Reviews

OPPO A57 review: Gateway phone?

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With Vivo and Meizu stocking up on budget-friendly offerings while ASUS remains quiet until the launch of its much-anticipated next-generation ZenFone series, it’s up to OPPO to step up its entry-level game.

The OPPO F1s and its upgraded version have been available for sometime now, and even though the F3 released just recently, the successor isn’t exactly kind to wallets.

That’s why we have the A series — the A57, to be precise. Valued at INR 14,990 in India and PhP 11,990 in the Philippines for the 32GB storage variant, this is positioned as the affordable choice without much compromise.

I’ll show you why:

A 5.2-inch HD screen covers the front

Not too sharp, but the brightness is adequate

There’s a fingerprint scanner on the capacitive home button

Sadly, the recent apps and back buttons don’t have backlighting

The back is made of hard plastic

You’d think it’s metal at first, though

An audio port, micro-USB port, and speaker cover the bottom

I just wish the newer USB-C standard was used here

Best part: It has a triple-card slot!

You can have two nano-SIM cards and a microSD at the same time

But how well does it perform?

While not exactly a powerhouse, the A57’s Snapdragon 435 processor is good enough for everyday tasks like going through your Gmail, browsing several tabs on Chrome, and operating the pre-installed camera app.

It’s only when I drop in heavy games like NBA 2K17 and Asphalt Xtreme when there’s slowdown. You’d think the 3GB of memory would be sufficient, but then I realized the graphics chip of the Snapdragon chipset isn’t much of a graphics pusher in the first place.

You also have to remember that OPPO’s customary ColorOS is around once again, layered on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Yes, that’s Google’s now two-year-old operating system. Because of that, you don’t get the latest memory optimization and app switching tricks from the newer Android versions.

Does it take nice photos?

Despite being marketed as the “Unstoppable Selfie,” the A57 doesn’t have any special front-camera features, like a front-firing LED flash or additional lens for wider photos. Still, the 16-megapixel selfies I got out of the A57 were impressive in most situations and angles.

The products of the 13-megapixel rear camera are decent, but not as impressive as the front’s. Although the images are clear and crisp, colors don’t pop even when HDR is turned on. But to its credit, locking on to subjects is quick and rarely failed me.

Can it last more than a day?

As mentioned earlier, a prominent disadvantage of the A57 is its use of an outdated version of Android. Not only does it make the phone more vulnerable to security breaches, but it can also drain the battery faster than on newer Android flavors because of the lack of battery-saving features.

And yet, the A57 managed to cast away my doubts. As long as I don’t play too many games and taper my mobile data usage, I can squeeze out more than a day of use with over four hours of screen-on time on a single charge. I just wish it had fast charging for its 2900mAh; I’ve gotten spoiled by the speedy charges of higher-end phones already.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

You wouldn’t consider the OPPO A57 an easy buy when you first see its price, considering how there are more affordable options out there with possibly better specifications. But what the A57 focuses on is bringing together an all-around package without skimping on features.

Another point of consideration is the increasing prices for OPPO’s upper-tier phones. The F3 costs significantly more than the F1s, and the R11 also raised its value in accordance with its more premium image.

So even though the A57 doesn’t fall below the 10,000 line for both India and the Philippines, every other OPPO handset is well above the 15,000 border. Those numbers improve the A57’s main selling point, which is maintaining that sweet spot for budget-conscious consumers.

SEE ALSO: OPPO R11 Review

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Reviews

Find X2 Pro review: OPPO’s finest

It deserves your attention

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OPPO has been dominating the budget and midrange space in Asia for many years now, but in the eyes of the rest of the world, the brand is a newcomer. The Chinese company, however, has a track record of innovation, years of R&D, countless experiments awaiting recognition.

Taking center stage is a smartphone that’s so good and so refined, that it can seriously compete with the best 2020 has to offer. The Find X2 Pro is the culmination of everything OPPO has been working on for as long as we can remember.

