Reviews

OPPO F7 Review: More than just for beauty selfies

Surprisingly powerful phone

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OPPO is all about selfies or is it? The latest OPPO F7 is already out and once again, the company promotes the phone’s high-resolution front camera and AI-powered beauty mode. But, is there something more to love about it?

I already made a brief hands-on of the F7, which you may read here to know more about the physical aspects of the phone. Since then, I’ve used the phone as my daily driver, and here’s my review.

A nicely designed midrange phone

Flagship phones have shifted from aluminum unibodies back to sandwiched glass designs. This is to enable some features like wireless charging and also to give phones a more sophisticated premium look. Midrange phones will follow this trend, of course, and the F7 is no exception. OPPO has to cut some corners to keep pricing in check by using acrylic for the rear, but the front is still glass and a screen protector is already applied out of the box.

The F7 comes in two regular color variants — Solar Red and Moonlight Silver — and a special version dubbed Diamond Black. The unit I have here is the silver one but it kinda looks like a pale version of blue. The rear of F7 has a dotted pattern that interplays with light which is a nice touch. The phone is well-built but the material choices could have been better to make it more premium. I’m definitely not a fan of its slippery chrome-like plastic sides. While using the included case provides better grip, it doesn’t do justice to the looks of the phone.

OPPO R15 Pro, OPPO F7, and OPPO F5

Overall, the F7 is a reminiscent of the old Xperia phones with its squarish body, slabs of glass or acrylic, and sharp edges. The previous F3 and F5 have more ergonomic bodies, but OPPO has to make sacrifices for the F7 to stand out. It’s a trade-off that some might like, some might not. I just wish they opted to use an aluminum frame.

The beautiful body hides the beast inside

Since the release of the F5 last year, I started to appreciate OPPO’s strategy of launching powerful midrange phones with the focus on selfies. To meet the demand of processing power without an overly expensive price tag, OPPO embraces MediaTek processors. MediaTek may not be as well-received as Snapdragon chipsets, but MediaTek processors have great price-to-performance ratios which benefit users and manufacturers alike — something that the new Helio P60 on the F7 proves.

OPPO markets the F7 more as a selfie phone to beat, but little did unsuspecting users know that it’s more than just for selfies. The F5’s Helio P23 processor is already a step up against its competitors the Huawei Nova 2i and Vivo V7 from last year; the F7’s new Helio P60 widens the performance gap further along with 4GB of memory. The Helio P60 is MediaTek’s latest midrange processor paired with Mali-G72 MP3 graphics to handle intensive gaming. OPPO claims an 80 percent increase in overall performance compared to the F5, so if you like doing benchmark tests on your phone, you’ll definitely get higher numbers.

Gaming-wise, you can throw virtually any game at the F7 as long as you dial the graphics setting down by a bit. It can run most intensive titles available on the Play Store like my favorite — Asphalt Xtreme — and also NBA 2K18 on high graphics. There are some hiccups after hours of continuous gaming which is probably due to throttling. So far, I’ve not yet encountered any overheating issue but the phone does get warm.

Thankfully, the phone has Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box that’s skinned with ColorOS 5.0, the latest version of OPPO’s custom UI. ColorOS 5.0 looks a lot cleaner than its previous version but not much has changed — it’s still an iOS copycat with some stock Android features. The most noticeable difference though is the control panel which is now accessed by swiping down from the top just like with most Android phones. If you’re a fan of the simplicity of iOS, you’d feel at home, but the Android user in me just feels constrained and confused while navigating through the interface. There’s no search in the Settings menu which is truly disappointing.

It’s an OPPO phone, so it’s a selfie phone

No matter how beefy the specs of an OPPO phone are, it’ll always be for taking selfies. The F7 has a whopping 25-megapixel selfie camera paired with AI Beauty Technology 2.0. OPPO claims that the F7 can distinguish between male and female subjects in a selfie and adjust the effect accordingly.

Props to OPPO for greatly improving their AI beauty mode but its results still depend on the preference of the user. The max beauty setting (Level 6) still transforms you to a life-like doll though, so be careful with that.

As for the rear camera, we still have a 16-megapixel f/1.8 shooter that’s the same as the F5’s. The large aperture opening helps aid in low-light shooting, thus you can take brighter shots even in the dark. The f/1.8 lens also helps in creating smooth and natural bokeh for close-ups. Depth effect is available on either cameras of the phone, but the effect looks unnatural — at least with the rear.

AI is also present in the main camera and it can recognize 16 scenes and objects such as sunsets, food, sky, dogs, and cats. During the course of my review though, the phone didn’t do so well in this regard. During the course of my review, the phone’s AI couldn’t identify certain scenes and objects in the frame well. It took some adjustments for the camera to know that I’m taking a photo of my food, but it’s pretty consistent in knowing that I’m shooting the sky. A software update should be able to fix this. While we’re at it, I hope they will add a few more objects to recognize like flowers and plants which are undoubtedly common photo subjects.

One for the road

With a 3400mAh non-removable battery, the F7 can take a beating when it comes to endurance. Most phones with 3000mAh batteries and above are already worthy to be a road companion, and you can trust the F7 to last the whole day. My phone usage varies day to day (moderate to heavy), but the F7 has been consistent in lasting at least 10 straight hours before asking for a charger.

