Hands-On

OPPO F5 hands-on: A nearly borderless selfie phone

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In 2017, the smartphone world’s “in thing” is the borderless display. We’ve seen flagship after flagship attempt bigger, wider displays with smaller and smaller bezels.

OPPO rides this tech train with their newest smartphone release. The F5 is OPPO’s first nearly borderless smartphone. With a screen ratio of 18:9 and new AI built into its beauty mode, the brand which brought us the Selfie Expert is now bringing a device they claim can “capture the real you.”

I took the new F5 out for a spin and here’s how it went down.

Look and feel

There is definitely more screen real estate on the F5. Minimal bezels surround the sides of the phone; the top and bottom bezels are noticeably smaller compared to OPPO’s previous phones.

Admittedly, the phone looks a lot like other nearly borderless devices from other brands, but I’m not even surprised as this tends to happen a lot with smartphones.

OPPO F5 bezel-less display

The forehead (yes, folks, that’s what they call that bezel up top) houses the earpiece and the front-facing shooter — this is a single camera selfie setup.

OPPO F5 forehead

The back part of the device is plastic but it’s given a premium metal look. It doesn’t feel as heavy as phones with an all-metal build, though it does have some good weight to it — none of that cheap, plastic-y feel.

The fingerprint scanner can also be found on the back with the rear camera and LED flash, which is a placement I’m not particularly fond of. Good news, though: This phone has a facial recognition unlock feature so you need not bother with the back scanner to unlock your phone.

OPPO F5 rear

On the right side, there’s the power button and a double nano-SIM card tray with a separate microSD card slot.

OPPO F5 sim card tray

On the left, volume rockers.

OPPO F5 left volume rocker

On the bottom, we have the speaker grilles, micro-USB port, and audio jack. There are no physical buttons on the phone’s chin (yes, those bezels down there); the home, back, and recent apps buttons are all found on screen.

OPPO F5 microUSB, speaker grilles, and audio port

The handset is sleek and light. The F5 is just a few millimeters taller than the F3 and R11 so you get the same feel holding it. But, even if the phone is almost the same size as previous OPPO releases, the 6-inch display makes a difference. I found that having a bigger screen does add to a more enjoyable smartphone experience.

Cameras

There are only two cameras on the F5: a 16-megapixel camera on the back and a 20-megapixel shooter up front.

Taking selfies with the OPPO F5

Of course, the F5 is equipped with OPPO’s signature beauty mode on both rear and front cameras.

OPPO F5 sample selfie with AI beauty mode

Sample selfie!

OPPO added an extra layer to their beauty mode for this particular phone: Artificial intelligence is built into the front-facing camera for better selfies. This added AI technology should be able to tell a person’s age, sex, and even race, to come up with optimum beauty settings for the best possible selfie you could ever take.

OPPO F5 beauty AI

The AI beauty mode allows for more natural selfies, even if it removes blemishes. It smoothens your skin but doesn’t blur out all your pores — something that tends to happen when using normal beauty filters.

OPPO F5 artificial intelligence beauty mode

What also stood out to me is how the bokeh mode has improved on this device. Notice the better cutout on the F5 photo as compared to the F3’s.

Bokeh mode is available on both beauty and normal mode, although you can’t activate this feature when using the rear camera.

Here are a few more sample shots:

There is no wide-angle shooter on the F5, a feature I loved on the F3. The pro mode is still there though, which will delight those who opt to shoot on manual mode. The video beauty mode previously only found on the R11 is also on this phone, which is great, as not all selfie phones have this feature integrated into their native camera apps.

Quick specs

The F5 is powered by a MediaTek MT6763T processor and runs on Android 7.1 with ColorOS 3.2. It has 4GB of memory and 32GB of storage with a 3200mAh battery capacity.

OPPO F5

All this means is that the F5 runs on a midrange processor that’s newer and more efficient compared to the one used by its predecessor, the F3. It runs on Android Nougat and OPPO’s operating system which is reminiscent of the iPhone’s interface (Read: pretty easy to use if you’ve ever been on an iPhone.)

Initial thoughts

The OPPO F5 does what it does best — take good selfies — all on a better screen. That is, if you consider bigger as better.

It’s undeniable, though, that shooting Instagram stories, editing selfies, and everyday social media stalking is an improved experience with this taller display.

Girl holding OPPO F5

As for everyday performance, however, I’d still have to spend more time with the phone to be able to write a full review. In the meantime, I’m definitely enjoying the better F5 view.