Luxurious finish

First things first, we need to talk about design. I mean, how can you not? With its bright orange faux leather finish and gold accents, it reminds me of those classic Hermes boxes.

People who prefer subdued colors might like the black ceramic option better, but I love how bold and different this orange finish is.

Just please don’t put the bundled jelly case on, the Find X2 Pro deserves better. Even the midrange OPPO Reno 2 came bundled with a faux leather case. Not only did it protect the phone, it also made it feel more sturdy and premium.

The OPPO Reno 2 came with a faux leather case

Speaking of the Reno series, I miss its original symmetrical design. When the first Reno phones came out, I praised OPPO for finally having found a design language they can call their own. It was refreshing to see after several years of seeing iPhone clones from the company.

While the Find X2 doesn’t look like an iPhone anymore, the design still feels a bit unoriginal. It reminds me of Huawei’s P series that also came in leather finishes.

It also doesn’t have that same wow factor the original Find X had when it came out. That phone had a beautiful curved edge-to-edge display and hidden cameras that popped up when prompted. Having said that, while that phone was stunning I remember thinking that it also felt fragile and gimmicky — like an unfinished product.

The Find X2 Pro is the complete opposite. So while its looks can easily get lost in a sea of Android phones, it’s built great. and feels solid. And its size? Its size is just right.

It feels great in the hands as it’s not hefty like the previous Reno models. It’s something you will enjoy holding and using on a daily basis.

That said, I’d take something solid and refined over being blinded by a wow factor that easily fades away.

Oh and before I forget, the Find X2 Pro is finally water and dust resistant — rated IP68. You still shouldn’t submerge it in liquid especially with the faux leather finish, but in case it happens you’ll know your phone has that extra layer of protection.

Top of the line display and performance

The smartphone display is the one object we look at and interact with the most. That’s why it was important for OPPO to put its best display ever on the Find X2 series.

Watching Our Planet on Netflix almost feels too real especially with HDR video enhancement. Colors pop and — more importantly — are accurate.

Outdoors the phone can hold its own. Reading pages and articles for extended periods of time is enjoyable even when the sun is out and bright.

Mobile gamers would also enjoy playing their favorites on the Find X2 Pro as it’s powered by Qualcomm’s top of the line processor, the Snapdragon 865. Its display boasts of a 120Hz refresh rate — once a feature only found in gaming smartphones. On top of that is 240Hz sampling rate, which might come in handy when you want the phone to register your taps faster than your opponents.

OPPO is proud of its curved displays similar to what we’ve seen on Samsung phones for many years and more recently on OnePlus devices. While I agree that it’s sexy, I’ve come to prefer flat displays as they are more practical — and everyone on the GadgetMatch team agrees.

Improved user experience

On the Find X2 Pro, OPPO added a new ColorOS feature called Smart Sidebar. By swiping from the edge of the screen, you can access shortcuts so you can launch apps faster.

App icons are also no longer the hodgepodge that they used to be. Overall experience is now more refined, and less iPhone-clone like.

One of the most underrated smartphone features for me is good haptics. OPPO is not highlighting it, and I could understand why, but it’s worth mentioning that the overall experience of using the Find X2 Pro is a lot better because of it.

First class cameras

One department OPPO has spent a lot of time on over the last few years is its camera technology. We were there when OPPO first launched its 5x optical zoom at MWC 2017, and 10x lossless zoom at MWC 2019. And if you ask me, all that hard work has paid off.

This year they partnered with Sony to customize the image sensor on the device. It has 100% focusable pixels — meaning, every pixel on the sensor can be used for autofocus. While not significantly faster than top phones in the market, the speed comes in handy when photographing moving subjects.

The new sensor also improves OPPO’s already impressive low light performance that we’ve seen on the previous Reno models. In scenarios where there’s barely any light source, Ultra Night Mode 3.0 does a great job in exposing subjects, especially when you use its built-in tripod mode.

