The battle for the best borderless smartphones has begun, and as we have quickly found out, near bezel-less phones don’t have to cost you an arm and leg, or a flagship price!
The Huawei Nova 2i, also known as the Huawei Mate 10 Lite, Maimang 6, or Honor 9i (depending on what region you’re in), is a top near-borderless budget option with a four-cam setup. The OPPO F5 is a fresh release from the selfie experts with a taller display and new AI beauty mode. With a price difference of just around US$ 20 between the two, how do these phones measure up to each other?
The OPPO F5 has a 6-inch screen while the Huawei Nova 2i’s display is just a teeny bit smaller at 5.9 inches. Both phones have the same 1080 x 2160 resolution and, of course, that coveted 18:9 screen ratio. There are no physical buttons up front and both moved their fingerprint scanners to the back.
Plastic that’s made to look and feel like metal — a popular material among handsets these days — is what the F5 is made of. The Nova 2i, however, boasts a metal unibody design. I didn’t really notice the difference as both devices have a good weight and great feel to them.
The Huawei Nova 2i’s design appeals to me more; OPPO’s familiar form factor makes its look less unique.
Our Nova 2i unit is blue, but it’s also available in black and gold. Our F5 is silver, though they do have a red or black option. What’s different about this OPPO handset is how this particular color has a white face as opposed to the usual black bezels found on near borderless devices. This can go both ways: Chay loves this refreshing change while I personally prefer the sleek black bezel look.
The foreheads (yes, those top bezels) are about the same size and they house the earpiece and the selfie cameras — two selfie cameras in the case of the Nova 2i.
Power buttons are on the upper-right side of both phones. This area also houses the volume rocker for the 2i and the SIM tray for the F5.
Left side has the F5’s volume rocker and the Nova 2i’s SIM tray which can accommodate two nano-SIMs with one slot convertible to a microSD slot. The F5, on the other hand, has space for two nano-SIM cards and a third slot for a microSD card.
Bottom of the phones have the micro-USB ports (gasp!), speaker grilles, and audio jacks.
Again, there are no physical buttons on the chin as both phones have on-screen home, back, and recent apps buttons.
Distinct Huawei branding can be seen on the Nova 2i while OPPO keeps it clean up front.
The OPPO F5’s 16-megapixel rear camera goes against the Huawei Nova 2i’s 16- and 2-megapixel twin shooters. Although the F5 allows for a portrait bokeh mode on this camera, the Nova 2i has the option to do portrait mode for bokeh effect or a wide aperture mode.
Both phones perform considerably well even in challenging lighting situations. In the photo below, however, the Nova 2i does better in terms of contrast. Notice the noise on the buildings in the F5 photo.
Color also seems to pop more on the Huawei shooters. See how bright the door is on the Nova 2i picture.
In weird lighting conditions (like most ambient restaurant lighting), the Nova 2i took brighter and more vivid photos. The OPPO, on the other hand, took a sharper photo that’s a more faithful replica of how that salad looked in reality.
Low-light shots also look stunning with the Nova 2i, which came up with more balanced shots compared to the F5, though it must be said that both phones did an overall good job.
In front, the OPPO F5 packs a 20-megapixel selfie cam while the Nova 2i has a 13- and 2-megapixel setup. Both phones have a bokeh feature and their respective beauty modes, but it’s only the F5 which uses artificial intelligence to beautify your photos — a fairly new development in the OPPO selfie scene.
Selfies on the Nova 2i are brighter and more vivid, something a lot of people prefer, but the beauty mode on it was not the best I’ve tried on a smartphone. There were shooting instances that resulted in great selfies, but a number of shots on this mode’s middle setting resulted in my face being too washed out, or color contrast tended to look off.
The OPPO F5’s AI beauty mode detects sex, age, and race then uses this information to automatically calculate which beauty mode setting would be right for you. This results in fresh selfies that look more natural and less airbrushed, but colors usually weren’t as vivid.
In the selfie above, the Nova 2i brightened my face to the point where my eyebrows were noticeably lighter then saturated my red hair to make it look more fiery than it actually is in real life. The F5 kept it balanced with colors not as saturated.
The same thing happens with group selfies. Admittedly, we all look fresh in both photos and I’d be willing to post either one on social media.
A MediaTek MT6763T processor running on Android Nougat and ColorOS 3.2 powers the OPPO F5 while the Nova 2i runs on Huawei’s Kirin 659 with EMUI 5.1 on top of Android Nougat. Both phones have 4GB of memory, although the F5 only has 32GB of storage as opposed to the Nova 2i’s 64GB.
The Huawei Nova 2i packs 3340mAh of battery power while the OPPO F5 has a battery capacity of 3200mAh.
Which is your GadgetMatch?
If taking selfies is your first and foremost priority — and you don’t mind paying a little extra — then you may want to check out the OPPO F5 and its impressive AI beauty technology.
On the other hand, if you like being behind the camera or if brighter and more saturated photos are your jam, then the Huawei Nova 2i is worth considering. It’s worth noting that this handset also runs on a more powerful processor, so if you’re not concerned about smartphone photography at all, this would definitely be the better choice for you.
