Reviews

OnePlus 8 Pro review: Best of the best

True blue flagship

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Before we dive into our review, let’s take a quick trip back in time to exactly a year ago. When the company launched the OnePlus 7 Pro — their first phone to get the pro branding — it marked a new direction for the company.

Known as the flagship killer, OnePlus sold phones with top of the line specs at a fraction of the cost of any other Android favorite. At US$ 669, the OnePlus 7 Pro was priced unlike anything that came before it. 

With that pricing strategy, it was clear that OnePlus wanted to compete head to head with the likes of Apple and Samsung. While a valiant effort — particularly when it came to its superb display — there was one big area where the OnePlus 7 Pro fell short: its camera.

Don’t get me wrong, the phone took good photos, just not great, and certainly not what you’d expect from a phone at that price point. That made it a good buy, but not an easy one to recommend. 

This year the new OnePlus 8 Pro is even more expensive; so the stakes are even higher and expectations greater. Is the OnePlus 8 Pro a phone I can recommend?

Premium looks

On the outside the OnePlus 8 Pro looks very similar to last year’s model — from its shape, to its curves, to the positioning of the rear camera system — except that the curves meld more into the frame so it doesn’t feel as sharp when you wrap your palms around it.

It’s a tiny bit taller, thinner, and narrower. Whatever millimeters they shaved off from its sides makes a huge difference. Last year’s phone felt big. This one is more manageable. It’s still bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S20+ and Huawei P40 Pro, which are, at least to me, the perfect size.

The button layout is the same. The physical mute switch which everyone loves is still there. Ports, antenna bands, speaker grilles are all unchanged.

The OnePlus 8 Pro also finally has official water and dust resistance rating: IP68.

The biggest design change is the removal of the pop-up selfie camera. Punch hole it is this year. 

It’s not intrusive, although I would much rather have it in the middle like on the S20. I also personally would pick a punch hole over a pop up camera any day. I’m just not a fan of moving parts. I also like how there’s a white ring around the punch hole so people know where to look when taking a selfie. 

The official name for this lovely finish is Ultramarine Blue — a color that’s exclusive to the Pro Series here in the US. It’s also available in Glacier Green, and for those who want something more classic there is Onyx Black. 

OnePlus 8 in Interstellar Glow

The non-Pro OnePlus 8 has its own exclusive color in the US as well: Interstellar Glow. This has a mirror finish that picks up colors from its surroundings. 

If you follow me on social media, you’d know of my affinity to the color blue so forgive me if I write a few more sentences about this lovely color.

The finish is matte satin that still glistens in the light. It isn’t much of a fingerprint magnet, and is a little bit slippery.

One con is that this finish scratches easily so you won’t want to put keys or coins in the same pocket. 

It’s more royal blue with brighter tones than last year’s Nebula Blue. As Blue is the Pantone Color of the year, it’s no surprise there have been a host of blue phones this year.  As a lover of all things blue, however, this has got to be my favorite out of everything I’ve seen this year. 

Best display on a smartphone

One thing you’ll find on any 2020 flagship worth its salt is a display with a fast refresh rate. While 120Hz displays have been found on gaming phones long before OnePlus put one on last year’s OnePlus 7 Pro, the company deserves credit for being the first to bring them to mainstream devices.

With the OnePlus 8 Pro, it gets even better. On paper it’s the best display we’ve seen on a smartphone.  

It’s got everything you could ask for in 2020, if display technology is important to you: An AMOLED panel that provides rich colors and great contrast, a level of color accuracy that Display Mate calls “visually indistinguishable from perfect,” 120Hz refresh rate at quad HD+ resolution. 

Other phones like the Galaxy S20+ that offer the same refresh rate do not support higher resolutions. Gamers will love the 240Hz touch sampling rate as well. Baked into the display is a fingerprint scanner that’s fast and accurate. 

What does this all mean? With Oxygen OS optimized to benefit from the 120Hz display, this phone — long known for feeling fast — feels faster than ever.  

Coupled with HDR boosting and Dolby Atmos dual stereo speakers, the OnePlus 8 Pro is one heck of a content consumption device — which is a godsend during quarantine. 