Here are some shots we took around New York City before the lockdown.

The phone has two other cameras — an ultra wide angle lens and a 6x optical telephoto lens. The ultra wide angle lens produces less distortion as compared to previous OPPO phones that had the same feature, but it’s not as wide as the one found on Samsung’s Galaxy S20+.

Here are some sample photos taken with the ultra wide angle lens of the Find X2 Pro.

The rectangular periscopic camera delivers 10X hybrid zoom. OPPO says the photos it takes is as close to those taken with 6x optical zoom. Here are some sample photos.

Here are some comparison shots versus the Samsung Galaxy S20+. The Find X2 Pro has a shallower depth of field.

The Find X2 Pro does a better job at HDR — exposing more of the shadowy areas. Aside from that, the phones did an excellent job although results vary. Which phone did better would depend on personal preference. You can check out the whole camera shootout here.

For any brand to be taken seriously, it has to have an excellent camera and the Find X2 Pro — just like the Reno phones that came before it — delivers. It even recently topped DxOMark smartphone camera rankings, tying Xiaomi’s Mi 10 Pro.

Selfie game strong

Selfies get a dedicated section in this review. Let’s not forget back in the day, when OPPO was still establishing itself in more markets in Asia, the company dubbed itself the selfie expert.

Its F series were some of the most popular phones because of it. Today, OPPO no longer uses that as a marketing strategy but that doesn’t mean it’s abandoned its selfie game entirely.

On the Find X2 series, the beauty algorithm has been updated to make skin tones more real. When amped up all the way, you can still end up looking like a cringey porcelain doll. With the right settings, it’s able to remove blemishes and add makeup if you want to without completely erasing your pores.

Fastest fast charging technology

Another aspect OPPO has been working on for years is its fast charging technology called VOOC. Its latest iteration is now called SuperVOOC 2.0. It’s the fastest charging technology in the industry to date.

The bundled SuperVOOC 2.0 charger can fully juice up the Find X2 Pro’s 4620 mAh battery in just 38 minutes. The 3-4 sets of circuit training that I do takes longer than that.

If you’re worried that it’s too fast and therefore not safe, the Find X2 Pro actually comes with a customized battery safety monitoring chip. It doesn’t just monitor the battery status during charging, but also tracks whether the battery is damaged over time.

In addition, OPPO’s VOOC technology has always offered five levels of security protection from the power adapter, wire, and in the handset itself. In the years that we’ve been testing OPPO phones, not once have we encountered problems related to charging, so this claim is something we can vouch for.

Is the OPPO Find X2 Pro your GadgetMatch?

Whether the OPPO Find X2 Pro is for you is not an easy question to answer. I’m not gonna mince words — the Find X2 Pro is expensive. In some markets, its starting price is higher than that of the Samsung Galaxy S20+.

Can it command a high price tag? Yes, and no.

The Find X2 Pro delivered in every aspect, especially in those that are most important to us. Just by holding the phone, you can tell that OPPO spent a lot of time refining the product. The Find X2 Pro has one of the best spec sheets found on smartphones this year as well.

With its expensive price tag, what OPPO is saying is that the Find X2 Pro deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as the latest iPhone or Galaxy. But those willing to spend a lot of money for an iPhone or a Galaxy are paying to own an Apple or Samsung phone. That’s a level of brand prestige that OPPO is aiming to one day achieve.

Bluntly put, a better strategy would be to undercut its competitors with slightly lower pricing. This way users have a compelling incentive to try the brand because if you ask me, the Find X2 Pro is a phone that deserves to be in this league.

WATCH: OPPO Find X2 Pro Unboxing and Review

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Which Samsung Galaxy S20 is your GadgetMatch?

Three phones, three Matchketeers

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As you may already know, the Samsung Galaxy S20 series has three phones — the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy S20 Ultra. We were fortunate enough to get a hold of all three, so three different members of our team took one each and here we’ll discuss what liked and didn’t like about these phones.

