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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Features

Playing Big Brother with the realme Smart Cam 360

Cat spy

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CCTVs like the realme Smart Cam 360 are often marketed as home security devices. Most people use these kinds of cameras to monitor strangers passing by the house or to prevent criminal activity.

I, however, had something else in mind. As a pet owner, I often wonder what my cats are up to. What are they doing when I’m not looking? Could I be missing a moment of cuteness whenever they’re up in their hideouts?

So, I decided to play Big Brother and document their days using the realme Smart Cam 360.

Setting up the mobile CCTV

Initially, I thought that the camera was rechargeable like a smartphone. It is not. It has to be constantly plugged into a power source. This was a problem for me since the areas where the cats frequent, don’t exactly have accessible electrical sockets.

But lo and behold, A LIFEHACK! My brother helped me devise a way to use the CCTV camera portably, so I can move it from place to place, wherever the cats are. We plugged it to a power bank! The 16000mAh power bank was able to supply electricity to the camera for a little less than 24 hours.

The next step was installing the realme Link app on my phone so I can use it to view the camera’s feed. I just had to create a realme account, link the camera to the app and voila, I can already use my phone as a monitor and a remote control for the camera. Another thing I like about the app is that you can use it to customize the camera’s name.

Last is putting in a memory card. This part is actually optional, but having a memory card in the camera is very handy if you want to review moments you might have missed. The Smart Cam 360 has event-triggered recording which means it automatically saves any activity whenever the camera detects sound or motion.

Big Brother: Cat Edition

The cats found it strange at first.

But eventually, they learned to werq it.

Changing the direction of the camera is not a problem. The mobile CCTV is very responsive to the phone’s remote control. The camera adjusts to the lighting conditions of the room. Even in the dark, it’s still able to show what’s happening.

The infrared night vision does give the cats some creepy-looking eyes though!

In typical Big Brother fashion, the Smart Cam 360 also lets you communicate with whoever’s with your camera. Sort of like a PA system, or a walkie-talkie. I tried using it to call my pets’ attention, but cats do as cats do–ignore humans.

A helpful housemate?

In a lot of ways, yes. The realme Smart Cam 360 has been my extra set of eyes at home.

It does a good job of notifying me whenever there’s activity in the room I placed it in. It can capture moments I would have otherwise missed, like that one time my cat was causing mischief in the dining area.

It’s ideal for when you need to watch home, away from home. The realme Link app is also fairly easy to understand, a plus for people like me who prefer their tech simple.

But, there’s the question of privacy. There have been reports of home security cameras that accidentally leaked their feed to other households. With the current digital landscape, you can’t help but wonder where your data is being sent to. Who else could be watching? Who else could be listening to what’s happening at home?

It would be ironic if, in the course of trying to be like Big Brother, you yourself became the subject of observation. It’s good to keep that in mind and set some limits to what the camera has access to.

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Accessories

Huawei Classic Backpack: The girl with the green backpack

A fashion statement and everyday accessory

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Huawei Classic Backpack

When you’re juggling a job and a side hustle, style ends up as one of the last things you consider in your everyday life.

Admittedly, I wear hideous, bulky handbags to carry my essentials: makeup, hygiene kit, power bank, cables and organizers, and other accessories. Sometimes, I slip a book unless I’m carrying a laptop for business meetings, which proved to be harmful to my posture.

The extra weight shouldered when using a handbag had me reeling in unnecessary body pain. When I was looking for an alternative, a confidante offered the Huawei Classic Backpack — a stylish, everyday bag.

Green is the new black

Huawei’s Classic Backpack comes in lavish Forest Green. It’s quite a recherché, looking luxurious especially in its satin-like nylon fabric. In certain lighting conditions, the color shifts from emerald to dark teal. Frankly, the bluish tint is frequently evident, making this backpack challenging to pair with your outfits.

If you’re unsure how to wear this backpack in such a rare colorway, you can always pull-off an all-black outfit. Or you can go green all the way and do a bit of tonal dressing.