Really loud speakers

I quickly wanna talk about how loud these speakers actually are. I noticed it when I left a YouTube video playing in the background while I was in the shower. 

Usually the water will drown out whatever it is I’m listening to — whether it’s music or a podcast on Spotify, or even a YouTube video — but not on this phone.  

Best of everything

The best of everything narrative continues when you peruse its spec sheet. You name it, the phone’s got it: Snapdragon 865, X55 5G modem, Wi-Fi 6 support, 8 or 12GB of RAM with fast DDR5 memory, 128 or 256GB of storage with UFS 3.0.

While this might seem overkill, OnePlus tells us it’s all about building phones that will last several years. The goal is for the phone to still be powerful and fast enough 3-5 years down the road. 

“You don’t need to pay for a feature you’re not going to be able to use most of the time.”

I played plenty of games while reviewing the OnePlus 8 Pro — from Asphalt 9 to Marvel Contest of Champions — and the OnePlus 8 Pro took it like a champ.

Long battery life and fast charging

Battery life on the OnePlus 8 Pro is impressive. Consistently in the week that I used it as a daily driver the phone often lasted me a day and half of average use.

I was indoors the whole time, but I did my best to mimic outdoor use. Some days I used the phone exclusively on WiFi, some days entirely on LTE.

I averaged about 7 hours of screen on time watching plenty of YouTube videos and spending a lot of time on social media, as well as some online shopping and games. What else is one to do during quarantine? 

This marks the first time a OnePlus device gets wireless charging — and it was well worth the wait.  

Do you need wireless charging? Usually my answer is no; but with wireless charging speeds just as fast as wired charging, why even bother plugging it in?

In my tests a 30 minute wireless charge got the phone from 0 to 55 percent and it took a total of 70 minutes for a full charge. With the bundled cable and adapter, a 30 minute charge gives you 60 percent, and a full charge takes 68 minutes. 

The 30W Warp Charger is an optional purchase and it retails for US$ 69.95. 

Camera performance that matches its price tag

The OnePlus 8 Pro has 4 cameras: 3x telephoto, 48MP wide angle, 48MP ultra wide angle, and a dedicated photocrom filter.

I’m not convinced that last camera is necessary — OnePlus even recently disabled it in China via an over-the-air update.

The main 48MP wide camera uses the same Sony sensor that OPPO says was customized for the Find X2 ProThey produce very similar results, although the OnePlus 8 Pro is better at not blowing out highlights and better at white balance, more often than not. 

At night some results vary, but in most cases they still came out similar.

The question everyone is asking, myself included, is if it’s any better than the Samsung Galaxy S20+, Huawei P40 Pro or the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro. The short answer is it’s really a matter of personal preference.

During the day, shots like this one come out so similar, differing mostly in saturation and warmth. 

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro vs OnePlus 8 Pro vs Huawei P40 Pro vs OPPO Find X2 Pro.

Through blue hour and night fall I was thrilled to see the OnePlus 8 Pro hold its own.

Here are more camera samples.

Is it worth the upgrade?

The biggest differences between the OnePlus 7 Pro and One 8 Pro are an updated processor with 5G Support, a 120Hz display vs 90 Hz, fast wireless charging, IP68 rating, and an entirely different camera system. Of these improvements it’s the camera upgrade that means most to me. 

OnePlus is keeping the 7 Pro around for a reduced price of US$ 449. So if an excellent camera is not your priority save the US$ 450 bucks and get the OnePlus 7 Pro this year.    

If you already own one, my recommendation is to wait at least another year before you upgrade. I even recommend the 7 Pro over the OnePlus 8 — its camera is betterThe difference between Snapdragon 855 and 865 will be hardly noticeable unless you intend on pushing it real hard.

And no, you don’t need a 5G phone in 2020. If you see yourself upgrading in a year or two, skip for now. You don’t need to pay for a feature you’re not going to be able to use most of the time.

Is the OnePlus 8 Pro your GadgetMatch?