Hopefully, this can help you decide which of the three to get. That is, perhaps, after we go through this whole COVID-19 pandemic. So while you’re staying home, here’s something to read.

The first obvious difference is size. How did you feel about the one you got? 

Rodneil [Galaxy S20 Ultra]: The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is HUGE. I’m saying this as a fan of the Note series and generally large display smartphones. But this phone just really feels humongous.

For context, I have been using the iPhone 11 Pro for months which might have made the size transition more obvious than it would have been had I been using another Android flagship.

MJ [Galaxy S20]: I loved it. The Galaxy S20 fit perfectly in my tiny hands! This may be bad, but I found myself glued to my smartphone for a few days now, only because my phone’s easier to hold, carry, and use. I’m done with big smartphones!

Vincenz [Galaxy S20+]: As someone who has big hands, I like the form factor of the Galaxy S20+. I tried holding other Galaxy S20 phones but I’m gonna say the Galaxy S20+ is the perfect fit since the Galaxy S20 feels a little bit small and the Galaxy S20 Ultra is thicker, and heavier.

Did it affect your usage? How and why? 

Rodneil: I felt less inclined to take it out to get some quick snaps. It almost feels like carrying a mirrorless camera. Almost. It’s colossal and nearly impossible to use with only just one hand. It almost discourages me to use one of its highlight features which is the camera.

That said, the size and display made it pretty great for media consumption as well as editing a few quick clips. While we’re at it, I’d like to mention how the screen recording then subsequently editing and trimming on an app caused it to significantly heat up. And I didn’t even do much editing. I just trimmed and resized a clip.

The quick overheating might be because of the Exynos processor. I did the same tasks on the OPPO Find X2 Pro and it didn’t heat up as much. But that comparison is a discussion for another day.

MJ: It made me use my phone frequently and made me bring it wherever I go — even in bathroom breaks! I found it easier to navigate the screen, use my phone to take selfies or take snaps of my mundane life so I can share it with my friends.

Vincenz: The only problem that affected my daily usage is the slim profile and slippery glass back. Holding it with one hand feels light but over time, my arms got sore to the point that I’ll just place it on a flat table or on my bed. I don’t want to drop it since it’s fragile (like me when I see my crush).

Let’s jump right into what people care about. The cameras. General thoughts on the images you took? 

Rodneil: It’s pretty much everything we’ve come to know from Samsung. Take a few shots and more often than not, you’ll get an image that you can just immediately post on social media.

I tried Live Focus on good ‘ol Funko MJ and got more than decent results both under good daylight and when the subject is against the light.

Same is true for the wide angle lens. Get plenty of daylight, and you’re bound to get photos ready for your Facebook feed.

MJ: As a person who lives and breathes social media, the images produced by the Galaxy S20 is definitely social media-ready. It’s saturated and lively enough even without its scene optimizer tool.

L-R: 3x Zoom, 1x Auto, 0.5x Wide-angle

Since I post-process my photos, I find myself spending more time editing to lessen the vibrancy of the photos, since the colors pop.

Cameras are bad at night for both the front and rear cameras! Its only saving grace is its night mode and wide-angle. When used properly, you’ll get astounding results. You better learn basic photography before hitting up the cameras!

L-R: Night mode on an ultra-wide-angle mode, Night mode using a 10-sec timer

Vincenz: I’ll be straightforward about this: It doesn’t have the best cameras in a smartphone but it doesn’t mean it’s not good. Sure, the main sensor does most of the trick but problems arise when you compare it with other phones.

I enjoyed taking food shots more with the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro. For night shots, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro has a better algorithm. The ultra-wide lens is the least thing I like in this phone since the colors are desaturated and not as accurate as the main sensor.

I also tried recording videos (even in 8K) but I guess the iPhone 11 series dominates both video quality and OIS (optical image stabilization).

