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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

Her GadgetMatch

OPPO R15 Pro review: The same old thing in a notched package

Is it worth upgrading to?

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Last February, OPPO released the R15 Pro and I flew to China for some hands-on time with the Chinese version of the device. Finally, the international version has rolled out and I finally got to take this baby out for a full ride.

Notch exactly looking new

The latest R-series device from OPPO jumps on the 2018 bandwagon with a gradient back and a notch — things we’ve seen on at least two other smartphone releases this year.

Of course, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the gradient on this thing looks good. Admittedly, it’s a pretty phone. It feels solid, and the glass back is definitely more premium compared to its predecessors that sport aluminum backs.

The phone has a tiny chin, and of course, a notch. Unfortunately, there’s no option to hide the notch. Fortunately, so many phones have come out with notches that I’ve gotten used to them and it doesn’t even bother me that much anymore.

A fingerprint scanner is still found on the back of the device, and the phone’s facial unlock is pretty precise.

Performance

Heavy social media use and my daily dose of playing Pocket Morty was no problem for this phone. I cruised through my day with this in hand and had no problems whatsoever. It does have the same processor as the OPPO R11s’ so anything that it can do, this device can most probably do, too.

Though this phone takes the top 2018 trends in terms of looks, in some ways, it’s still stuck in the past: It sports a micro-USB port and there’s no wireless charging. It’s equipped with OPPO’s VOOC charging, which gives you zero to 91 percent in an hour. This isn’t bad as the phone’s 3400mAh battery lasts me a whole day of use.

This year, Google decided to let phones other than the Pixel get in on the Android fun by allowing certain devices to take part in the Android P Beta program. The OPPO R15 Pro is one of those phones so if this is any indication, Android P will probably be available on this device soon, too.

Instagram Challenge

Another 2018 tech obsession is AI which promises to make your smartphones even smarter. Of course, the OPPO R15 Pro wanted in on that, too. The phone’s rear cameras are equipped with tech that can recognize different scenes, though it’s not the quickest to do so. In my experience, AI scene detection usually takes a little bit of time and while I do see a little automatic adjustment to the photos when it comes food shots, there’s barely any difference in other scenarios. That’s if and when the camera even recognizes the scene.

Nonetheless, the dual-camera setup on the back featuring the same shooters found on the R11s are pretty capable cameras. Images are good to go straight to your Instagram feed.

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Trust me, this phone is a pretty capable IG tool. I was pretty happy just shooting with this for quick on-location #OOTDs. Exhibit A:

There’s also a Portrait Lighting feature on this device — yes, it’s almost exactly the same as the iPhone’s portrait lighting feature.

It’s a nice add-on, but honestly, I don’t know anyone who uses this feature on their iPhone so I’m not about to start doing so either.

Selfie time

Yet again, the AI beauty mode did not disappoint. OPPO’s beauty filter still remains to be one of my favorites and with good reason: It gives me fresh selfies without looking too fake.

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Of course, OPPO added fun AR stickers to the selfie camera because, why not? There’s also the video beauty mode that I love using and it’s available on both front and back cameras.

Verdict

The R15 Pro is more or less the R11s in an updated package. Aside from a few new features, it packs the same cameras and processor on a more premium-feeling body.

It’s a capable device and a great selfie machine, but I can’t help but feel that this phone missed the wow factor. In the sea of 2018 smartphones, it feels like it’s just another notched device.

Is it worth upgrading to? If you’re on the R11s, you might want to consider holding out for the next release. If you’re craving for OPPO R-series features and that 2018 notched form factor, however, this might be the phone for you. The OPPO R15 retails for CNY 3,299 (US$ 525).

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

SEE ALSO: OPPO R11s review: Midrange selfie powerhouse

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Sony Xperia XZ2 Review

Currently the best at slowing things down

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Sony continues to build on what they’ve established as their own niche when it comes to mobile videography. With the Xperia XZ2, they push the envelope by offering 4K HDR video and super slow-mo recording at Full HD resolution. This is our Sony Xperia XZ2 review.

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Honor 10 Review: Feels the same, but still different

A Huawei P20 in disguise

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A lot of people are now familiar with Huawei, but have they heard of Honor? It’s Huawei’s sub-brand that’s starting to make a name of its own. Their latest device is the Honor 10 and it’s a pretty big release for the company. The phone first launched in China then made its way internationally with the London launch.

Is the Honor 10 the cheaper flagship phone people should buy? Here’s my review.

A repackaged Huawei P20

I can’t stress this enough: The Honor 10 is basically a Huawei P20 in disguise. You’ve probably heard that before because it’s very true. If you place an Honor 10 and a Huawei P20 side by side, there’s not much difference. Both have similarly sized 5.8-inch Full HD+ displays with a small notch to house the front camera, sensors, and earpiece and a chin at the bottom.

