Her GadgetMatch

OPPO Find X review: All about style, selfies, and that poppin’ camera

Literally a pop-up camera

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When they were unveiled, pop-up cameras seemed like the coolest thing to me. There’s just something about moving parts in tech that amps up the cool factor. Add the fact that there was no notch (the unsightly things!) and the OPPO Find X was a clear design winner. But, what happens when you actually use a phone that’s this — err — fashion-forward in terms of phone design? Is using a handset with a camera that mechanically slides out even practical. I set out to find answers.

What’s the big deal?

Dear reader, if you don’t follow tech news, let me give you the lowdown. The Find X is OPPO’s newest and most premium flagship in recent years. Launched in Paris earlier this year, it features a high screen-to-body ratio and mechanical sliding cameras.

Why is that so cool? In this notch-filled world (which is a pretty ugly world, TBH), it’s only a few phones which have managed a workaround: The Vivo NEX and now, the OPPO Find X.

Stylish all-screen beaut

How does an all-screen phone look? Well, it looks really good.

The thing with these great big screens is you don’t think you need them until you spend time with them. As I moved back to the smaller Google Pixel 2 I’ve been rocking, I can’t help but miss the Find X’s big and beautiful 6.42-inch display. Everything looked good in it: IG stories, photos, and even Netflix-YouTube viewing was amazing.

And, it’s not just the screen that looks good — the sleek and stylish phone itself has a great premium feel and beautiful reflective back. That glass back, however, seems to scratch almost a little too easily.

Admittedly, I’m still iffy about glass smartphone backs in general as the possibility of breakage is greater. This brings me to another qualm: It’s going to be such a pain to get cases for this uniquely shaped phone. And sure, it comes packaged with a clear jelly case but a girl needs options for her phones, okay!

Despite all that, the Find X looks and feels great in your hands. It’s one of those devices that just has a great feel to it. It’s as if they were made for my teeny hands.

The phone runs on OPPO’s ColorOS which will look familiar to iOS users. Be warned though that it’s still not exactly the same — think of it as an iOS-Android hybrid. Of course, to new OPPO users (i.e. a lot of people from outside Asia), this OS might take a little bit of getting used to. Gesture navigation is also available, but you still have the option to use traditional navigation buttons.

How does it feel to have a pop-up camera?

Admittedly, it’s pretty cool. Anyone who’s ever noticed the cameras pop out has reacted with amazement. I’ve honestly turned into a little show-off and I’m guilty of using this phone as a conversation starter. All this, of course, after I got over the anxiety of thinking I’d probably break the moving part. (I didn’t!)

Expectation

The cameras pop out automatically when you tap the camera icon and retract just as quickly when you exit the app. It’s one solid motion that you can sort of forget about when you get used to being on this phone. Be warned, though, that any pressure on the pop-out will also cause it to retract. Yes, it will close even during a Facebook Live stream.

Aside from my finger getting caught and pinched by the pop up mechanism a few times (ill-placed finger placement, don’t ask), my only other main concern with this unique form factor was that the pop-out cameras were a dirt magnet. Dust and other gunk (probably from my bags or pocket) seemed to find their way into the phone crevice which isn’t ideal, as cameras are best used clean (duh).

Reality

What impressed me most, though, was a feature I’d never really appreciated on any phone. The Find X has a face unlock option (something that the other pop-up phone, the Vivo Nex, doesn’t have) and it’s pretty good. Because of its form factor, OPPO opted to scrap the fingerprint scanner which would’ve been problematic, except it isn’t. This is all owing to the fact that its face unlock is that accurate. You can either opt for the swipe-to-unlock on the lock screen or press the power button which will trigger the camera to pop out, and voila, unlocked!

Of course, the selfies!

If you’ve read my previous reviews, you’d know that I’ve always loved the OPPO beauty mode. In fact, their AI beauty mode was a favorite.