Huawei Classic Backpack

Green, when done right, can be chic and contemporary — all eyes will be on you, darling. It’s never as bold as red, but it’s exotic to look at in a sea of neutrals.

Taste of Paris

Huawei’s Classic Backpack emanates a Parisian vibe — chic, exquisite, serious, respectable, and admirable. If I can think of two words to describe Paris, it’s fashion and architecture.

The same values I mentioned honor the minimalist approach, as seen in the backpack. A semblance of Parisian architects’ craftsmanship; a straightforward utility bag without forsaking style.

There’s a microfiber leather flap priding itself with the label ‘Designed in Paris’ together with Huawei’s logo debossed in gold. This complements the satin-like green body, presenting a luxe appeal.

For security, the backpack features an adjustable drawstring design with a magnetic clasp underneath the flap that connects with the fabric.

Huawei Classic Backpack

Just like the Parisian architecture, the overall design exhibits durability and comfortability — using a 290T nylon fabric for the body and wide straps that reduces pressure on your shoulders. This helped to carry my laptop and other essentials easily even when I take long walks.

Inside, it uses a 200T polyester fabric lined with an H-pattern à la prominent designer bags like Gucci and Chanel. The backpack also comes with a luggage strap, making it the perfect travel carry-on. If we get to travel again, that is.

Carry what you need

If anything this backpack has taught me, it’s learning how to carry only what’s necessary. I used to wear handbags, most are large enough to fit my hairdryer or straighteners. Who knows when I would need it, right?

Sure, it has a separate compartment that can carry laptops 14-inches and under, and an abundance of zipped storage areas. But that doesn’t mean you’ll stuff your bag so much, you’ll hurt your back.

At the very least, there’s plenty of room for whatever you need to store: accessories, cards, keys, and miscellaneous stuff you think you need.

The girl with the green backpack

The Huawei Classic Backpack is the fashion statement you didn’t know you needed. Wearing it can state your persona in a glance, and create a lasting impression just like The Girl in the Green Scarf.

More importantly, it’s the perfect everyday utility bag that you can wear with certain outfits (definitely not yellow, please don’t). It also teaches you to bring only what’s essential.

This backpack, certainly, is an icon of balance between functionality, comfortability, and style. Don’t let anyone tell you to sacrifice one in order to have the perfect bag match.


This lifestyle feature was written by Nicole Beltran. She owns a pastry brand named The Cookie Nook. Her free time is mostly spent baking, taking her Shih Tzu for a walk, or trying to catch up with Netflix originals released a year ago.

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Cameras

A love letter to the Sony a6100

A poignant piece filled with yearning and regrets

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It’s been a month since my hands last held the Sony a6100. I can still remember its chic white colorway, reckoning a classic, sophisticated look. Like the grandeur of a white rose being admired by a white butterfly. Or like a swan gracefully dancing in the lake, during a majestic sunset.

I can still remember the first time I saw it. There was that familiar feeling, “Oh, hello there. I feel like we’ve met before.”

Maybe because I’ve used Sony’s mirrorless cameras countless times over the past three years. Or because cameras are inherently part of my life, no matter which brand I use. But one thing’s for sure: I liked the a6100 the first time I met it.

Page one: You bring out the best in me

Using the a6100 was like child’s play, grasping the controls and interface were easy when you’re used to Sony cameras. But currently, it’s also one of the best beginner-friendly cameras out there.

That was the reason why my friends loved shooting photos and videos with it while we were on the beach, before the world paused for a lockdown. Everything was just easy on their part, and I loved how the people I love got along with something I like.

During my stint, I was reminded of my potential and my ability to execute my vision and grand ideas. It was like when Shoyo Hinata skyrocketed as a promising player when he was paired with Tobio Kageyama in Haikyu!!.

For any situation, I can rely on the a6100 — my ex-mirrorless camera, companion, and partner. I can shoot using the 1.4mm dot OLED electronic viewfinder when I want to focus on my subject (and possibly lose myself in the art of photography).