Speaking of the charger, there’s no quick charging feature for the F7 but the included adapter can be considered to be a fast charger with a 5V=2A output. Using the bundled charger, it took me 13 minutes to reach 15 percent and about 30 minutes to get 30 percent of charge. More or less, a full charge will take about an hour which is not that bad.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you love selfies, then it surely is. That’s already expected, so what are the other reasons that could make the F7 your GadgetMatch? First is its performance: The F7 is one of those midrange phones that performs like a flagship. Second, it has a long battery life. And lastly, it’s just a pretty phone to place on a table. Too bad it doesn’t feel premium on hand, but we’ll take it anyway.

The OPPO F7 has its drawbacks, but its advantages have convinced me that it’s a great option, especially for those who prefer to get phones from brands with strong presence.

The phone retails for PhP 17,990 in the Philippines and INR 21,990 in India.

SEE ALSO: OPPO R15 Pro hands-on review: The screen is notch the same

Reviews

Huawei Y6 2018 Hands-on Review: 18:9 phones are getting cheaper

Tall displays are now for everyone!

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Budget phones get blessed with the features of flagship devices once the premium exclusivity wears off, like the near-borderless trend with the 18:9 display ratio which eventually trickled down to midrangers.

We didn’t expect it to be available to entry-level phones this quick though, because we now have a phone with an 18:9 display from Huawei that’s priced slightly above US$ 100.

Here’s a quick hands-on review of the Huawei Y6 2018.

It’s a modern 18:9 phone with a 5.7-inch HD screen

Tall, dark, and handsome?

More display area doesn’t mean less bezels

You could still put in a fingerprint reader there

The physical buttons are on the right ride…

The buttons are made of plastic, as well as the sides of the phone

While a triple-card tray is on the left

Probably the best feature of the phone

A 3.5mm audio port silently sits on top

Legacy ports are here to stay — for now

Leaving the micro-USB and loudspeaker at the bottom

No USB-C and we understand why

The back is plain and there’s no fingerprint reader either!

The back is clean, so clean

Decent design for a budget phone

One might think that the Huawei Y6 2018 is not an entry-level phone at first glance and we can’t blame them. The phone doesn’t look like it belongs in its price segment due to its display’s 18:9 aspect ratio — a feature we first saw on premium devices. Once you pick up the phone though, you’ll feel how less attention was put into the build of the phone. It doesn’t feel cheap, but the plastic material and light weight of the phone leave a not-so-good impression.

The phone doesn’t have a removable back cover; too bad, since replaceable batteries is a feature of budget phones I look forward to. Overall, there’s not much to say about the physical body of the Y6 2018. I do appreciate the matte finish of the black variant I have for review. It blends well with the surroundings even in a formal setting.

Don’t expect it to fly

With a Snapdragon 425, the Y6 2018 is limited to basic work. While the chipset is not as low-powered compared to the Snapdragon 210 in the Nokia 2, the performance doesn’t give justice to budget phones. When Marvin reviewed the Xiaomi Redmi 5A, he was impressed with it. That phone practically has the same specs as the Y6 2018, but he never complained about lag. During my short time with Y6 2018, half of it was dealing with hiccups and slow loading times.

(Marvin: I think it has to do with Xiaomi’s MIUI software which optimizes itself for entry-level devices and phones launched years ago.)

The phone is already running the latest Android 8.0 Oreo skinned with EMUI 8.0, so it’s puzzling to have an up-to-date phone (software-wise) to struggle with so-so specification. I’m pretty sure the 2GB of memory is enough to run common apps with ease; because if not, you’re better off with an Android Go phone to get the much needed optimization.

When you find your way inside an app — let’s say Instagram — the phone can deliver smooth performance most of the time. Perhaps this stuttering issue could be addresed via a software update, but until then, you must stay patient.

Before I forget about the missing fingerprint reader, I’ll address the concern that it might bring. Like with OPPO A83, the Y6 2018 takes advantage of facial recognition to secure your phone. Having face unlocking activated, I noticed that the phone struggled even more. So, I just turned it off and relied on the good-old pattern code.

Suprisingly okay for selfies

Using either of the 13-megapixel rear camera or the 5-megapixel selfie camera, you can take an okay photo. What suprised me is the built-in beauty mode that’s also found on more expensive Huawei phones. It’s hard to judge if the beauty processing of the Y6 2018 is similar to the Huawei P20 Lite’s, but there’s not much of a difference to the naked eye.

For a budget phone, the Y6 2018 has good cameras. The phone managed to redeem itself through this, but not by much. While checking the image on the phone looks fine, previewing it on a bigger display shows the weaknesses of an affordable camera phone. The images are a bit soft, but the color balance is within the sweet spot.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

That’s the question we always ask because not everyone will like a single phone. In the case of the Y6 2018, I must warn you about the lag and hiccups that are bound to test your patience. There’s always a cheaper and better Xiaomi option, but the nearest competitor doesn’t have an 18:9 display. If the aspect ratio is what you’re after, the Y6 2018 will be able to deliver that without asking for too much cash.