Is the zoom really “all that”? 

Rodneil: I wouldn’t say “all that,” but it can be useful. Although the thing about the 100X zoom on the Galaxy S20 Ultra is, it’s a lot like pushing yourself to the limit — just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Here are samples wide angle, 10X, 30X, and 100X. As you can see, 30X zoom is still pretty darn good. Having the capacity to go to 100X means your 30X zoom should produce pretty darn good results.

Same is true for the 10X zoom. That allowed me to take this kind of shot.

It does struggle when there isn’t enough light and taking handheld 30X zoom photos can be challenging.

MJ: I love this phone to death because of its size, design, and overall usage, but that zoom sucks. I was spending a night at the beach during an almost full moon, and I tried zooming in at 30X but it wasn’t impressive.

L-R: 30x Zoom, 1x Auto, 0.5x Wide-angle

Don’t bother zooming in! Just get a better camera with a professional zoom lens if you want to capture the moon. Otherwise, the zoom feature is best used up to 3X. It’s perfect for capturing portraits at a distance (without using portrait mode). Where else would you use zoom? It’s creepy as hell.

Vincenz: Nights ago, there was this huge moon lighting up the sky. I tried zooming it in at 30X, but was disappointed with the quality of the output. Tried it before with a Huawei Mate 30 Pro and it gave me outstanding results.

I was expecting the same with the Galaxy S20+ since it also has the same zoom ability but it doesn’t show any detail of the craters at all. Night mode doesn’t even do justice since it also zooms up to 10X.

What about the selfies? Did you like them?

Rodneil: Not really big on selfies, but for the purposes of testing I tried one with live focus and one without. I think the smoothing is still more aggressive than I would have liked. This is with “beauty mode” turned off.

MJ: Selfies are decent enough to send to your crushes but never ever use the beauty mode. It sucks, same with its portrait mode.

The wide-angle mode helped with group photos, though. Admittedly, Xiaomi still has the best selfies to date (in my opinion, please don’t chew me out). But with proper lighting and right poses, you’ll get perfect selfies — if that’s even your thing!

Vincenz: Not a huge selfie user but when I tried it, I immediately turned off the beauty mode. I want my selfies to look as natural as possible — but turning it off still showed smeared selfies.

But when it comes to groufies, it gets the job done as it has an extra ultra-wide mode to accomodate more people inside the frame.

The display is a huge talking point too. Did it seem any different from other phones you’ve tried? 

Rodneil: The 120Hz screen refresh rate should be the default now. After using this for an extended period, any other screen just doesn’t feel as smooth.

Still not a fan of punch-hole displays but that’s mostly negligible since I use dark mode most of the time plus I don’t pinch to zoom when watching videos. This means the punch-hole stays out of sight. Overall, it’s a fantastic display — par for the course for Samsung.

MJ: I barely use phones that aren’t AMOLED displays, so I don’t have much to say in comparison. As usual, colors are vivid and lively. The Galaxy S20’s full screen display, albeit smaller compared to its siblings, is such an awesome companion for your entertainment and recreational activities.

I recently joined the craze on the 120Hz refresh rate, and I’ve been enjoying it so far. I’m not tiring my eyes whenever I scroll and swipe!

Plus, whatever you’re watching on Netflix, you’re bound to get hooked. After all, you got an immersive and impressive display, it’s difficult not to love the show you’re watching even more.

Vincenz: I’ve been fond of Samsung’s Super AMOLED as I used a Galaxy Note5 before. After moving to iPhones, I just got used to their IPS displays (including the iPhone XR I used before this).

Right when I had the Galaxy S20+, I got stunned with the Dynamic AMOLED display with deep blacks and fast 120Hz refresh rate — something iPhones and other Android smartphones can’t beat until today.

I ditched watching the Netflix series Itaewon Class on my iPhone because I enjoy the vivid colors and the fullscreen display more on the Galaxy S20+.