We recently reviewed the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro and the OPPO Find X2 Pro, brands that were known to dabble in the flagship killer space previously. These phones retail for about US$ 1,000 in Europe, which is disappointing to say the least.

It’s something I feel really passionate about. I know at the end of the day that these are all business that need to make money, but these brands made their name on being able to offer the best for less. That’s why I became a OnePlus fan from the very beginning. 

As the OnePlus 8 launch drew closer, my biggest fear — which many of you shared — was that OnePlus would follow the same route. 

Fortunately, this is not the case, and it’s funny how perspective changes based on context. With all other flagship phones breaching the thousand-dollar bracket — with the LG V60 as en exemption — the OnePlus 8 Pro is looking very appealing at US$ 899, even if it’s US$ 230 more expensive than last year.

This pricing strategy is the smartest thing OnePlus could have done this year. The hardware on this phone is the cream the crop; performance is great, photos are excellent, and the experience? Possibly the best in the Android space.

The OnePlus 8 Pro not only gets the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval, it also earns a space in my pocket as my new Android daily driver.

Reviews

Content creating with the OPPO Reno4

We just tried to have fun with it

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OPPO is positioning the OPPO Reno4 as something that you can easily create content with. So for this review, that’s what we set out to do.

When you’re thinking about content that you’ll make on your phone, the first thing that comes to mind are the cameras, yeah? The Reno4 has four on its rear: A 48MP main camera, an 8MP Ultra-wide angle lens, a 2MP macro lens, and another 2MP mono camera. Up front, it has 32MP.

That’s a solid combination. But content creating isn’t just about the cameras, especially if your only tool is the smartphone. How it takes on post-processing and how it handles while you’re shooting should also be considered. That’s what we’ll try to explore.

SoLoop video editor

As far as easy content-creating goes, it doesn’t come as easy as with SoLoop. This is OPPO’s exclusive smart video editor that comes with tons of presets that we tried for ourselves.

Say for instance you have some stock photos on your pile and just want to make something quick out of those. Just launch the SoLoop app, click on “Generate”, and then select the photos or videos you want.

Here’s one featuring photos of best girl TWICE Momo.

 

 

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That was really quick and easy. We simply selected the stock photos, picked a template that we thought would match the images and viola, we have an instant short video which seems to be all the rage these days.

Next, we actually tried taking a few snaps using the phone. The images you’ll see here were all taken with the Reno4 using the main camera and the macro lens. We’ll show you the photos separately later on, but for now, here’s the short video.

 

 

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Again, that was quick and easy. The video can also be immediately shared straight from SoLoop to YouTube, TikTok and pretty much everywhere else you can think of sharing it.

You can also do some manual editing. You can change your canvas to 16:9 for YouTube, 1:1 for Instagram, or 9:16 for TikTok — if it doesn’t end up getting banned in your country.

SoLoop also offers a bunch of transition options that can make for fun and dynamic short videos. However, it does have some limitations. For instance, I can’t adjust the color grading of the footage, and I also can’t add overlay on my main clip/s. For that, there are other apps you can explore.

Exploring other apps

For the next samples we had someone record a quick cover. This raw footage was taken using the 32MP front-facing camera in a rather poorly lit room. Here’s the raw footage.

It’s quite dark, but the audio pick-up was pretty solid. As we mentioned earlier, if we wanted to adjust the color grading, we had to look for a different app. For that, we used CapCut.

CapCut doesn’t have the auto-generator that SoLoop does. What it has, instead, is more options if you want to edit manually. First we tried to adjust the color grading and came up with this.

It doesn’t stop there though. The app can also add overlays so you can include other clips. But how do you get the other clips?

For this we used the Reno4’s built-in screen recording function. We looked up videos featuring best girl TWICE Momo and proceeded to screen record those.

We then created separate clips from the screen recordings. You can splice the screen recordings on CapCut as well but to keep the projects clean, we opted to use InShot. It’s an app that we’ve used for a while now and it’s great for easily cutting clips and adjusting them to any canvas.

After splicing clips, we then proceeded to add them on CapCut to include as overlays on the cover song video. This is the final-ish clip.

