Hands-On

OPPO A74 Hands-On: The 7 things I love about you

A budget smartphone that doesn’t feel like one

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The OPPO A74 was announced not too long ago. While the OPPO A94 is just around the corner, the A74 comes with a lesser price tag — but that doesn’t mean they scrapped a lot of features.

Frankly speaking, I’ve enjoyed using it for about a week now. For the record, this is actually my first time trying an OPPO phone. I’d say, it’s not a total slouch because (in Miley Cyrus’ voice), “there are 7 things I love about you”.

1. Premium-like design and feel

First thing’s first, the phone’s back is made entirely out of polycarbonate plastic. While it’s not prone to cracks and shatters, the phone simply scratches too easily — regardless if you safely put it on tables. Fortunate for clumsy users, there’s an included clear case inside the box.

That said, I still like its premium-like look. As I always say, I’m not the biggest fan of flashy, gradient smartphones but this Midnight Blue colorway looks elegant on its own. I’d pick it over the blander-looking Prism Black option (even if black is one of my favorite shades).

On hand, it feels slim and lightweight. I barely felt the heft when holding the phone with my one hand despite that large display. The curves flow well with your hands, too. Most smartphones these days have a slightly uncomfortable feeling due to sharper phone corners.

2. Crisp and vibrant display

As we’re already on the topic, the A74 packs a 6.43-inch AMOLED display — the same display found on the A94.

The display is vibrant enough even under the harsh sunlight. While it only has a Full HD+ resolution, it still looks crisp. The only downside of this one is the lack of faster refresh rate. I know what you’re thinking. Some affordable smartphones offer faster 90 to 144Hz displays. In return, you get a less bright and vibrant IPS-LCD display.

I’m not complaining with the A74’s conventional 60Hz refresh rate. For one, it saves battery power, and two is because I value a more color accurate display than the latter. But hey, take my opinion with a grain of salt as it’s just my preference in smartphone displays.

Another thing that makes it look “premium” is the inclusion of its punch-hole camera. That simply looks better versus a dewdrop notch.

There’s always an in-display fingerprint scanner which might not be the fastest, but it still gets the job done and is more reliable than a Face Unlock especially in this particular time.

3. Great for multimedia consumption

“Love resembles misty dream” – IU (2021)

This is already a given since it has an AMOLED display. But other than that, despite having just mono speakers, it’s surprisingly loud with a full sound that doesn’t sound tinny and distorted.

Watch Law School on Netflix if you want your mind to F(ail or function)

While it doesn’t feature any HDR10 capabilities, it’s still a viewing pleasure when watching YouTube videos (especially K-Pop music videos) and Netflix series and films.

OPPO was also able to put a 3.5mm audio jack in such a slim  form factor. There’s a set of earphones inside the box. This is great for users who already have an existing pair and also don’t want to spend fortune for another wireless earbuds.

4. Less-confusing Android User Interface

Out of the box, it already runs Android 11 with the ColorOS 11.1 skin. Over the years, I got used to Xiaomi’s MIUI and Samsung’s One UI but as I get to use their interface for long, the more it gets confusing.

To my surprise, the ColorOS looks clean and tidy. It’s not bombarded with unwanted UI elements and at the same time, I love the overall look and feel of the icons and the interface. I also commend how organized the settings are that aren’t as cluttered as other Android skins.

5. Optimum performance

On paper, the A74 is packed with a Snapdragon 662 chipset, 6GB of memory, and 128GB of onboard storage with an option to expand with a microSD slot through its Hybrid SIM tray. Opening basic apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more are quick. Even switching between apps is snappy fast as long as you don’t get too hard on it.

While it may not sound like a lot, it still is a smartphone capable of running popular titles such as PUBG, Mobile Legends, Genshin Impact, and Asphalt 9.

It also has this handy Game Focus Mode which basically is a game sidebar tool when playing games that turns off unwanted notifications and boosts performance so you can enjoy the game you’re playing.

When I played Call of Duty: Mobile, I was able to play with no stutters or lags. While the graphics setting isn’t maxed out to high, medium seems fine already especially that you can see game artifacts and farther enemies in this setting anyway.

6. Large battery capacity and fast charging support

To makes this a lot better, it packs a bountiful 5,000mAh battery — which is very surprising for me considering it has a slim and lightweight form factor.

