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

Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus hands-on: A step-up

The company’s greatest contender

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Cherry Mobile recently launched their new Flare S7 series, which is essentially their main smartphone lineup for the year. The greatest offering among the bunch is the Flare S7 Plus, a device with all the specifications and features you’d expect from a 2018 phone.

Since it’s from Cherry Mobile, you’d expect the phone to be cheap, right? Price-wise, it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s just another affordable phone.

Here’s what I got to say about the Flare S7 Plus.

Cherry Mobile has officially joined the notch wagon with a borderless 6.18-inch display. It’s a Full HD+ panel with a 19:9 aspect ratio, and it’s Cherry Mobile’s best display yet.

It’s vibrant and produces vivid colors, but the user interface kind of ruins the beauty of the display. It’s best to download your preferred third-party launcher and customize to your heart’s content.

Unlike with other midrange phones, the Flare S7 Plus’ notch is pretty wide and there’s a reason for it. The phone is equipped with more advanced facial recognition hardware including an IR camera. This ensures higher accuracy, faster unlocking, and even better face detection in low-light.

If you’re not a fan of face unlock, you can always resort to the fingerprint sensor placed on the back of the phone. Based on my usage, the fingerprint reader is faster most of the time than the face unlock. Good thing you have the best of both worlds.

Now that we’re on the back of the phone, let’s talk about another special feature of the Flare S7 Plus. Finally, Cherry Mobile embraces a more elegant design using a glass back and metal frame. I was told that they used Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides, so it won’t scratch easily in your pocket or on the table.

Since we we have a glass back, it’s possible to put in wireless charging and the company did just that. Simply place the phone on any Qi standard wireless charger, and let the magic happen.

It’s not exactly magic per se, but it’s amazing to have your phone charge by placing it on a table. This phone costs less than half of most flagships that don’t even support wireless charging.

Of course, you can always charge this phone’s 3050mAh battery through the reversible USB-C port, which also doubles as the audio port because, sadly, the Flare S7 Plus doesn’t have a 3.5 headphone jack. Cherry Mobile bundles a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter inside the box, so you can still use your legacy headphones as you please.

Powering the Flare S7 Plus is a MediaTek Helio P60 processor. We have already tried the capabilities of this chipset with the OPPO F9, and it definitely delivers great performance. If you’re into benchmarking, you’ll be glad to know the Helio P60 scores higher than its competitors.

The phone also comes with 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage which is pretty standard nowadays. It boots Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but there’s no word when Android 9 Pie is coming.

The gaming performance of the Flare S7 Plus is above average, which is what you can expect from the Helio P60. The Mali-G72 MP3 GPU works well with intensive games, but you must reduce the graphics quality a bit to get consistently high frame rates.

As for the cameras, the Flare S7 Plus has capable shooters that are probably the fruit of Cherry Mobile’s investment in improving their R&D when it comes to picture quality. The phone has dual rear shooters using a main 16-megapixel RGB sensor and a secondary 5-megapixel depth sensor. In the front, there’s another 16-megapixel selfie camera that’s paired with the IR sensor when needed. Check out the samples below:

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An additional feature of the front sensors is FlareMoji. Using the IR sensor and facial recognition, you can animate cutesy characters. Check this out:

It’s essentially like Apple’s Animoji, but the tracking is nowhere near as smooth as with the iPhone. Anyhow, it’s still enjoyable to use.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For just PhP 11,999 (US$ 225), the Flare S7 Plus offers a lot. You get a great premium phone with midrange power, beautiful display, and a plethora of extra features like wireless charging and an IR face scanner. The software UI is quite a letdown, but you can always download a launcher from the Play Store.

If you’re wondering what the Flare S7 Plus is in other markets, it’s also called the BLU VIVO XI+ and they share similar specifications and design.

SEE ALSO: Cherry Mobile announces Flare S7 series with three new smartphones

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Hands-On

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Hands-on: Best phone of 2018?

Huawei outdoes itself again

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In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.

In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.

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Hands-On

Razer Phone 2 Hands-on

A pocketable gaming rig with flagship features

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Razer has improved last year’s model, and from the looks of it, we might just have a phone that not only gamers would want to use. This is our Razer Phone 2 hands-on.

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