Now, before you lecture me about the wonders of “natural beauty” and preference for non-use of filters, know that most selfies online today featuring that #JustWokeUp look you love so much either feature makeup made to look natural, some kind of airbrushing, or excellent lighting (which can do wonders). So no, a little beauty mode never hurt anyone, so long as it’s not overdone.

But, that was precisely my problem with the Find X’s beauty mode. Unlike AI beauty modes on previous devices like the R11s or the F5 which gave my face slight airbrushing and the freshness of a new born baby, the Find X AI beauty mode seemed to turn me into a completely different big-eyed, thin-chinned, plastic person.

And sure, added to the mix was a new custom beauty mode function which allows you to scan your face and tweak beauty mode capabilities to your liking, but even this greeted me with too fake a version of myself. I didn’t dare post my selfies.

My custom beauty mode face scan

I daresay this might be the first time I preferred no beauty modes on selfies with an OPPO phone, which is fine as it still takes good selfies — it’s just that I now have to make sure I actually look presentable IRL before taking the photo, something I haven’t needed to do for a while as OPPO’s previous beauty filters have spoiled me.

That being said, the 25-megapixel selfie camera, although not on beauty mode, performs well. Still, my favorite is the palm gesture shutter which allows for beautiful Instagrammable photos taken by yours truly. Exhibit A:

Of course, there are more sample takes, but they’re already all on my IG. 😉

Shooting with the rear camera

I mostly use this non-selfie camera to shoot IG stories and random beautiful sights. Here’s a little peek at the week I had the Find X with me.

This phone was able to capture some pretty scenery, though its HDR capabilities left much to be desired — a couple of times, photos came out hazy when it was too bright out.

The 16- and 20-megapixel shooters are equipped with AI, which recognizes scenes and tends to saturate certain scenarios like food or landscape and I must admit, it has gotten faster and more accurate since I first tried AI on their cameras on the R15. The phone still rocks an iPhone-like portrait mode feature, which isn’t my favorite function but hey, it’s there for when you want to take studio-like photos on your phone on the fly (which is never for me)!

Despite all this, I was able to snap beautiful photos which is what’s important.

Other important stuff that matter

Like mentioned earlier, this is OPPO’s first premium flagship in years. It boasts being powered by a Snapdragon 845, which just means it’s running on one of the best processors out there. This means mobile gaming is a go and your various social media apps will run simultaneously without a hitch. The phone rocks 8GB of memory and 128GB or 256GB of storage.

The Find X now has a USB-C port (finally, OPPO!) and 3730mAh battery capacity. This lasts me almost a day’s use which isn’t bad. OPPO’s signature VOOC charging is also built in which allows for zero to 17 percent charge in just ten minutes. You can get a full charge in just under two hours.

Is the OPPO Find X your GadgetMatch?

Design-wise, this phone may just be the best and coolest. At least for now, there is no other phone in the market that will compare to how well this thing is designed. The wide screen and the premium feel is something I actually miss since letting it go.

But, what I miss more is my natural-looking AI beauty mode. As impressed I am with the phone’s form factor, I’m a little disappointed with the beauty capabilities. For a brand that’s consistently marketed themselves as the go-to for “selfies experts,” it sort of hurts for selfie lovers, such as myself, that OPPO’s first flagship in years would miss in this aspect. OPPO, I just want my beauty mode back. 😢

In addition, the stylish Find X does not come cheap, priced at EUR 999 in Europe and PhP 50,000 in the Philippines.

Is it worth it? For the selfie lovers, you might want to hold off. If you’re the type who values overall design and getting it first, this might just be the phone for you. All things considered, it’s one beautiful device — one that is paving way for a better design language in all smartphones. And maybe, just maybe, that’s worth losing my beauty mode to.

Accessories

Casetify’s collaboration with Pangram Pangram is inspired by travel

For those diagnosed with a serious case of wanderlust

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Nothing inspires us to keep hustling like the places we want to travel to — whether that’s a remote island or a concrete jungle. Packing and carrying a heavy suitcase, going through airport security and passport control, waiting at the airport and finding nothing but overpriced food — all these are so much more exciting than going through everyday commute and the routine of office work.

