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

Huawei MatePad Pro review: Almost like an iPad Pro

Stop calling it an iPad Pro killer

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When the Huawei MatePad Pro came out, I was most ecstatic. It’s the closest thing I can get to an iPad Pro alternative.

Frankly, iPads are investments — a risk I can’t take yet. It’s expensive, and it’s best used when you’ve fallen in love with Apple’s ecosystem. (And I haven’t since I only use a MacBook Pro.)

Truth be told, I only wanted that magical tablet so I can keep on drawing and painting. Spending five years in the workforce, I haven’t been able to stay in touch with my creative side despite doing creative work.

Busily juggling work and life, I forgot how it felt to create personal art.

Knock, knock! Who’s there? It’s me, an iPad Knock-off!

I got the MatePad Pro packed on a gracious white box with rose gold labels. It would’ve been appeasing if the labels came in a cohesive style.

Open the box and you’re welcomed by a beautiful Android tablet… that looks like an iPad Pro. Personally, I hate knock-offs. I believe everyone should strive to produce something original because we’re all born artists.

When I took the tablet out of the box, I was surprised how lightweight it was. It’s like carrying a notebook! This, despite having a glass front panel and aluminum frame and body.

The MatePad Pro comes with a 10.8-inch IPS LCD screen. Even though it doesn’t use an AMOLED display, it still has an impressive screen resolution of 2560×1600 pixels, brightening up as high as 540 nits.

I may not love an IPS LCD screen, but I used the MatePad Pro’s screen in different lighting conditions with gusto. You can set the brightness to really bright. So bright that it looks brighter than my future.

Moving to its sides, the MatePad Pro is fairly thin. On its top-right side, you can find the power button. On its left, there’s a sim card slot while on the right, you can find the volume rockers.

Color me ‘premium’

So far, the MatePad Pro looks exceptional for a ‘premium’ Android tablet. Although, there are points of improvement for this big slab of metal. Anything you call ‘premium’ should make you want to glide your fingertips and feel something — which I didn’t experience using the MatePad Pro.

This particular unit I have comes in Midnight Grey, made of aluminum and fiberglass back panel same as the Pearl White variant. This combination gave it a matte-like finish, resulting in the tablet’s resilience to smudges and scratches.

On the other hand, the Forest Green and Orange colorways received a Vegan Leather treatment. Although it’s not entirely Vegan (please don’t get me started on this topic because it deserves another story), I firmly believe that Huawei should’ve used Vegan Leather for all variants.

The purpose of ‘premium’ products is to offer something different so consumers would be inclined to pay extra. A fiberglass chassis is something any consumer can get on most smartphones in the midrange segment nowadays. That’s not very ‘premium’.

iPad-like peripherals

Placing the tablet aside, the MatePad Pro comes with essential accessories in the box. There’s a SuperCharge adapter along with a USB-C cable, a USB-C to headphone jack adapter, and a Sim Ejector Pin.

What made me gleeful is the peripherals that came with it: the Huawei M-Pencil and a Smart Magnetic Keyboard.

The M-Pencil is pretty much like the Apple Pencil. It’s a wireless stylus priding itself with 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, tip-tilting functionality, and 10 hours of battery life.

It attaches to the right side of the tablet magnetically, fully charging itself for at least an hour when docked. Yes, the stylus charges quickly and lasts longer than your conversation with your crush.

There’s also a Smart Magnetic Keyboard, acting like Apple’s folio keyboard covers. It comes with an ultra-thin keyboard in a protective leather case and supports quick Bluetooth pairing. It also wakes the tablet up or puts it to sleep when covered, and offers a folding stand design for your convenience.

Almost perfect Folio cover

Personally, I like this keyboard cover since it comes in a gorgeous leather that made me feel secure (and want to touch it every now and then). It was a brilliant comeback after a heedless attempt to look premium sans the cover.

However, there are some nuisances. When using the keyboard cover, your viewing angle is limited to up to 60 degrees. Also, the magnet isn’t firm since I find the tablet slipping out repeatedly.

Typing might be difficult too, since it’s cramped but with too much space between keys, and travel is a bit shallow. You need to adjust fully before you get comfortable typing on the MatePad Pro.

On the bright side, this peripheral can help people do their work on the go. I’ve used the keyboard multiple times when drafting my stories. It’s really far from your usual laptop experience, but it offers convenience to do your work wherever you want.

