Hands-On

OPPO A3s hands-on: A budget champion

Let’s consider this as an F7 Lite

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The focus in today’s smartphone market is on the midrange segment. However, the budget category is also a strong market, especially for developing countries or for people who are looking for a no-frills phone.

Here we have the OPPO A3s, a competitively priced phone that keeps things in balance to give great value for your money.

It’s got a 6.2-inch HD+ display with a pretty wide notch

A budget full-screen phone

The notch houses the selfie camera, earpiece, and sensors

There appears to be an infrared sensor for face unlock

To the left are the volume buttons and card tray

The buttons are quite hard to press

In true OPPO fashion, it’s got three card slots

A microSD and two nano-SIM cards are accepted

The right side only has the power key

The sole button on this side

The bottom is pretty busy with the speaker and micro-USB port

There’s also the audio jack and microphone

The back is pretty plain with just the rear cameras

There’s no fancy gradient or pattern here

Looks and performs like an F7 Lite

With the F9’s waterdrop notch already becoming popular, a wide notch feels quite like an outdated design. But for a budget phone, it’s something we should accept. Actually, it got a similar design to the F7’s which was released earlier this year.

The phone’s 6-inch display is an IPS LCD panel with a modest HD+ resolution and 19:9 aspect ratio. The screen’s quality is on par with more expensive models, minus the pixel density due to the lower resolution. But when it comes to color reproduction and viewing angles, there’s nothing to complain about.

With the latest ColorOS 5.1 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo, the user interface of the A3s is the same as with the F9 and even the more expensive Find X. It looks a lot like iOS, as always, with a hint of Android Oreo. I still have some issues with it though, like the difficulty of dismissing notifications.

As for the overall design of the phone, it’s mostly polycarbonate but it’s of high quality. It might feel plasticky on the hand, but there are no creaks or loose parts to worry about.

The plain back of the A3s might appeal to buyers who don’t want flashy patterns and fancy gradients. You can put on a case, since the design of the rear doesn’t really matter. Speaking of, there’s a transparent jelly case included in the retail package.

Specs-wise, it’s quite tricky to recommend the A3s for those looking to have a powerful midranger. Why? It has a Snapdragon 450 processor with 2GB of memory and 16GB of expandable storage. The processor is more than capable for games, apps, and everyday use, although the low 2GB of memory and limited 16GB storage are bottlenecks.

I tried to fill up the phone with graphics-intensive titles which take more than a gigabyte. Surprisingly, I didn’t have any issue with graphics performance as long as they were set to default. But, I did encounter a low memory warning after downloading a few heavy games.

Lastly, inside the A3s is a big battery. OPPO didn’t skimp on the capacity at 4230mAh. Expect the phone to last for up to two days of regular use. What’s missing, though, is a fast charger inside the box.

Equipped with decent shooters

Despite being a budget phone, the A3s still has similar features from higher-end OPPO phones like dual rear cameras. Equipped with 13- and 2-megapixel sensors at the back, the A3s can take decent photos with a good amount of details. The dynamic range is a bit lacking, but it’s nothing that photo editing apps can’t fix.

When it comes to selfies, the 8-megapixel front camera still lives up to the OPPO standards of self-portraits. It features AI-powered beautification which you can always turn on if you feel like taking a fresh-looking image of yourself.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for a decent budget phone, then go for the OPPO A3s. Its fast processor and huge battery capacity are already great selling factors. While its memory and storage capacity might turn off some, the budget-conscious should still see its great value.

The OPPO A3s is priced at PhP 6,990 in the Philippines and INR 10,990 in India. There’s also a better variant with 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage which you should get if you can — it’s priced at PhP 9,990.

SEE ALSO: OPPO F9 Review: New design with minor upgrades

Hands-On

vivo X50 Hands-On: Underrated, overshadowed

It deserves some spotlight

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We’ve all felt inadequate. This is especially when we’re surrounded by people we believe are better than us. This is the feeling I remember after having used the vivo X50 for a few days.

To start with, the vivo X50 is the more affordable sibling in the X50 series. It lacks the features that sets the X50 Pro apart: the Gimbal camera system, a flagship-grade chipset, and 5G connectivity.

But do we even need all the features that the X50 Pro has? For everyday users, the X50 is more than enough, and it deserves to be given a chance.