But oftentimes, I found myself shooting using the 0.9m dot LCD tilting rear touchscreen. Shooting Live View gives you more awareness of what’s happening. The a6100 was just as versatile as me, and I loved how it can keep up on whatever crazy idea I have at the moment.

It’s true when they say it’s the photographer, not the camera. But I have to believe that having the right camera that perfectly suits your skills, style, and personality helps bring out the best in you. Just like finding the right person that lets you work on yourself so you can become better, and hopefully be more deserving to love and be loved.

Page 02: You were everything I was looking for

Everything I was looking for — and possibly praying for, for the last two years — manifested in the a6100. How I’ve always wanted to have what’s apt for me, through my lifestyle and personality, and of course, my money.

All the essential features I could ever need was here. USB charging, Wi-Fi for quick transfer of images to my devices, a 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, 4K video capture, and Flip Screen. There was also an advanced AF system, highlighting a dependable subject tracking.

No, they were not cutting-edge. There are a lot better cameras (probably) that gives enthusiasts better features, at a higher cost.

But my standards weren’t high for a camera nor in love. All I need is what’s best for me, not the best among the rest. What the a6100 did was give me a simple and effective system that made shooting fun again, whether it’s through photo or video.

On paper, the a6100 might not mean much. But my experience says otherwise. Moreover, it’s priced accordingly. Just like what I need. Keyword: need.

Page 03: You made me discover parts of myself

I miss it. The way I held it in my arms as I walked along the beach, wandering at the sight of beautiful waves crashing down the shore, washing my feet and worries away.

The carefree days that I yearn. To take another moment and capture it, hopefully preserving its memory on my Instagram account or printed for a photo album. It was so lightweight, compact, and portable — you can bring it anywhere you want to go.

Its looks can be deceiving, but it can be on par with professional cameras. So you don’t have to worry being held back by some law enforcement securities telling you it’s not allowed to shoot here and there. Point, shoot, love, enjoy discreetly.

The a6100 was madly powerful, that I brought it along with me on my journey to self-discovery. As I rediscover parts of myself through art, photography, music, and spiritual healing, I realized something.

This camera made me see parts of myself that I didn’t bother examining. That behind my aversion to creating videos, I really am capable and up for the job. After all, I did ace my audio-visual production class in college and even won an award for a collegiate competition.

I’ve never liked shooting videos until the a6100 and its grip — the Sony GP-VPT2BT — came into my hands. My life didn’t change when I started shooting, but I gained a deeper appreciation for videos and the shooting process.

Throughout the seven months I had it, I was able to remember why I love my job. I even discovered what skills I can hone and develop. It was like a whole new path opening before me, and I want to take it with me.

I created beautiful sets, shot graciously like it was published at a print magazine. I also shot unboxing videos and clips I never thought I would delight in doing. It was realizing these little joys that made you want to hold it more, and probably never let go.

Page 04: You were the one I’ve always wanted

The truth is, I didn’t have the a6100 longer than what I wish it would. And I took it for granted the whole time it was with me.

I spent more days hugging my laptop and my phone. I couldn’t find time to explore my hobbies, let alone play with the camera. Frankly, I only used the camera when it was convenient or when I need it, and now that it’s gone I wish I took more time to wrap my fingers around it.

Guess it’s true you realize the value of something once it’s gone. It struck me that maybe, just maybe, the a6100 was “the one” — my GadgetMatch. It could’ve been, but it’s no longer with me.

I’ve traded it for work because duh, I got bills to pay. But maybe when we’re free to go out and the pandemic’s over, maybe I can get a second chance. Until then, I’ll just keep doing what I need to do. Maybe next year, the price will be a bit cheaper or maybe, there’s another camera that’s waiting for me.

Who knows what the future holds?

Post scriptum

The Sony a6100 is the perfect mirrorless camera for beginners and those starting their journey on both photography and videography. It retails for PhP 49,999 (US$ 1033). It’s available in Sony’s official stores and authorized retailers. Visit Sony’s website for more information on the Sony a6100 and other cameras and accessories.

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