PRICING AND AVAILABILITY: OPPO F5 launches with near-borderless display and selfie AI

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy M20 hands-on: Give the users what they want

Awakening of the sleeping giant

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Samsung has been the smartphone market leader for half a decade now, and its flagship phones continue to be an inspiration for everyone. However, while the brand is dominating in developed markets, it has taken a massive beating in the developing ones.

Thanks to players like Xiaomi, the South Korean brand has consistently lost market share in countries like India. Samsung slowly prepared itself to change strategy by the end of last year and intends to go hard in 2019. It announced the new Galaxy M-series lineup of phones in the budget segment and the M10 and M20 are the first ones to roll off the shelf.

The M20 has been launched in India for INR 10,990 (US$ 154) and comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. The option with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage costs INR 12,990 (US$ 182). The phone goes up against the Redmi 6 Pro, Realme U1, and even the Mi A2.

To start with, Samsung has opted to go with a basic design, consisting of a plastic body that is curved at the edges and is pretty glossy. The phone is extremely comfortable to hold, and the build quality is top-notch. Even the buttons are very tactile and bezels are smaller.

On the front is a 6.3-inch TFT display with a Full HD resolution and small water-drop style notch on the top. This is the first Samsung phone to feature a notch, and the display quality is surprisingly good. The color production is vivid and satisfying, while the viewing angles are perfect. It is easily visible even under direct sunlight.

For authentication, a fingerprint scanner is located on the rear and it is fast enough. You also have the option of face unlock and it works quickly in well-lit conditions. It has dual-SIM support and there’s a separate slot for microSD card, as well.

Powering the phone is an octa-core Exynos 7904 processor, which is considered to be on par with the Snapdragon 636. It is a very power-efficient processor with more emphasis on the cameras. Day-to-day tasks are handled smoothly and games like PUBG are playable with low graphics.

It has a dual-camera setup on the rear, consisting of a 13-megapixel primary shooter and a 5-megapixel wide-angle sensor. The pictures clicked during daytime are decently saturated but lack sharpness. Even focus tends to get slow in low-light conditions. The wide-angle lens works best in bright surroundings only and is a very handy tool. For selfies, it has an 8-megapixel shooter with built-in beauty enhancements.

It ships with Samsung Experience 9.5 out of the box and is actually well optimized. There is barely any lag and the UI offers a plethora of customizations and features. The company announced that the Android Pie update will be landing soon. Lastly, it has a massive 5000mAh battery that’ll get you through two days of usage.

Xiaomi has been successful because it offers users a balanced product that suits everyone’s needs. With the M20, Samsung goes down the same road. While the recently announced A-series phones were for photography enthusiasts, the M20 is good enough for everything.

The M20 is no disruptor, but an indication that Samsung is gearing up. And as a generation-one product, it’s performing fairly well.

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Cameras

Fujifilm Instax SQ20 hands-on: How good is it?

Trying out the new Motion Mode on doggies!

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Fujifilm’s sequel to their first ever digital/analog hybrid is here and it’s looking better than ever. The Instax SQ20 is one classy-looking instant camera but what can it do? With a set of built-in filters and new features like the Motion Mode, it looks like a promising device.

I finally try it out, with help from some doggies, on our hands-on video.

The SQ20 retails for US$ 199 in the US, PhP 12,999 in the Philippines, and SG$ 299 in Singapore.

In case you’re having trouble viewing, watch HERE.

READ ALSO: Fujifilm Instax SQ10 review

READ ALSO: Prynt Pocket unboxing and review: A printer that prints videos?

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Hands-On

Huawei Nova 4 Hands-on: A ‘hole’ new approach

Does the punch-hole display make a difference?

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One of the reasons why Huawei is always on the news, aside from the controversies, is because they have new phones every other week. I’m still loving the Mate 20 Pro for its amazing cameras, but there’s now the Nova 4 that, in my opinion, will be an interesting option for new smartphone buyers.

The Huawei Nova 4 offers pretty much everything a premium midrange phone should: a nice display, beautiful body, and good cameras. It’s also one of the few phones in the market that has a hole in its display instead of a notch.

Is a punch-hole display more preferable than a notch? That’s what I tried to find out while using the Nova 4 for this hands-on.