The implementation of the fingerprint scanner is a bit different with the Honor 10’s sensor flushed behind the front glass and surrounded by tiny dots. It’s a neat design choice and also pretty unique. But, that’s not the only design or feature that makes the Honor 10 different.

Lo and behold, the Honor 10 has a headphone jack! That’s right, a 3.5mm audio port is located at the bottom edge of the phone along with the reversible USB-C port and loudspeaker. Speaking of, the sides of the device (or basically the whole chassis) is made of aluminum and it screams premium quality. It has a few antenna bands to keep your signal bar as full as possible and tactile metal buttons for power and volume.

It’s worth noting that the Honor 10 doesn’t have expandable storage, but the 128GB space inside the phone is already enough for most users. Your microSD is useless here and cloud storage is your best friend to store or back up files.

The main highlight of the Honor 10’s body is its back. Again, just like the Huawei P20, the Honor 10 sports a striking rear glass body. The model I have is the Phantom Green, but there’s also Phantom Blue, Glacier Gray, and Midnight Black. If you like bold colors, I personally suggest the Phantom Green or Blue. It can become the center of attention thanks to its shifting colors. I get confused at times when people ask me what color my phone is since it sometimes looks blue or violet.

Before I forget, there are two cameras at the back and a single LED flash. Honor is way too proud about the phone’s AI features, they even printed “AI Camera” at the back to tell you they’re not just ordinary cameras.

The unit is lighter than I first thought, considering that it has a large 3400mAh battery inside which is able to last me the whole day and supports fast charging. It’s well-built, feels sturdy, and easy to use with one hand, as well, thanks to the display’s tall aspect ratio. Overall, the Honor 10 is one of the prettiest (if not the prettiest) phones around.

Performs like new every time

Another similarity of the Honor 10 and Huawei P20 is their processing power. In the helm is the Kirin 970 processor coupled with a dedicated neural chip for AI and 4GB of memory. This processor is also found on the Mate 10 Pro from last year making it a tried and tested chipset directly from Huawei’s own factory. The result is a smooth-performing handset with no hiccups whatsoever.

Unlike Snapdragon processors which have their own Adreno graphics, Kirin processors are paired with a third-party graphics unit. With the Kirin 970, it’s the Mali-G71 which is also the same as the one in the Exynos variant of the Samsung Galaxy S9, but with fewer cores: 12 versus 18. Gaming-wise, there are no major issues aside from a few frame drops with intensive titles like NBA 2K18.

This is probably due to the lack of optimization of apps and games for Kirin chips, but it’s not a major drawback — at least in my opinion — since Kirin processors are known for smooth day-to-day performance. Also, since the introduction of the Huawei P10, I’ve learned to appreciate Kirin’s feature to adapt to everyday usage.

AI-powered camera is a thing

AI or artificial intelligence is a big part of the Honor 10, especially in the cameras. With a 16-megapixel f/1.8 main color sensor and a 24-megapixel secondary monochrome sensor, the Honor 10 is more than capable of taking breathtaking images. I am not exaggerating; the Honor 10 can shoot amazing photos — sometimes so much so that it doesn’t look natural anymore.

Here are a few samples using the rear cameras of the phone with AI turned on:

You can also check out our photo comparison using the Honor 10 here to see more samples with and without AI switched on.

Then there’s the front camera for selfies: a high-resolution 24-megapixel f/2.0 sensor hiding in the notch of the phone. The Honor 10 is pretty much on board the selfie game with beautification features and 3D lighting effects similar to the likes of the iPhone X.

Should you get the Honor 10 if you want crisp and vibrant photos? The results speak for themselves. You can always turn off AI to take natural-looking photos, and there’s always the option to revert the AI photo to “normal” in the gallery.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Honor 10 is an easy pick if you want a phone that practically has everything except for a steep price tag and maybe water resistance. If you find the Huawei P20 to be expensive (even though it’s already well priced in some markets), the Honor 10 should be your next choice. It’s basically the Huawei P20 with slight differences, anyway.

The Honor 10 is priced at EUR 399 for the 64GB variant and EUR 449 for the 128GB variant in Europe. It’s a lot cheaper in Asia, though. Here are the prices for Asian countries:

China: CNY 2,599 (6GB/64GB), CNY 2,999 (6GB/128GB)
India: INR 32,999 (6GB/128GB)
Malaysia: MYR 1,699 (4GB/128GB)
Philippines: PhP 23,990 (4GB/128GB)
Singapore: SG$ 579 (4GB/128GB)
Thailand: THB 13,990 (4GB/128GB)
Vietnam: VND 9,990,000 (4GB/128GB)

Please take note of the configuration as they vary per country.

SEE ALSO: Huawei P20 vs P20 Lite: Camera Shootout

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