If nothing feeds your soul like a travel adventure, Casetify’s collaboration with type foundry Pangram Pangram is made for you. It’s inspired by the journey through the airport, from luggage scan tags to boarding passes, and airport restaurant bills.

Customize your iPhone case by choosing an airport and adding your name — et voila! You now have your very own luggage scan tag case. As of writing there are more than 30 cities to choose from, and here are some of our favorites:

New York

Paris

London

Boston

Jeju

San Francisco

Singapore

Berlin

Shanghai

Casetify is adding more cities based on the demand, so if you don’t see your favorite destination or hometown let them know on Instagram. The cases are available for iPhone 7 and up, including the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max starting at US$ 35. Cases for Airpods 1 and 2, as well as Apple Watch bands for Series 1-4 are also available.

To shop the collection visit casetify.com.

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Her GadgetMatch

Peloton: A cult I want to join

Can a Peloton bike replace going to a spin studio?

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I’ve heard and read about Peloton mostly from the hype in tech news and commercials on TV. When people talk about it, I hear them refer to it as the cult of Peloton. As someone who recently fell in love with spin class, my curiosity is peaked. If you’re a Peloton customer, you don’t just like it — you love it! It’s not a piece of exercise equipment; it’s a lifestyle.

On a recent trip to New York, I noticed my hotel was close to a Peloton studio. My hotel also had a Peloton bike in the gym. As I roll towards 40, I’ve accepted that my body needs me to pay attention to it. So I fed my Peloton curiosity and went to the studio to take a class. I also took a virtual one in my hotel — more on that later.

Peloton studio experience

If you’ve ever been to a high end spin studio you’ll be familiar with the set up at Peloton. For those who haven’t done a modern spin class, you basically get shoes, locker rooms that have many products, and someone to help you set up your bike. The experience screams premium and makes dropping US$ 35 seem justified.

Like most workout studios, the room is very cold when you walk in. Today’s spin classes are done in the dark with very loud music — almost like going to parties. At the Peloton studio, the bikes are set up around a stage on three sides. As we waited to get started, Jenn, the instructor, was already interacting with everyone online. I’ve heard and read of Peloton before, but I didn’t realize that the class I was attending was being live streamed to hundreds, maybe thousands of people.

“RoadCruiser, it’s your 400th ride! Congratulations and thanks for being part of the Peloton nation,” screamed Jenn. “RidnMama happy 100th ride, Pelotooooon!”

Hearing the word Peloton happened consistently throughout the ride. Like being in actual cults, being in a Peloton class felt a bit like being indoctrinated. The same way cults repeat ideologies and phrases, Jenn would randomly scream Peloton for all of 30 minutes. When I started counting midway, I heard her say it 11 more times.

What caught me off guard was the fact that Jenn essentially ignored the class and was in constant eye contact with the cameras around the room. One camera would slowly go from the left side of the room to the right, and her gaze would follow it. It was distracting and felt like I was watching something I wasn’t supposed to.

Having done no actual research on Peloton before going, I left the class confused. Being the journalist that I am, I asked the sales girl at the front desk a ton of questions. I found out that there are only two Peloton studios in the whole world: one in New York, and the other in London.

Suddenly I felt very lucky to have taken a class in one of the two studios. Then almost immediately I realized that I was doing things completely wrong. Most Peloton customers will never step foot into a physical Peloton studio, and they probably will never want to. Peloton’s main focus is giving virtual classes, and that’s what they’re good at.

Peloton only set up studios to livestream the instructor for the virtual classes. The London studio starts putting classes online in the morning and the New York studio has classes until late at night, covering all of Europe and US timezones. Unlike other spin studios, real world classes at Peloton are only a byproduct of content creation for their virtual community.