Like a dapper gentleman

First and foremost, the X50 is gleamingly handsome. If I were to draw a character, the X50 would look like a high-maintenance, dapper gentleman, whose hair and beard were trimmed and sculpted in a barberdashery (a barber and haberdashery in one) like Felipe & Sons.

It exudes a classic appearance that makes you want to hold it. But before you do that, you’d have to choose between the matte Frost Blue and the fingerprint-magnet glass in Glaze Black.

Personally, I prefer the Glaze Black due to my habit of leaving memories behind, like a smudge on a glass. Kidding aside, I love the reflective mirror-like design.

But its design doesn’t matter as much since I tend to slap a case on any phone I use. If I won’t, there’s a ninety-six percent chance of glass phones slipping from my regularly moisturized hands.

Comfortable and entertaining

Surprisingly, the X50 is lightweight and slim enough to sit comfortably in my tiny hands. It can reach the in-display fingerprint scanner easily.

On the front, the vivo X50 prides itself on the same 6.56-inch AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ technology like the X50 Pro. Watching videos and playing games is a treat with its vibrant colors, high contrast, and bright screen.

There’s also an Ultra Game Mode — an exclusive feature found on Funtouch OS 10.5 (based on Android 10). Mobile games like PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legend: Bang Bang are supported by vivo’s gaming feature.

In case you didn’t know, this feature helps you stay focused on your game, whether you’re playing for fun or competitively. Notifications are definitely turned off and your system’s resources are managed well, especially when you opt for Esports mode. There will be no accidental touches, annoying calls, and it moderates your phone’s temperature for smoother gameplay. Moreover, it saves battery.

Serving more than enough of what you really need

Frankly, the vivo X50 packs enough power to fuel your entertainment needs. Whether it’s intensive gaming or seamless performance. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 730 and sports an 8GB RAM and 128GB built-in storage.

This handset is also equipped with a 4200mAh battery and supports vivo FlashCharge 2.0, reaching 33W of fast charging. Of course, it uses a Type-C port and cable, just like any normal 2020 phone.

With a bigger juice and near-flagship grade chipset, you can ensure a long-lasting experience. You can play to your heart’s content and binge-watch all 16 episodes of the latest K-drama people are talking about.

In my case, I watched the visual spectacle that is Fire Force — an animé based on the manga of the same name filled with brilliant animation sequences and blazingly hot character designs.

The downside in having this exquisite display while playing games or watching shows is the intrusive punch-hole cutout, which houses its 32-megapixel selfie camera.

Getting that glass skin

Moving to its selfies, the front camera struggles to take clear and decent selfies at low light but performs exceptionally with sufficient daylight.

Even under harsh sunlight, the vivo X50 snaps portrait-oriented selfies perfectly… for the ‘gram. I uploaded my selfies on Instagram Story’s Close Friends feature, handpicking people that are attracted to me so I can receive comments and validation.

Most of them complimented how I looked fresh, striking a close resemblance to South Korean actors’ glass skin apparent in K-dramas. On the other hand, some people were hesitant to compliment me because they’re too afraid to flirt and possibly fall for me. (Just kidding.)

Choosing the real you

But the truth is I’m not pore-less, and I refused to use vivo’s beauty mode since I thought it was too intense. Despite having beauty mode tailored for men, I was still averse since a beautified version of myself is far from how I actually look. And definitely not how I want to be seen.

What seems to be the common case in my selfies is how vivo pads beautification in its post-processing, even if you’re not actively using its beauty mode.

The thing is, vivo’s front camera uses an f/2.45 aperture, which results in backlit photos and brightened selfies. For reference, you can look at the well-lit busy background and cerulean-like sky on the middle photo above. Meanwhile, the photo on the right looks overexposed, even though I’m just basking under the sunlight inside a car.

However, this nitpicking can be handled easily if you know some tips and tricks in taking better selfies. Overall, the quality looks decent, and any selfie-taker or young professional who’d love to look good for a self-esteem boost will be satisfied with the results.

Putting Portrait Mode on a pedestal

It’s been years, but smartphone companies are still far from perfect in terms of their cameras’ portrait modes. Evident in the X50 is vivo’s attempt to produce cleaner bokeh albeit still unrefined.

When taking photos against a busy background, Portrait Mode should help you produce cleaner outputs while keeping the focus on the subject. But it’s still unpolished, as seen through the cutouts around my hair and shoulders. Additionally, vivo smartly applied HDR which lit my background causing haze around my face and hair.