We’re sure you guys have better ideas for videos and we’re excited to see what you come up with.

It takes time and patience

The whole process of shooting and video editing takes a lot of time and patience. That whole final clip took about 5-6 hours to finish. The original clip took a few takes and you also need to decide the adjustments and effects you want to apply.

Editing on a smartphone can be challenging too since you’re working on a smaller screen. Any experienced video editor will tell you that it’s not at all easy. However, the apps we mentioned are designed specifically for mobile video editing and really help with the whole process.

Other than learning to use the apps and the Reno4 for shooting and post-processing, perhaps the most important thing to take note of is to come in with a plan. Have a general idea of what you want to create so you can map out how you’re going to shoot and edit.

As for the entire editing process, the Reno4 handled it like a champ. The screen recording as well as switching from one app to another and also exporting clips takes a lot of toll on your smartphone.

The Snapdragon 720G SoC equipped on the Reno4 along with its 8GB RAM took that all on and it didn’t heat up at all in the entire process. It also helps to have 128GB of internal storage, especially if you’re going to work with a lot of video clips.

The Reno4 as a shooting device

The OPPO Reno4 being thin and light goes a long way if you’re shooting with it. At 7.7mm and only 165g, it won’t strain your hand/arms if you like to take your time shooting. It also has a 6.4-inch display that contributes to an overall footprint that can be gripped easily.

As for camera performance, the Reno4 has plenty of tricks up its sleeve that we didn’t get to try all of them. Considering the social distancing guidelines and our general fear of stepping out because of the pandemic, we decided to take some toy/figure photos instead.

Here’s how the 48MP main camera looks like. Color reproduction is fantastic and it handles the shadows very well.

Here are two shots using the macro lens. One was just the default color while the other was taken with a filter for a grittier look. There are plenty of filters you can use to really add some dramatic flair to your photos.

Lastly, here’s one using night mode. This was taken under a really dimly lit room. We set our smart bulb’s color to green to match the character.

We’ll share more of these shots in a comparison that you should watch out for!

Where the Reno line is heading

As a content-creating tool, the Reno4 is plenty capable. It has all the makings of a shooting and post-processing device that can help you as a content-creator. The only limitation is your imagination.

However, this wasn’t always the case for the Reno line. When the first Reno came out, it was marketed as THE flagship line. A little over a year and four device iterations later, the Reno has been relegated to the midrange line with the Find series taking over as the premiere flagship line.

OPPO says this isn’t new to their strategy and it’s just them adapting to the market needs. The pivot for the Reno was a way to “ give what the young people needed in their smartphone.” This is especially true with the Reno4. With its capabilities at its price range, it’s certainly a phone that can empower young people without having to reach too deep into their pockets.

The pivot also marked a change in design which was a huge talking point for the first two Reno phones. Some members of our team were huge fans of the design, but were disappointed when it shifted in the Reno3. This, of course, was not done without reason.

OPPO said that they “comprehensively considered several factors like industrial design, water resistance, performance, camera quality, battery life and the overall using experiences, before deciding to switch to the punch-hole full-screen design on Reno3/Reno4 Series.”

“OPPO strongly believes in providing the best user experience, and with Reno3 and Reno4, we had a focus on providing a slimmer, lighter device for a better handfeel, without sacrificing performance,” they added.

But how did we get to Reno4 so quickly?

You’d think it has been four years since the first Reno came out, but as mentioned, it’s only been a little over a year. That’s incredibly fast and might feel frustrating for anyone who recently just bought a Reno phone.

OPPO said the launch timelines are “adjusted based on the specific conditions of the local market.” They also added that the global pandemic affected the launch timelines of the Reno3 and Reno4 which is why they’re so close to each other.

The company says the launch timelines for the Reno series should be more stable in the future.

Is the Reno4 your GadgetMatch?

With the rapid shift in strategy, we thought it would be insightful to learn where the Reno line is going. The Reno4 is the second phone that represents that shift.