Virtual Peloton class experience

The next day I went to my hotel’s gym to take my first virtual class. When I logged on, there were no live classes about to start, so I took one of the many pre-recorded ones. The bike lets you choose by class type, instructor, genre of music, and style of ride — I chose a 90s hiphop class.

When the class started, I found Jess, the instructor, looking at me straight in the eye from the 21.5” HD display of the bike. Suddenly the thing I found the creepiest from the live class was the thing I loved most of the virtual class. The connection I felt with Jess was far stronger than the one in the studio — even stronger than I’ve ever felt at a traditional spin class at SoulCycle or ride.bln.

Being more engaged resulted in a much better work out compared to the one I did in the studio. Admittedly, I’ve only taken a single virtual class, but I’m already convinced Peloton can bring the same high end spin class I take in studios into my own home.

The traditional spin class experience

In Berlin, I take spin classes at ride.bln. They have beautiful locker rooms and attentive staff. The environment is pretty much identical to Peloton’s NYC studio, except smaller. That’s pretty much where the similarities end.

My favorite instructor at ride.bln is Malin. Her style of dancing around the studio, correcting people’s postures, and reading the room so that we’re getting the best workout we can are the little things that make going to a real world spin class great — things you won’t ever get from a virtual class. Seeing my instructor pushing through with her eyes closed honors my struggle. Her energy makes me want to give her spin class everything I’ve got.

Photo from ride.bln

I am genuinely curious what her take would be if she tried to adapt her style to Peloton. Closing her eyes through a tough segment is not something she would be able to do as a Peloton instructor. Her style would have to completely change and having gone to her classes, I fear they would become soulless. Can she bring the same engagement to a class while staring into a camera? I’m afraid not.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you were to get a Peloton bike and join the cult, you can probably replicate the dark room with the same loud music at home, but I’m not sure it would really be the same as going to a good spin studio. What Peloton is is not exactly a replacement, but an alternative for people like me who don’t have a 9-to-5 routine.

What the cult of Peloton has done is remove several barriers of having to go to spin class. Spin classes may only last 30-60 minutes, but you also have to factor in the time to go to the studio, get ready, and everything that comes after. Peloton also made it easy for its customers to start and do spin classes more consistently. You can be a newbie and not get intimidated by the people around you and just spin at your own pace. You can even do the same classes when you’re traveling, no matter which timezone you’re in.

The best part of being part of the Peloton cult is not the high end equipment nor the classes; it’s the strong virtual connections it’s been able to create to motivate you to achieve your own fitness goals — whether you’re on your bike at home or some other place in the world.

Cult or not, both Peloton and traditional spin classes are great workouts if you’re already into fitness. If not, hearing people talk about it all the time can be annoying and does you no good. All of these classes are just tools to achieve our goals, and no amount of tech is good enough a motivation as the one that comes from within.

SEE ALSO: Confessions of a non-runner


Editor’s note: This is a slightly modified excerpt of an article written by the same author published on MobileGeeks.com.

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Her GadgetMatch

7 gift ideas for pets and paw-rents on your list

Happy pets, happy paw-rents

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Know someone whose life has been completely run over by their fur-baby? With the holidays just around the corner, it may actually be a good idea to get a joint gift for pets and their paw-rents. That’s hitting two birds with one, perfectly-wrapped stone and making sure you’re always welcome when you visit.

If you’re a pet owner yourself, why not use these gifts to give your best buddy a treat this holiday season? We all know they deserve it. Here are some gift ideas that will make both your friend and their little bundle of fur happy:

1. Petcube Bites

As someone who has always been a fur-mama, I tend to wonder what my pets are up to while I’m away. Are they behaving at home? More importantly, is everything okay? With the Petcube Bites, there’s no need to be such a worrywart. You’ll get notifications when there’s been excessive movement at home or even when your pet is making noise. The camera also records these and sends the footage to a cloud, making sure you don’t miss anything. Watching my dog Juancho on the app gives me so much comfort when I’m away.