Thoughts on ONE UI 2.0 and other Samsung perks? 

Rodneil: It looks undeniably Samsung for better or worse, but it’s definitely cleaner now than it has ever been. The gestures are all based on Android 10 (which, in effect is based on iOS lol), and I really like that.

The apps edge feature is underrated. I will completely lose any sense of the day if I didn’t have quick access to a calendar and this does it for me.

It’s also a good way to catch-up on NBA scores — although the league’s suspended at the moment. And the last game that’s on this photo are teams that have players who tested COVID-19 positive. That was depressing. I’m sorry.

MJ: I’m going to admit it: I couldn’t care less about the UI… before. One UI 2.0, just like any other UI, is difficult for me to grasp and understand. I’ve been used to EMUI and MIUI since I’ve been using a Huawei phone since 2016 and a Xiaomi phone since 2019. After using one Samsung phone after another this year, I realized One UI 2.0 is easy to learn and look at. For me, One UI 2.0 is a welcome change.

On another note, Samsung Members is one of my favorite perks from Samsung. You can have great deals from your favorite spas, resorts, cafes, and even restaurants. They even hold limited promos! Most recent was a free regular beverage from Chatime! Sadly, I missed it because I was sick.

Vincenz: One UI 2.0 is probably better than Samsung’s Touchwiz. I was impressed that Samsung finally listened to their loyal users. The bloatware and messy UI are now gone in favor of a cleaner, more minimal UI. It’s still not the best I’ve used since I enjoy using MIUI more, but it’s second in my list.

I haven’t tried using the Samsung Members app yet but I heard you get great deals and discounts if you register. Too bad the quarantine holds me back from trying those offers.

Which Galaxy S20 would you buy for yourself? Or as we say here, which do you think is your GadgetMatch? (Mention also who you think would get the most out of the phone you used) 

Rodneil:  I have recently found joy in carrying smaller phones. It just feels more practical. For anyone to want the Galaxy S20 Ultra you’d have to be a combination of someone who: has money to burn, has big hands or likes big phones, and might actually need the zoom capabilities. It’s really not for everybody.

I would say the S20+ and the S20 are probably the more regular-consumer-friendly phones. If I were to choose from the three, I would most likely get the Galaxy S20+.

MJ: I’m definitely in love with the Galaxy S20. If it wasn’t for its price, I would buy it. But then again, you’re paying for a well-rounded smartphone which can do the work for you because… it’s smart. No need to download and install apps that don’t come from the Google Play Store.

Additionally, Samsung has different layers of security so if that’s one of your considerations for a smartphone, you’ll have peace of mind. All of my girl friends enjoyed the Galaxy S20, the same way I did. If they have the money to spend, I’m pretty sure they’ll buy this one, even if there are no Cloud Pink units available. You can always plaster a beautiful case!

Vincenz: If it wasn’t because of the hefty price tag, I would definitely choose the Galaxy S20 Ultra since I’m more of a camera guy. The Galaxy S20+ lacks bigger camera sensors found on the Ultra that I need in achieving my desired shots when I take it outdoors.

If I’m being practical, I’d still pick the Galaxy S20+ — the sweet spot of the Galaxy S20 series because of the display size, price tag, and overall features. The S20+ might even suit Rodneil more than I do.

BONUS!

Launched alongside the Galaxy S20 series is the Samsung Galaxy Flip. If you’re wondering who that’s for — then it’s Michael Josh (since he’s really the only one who can afford it lol). Kidding aside, here’s a Flip vs Moto razr video you can sink your teeth into.

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Reviews

OPPO Find X2 Pro Unboxing and Review

Is it better than the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra?

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This is the Find X2 Pro — the culmination of everything OPPO has been working on for as long as we can remember. Years of R&D, innovation, and countless experiments.

The result? A smartphone that’s so good and so refined it can seriously compete with the best. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. In this video we unbox and review the OPPO Find X2 Pro.

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