It’s a more polished version of the Reno3, and one that isn’t mired in the confusion of a transition. The Reno4 has all the qualities that OPPO believed were important to add in an upper midrange phone. These are being thin and light without sacrificing performance, while also featuring some of their legacy features like a long-lasting 4000mAh battery with support for their patented SuperVOOC charging technology.

If you’re looking at the Reno4 as your content-creating companion, it plays the role pretty darn well.

The photos and videos it can capture are social-media ready. You even get several other features to match your content’s mood. Performance-wise, it managed to handle multi-tasking between video editing apps without a hitch and without overheating. It also powered through the whole content-creating process with enough juice left to wrap up your day.

At PhP 18,990 (US$ 390), it’s a solid choice. It performs as advertised and comes with everything we’ve raved about in OPPO’s other phones. Oh and the Galactic Blue variant looks especially stunning too. Just can’t go wrong with it.

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Accessories

Huawei Freebuds 3i review: A pleasant surprise

Huawei knows how to cancel noise

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Taking these TWS earphones from smartphone manufacturers for a spin sometimes feels like a chore. Especially so when most of them look like the AirPods. Such is the case for me with the Huawei Freebuds 3i. However, using it for about a week, and I can say it’s such a pleasant surprise.

That stem design

Now, don’t get me wrong. While I have warmed up to it and it’s more common to see people with these earphones sticking out their ears, I still, personally, am not a fan of this look.

But if it’s there for a reason, then I can’t complain much. Such is the case for the last TWS pair I reviewed. That used the stem as the primary touch area for the controls. In the Freebuds 3i, it’s different.

The stem on the Freebuds 3i lets the mic be closer to the user’s mouth. This is perfect for picking up your voice when you’re in calls — be it voice or video.

Naturally, I tried it on a few calls and asked the people on the other line how I sounded. They said I came off loud and clear. The only problem was my speaking voice, but that had nothing to do with the Freebuds 3i and more with just me being me.

A truly active noise cancellation

This is the feature that truly surprised me the most. The moment I put the earphones on, I immediately felt the effects of the active noise cancellation.

I didn’t even know it had the feature when I first took it out of the box. I just knew it did right when I had both earphones on. That’s how good it is.

Huawei says they used a triple-microphone system to achieve noise cancellation of up to 32db. That along with the in-ear design helps drowning out the noise.

This is in contrast to its elder sibling the Freebuds 3 which handles noise cancellation using the Kirin A1 chip. The Freebuds 3 also uses an open-fit or open-ear design which is why its noise cancellation relies more on the chip.

Huawei also shared a review guide showing how the Freebuds 3i can cancel more noise than the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro in certain situations. Based on what I can recall from my time with the Sony WH-1000XM3, that thing is on a league of its own when it comes to noise cancellation. But the Freebuds 3i, I’m surprised to say, isn’t too far behind.

Neither the Freebuds 3 nor the Freebuds 3i is necessarily better than the other, although we might see the dual-mic plus in-ear approach in future TWS earphones from Huawei given that their partner TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) will no longer be allowed to source tech and equipment from the US.

Bass-biased 

Not sure if this is a coincidence or not, but the Freebuds 3i is now the second TWS earphone I’ve tested who’s tuning appears to be leaning more towards bass. Another common denominator is that they’re priced below PhP 7,000 (around US$ 143).

It’s great if you prefer bass but compared to the Freebuds 3, it just doesn’t feel like you’re getting the same sound quality. Which is understandable considering the price difference.

The Freebuds 3 sound clearer, brighter, and warmer and you can clearly hear all the sounds. This is in contrast to the Freebuds 3i which seem to favor low-tones more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Freebuds 3i sounds bad. They just don’t sound as good as higher tier TWS earphones, which is fine. The Freebuds 3i is perfectly enjoyable and is certainly better than its more affordable counterparts.

I listened to everything from the pop track “Fanfare” by TWICE to the heavy rock sound of “Mighty Long Fall” by One OK Rock and was very pleased with how these tracks sounded.

Easy to pair, easy to use

Like with many other first-party TWS earphones, the Freebuds 3i will be automatically detected by the phone nearest to it as soon as you flip the lid open. This means pairing is instant and easy.