The Petcube Bites also allows you to throw treats at your pets and talk to them. Just be careful you don’t scare them with your new-found omnipresence. For our full review (and more of @JuanchoTheCorgi), click here.

2. Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

Give your stylish paw-rent friend and their pet the best of both worlds with the Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer. When Juancho was still pretty small, he would get scared of any normal hairdryer because of the noise. That’s something you won’t have to worry about with this powerful hairdryer.

It cuts drying time in half and makes sure the fur mom and the pet are frizz-free. It’s also gentle on the hair and regulates the temperature. This makes sure the paw-rent’s hair and their fur-baby’s fur aren’t damaged and that they maintain their natural shine. Apparently, we can have our cake and eat it too!

Available at the official Dyson online store, with prices starting at EUR 359. A little steep? Don’t worry. Monthly payments start at EUR 14,95 per month at zero interest.

3. Litter-Robot Connect 3

Cats are pretty much low maintenance. Cleaning the litter box, however, is still a chore most cat-owners would prefer to get easier. That’s where the Litter-Robot Connect 3 comes in. This litter box from the future does the scooping for you every time your cat needs to go potty. You only need to take out the drawer and do one massive throw every time it gets full.

It also connects to an app which will remind you to empty the waste drawer or if it needs a refill. Less time spent scooping means more time with your fur baby and we’re so on board this idea.

Check out the Litter-Robot Connect 3 here.

4. Alfawise V8S Pro E30B

For most cats and dogs, shedding can be quite the nightmare they give to their fur-parents. As someone who’s a corgi mama, I can definitely attest to this. Hair accumulating in corners of your rooms even after brushing and the often-repeated chore of vacuuming throughout the week.

Give the gift of a less-painful back and more time spent playing with their pet through the new Alfawise V8S Pro E30B. This robot vacuum even has a mop attachment which will be helpful to new paw-rents who are still training their dog on doing their business outside.

You can find the full review in this link.

5. Embark Dog DNA Test

Ever wanted to look in your dog’s ancestry as well as their biological family’s health history? Yes, that’s a bit too specific. However, wouldn’t you really want to know? If you’re one of the good souls who adopted a rescue, knowing what diseases your dog might get in the future could actually be helpful in your quest to prevent them.

All you have to do is use the swabs that come in the package sent to you after ordering. Then, you send it back to the Embark offices. After comparing your pooch’s DNA with about 250 other breeds and almost two hundred disease patterns, you’ll shortly get the results that will help you understand your dog better.

Prices for kits range from US$ 129 to US$ 199. You can order them here.

6. Whistle Go Explore

You love tracking the progress of your fitness goals using your own fitness tracker or smartwatch. Why not track your pet’s as well? The Whistle Go Explore is attached to a collar and monitors their health. This makes it easy to share their reports with your vet and that you’ll surely stay on top of your pet’s well being. It also records their daily activity, allowing you to set goals and gives you gentle nudges to ensure you’re walking your pet enough.

Love exploring the great outdoors with your fur-baby? You can also track their location through the app. This also comes in useful if your pet loves escaping from your backyard.

Get the Whistle Go Explore for US$ 129.95 here.

7. Cloud7 Dog Bed

Good sleep means healthier fur-babies so why not a gorgeous bed that will also fit with the paw-rent’s aesthetic? The Sleepy Deluxe from German brand Cloud7 has four single, circumferential chambers. These are filled with low-noise and dimensionally stable granule beads for a more quiet environment even when your pet loves to twist and turn in the night.

The separately inserted quilted mattress is sag resistant. The mix of undyed, untreated new wool and polyester in the cover ensures that it’s easy to clean and machine washable. You can view other colours and designs here.  For the ones who love to travel with their pets, there’s a portable version that will ensure your pet gets the same level of comfort he gets at home even when you’re in an AirBnB.

Our pets give us so much love and bring a lot of happiness into our lives. So, spoiling them a little this season is truly justified and will surely put a smile on their paw-rents’ face.

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