacking in bass and just doesn’t sound as rich as I would like it to.

Two speaker grilles but audio could still be better

Most of my viewing and listening sessions have been aided by a Bluetooth headset or speaker. I wish the speaker wasn’t necessary, especially when I’m just alone in my room, but that is not the case.

Performance beast

This is the one constant with OnePlus smartphones — they’re all pretty reliable performance-wise. Whether it be multitasking or gaming, the OnePlus 6T has absolutely no trouble handling whatever you throw at it.

The game mode helps manage notifications while you play

I only really played sparingly on the phone as I’m not really big on mobile gaming. However, I do consider myself a heavy user juggling between multiple apps at one time especially during a coverage.

AC Rebellion isn’t the Assassin’s Creed you’re familiar with

I recently used it on a side gig that lasted for roughly around six to seven hours. During that time, I did everything from taking photos, recording videos, posting on different social media apps, to coordinating on messaging apps. The phone handled the tasks seamlessly.

Pretending to be productive with these apps

The best part is the 3700mAh battery coupled with the phone’s quiet power-saving features left me with more juice than I thought I would have after such heavy use. I started that event with a 92 percent charge and booked my ride home with 44 percent left. That isn’t bad at all.

Par for the course cameras

The OnePlus 6T is rocking the same camera hardware as its predecessor — 16MP and 20MP combo at the back and 16MP on the front. The improvements, OnePlus says, are all in the software.

I noticed some of the photos tend to have a warmer tone which I’m not exactly a fan of. However, that may have just been a result of the area’s lighting condition. All that aside, I enjoyed taking photos with the OnePlus 6T.

Portrait mode using the main cameras look pretty good.

Selfies can also do software-assisted bokeh but sometimes it’s better to not add that effect.

I only really tried the night mode twice. I don’t think I’ll ever really need it but here they are so you can judge for yourself if this is something you’ll need.

Here are more sample shots.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

There was a time when a OnePlus phone could legitimately be called a flagship killer. Top-of-the-line specs with a price that won’t set you back so much was a deadly combo. While that is still true for the most part, the OnePlus 6T feels like there are a few things holding it back from truly standing beside the top-tier phones of 2018.

Looking at bae’s photo

If the OnePlus 6T were an NBA team, it would definitely make the postseason but its run will inevitably end in the second round of the playoffs. It can compete, sure, but it’ll probably bow out against the likes of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and the iPhone XS or XS Max.

It’s still one hell of a smartphone, though. I personally enjoyed my time with it. As someone who tends to multitask a lot on his phone and enjoys taking photos and portraits, this is a phone I truly had fun using. In fact, I would go as far as saying that if I had to purchase a phone for myself, it would be the OnePlus 6T.

Calling bae, lol

I’m a huge fan of OxygenOS and how snappy the phone is overall. It exceeds my expectations performance-wise and takes the kind of photos I expect it to. The OnePlus 6T is my GadgetMatch. If your usage pattern (and budget) is anything like mine, this could be yours too.

Lifestyle

Amazon Kindle PaperWhite Signature Edition Review

The best Kindle for every bookworm?

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It’s been a while ever since the Amazon Kindle PaperWhite had a refresh. To be particular about it, its 10th-Generation model was released last 2018 — merely three years ago!

This 2021, the new 11th-Gen Kindle PaperWhite offers better upgrades including a larger and brighter display, as well as USB-C and wireless charging support.

But are those enough to make you upgrade? Or should you wait for the next version of Kindle Oasis instead?

Head over to our unboxing and in-depth review of the Amazon Kindle PaperWhite and watch it in 4K too.

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Accessories

AirPods 3 Unboxing and Review

Watch before you buy!

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If you’ve been holding your money for so long just to buy the new AirPods 3 (also called the AirPods 3rd Generation), this is your chance to finally get one.

But with the absence of removable ear tips and Active Noise Cancellation from the AirPods Pro, would you still consider buying the pair?

Head over to our AirPods 3 Unboxing and Review to help your impulsive self.

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Gaming

Hot Wheels Unleashed review: A childhood dream realized

It’s action-packed and rather nostalgic

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Hot Wheels Unleashed

As a kid, I wanted all kinds of toys whenever we went to toy stores in the city. One of the very first toys I had an obsession over was Hot Wheels. From collecting cars to building tracks in the living room, it became the quintessential set of toys that got me into racing games all this time.