Your own mini home theater

I always bring the MatePad Pro with me whenever I go to eat. The screen may not be my favorite, but I can’t pass on the opportunity to entertain myself with a screen this large.

Besides, it has two speaker grilles each on both the top and bottom sides. Thanks to its quad-channel speaker setup tuned by Harman Kardon, you get an audio-visual treat whenever you watch on this tablet.

I’ve watched A World of Married Couple on Viu and finished six seasons of Community on Netflix during my stint with the MatePad Pro. My experience felt like bringing a mini home theater with me. It was spectacular that I found myself watching TV shows more than working.

If you’re not into watching K-dramas and other TV series, you can play your favorite games. After all, it sports Kirin 990, the same powerful processor as the Huawei P40 Pro.

The tablet also runs 8GB of RAM, 256GB of internal storage, and a Mali-G76 Mp16 graphics card. It’s easy to play graphics-intensive and memory-consuming games like Asphalt 9.

Surprisingly capable cameras

I don’t expect tablets to come with extraordinary cameras. Having said that, the MatePad Pro mounted entry-level cameras for both its front and rear. It has a single 13-megapixel lens on its rear, taking slightly saturated photos that lack detail.

Using natural light

 

Using artificial light

On the other hand, its 8-megapixel front camera is perfect for your occasional selfies and recording your TikTok challenges.

With proper lighting

Against the light

Content creators can utilize this tablet’s video features such as 4K/30p and 1080p video recording. Anyhow, cameras aren’t really a tablet’s strong suit, but it’s amazing to see that even a big slab of metal can take photos and videos decently.

Taking productivity to new heights

If you own a Huawei phone just like I do, you can take full advantage of the MatePad Pro’s features. It’s all set to help you relish Huawei’s ecosystem.

For instance, I use the multi-screen collaborate feature when working out, allowing me to use Nike Training Club on a bigger screen. You can switch it to landscape format and enter a full-screen mode.

This makes it easier to follow forms and exercises easily without squinting my eyes while I’m sweating.

Since my Huawei Mate 20 Pro has Google Mobile Services, I used to do my work remotely although I find it difficult to be productive on a tiny screen.

Connecting my phone to a tablet allowed me to work at the comforts of my couch, in the kitchen, or even when I step outside to my porch to get some sun. You don’t have to be tied at your desk anymore!

Moreover, the MatePad Pro runs EMUI 10.0 based on Android 10. Navigating the tablet is easy when you’re familiar with the interface, and you get Huawei staples such as Huawei Share.

While I don’t have Google Drive to organize and transfer my files saved in the tablet, I was able to use Huawei Share to transfer everything I need to my phone. Alternatively, you can use the Email app and connect your Gmail account to send your files.

The experience is similar to using Gmail’s app, the only difference is it’s named Email and it doesn’t have Gmail’s interface design.

Finding a way to connect with everyone

Huawei’s latest new video-calling feature, MeeTime, is also available on the MatePad Pro. Together with the P40 series, this feature allows you to have high-resolution video calls (up to 1080p) despite having poor network quality — something most users experience in some parts of the world. (Ahem, Philippines!)

However, MeeTime would’ve been a lot better if it’s made available to older Huawei devices. This would make it easier for people to appreciate the growing Huawei ecosystem, allowing users of older models to connect with new ones.

Another alternative would be using messaging and social apps available in the AppGallery. There’s Viber, Snapchat, and of course, Zoom — which I used to attend a virtual baby shower!

Playing it safe

For a premium tablet, it sucks how it doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner. The tablet relied on the usual password-protection and facial recognition for its device’s security. Nonetheless, the facial recognition works fast enough to easily access the tablet.

On the other hand, online security is something we care about for devices launched in this decade. In my exclusive interview with Huawei from a data and security conference last year, the company explicitly said they’re not allowed to touch data, as it’s a policy from top-down.

In that same conference, both Huawei and Samsung shared the same sentiments of being cautious of what you download. Even with Google Play Store, some apps are intentionally hiding malware, and some harvest your data without your permission.

If you use AppGallery or APK sites online to download your favorite apps, always read the fine print. The terms and conditions might be boring to read, but it’s important and necessary. At least, the part where it discusses how your data will be used.