Naturally, you’ll have to go the usual pairing route if you’re using this with a phone from another brand. This means long-pressing on the button next to the USB-C port to enter pairing mode, and then going into the connectivity settings of your phone to complete the pairing. Not as straightforward, but works just as well.

There are two ways to control the earbuds. First is to double tap on either earbud. Second, is to touch and hold. Touching and holding turn noise cancellation on and off for either earbud.

Double tapping the left bud is set to “Play/Pause” by default while the right bud is set to “Next Song.” You can change this on the Huawei AI Life app with the action options being as follows:

  • Play/Pause
  • Next Song
  • Previous Song
  • Wake Voice Assistant

Curiously, there’s no action set for a single tap. Adding that would have given users the option to set all actions above a set motion for control. Instead, you can only choose to at a time. It’s a puzzling choice.

Like any TWS earphone worth its salt, it also has wear detection. This means the music is automatically paused when you take them off and resumes when you put them back on.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 5,990 /SG$ 168 (US$ 123), the Huawei Freebuds 3i is a pleasant surprise. Price-wise, it’s in direct competition with the Galaxy Buds+, and those buds have absolutely nothing on the Freebuds 3i’s noise cancellation.

If you’re looking for TWS earphones with near top-tier noise cancellation but don’t want to spend north of PhP 7,000, then this is easily one of the better options. There’s room for improvement but you’re getting quality earbuds for what you’re shelling out.

It has a solid build, a bass-leaning tuning, and pretty darn good noise cancellation. It’s not bad. Not bad at all.

SEE ALSO:
Huawei Freebuds 3 review: Best value wireless earbuds
AirPods 2 vs Galaxy Buds+ vs Freebuds 3: A TWS earphones battle!
6 reasons why you should switch to wireless earbuds

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Reviews

Huawei Nova 7 review: 5G is the icing, the phone is the cake

And it’s a damn good cake

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The Huawei Nova 7 or Huawei Nova 7 5G as it’s being heavily marketed is undeniably a Nova phone. The purple variant screams the Nova design and the specs and features scream flagship-grade.

5G is the next frontier in terms of mobile connectivity, and companies are understandably ramping up adoption of the tech. But you shouldn’t buy the Nova 7 just because it’s 5G-ready. Will explain more as we go along.

The Nova brand

I have had quite an interesting exchange with my cousin over the last few months about Huawei phones. She’s a fan of the Nova series. Huawei has done a good job of packaging it as a phone for the youth and the barrage of marketing only amplifies that message.

The Nova 7 pretty much sticks to the same formula. It’s an overall capable phone with a flagship-grade chip that lets “the youth” express themselves and pretty much do everything you normally would on a phone.

Build is far for the course at this price range

In the Philippines it retails for PhP 23,990 (US$ 488) and makes the same compromises that other brands do at this price point.

The build, while it feels nice, doesn’t have the heft and that x-factor that you expect from the most expensive phones today. But the weight is a boon for those who don’t exactly like heavier phones but want a relatively large display.

It’s 6.53” OLED display is crispy. You get the standard 60Hz refresh rate but it makes up for it with its bright, deep, and vivid visuals. It doesn’t feel as smooth, but it’s a joy to look at.

Being a flat display, it also has a wide footprint, but manageable enough for one-hand use. I’m just guessing, but somewhere between 6.44” and 6.5” might be the sweet spot for one-hand use if you’re working with a flat display.

All the buttons — power and volume — are on the right hand side which should be the standard for any phone that’s at least 6”.

At the bottom you have the USB-C port, speaker grille, and SIM card tray. There’s no 3.5mm jack but in the box you do get wired headphones and a USB-C to 3.5mm port.

For security it also has Face Unlock, a fingerprint scanner, and your usual pin.

Alright, let’s talk 5G

Last week, against my better judgement, I stepped out equipped with a mask and a face shield with bottles of rubbing alcohol in my backpack to test some 5G areas.

This was done in partnership with a Philippine telecommunications company but I decided to do my own testing after the fact.