Forgive me for slapping a clear case meant for the X50 Pro, I just really needed to put a case on.

Using its rear camera, the Portrait Mode had troubles dealing with depth of field (DoF), blurring my arms together with the background in the mirror. If you struggle with Portrait Mode, I mentioned in one of my camera hacks a trick on how to use mirrors to create better depth.

This way, you don’t have to be dependent on maxing out Portrait Mode, which results in ugly cutouts where you’d look like a pasted magazine cutout in a gaussian blurred image.

For every moment you can capture

The vivo X50 uses a quad-camera system similar to the X50 Pro, only with a smaller camera bump and narrower module. It uses Sony’s IMX598 sensor, comprised of a 48-megapixel primary shooter, a 13-megapixel portrait camera (with 50mm prime lens), an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens, and a 5-megapixel macro camera.

When compared to phones in a similar price range, the X50 is a mild contender in the camera department. It certainly packs useful features in shooting any type of photos. There’s a 120-degree super wide-angle, a clear 2X optical zoom, and 20X digital zoom.

Shot in auto mode on a 1:1 format (Square)

 

Backlit shot in auto mode on a 1:1 format (Square)

 

Flat lay produced through 2X optical zoom

 

20X digital zoom on a hive in my home’s window

 

Horizontal macro shot taken by placing the cameras close to the flowers

 

Vertical macro shot taken by placing the cameras close to the flowers

While vivo boasts of sharp and crystal clear night shots, I wasn’t able to test it due to curfew restrictions in my neighborhood.

The way our heart beats with strong connections

Casual users like me spend most of our time watching videos and listening to music. Of course, audio is as important as the display and other features. To audiophiles, vivo isn’t worth considering despite starting its humble story with peerless audio tuning.

Regardless, the vivo X50 fills a room loud enough like a night club booming with party speakers. It doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack, but Type-C wired earphones will still work well.

If you’re down with vivo’s ecosystem, it’s better to get the vivo TWS Neo since it pairs easily with the X50. Just like any other smartphone brand, vivo is focused in creating a seamless connection between its devices. With an R&D focused in audio, you get the same rich sound in both the X50 and TWS Neo.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

On paper, tech junkies might say a lot about its internals, yet vivo is more than the specs it offers. For years, vivo has been delivering an experience that is relevant to casual consumers.

The X50 is a testament to vivo’s history — offering the right power that everyday users need. While there are similar upper midrange phones with better specs and features, the vivo X50 still promises an all-around experience.

It may not have the X50 Pro’s flagship-grade power and extra features, the X50 serves that nearly similar flagship experience, at a reduced price. Undisturbed gaming, near-flagship efficient performance, better selfies and balanced cameras, and seamless ecosystem — what’s there to ask for?

Undoubtedly, it’s similar to the Samsung Galaxy A71. Both handsets are well-rounded, yet the X50 has a better build and design.

The vivo X50 retails for PhP 25,999 (US$ 536) in vivo’s official stores and authorized retail partners. Select outlets will also add in an exclusively X50 fit silicone Comfy case.

SEE ALSO: In having healthy connections through the vivo TWS Neo

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Accessories

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Watch SE: Unboxing and Buyer’s Guide

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There’s a new Apple Watch iteration every year — although this year, we have two new models to unbox. Other than that, we also have the newest one-piece bands called ‘Solo Loop’ — both in silicon and braided.

Although Apple completely removed the charging brick out from the usual packaging, they packed several new features on the Watch Series 6 including the new blood oxygen sensor and Always-On Altimeter. Meanwhile, the Watch SE is meant for people who’d want to experience Apple’s wearable without having to spend too much.

Between these two, which of them is your GadgetMatch? Or are you struggling to choose one?

You can head over to our latest Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE Unboxing and Buyer’s Guide right here to find out more.

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Huawei MateBook X (2020) + FreeBuds Pro + Watch GT 2 Pro Hands-On

Huawei ecosystem done right

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It seems like the pandemic isn’t stopping companies from announcing their newest tech. Today, Huawei announced not just new software features, but also their latest hardware in the annual Huawei Developers’ Conference (HDC).

Whether it’s the newly-updated MateBook X, Pro-rated iterations such as the FreeBuds Pro and the Watch GT 2 Pro.

Head over to our latest hands-on video as we talk about these devices and how Huawei’s seamless ecosystem can make your life meaningful.

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