If your phone already ran out of juice, there’s a bundled 33W fast charger out of the box. OPPO is true to its words as it’s capable of filling it up for around 54 minutes — same as advertised. And for everyone’s convenience, it’s equipped with a USB-C port.

7. Decent main camera

The OPPO A74 packs a trio set of cameras: a 48-megapixel f/1.7 wide (main) camera, and two 2-megapixel f/2.4 depth and macro sensors. I would’ve wished for an ultra-wide camera instead but they decided to put one on the A94.

While video recording is limited to just 1080p Full HD, its HDR and AI work wonders when shooting photos indoors.

Samples look better when they’re shot outside in broad daylight. If you’re always into posting your photos in social media, the A74 won’t disappoint.

Zooming in on the subject with 2x zoom is still doable but sometimes, it has a hard time focusing. This is already given because it doesn’t have a dedicated telephoto lens. Nevertheless, images still look great even if it’s an accidental bokeh shot.

Just don’t use the 5x digital zoom as it’s not helpful at all. It’s either grainy or blurred with a too healthy helping of HDR processing.

Wide | 5x zoom

Wide | 5x zoom

For night mode, don’t get your hopes up as it’s barely usable in low-light conditions. At first, I thought it was just the blurry camera lens, but after taking two more night shots at around three seconds in wide (1x) mode, nothing has changed.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re a long-time OPPO user and you just want to upgrade your OPPO experience without sacrificing too much on money, the A74 is simply a great smartphone to get. With a price tag of PhP 11,990, it’s simply not the cheapest budget smartphone you can buy right now.

Get the OPPO A94 if you can shell out an additional PhP 2,000 — only if you want a Mediatek chipset, an additional 2GB of memory, and the inclusion of an ultra-wide camera. But if we’re talking about better features, you can’t go wrong with the A74 simply because it has a competitive Snapdragon chipset, bigger battery with faster charging, and most of all, a cheaper price tag.

If you’re keen on trying another smartphone brand, there’s the Redmi Note 10 that has a cheaper retail price of just PhP 9,990 (6GB/128GB variant) with an upgraded Snapdragon 76 minus the ColorOS experience.

If you don’t care about design and just want a smartphone of the same kind, there’s the POCO M3 with identical hardware, but with an IPS-LCD display, a slightly larger battery capacity minus the fast charging — all for a pocket-friendly price of PhP 7,990.

Singapore pricing

The OPPO A74 6GB+ 128GB is available at a retail price of SG$ 299 in two colorways — Prism Black and Midnight Blue. It will be available for purchase at OPPO’s online Lazada and Shopee Flagship stores, M1 stores, as well as authorised resellers island wide.

Hands-On

How the MatePad 11 fits in your workflow

Can it be a substitute laptop?

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MatePad 11

We often get asked what’s a good “budget” laptop. And there’s never an easy answer.  Most decent options start at PhP 35,000 but the budget of people asking is capped at around PhP 30,000.

Then, we got to thinking — Do they really need a laptop, or just something that functions like one? Exploring this idea, one of our editors used the Huawei MatePad 11 for daily tasks, and this video chronicles the experience.

Typing away

For any writer or editor, it’s impossible to get anything done without a reliable keyboard.

The task ranges from writing your own articles to copy-editing the staff’s work. You also have to respond to emails and correspondence within and outside of the team.

That’s a lot of typing. And while we’ve come a long way in terms of getting accustomed to hitting a flat surface to type, nothing can replace a good, functioning full-sized keyboard for some real productivity.

Thankfully, the MatePad 11 has a compatible Smart Magnetic Keyboard. It looks tiny at first, but the keyboard is full-sized and offers a good amount of travel for its size.

In fact, parts of the script for this video was written on the MatePad 11-Smart Magnetic Keyboard Combo.

It’s also sturdy and balanced enough that you can pull it out in a pinch and prop it up on your lap. From experience, this isn’t the case with most other similar setups due to the weight of the tablet.

Thankfully, the MatePad 11 is light enough that it won’t topple over even when placed on a not-so-even surface.

Access to your usual apps

What most people really need is access to some type of Office apps. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available right from the App Gallery.

You can opt to go with Microsoft Office and link your existing subscription. Or select any of the other set of Office apps available.