First, let’s start with the basics:

It’s got a notch-less 6.4-inch display

In exchange, there’s a hole for the front camera

There’s support for two nano-SIM cards

No space for a microSD card, though

On its right are the physical buttons

They blend in well with the phone’s frame

The 3.5mm headphone jack is on top

Along with an IR blaster and noise-canceling microphone

At the bottom is the reversible USB-C port

There’s also the loudspeaker and main microphone

The back houses three cameras

And the swift fingerprint reader

The gradient color scheme is present

This has become Huawei’s signature

Can’t deny that it’s from Huawei

From its body to its color, the Nova 4 contains 100 percent of Huawei’s DNA. Gone are the days where we associate every touchscreen phone as an iPhone. Once the gradient color of the Nova 4 shifts, it instantly captivates. The usual question I get when my friends see me holding the Nova 4 is: It that a Huawei?

Personally, I wouldn’t buy a phone with an extreme persona like this Aurora Blue variant of the Nova 4 I have for review. I still prefer my discreet OnePlus 6 in black, but that’s just me. Of course, there’s a black variant of the Nova 4 available as well for those who don’t want a phone that becomes a centerpiece on a table.

The shape and size of the Nova 4 are no different from any premium phone that came out lately. It’s got a glass front and back with a shiny metal frame and the sides of the phone curve gently, making it easier to grip. Overall, I found no issues about the build of the Nova 4, aside from it being smudgy most of the time.

At first, I found the punch-hole to be as annoying as the notch. The hole is larger than expected, but I got used to it. Most apps treat the hole like a notch, so the experience is similar to before. The punch-hole doesn’t have an advantage over the notch in terms of usability.

Where the punch-hole shines is how it’s more tolerable when watching a video in full screen. Some games are not aware of the area the hole is occupying, thus control buttons get covered. Turning off the “full screen display” switch for some games fixes this.

Flagship-grade speed and stability

Enough with the looks; let’s now dive into the internals of the phone. The brain of the Nova 4 is the Kirin 970 processor. It’s the previous flagship 10nm chipset from Huawei’s own labs. It’s also inside the Mate 10 and the P20 series. Moreover, the Nova 4 has the same processor as its predecessor.

Performance-wise, there’s no big difference. This means Nova 3 owners don’t need to upgrade, unless they want a new and different-looking phone. The advantage of the Nova 4 is its upgraded memory to 8GB, although storage remains the same at 128GB.

Android Pie comes out of the box with Huawei’s EMUI 9 placed on top. Frankly, there’s not much new about the custom interface since EMUI 6, aside from the staple features of Android Pie. The heavy skin of EMUI doesn’t affect the performance of the phone, but it’s also not the best-looking.

In terms of gaming, popular titles like Asphalt 9: Legends and PUBG Mobile are playable on high graphics settings. There’s no sign of hiccups or lag thanks to the optimizations by Huawei’s GPU Turbo.

As mentioned, the hole in the display is considered a “notch” by the system, so you can still hide the area it occupies by diving into the Settings panel. This makes the phone look hole-free, but you lose the extra screen real estate in some apps. So far, there are no issues with system and third-party apps, and I hope it stays that way.

Good cameras with ultra wide-angle lens

When it comes to taking photos, the Nova 4 doesn’t disappoint. It’s got a main 20-megapixel camera paired with an ultra wide-angle 16-megapixel shooter. There’s also a 2-megapixel depth sensor to help in taking portrait shots with bokeh effect. As for selfies, the 25-megapixel front camera can take detailed and pleasing stills.

AI scene detection is available both on the front and rear cameras, so the phone always helps in taking the best-possible photo. Check out these samples:

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Like with most camera phones, the Nova 4 can take good-looking photos in broad daylight. Good thing the quality doesn’t drop when shooting indoors or in the evening. Generally, the Nova 4 is a capable phone for taking photos, except the ultra wide-angle lens doesn’t sport autofocus. Night mode is also available when you need to take photos in incredibly dark environments.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Huawei Nova 4 is a new smartphone with a fresh approach to the notch dilemma. If you dislike the notch, the punch-hole display is your next best option.

For me, the ideal best bezel-less phone doesn’t have a notch or a hole — just like the Mi Mix 3, OPPO Find X, or Vivo NEX. Those phones have their own issues about their approach, however. It’s just a matter of preference at this point because nothing is perfect — for now.

While I wait for the perfect bezel-less phone without moving parts or display cutouts, I appreciate the options given to us. In the end, it’s your choice if you want a notch, a hole, or a mechanism to house the selfie camera. There are also phones without front cameras at all, maybe that’s your cup of tea — or coffee.

SEE ALSO: How the Huawei Watch GT made me believe in smartwatches

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