While it’s true that you can and will get those exorbitant 500+mbps speeds, the frequency by which you are able to access them in limited locations. Unless you live or are almost always in the areas designated with 5G, don’t buy the Nova 7 for that reason alone.

Other reasons to buy 

It’s a damn good phone.

I used Phone Clone to copy everything on my Huawei P40 Pro to the Huawei Nova 7 and I almost didn’t miss a beat. I run all the same apps and do almost all the same things without any major differences in performance.

This includes your regular social media browsing, playing music on Spotify, and for the sake of the review — a quick game of Naruto: Slugfest.

The obvious differences are of course, as I mentioned, the heft and the smoother feel of the 90Hz refresh rate. But you can certainly do without them and still feel like you got your money’s worth.

Battery life is also stellar. Since I happen to be juggling phones for review at the moment, I’ve gone an entire weekend without touching the phone.

On standby mode, for two days, the battery stayed at around 80% from a full charge. That’s impressive. That means the phone knows when it’s not in use and will regulate power accordingly.

When I did use it, I got through a regular day with about 30-40% left before bed time.

Huawei Share is also a godsend of a feature especially when you’re also using a Huawei laptop. Sharing files is fantastic but also having the access to your phone’s apps right on your laptop as you work is such an underrated feature — but it’s one that’s coming over to other Android phones via Microsoft.

Sad, No GMS 

It was the Huawei Mate 30 series that bore the brunt of the US government’s Huawei ban. This forced Google to withdraw their mobile service support from the company.

Nearly a year later, and Huawei has made significant strides. Their phones have gone from borderline unusable to pretty tolerable.

Do I miss the Google apps and the Google Mobile Services? Heck yeah. There’s no dancing around it.

Not being able to get the best mobile experience from YouTube and Google Photos suck. Not being able to use certain apps because they just won’t work also suck. But Huawei has come to the point where it’s no longer a deal breaker.

Everything else works perfectly fine. A combination of App Gallery and APKPure has mitigated the need for the Google Play Store. Plus, they have also introduced Petal Search. Essentially a search engine for apps.

Updates from apps downloaded from APKPure do not download and install automatically. While this may be inconvenient, it’s a stretch to say that it doesn’t work.

Pleasant performing cameras

The Huawei Nova 7 has a 32MP front-facing camera capable of taking beautiful selfies even at night.

On the rear, it has four cameras: A 64MP main camera, an 8MP Ultra Wide-angle lens, an 8MP telephoto lens, and a practically useless 2MP macro camera.

The 64MP main camera is *chef’s kiss. The detail on the photo below is fantastic. Turning AI on also produced this generally color accurate and very pleasing photo of the plants.

Here’s the usual photo of a flower to further illustrate that point.

It captures urban concrete pretty well too.

Here’s an indoor low light shot. Typically, these never come out well, but the Nova 7 still manages to capture good detail even while there is some grain on the image.

Also a fan of the wide angle lens — just not a fan of not being able to travel so we can actually use it on a nice scenery.

The zoom is… okay. It maxes out to 20x and produces this kind of shot.

Halfway at 10x is fairly decent. Again, color is accurate, but there’s some noticeable detail loss which is understandable. Also reminder to not be creepy with your zoom.

Huawei’s portrait mode is also pretty good. Here’s a shot of Acrylic Stand, “What is Love” Chaeyoung that’s against the light. The background separation is good and it still managed to capture enough light so Chaeyoung doesn’t end up looking like just a silhouette.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The very first few minutes that I used the Huawei Nova 7, I already had an inkling as to how much it will be and how it will perform. The build and the overall snapiness of the performance were almost dead giveaways.

I have zero complaints over its performance and cameras. And for the most part, these two are what people primarily consider when buying a phone. Battery life is above average, the display is pleasant to the eyes, and app access is annoying but tolerable.

The future-proofing that is 5G that comes with this phone is icing. The cake that is the rest of the phone, that’s what you should really be looking at.

SEE ALSO: The Huawei Nova 7 and Freebuds 3i is the perfect match

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