Talking about online security might be scary, and if you’re scared of downloading apps using other means, download the apps officially from their respective sites. For instance, Facebook, WhatsApp, and even PornHub offer their apps and official APKs so you can enjoy their platforms.

A piece of technology for every creative

Moving on to its performance (creatively), the MatePad Pro is a great iPad Pro alternative for beginners and those who aren’t ready to make the switch from Android to iPadOS.

I used to borrow Michael Josh‘s iPad Pro whenever he’s around and the experience always felt like euphoria — absolute bliss.

My stint with the MatePad Pro gave a similar high, albeit far from replicating the exact, same vibes. First, the Huawei M-Pencil has first-rate pressure sensitivity, pen latency, and accuracy that I found it easy to translate my ideas visually.

Working on my illustrations was such a smooth experience, I didn’t notice I’ve been making art for three hours straight — both sketching, trashing my drafts, and coming out with an output that I like.

A rough painting of a coffee with marshmallow using MediBang Paint

Most of my favorite drawing apps are available through APKs, such as ArtFlow, Infinite Painter, AutoDesk SketchBook, MediBang Paint, and IBIS Paint X. AppGallery has Concepts and other drawing apps, too, but I found those apps limiting.

If you’re a beginner, intermediate, or professional artist, you can benefit from apps with intensive features and brushes, allowing you to focus on creating freely.

So why do people call it an iPad Pro killer?

The MatePad Pro is a powerful Android tablet, no doubt. When you activate its Desktop Mode and pair it with the Smart Magnetic Keyboard, you can enjoy a PC-like experience albeit at a much slower pace.

You can easily connect it to present your decks and proposals, or work on it as if it’s a smaller laptop. Netbook if you say so, in case some of you still use that decade-old terminology.

The MatePad Pro really shaped itself up as a productivity tool. You can transform the way you work, and it can certainly handle whatever you throw at it.

It’s primarily the reason why people dubbed it as an iPad Pro killer. It’s premium and it can do whatever the iPad Pro can, at a much affordable price. But claiming it as an iPad Pro killer is a bit of a stretch.

Why is it far from being an iPad Pro killer?

The MatePad Pro might look like a knock-off iPad Pro, or an affordable tablet alternative for those who can’t afford the iPad Pro yet, but they’re very different.

Comparing the MatePad Pro and the iPad Pro is like comparing pears and apples (pun not intended). Sure, they have the same structure, exuding similar design and performance. Yet the taste, experience, and what you can do with it do not yield the same results.

The real reason why people buy the iPad Pro isn’t because of the brand. It’s because of the ecosystem and the apps found exclusively on Apple. If that’s not the reason why people buy it, that’s for another story.

But ask any artist — particularly digital painters and illustrators — and you’ll realize they all love the same app: Procreate. Moreover, some apps are inherently superior to their Android alternatives (like the apps I mentioned).

For instance, Affinity Designer and Affinity Paint are noteworthy creative apps that designers enjoy. I could go on and on, but most apps on Apple are developed with creatives and professionals in mind.

A Mother’s Day illustration I made using AutoDesk SketchBook

We can always say that it’s always the artists and not the tools. It’s evident in my works that I can create my illustrations, whether on the MatePad Pro or the iPad Pro. You just need to be resourceful, right?

Even so, these tablets are investments. We’re paying an exorbitant price to get the best experience. Not having Google may have been troubling, but developers are now expanding outside Apple and Google.

If Huawei capitalized on this situation and brought the same apps that artists enjoy on the iPad Pro, the MatePad Pro would’ve been an excellent powerhouse and would live up to its billing. Until then, stop trying to call it an iPad Pro killer. Because it’s not.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for premium tablets as your work-life balance companion, the MatePad Pro is an excellent choice — as long as you love tinkering. Still an Android, the MatePad Pro ignited the tinkerer inside me; customizing the way I want my tablet to be.

For beginners getting into digital arts, the MatePad Pro is a prominent alternative belonging to the major leagues. You can start with the basics and get the hang of creating art digitally without investing in something that costs a fortune.

But if you’re looking for a premium tablet smart enough to hand everything to you, there’s a Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 at a much higher price tag.

Maybe, a non-pro iPad, too — in case you really want an iPad. Nonetheless, the MatePad Pro is an affordable alternative with a near iPad Pro experience.