The Huawei Y6 2018 retails for just PhP 5,990 in the Philippines which is roughly US$ 115. It’ll be available in stores by the end of the April.

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Gaming

God of War: A must-play for 2018

Like Kratos, this game has grown like fine wine

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I’ll try my best not to overhype this, but God of War is an easy, early entry for 2018’s game of the year.

Okay, I may have failed that hyping part, but that’s exactly how you’ll feel too after getting your ass kicked by the first semi-boss battle thinking this is the same game you conquered years back. After trying, and failing, to hack-and-slash your way through that battle, you’ll quickly realize how much more depth this game has compared to the God of War games that came before it.

The first thing that jumps out at you is the series-lead Kratos. He’s now bearded, looks older, and definitely acts wiser. Going through the first hour or so of the game, you’ll see that this is not the same vengeance-seeking beast that unleashed a vicious assault for one Greek god after another.

Kratos is now more measured. Retribution is no longer his single driving force. It’s more a sense of duty — duty to fulfill a promise to his wife who had passed and a duty to raise their son Atreus, who’s a key part both in the story and the gameplay.

Atreus is the man

The idea of a vengeful Spartan warrior fueled by rampage having a son seemed unimaginable at first, but bringing Atreus into the fold proved to be the perfect way to expand God of War. The passing of his wife leaves Atreus in his care; Atreus adds depth to Kratos.

At the beginning of the game, he teaches the child how to hunt. You can hear the frustration in his voice as the boy fails in his first attempt. Instead of going ballistic, he reigns himself in before providing stern and sound advice.

The interplay between father and son is present nearly the entire duration of the game. Their dialogue goes on not only in cinematic scenes but even as you go through the game whether you’re searching for clues, solving puzzles, or just trying to figure out where to go next.

Atreus aids you in battle. His arrow can stun opponents or take their attention off of you, and his proficiency and power grow as the game progresses. However, that’s not the only area where Atreus proves helpful. The boy is able to read ancient writings that provide clues on how you can solve puzzles or move on from a certain point.

One shot is all it takes

One of the biggest technical accomplishments of the game is how it’s a one-shot story, which means there’s absolutely zero loading screens. That’s a challenge both in game production and storytelling. From the get-go, it puts you right in the heart of the action being in the shoes of the central figures of the story. It makes for an ultra-immersive experience that will leave you invested in how their relationship develops.

It doesn’t feel like a straight-up tutorial, but the game uses the first 8 to 10 hours to show you the ropes. From attacking, using Atreus, upgrading your equipment, and many others. After that, it opens up to a slew of side quests that can be as satisfying as pushing the story forward. While it is by no means a true open-world game, it’s wide enough that it lets you explore, but not too wide that you feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities.

It’s still about Kratos

With all of that said, this is still a God of War game, meaning Kratos is still at the heart of it. In many ways, this new Kratos mirrors the game’s growth. In the previous era wherein he unapologetically laid waste to the Greek gods, Kratos seemed more one-dimensional. He had one goal and that was to exact revenge and the games’ hack-and-slash approach reflected that.

This older Kratos appears to have grown as he is forced into a situation where he has to care for his child. Fatherhood puts the Spartan warrior in an unfamiliar place. While there is still rage within him, he appears more subdued. At times he struggles with how to speak with Atreus and it’s that very struggle that shows a side of Kratos we likely have never seen before: a tenderness that’s somehow out of character.

Don’t let that fool you, though. There’s still plenty of raging Kratos here. What this game has masterfully done is retain the identity and history of the previous God of War games while infusing it with learnings from the games that have come during the franchise’s hiatus.

The easiest comparison you’ll see is how it’s a more casual-gamer-friendly version of Dark Souls. And while I did think that, the approach feels more derivative rather than a direct recreation.

Nothing communicates that experience better than Kratos’ new weapon: the Leviathan axe. Gone are the chain blades that devastated draugrs and gods alike. Kratos’ axe is infused with ice magic, able to stun opponents. One of the most badass parts of the game is how you can throw the axe and summon it right back. But don’t think for a second that Kratos will be helpless without the axe. You still have his shield and his bare hands, and that’s sometimes required to defeat certain foes.

The battle system still feels as satisfying as ever. It requires more thinking than straight-up slashing which should be a welcome challenge whether you’re a veteran of the franchise or you’re being introduced to it through this game.

God of War

Even though Kratos has aged, nothing about this game feels old. There’s still enough God of War oomph that endeared it to its long-time fans while adding elements that can easily be embraced by a newer generation of gamers looking to dig into the lore of the franchise.

This is by far the easiest single-player, story-driven game to recommend to anyone this year. If you have time to play only a handful of games on the PS4 this year, God of War should be on that list.

SEE ALSO: God of War: An older Kratos needs a wiser you

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Reviews

OPPO F7 Review

‘Selfie phone’ is an understatement

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When we hear the word OPPO, we think selfies.

And while its newest smartphone stays true to its rich tradition as one of the leaders in the selfie-smartphone space, this one might just have something more up its sleeve.

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