Microsoft Office runs perfectly fine on the MatePad 11. Quickly set it up and you’ll be balancing sheets, making decks, and writing essays in no time.

If what you need is on Google Docs or Google Sheets, there’s a way to quick-launch these apps so you can work on the document or work file you need to.

Since plenty of our work files are on Google Docs, this was the editor’s primary way of accessing the stuff needed to get things done.

And if you’re having trouble with anything else you normally use, you can always access them via the browser like you would on a laptop.

There’s also Petal Search baked into the App Gallery that’ll scour the web for sources of the apps you desperately want and need.

Huawei understands the pain points it had to deal with and has addressed them with the App Gallery and Petal Search combo.

Multitasking master

The ease of switching from one app to another on a laptop is still pretty much unparalleled. But the MatePad 11 offers unique multitasking capabilities that offer an effective way to multitask.

What the editor found most useful in particular is how you can have smaller versions of the apps float on the screen.

And when minimized, it goes into this tiny app icon on the right side of the device functioning somewhat like a dock.

This is perfect for placing chat apps to look at messages at a glance. So even if the editor is in the middle of writing or copy-editing, glancing at messages is easy and doesn’t take the full attention away from the work at hand.

This is especially helpful for someone who juggles plenty of messaging apps.

Additionally, if you have a Huawei phone with you, the multi-screen collaboration feature takes this even further.

You can have your phone screen on the side and just open it up when needed. From here you can open any app whether that’s for messaging or something else you may need to reference for the work you’re doing.

It’s an incredible feature and one we hope will be adopted by other brands in some shape or form.

Not just for work

It’s recommended that you take short breaks in between tasks to keep yourself fresh and focused.

Breaks can be anything from standing up and walking around for a little bit, mindlessly browsing social media, or playing a quick game.

If the type of breaks you take fall on the latter two categories, the MatePad 11 is great for that as well.

The 120Hz refresh rate that this tablet has makes it a sight to behold and a joy to touch. Your general interaction with the device will feel incredibly fast and smooth.

It’s great whether you’re just swiping from one TikTok video to another or playing a quick round of whatever mobile game you’re into.

The M-Pencil is truly handy

Not everyone needs a stylus. But just because you don’t need one, doesn’t mean it can never come in handy.

An editor’s work also entails signing a lot of documents. This can be anything from loaner sheets or non-disclosure agreements.

It’s also great for providing a rough illustration of the visuals you need. Sometimes, the only way to really get your point across to visual artists is to show them what you have in mind, and then just let them work their magic on it.

On the Nebo app, you can draw rough sketches to show your graphic artist how you want something to look like. It’s a helpful guide and one that prevents miscommunication.

You can also use the app for taking notes and doodling which is a pretty underrated way of clearing your mind.

Mate just be what you need

The MatePad 11 is an excellent tablet. One that can be more than a stopgap to your laptop needs.

It gives you access to the work stuff that you need, while offering features that laptops in its price range aren’t capable of.

It’s a fine mate for work, play, and everything else in between.

Pricing and availability

The Huawei MatePad 11 retails for PhP 24,999 and comes with two freebies: Wireless Charging Table Lamp and MatePad 11 Cover

Buy here: Huawei Online Store | Lazada | Shopee

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Hands-On

Tempo Move Hands-On

This Compact $400 Home Gym Changes Everything!

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Tempo has just launched a new sub $400 system that fits into a console table! Not only that they a lot less space than regular home gym systems, it also uses advanced tech like the LiDAR sensor on your iPhone. Their new 3D Tempo Vision technology is also there as a complement to make workout reading and tracking more precise.

But could this be the future of home workouts? Watch our Tempo Move Hands-on now!

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Hands-On

Apple 14″ M1 Pro MacBook Pro: Unboxing & Hands On

Is this the right MacBook Pro for you?

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Finally, the newly-redesigned M1 Pro MacBook Pros have finally arrived after years of waiting!

For now, Michael Josh unboxes and spends more than 24 hours with the new M1 Pro silicon chip-touting 14-inch MacBook Pro — as well as the software experience with the new macOS Monterey update.

If you’ve been wanting to buy one today, you have to wait for our review video baking up real soon.

For the meantime, all the basic things you need to know about the new M1 Pro MacBook Pro are in this unboxing and hands-on video.

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