The Huawei MatePad Pro is priced at PhP 32,990. You can get this tablet at Lazada, Shopee, MemoXpress, Abenson, Bluelite, Intogadgets, Silicon Valley, FLW.PH, and Aerophone.

SEE MORE: Stay connected and creative with the Huawei MatePad ProiPad Pro 2020 Unboxing and Review

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realme 6 Pro review: A step up from the competition

Has realme perfected the midrange formula?

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Putting “pro” on a smartphone implies that more high-end features should be expected. That’s what the realme 6 Pro is gunning for: more high-end features but also with a price tag that doesn’t breach premium territory.

The realme 6 Pro is the company’s answer to the demand for midrange phones with near-flaghip experience. This time around, the company upped its game by including more features that anyone can appreciate. As such, this device is also a step-up from last year’s realme XT in a lot of aspects. So, let’s find out what realme 6 Pro has to offer.

Design that strikes the eye

This year, realme is doing something different across its realme 6 series. All the phones are getting their own unique back designs. For the realme 6 Pro, you get a “lightning strike” effect that hits the eye when light hits the back cover. The company says this design was deliberately chosen to represent the youth’s vim and vigor. That makes sense, considering that realme is trying its best to be the smartphone brand of the youth.

Another thing that really strikes me is the finish of this device. realme has been churning out solid smartphones that don’t feel like they are made out of plastic. Holding the realme 6 Pro for the first time, you’ll be forgiven for thinking it’s made out of sturdy metal. Only when you “knock” on the back that you determine that this device is really made out of plastic. So, kudos to realme for that.

On the side, you’ll notice the flat power button that also acts as a side fingerprint scanner. Like the realme XT, the realme 6 Pro has a USB-C port on the bottom which supports quick charging.

A smooth and fluid display

In all honesty, the realme 6 Pro is the first device where I had the chance to play with a 90Hz display extensively. Right off the bat, I can tell you that the difference between 60Hz and 90Hz display is night and day. The best word to describe it is smooth. Yes, everything feels smooth with that refresh rate. Opening animations and scrolling are smooth, and once you switch back to 60Hz rate again, you may think that something is janky.

You actually have to see how life-changing 90Hz refresh rate is. Pity though, that most games still don’t support 90Hz refresh rate. That 90Hz is most useful when you’re playing games because everything’s much smoother with it.

Aside from high refresh rate support, I also like that the display is on FHD+ resolution. For a midrange in this day and age, having an FHD+ screen is necessary. You can expect to stream your favorite Netflix episodes or YouTube videos in glorious 1080P.

One minor gripe I have with the display is that it is not an OLED screen. I may be nitpicking here, but I think OLED screens are much better than a regular IPS LCD screen. Plus, more and more midrange devices are switching to OLED screens. You won’t really be bothered with the lack of an OLED screen here though since the colors are vibrant and there’s a lot of details to go around.

Performance that impresses

One word to describe realme 6 Pro’s performance: impressive. Under the hood, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G. This midrange processor is on par with the performance of high-end Snapdragon chipsets of yesteryears. It can handle almost any task you throw at it with ease.

I have yet to notice any lag in opening apps with this device. That’s an excellent thing, and not surprising since there’s 8GB of RAM to back the performance of the midrange processor.

Gaming is one aspect where you’ll feel like the realme 6 Pro is a step-up from the midrange competition. The processor here is capable of handling graphically-intensive games that you throw at it. Rules of Survival — a well-known battle royale mobile game — runs smoothly even in high graphic setting. Casual games run well on this device considering its powerful midrange processor.

realme UI is okay, but bloatware takes up space

As for realme UI, you may either love it or loathe it. Personally, I like realme’s twist on Android 10. Most of the interface elements are copied from iOS, and it shows. However, there are also a lot of tweaks and additions that make the interface stand-out. For example, you can use screen-off gestures, toggle the smart sidebar, or clone social media apps so you can use another account. You also get new features from Android 10 like Digital Well-being and a revamped gesture navigation.

If there’s really one annoying thing with the realme 6 Pro, that would be the bloatware. On first set-up, you’ll be surprised to see myIM3, Lazada, Trip.com, UCBrowser, WA Business, Webnovel, and much more pre-installed. This feels like a huge step-down for a 2020 release. Most manufacturers are already trimming the number of pre-installed third-party apps but it looks like realme hasn’t gotten the memo yet.