When Hot Wheels Unleashed was released, I instantly knew that this was a game I didn’t want to miss. As someone who plays a ton of racing games, this one felt right at home next to Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled. Unlike CTR:NF, the nostalgia I felt for this game was more on the side of “playing my toys on a virtual screen” type of thing.

However, if you’re looking for another game to help you pass the time, is this a game worth considering?

A racing game at its core

As with most games involving toy cars, Hot Wheels Unleashed feels right at home as a racing game. It even comes with some of the most standard game modes you can think of for any racing game, so you won’t necessarily miss out if you’re a racing game fan. Where this game sets itself apart is in its easy-to-grasp game mechanics.

Usually, all you have to do is drive around the course and win 1st Place by outspeeding and outsmarting (in some situations) your opponents. You still do that but with some key differences, particularly towards boosting. Honestly, I like the fact that boosts are activated by button pushes and accumulated by drifting. To me, it’s friendly even to new players getting into racing games.

Hot Wheels Unleashed

The other thing I like is the fact that each Hot Wheels toy car comes with its own cart stats, and not just a general one all throughout. This also gives you an incentive to try and get every available model in the game and try them out for yourself. Furthermore, you can even upgrade these stats using Gears, and customize their Livery to however you like.

Creativity and originality in track design

Every racing game needs some interesting tracks to race around, especially with something like Hot Wheels. In Hot Wheels Unleashed, you have access to 5 main backdrops, each with about 8-9 different tracks that come with their own surprises. From high-arching loops to acid pits, each track will have you doing things a bit differently each time you race.

In fact, the first thing I noticed was that the elements in the tracks are quite similar to the actual models in those track builder sets. The designers did an incredible job with maximizing the entire backdrop to produce tracks with enough twists and turns along the way. Also, I would even argue that these tracks let you play around with the driving mechanics.

Now, I have some good news and bad news for you on these tracks. The bad news is that when you start the game, most of the tracks are locked as in-game transactions. If you wanted to unlock them the easy way, just pay a few bucks to get in-game currency and buy them.

However, the good news is you can unlock them by completing the Hot Wheels City Rumble mode. Although it will be an immense grind on your part, but I honestly think it’s worth it!

Wait, you can make your own tracks?!

Yes, you read that right: Hot Wheels Unleashed also allows you to create your own tracks to race on with your friends online. See, one unique mode to the game is the Track Builder, and I guess the name is self-explanatory. To be honest, this game mode was the best and it actually brings me back to my childhood.

Once you start the game mode, you basically have a blank canvas to work with, depending on the main backdrop you choose. After choosing your desired backdrop, you have a variety of track builder pieces to choose from and customize. Also, it even comes with your set of obstacles and boost pads to add some flavor to your tracks.

I absolutely enjoyed going on Track Builder as someone who collected Hot Wheels track sets before. Basically, you can create some of the most death-defying tracks that your younger self could not afford to before. Seriously, Hot Wheels track builder sets are expensive, and this game basically lets you experience this without spending a hefty amount.

Some low points

Much like most racing games, this one doesn’t come with its own set of shortcomings. To no one’s surprise, this game comes with a Hot Pass that allows you to earn more cars, tracks, and track builder sets. The good thing about it is, well, it’s more content at your disposal. At the time of writing, they’re currently running one with Batman vehicles as the main rewards,

The thing I don’t like about it is that you have to pay for it. I genuinely feel that this is something that would have been better off as a Battle Pass-type of package instead of paid DLC. I mean, it’s additional content that people also want to try out but with a rather hefty price tag. Maybe if they did it this way, people would continue to grind out the game.

Another thing that felt lacking in my eyes was the Basement, particularly the customization aspect.

I get it, it’s another main backdrop for your tracks and you can work with a ton of elements when creating your own. However, I didn’t like that the customization was limited to just the exterior design. Honestly,  I was looking for more customization options like moving the furniture around.

A roaring good time

Hot Wheels Unleashed is a racing game that feels right at home with the best of them. From a vast selection of carts to creative and unique track design, it feels fresh to anybody trying to get into racing games. Also, if you grew up playing your Hot Wheels car collection, this takes you back to simpler times.

Again, it’s not perfect and hopefully with upcoming patches, the game does get better. However, they missed out on some opportunities to make it a worthwhile game to play for any occasion. Sure, if you had money to burn, this wouldn’t be an issue; for others, however, they want a lot more without spending too much.

Overall, this game will give you a roaring good time, especially when you just need some down time from all the stress. What made it even more special for me was that this game pretty much made one of my childhood dreams a reality!

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