If affordability is the name of the game, well, you’re in good company. These phones are two of the cheapest near-borderless phones in the market today. The OPPO F5 retails for PhP 15,990 (around US$ 305) in the Philippines and the Huawei Nova 2i retails for PhP 14,990 in the Philippines and EUR 399 in Europe (roughly below US$ 300).
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8: Camera shootout
Is there any improvement?
It was made clear that the brand-new Galaxy Note 9 has the same set of cameras as that of the Galaxy S9+ — they were released in the same year, after all. But there’s a more pressing concern: How much of an improvement is there over the Note 8?
Being the curious techies that we are, we took the two S Pen-equipped smartphones around New York City to see how they fare against each other. To make this shootout more interesting, we’re turning it into a blind comparison.
How blind? All rounds are in a random order, so you won’t know which phone shot Photo A and Photo B without checking the answer sheet at the end of this article.
To make things fair, all samples were shot using the default camera app on auto settings. No post-processing or editing was done, except for resizing so that they load faster.
Here we go:
Now it’s time to see which phones you actually picked:
#1: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)
#2: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)
#3: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)
#4: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)
#5: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)
#6: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9(right)
#7: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)
#8: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)
#9: Note 9 (left) vs Note 9 (right)
#10: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)
#11: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)
#12: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)
As you can see, the differences are minor except for specific instances. The Note 9 seems to perform slightly better when it comes to portraits using either the front or rear cameras. Skin tone is more accurate and the photos look sharper up close.
Although the Note 8’s output is often too warm, it does surprisingly well, especially in low-light environments. And despite lacking the Dual Aperture feature of the Note 9, the predecessor can keep up in terms of overall exposure and dynamic range.
Do note that the Note 8 has had a year to refine its cameras, whereas the Note 9 just came out with its fresh software. These results could easily change in a few months with software updates.
Does AI on Honor 10 photos really work?
We took plenty of snaps to find out
Artificial Intelligence or AI appears to have become a staple feature on smartphones released in 2018. It’s even a headline feature on the Honor 10 with its tagline “Beauty in AI.”
Just how much can AI enhance your images? We took a stroll one afternoon and took a few photos to find out. Side note: The only editing done on these photos was resizing to make sure they load faster on the website.
Even without AI, the Honor 10’s pair of cameras does a good job of capturing the details of the buildings, but with AI turned on, the colors pop. If you look closely at the clouds, it almost appears as if the gates of heaven are about to open.
Moving on, we spotted this colorful set of umbrellas. You’ll notice right away that the photo taken with AI is more vibrant. This will be a recurring theme throughout this entire article.
This flower photo shows how color translates well even in closer shots.
Inside the mall, the photo taken with AI captured the feeling evoked by the installation better. Felt pretty bright and cheery seeing inanimate flamingos in love.
Before heading out to eat, I checked out some new kicks because apparently, that’s something I’m really into now. I’m not a fan of King James but this Nike LeBron 15 Low “Ashes” caught my eye. In this photo, I thought the one without AI did a better job at focusing my attention on the shoe.
Snapped this quick portrait of Leez right before we ate. The AI did fantastic work here, but as you’ll see later on, it doesn’t always get things right.
Here’s what I had for late lunch and the AI made it look super sumptuous. I’m crazy about Hot Star’s large fried chicken — the BBQ flavor, in particular. 🤤
We ran into a few superheroes when we stepped out. Iron Man Hulkbuster looked lackluster without AI, but he shines once it’s turned on.
Leez’s photo with Deadpool shows the Honor 10 does a decent job identifying more than one subject when applying bokeh.
Now, here’s an example of when the Honor 10 just didn’t get it right. We had more results like this than really good ones. I don’t know if it was me being a little too emo here, but bokeh on the photo went a little too far.
However, when it does bokeh right, the photo can look magical.
Took one more shot before leaving and honestly, this was my reaction after seeing how much enhancement the AI does on the Honor 10. Can it be better? Sure. But for what it does now, we were pretty happy with the results.
Huawei P20 vs P20 Lite: Camera Shootout
Double the price, double the performance?
We all know the Huawei P20 family has a fantastic set of cameras, but the questions is: How do they compare against each other?
While a P20 versus P20 Pro comparison would be interesting, I figured comparing the P20 against the lower-end P20 Lite is more compelling. Why? Because the latter is half the price of the former.
And yet, they both share a dual-camera setup, sans the Leica branding on the Lite model. But do those sweet German lenses justify the doubling in price? That’s something we need to find out in this shootout.
As usual, every photo is taken on Auto mode without any post-processing, except for resizing to let this page load faster. To make this comparison more fun, we’ll make it a blind shootout. You can find the answer sheet at the bottom.
So, was it closer than you expected? Here’s the answer sheet:
#1: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)
#2: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)
#3: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)
#4: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)
#5: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)
#6: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)
#7: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)
#8: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)
#9: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)
#10: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)
#11: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)
#12: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)
From my own experience, I’d say the P20 clearly does better at night, but they do equally well during daytime. Another thing to consider — and this doesn’t show up on the results — is that the P20 focuses on subjects faster and has a richer camera app. The P20 also has that useful night mode allowing four-second handheld photos, which weren’t included in this shootout.
So, what do you think about the comparison? And which phones should we compare next? Let us know in the comments section below.
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