Luckily though, some of the apps on this device are actually useful. Game Space automatically frees up some RAM and activates the Do Not Disturb mode whenever you’re playing a supported game. This device also has some useful utilities like Compass, FM Radio, and the Weather app that’s not available on stock Android by default.

Cameras that impress

For the realme 6 Pro, you get a rear cameara setup of 64MP wide-angle + 12MP telephoto + 8MP ultra-wide-angle + 2MP macro lens.

The shots taken by realme 6 Pro is excellent in daylight conditions. You get a nice color rendition all-around, though it may appear a bit saturated for some. Noise is kept to a minimum, and the cameras nail the white balance for most shots. There are enough details to go around too. However, zooming in on a particular shot, you also notice an oil painting effect that somewhat ruins the shot.

Turning on the HDR helps to recover some of the overexposed areas in the image, particularly the skies. In the images below, you’ll notice how the image with the HDR appears more realistic. The garage on the left image is just smeared out, while on the right, you can work out some details. The green fence has a much natural color too on the right. Overall, it’s better to leave the HDR settings turned on.

At night, realme 6 Pro took photos with a lot of smeared details and muted colors. They also have a lot of noise in them. This is why you ought to turn on Nightscape mode in this setting. With Nightscape, the camera’s aperture remains open for a longer period of time, letting in more light in the process. As such, you get a more true-to-life image with more resolved details, vibrant colors, and lesser noise.

There’s a lot of camera modes to pick from too. Aside from the Nightscape mode, you also get Ultra Macro and Panorama mode on this device. It’s worth mentioning that the camera can switch from ultra-wide-angle lens to wide-angle, 3x zoom mode, and 5x zoom mode in an instant, making the realme 6 Pro a versatile shooting device.

Steady selfies

The selfie camera on the realme 6 Pro is more than fine for everyday usage. There are two selfie cameras on this device, unlike most midrange devices on the market. The main selfie camera is a 16MP wide-angle while the other is an 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera. The main camera reproduces color nicely with plenty of details for most situations. Realme applies beauty filters by default, resulting in smoothened skin and artificial skin tones. Some may not like this though, and fortunately, there’s an option to turn it off.

How does the ultra-wide camera fare? The photos taken with the camera still gets the color right, but you will also notice some smeared details. In most cases, I still recommend using the main selfie camera.  The only time I would recommend using the ultra-wide camera is when you have a lot of people that need to fit in for that one selfie.

Solid battery life

Battery life on the realme 6 Pro is one of the best I’ve seen from a midrange smartphone. It really is a huge step-up from the competition, considering that realme put a large 4,300 mAh battery on this device. Of course, your mileage may vary. Playing games or browsing continually for hours will drain the battery more. The same is true when you fire up the 90Hz screen refresh rate. Expect a day’s battery life if you do all these three.

However, that large battery also means you can stretch realme 6 Pro’s battery life for two days. All you have to do is be mindful of your device usage or close any battery-draining apps. Selecting the refresh rate to “Auto” will also help in extending battery life.

There’s an included 30W VOOC fast charger on the box. It charges the device quickly, and I was able to go from 7% to 95% in an hour. It’s super-fast, which is useful if you always charge on the go.

Is the realme 6 Pro your GadgetMatch?

realme really stepped up their game this time with the realme 6 Pro. It carries features that you’d normally only find on flagships, and it is easily one of the best midrange phones out there. However, all the step-up in features also comes a hefty price tag. This device comes with a price tag of PhP 16,990 (USD 339) for the highest configuration, which is 8GB of RAM + 128GB of storage.

However, that price tag is worth it considering the features you’re getting here. You are actually getting a much better value with this device compared to realme XT, which has also the same price at launch. It finally feels like that realme has perfected the midrange phone formula with this device. As such, the realme 6 Pro can become your next midrange GadgetMatch, considering that it is a step-up from the competition.

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Gaming

realme 6 review: Perfect gaming phone for the lockdown?

Let’s play to cope

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realme is stepping up to the plate with a new gaming phone with the realme 6. Was anyone particularly surprised? I was. But, before we get into the review, there’s no point avoiding the giant invasive elephant in the room whenever we talk about new releases. COVID-19 has drastically shifted our lives and has ultimately changed how we interact with everyone. It’s dramatically changed how we navigate our day-to-day.

Painful reality

But, reality still. For the most part, everything is in one enclosed space now. There’s no spatial separation between work, school, home, and play. Honestly, time has also probably warped since this entire thing hit the fan for most of us. We’ve probably lost track of time more than once in the entire year and it’s still just May.

Strap up, boys and girls, 2020 is a wild one.

Which brings me to something I personally find helpful in an anxiety-inducing time: playing games. Now, now, a bunch of gatekeepers have kept to their high horse over the ancient PC or console debate but, I think phones have a large new place in the argument.

Games, like most other art forms, rooted itself as a form of entertainment, a pass-time. Granted, a large industry grew from building competitiveness within the ecosystem, the point still stands. Games are for fun. Play it however way you like. It is still for your enjoyment or entertainment.

What’s this got to do with anything?

Things don’t exist in their own fantastical bubble. Don’t we just all wish it did though? I’d previously referenced how video games have had a significantly positive impact on my mental health. In a time where anxiety, depression, and manic attacks are at an all-time high, I think I don’t just speak for myself when I say having something for cognitive distraction or a twinge of healthy escapism is helpful and welcome.

Here’s where I timely segue into how the realme 6 played a quiet role in calming the daunting storm stirring in my head in most days.

A “gaming phone” how?

Okay, this phone sat in my apartment since the lockdown began and I’m not going to lie, the timing was a little strange. This year didn’t just start a mess, it proceeded to get worse and worse. From volcanoes erupting, forest fires, Kobe, and locusts, you could say the universe heard everyone’s posts testing how it could get any worse and slapped big ol’ corona into the mix.

That aside, I lucked out a bit with the Realme 6 with me since the lockdown began. With a Helio G90T processor, 90Hz refresh rate display, 8GB RAM and 128 GB storage and fast-charging 4,300mAh battery, you can only imagine the reckless abandon I had when playing new offline games during the quarantine.

The phone measures 6.5 inches and optimizes it with FHD resolution and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 to make sure that beauty stays protected. The Realme 6 doesn’t really disappoint.

It delivers on all those specs and makes playing games look stunning. It’s so good that when you’re a little manic and need some cathartic kills, there’s honestly nothing wrong with hopping into a game and getting some frags.

Not just a gaming phone

Here, we talk about the things we didn’t ask for but, obviously things the phone delivers on without being asked of. The realme 6 is a pretty impressive phone. It delivers on all fronts relating to gaming and even the battery life can hold up to more than eight (8) hours of play and use.

But, that isn’t what makes the realme 6 a phone. We can call it a convenient handheld with everything so far but it has a decent set of cameras worth mentioning.

The cameras

The Realme 6 has a 64MP Quad camera with a 16MP in-display selfie camera. It’s got Super Nightscape 2.0 for low-light shots, Ultra Image Stabilization, 120fps Slow-Mo Selfie, and Real-Time Bokeh Video.

I went out to test these features and they deliver. The photos below are pretty telling of my uneventful lockdown lifestyle so dial it down on dissing the silly still shots.

Selfie, ta-dah!

Nit-picking the little things

If there’s one silly downside though, the phone does struggle to focus on moving objects. And, if there’s one petty thing I personally am not a fan of, it’s notches and in-display selfie cameras.

No jabs at realme for that one though, that’s all me. Anything blocking even the tiniest part of any display just throws me off and reminds me of the Zima Blue episode in Love, Death, and Robots.

Sometimes, it’s not a design flaw; sometimes, it’s just a depressive lunatic associating a tiny round in-display camera to the void of her own existence.

Is the realme 6 your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for the perfect phone to play and keep yourself sane with progressive quality lockdown selfies and photos, this is the phone for you. It lets you play, keep sane, and gets through a full day of use quite easily.

If you’re looking for a phone that delivers on stunning gameplay, performance, and lots of storage while having uncompromised camera features, this is definitely the phone you’re looking for.

Real talk real quick though, I think the realme 6 was the perfect lockdown companion. There’s been many a time where I found myself stirring some random crap up and I needed a moment of just disconnecting to ironically come back more connected. Some paradox of an existence we all have, huh.

The realme 6 — a successor of the realme 5 Pro — is available in 4GB RAM + 128GB storage for PhP11,990 and in 8GB RAM + 128GB storage variant for PhP13,990. It can be purchased online on the official realme Lazada store.

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