Last month, I flew to China for the OPPO R11s launch and got to spend time with the near-borderless smartphone. In the last few weeks, I’ve been trying out the international R11s, and this is my verdict.
The R11s is a follow-up to the R11 released last June. In this review, I’ll talk about my experience with the device and answer tough questions like: Is this R11 update worth it? How does the phone perform? Are the cameras better? What’s the point of a “Starry Sky” screen?
I also tackle the R11’s AI beauty mode because I like taking selfies and the world needs more beauty mode reviews.
Painting the town red
Our OPPO R11s unit came in deep red. I like this color option as it perfectly matches this season’s festive theme. In fact, the red all-metal body matches a lot of things: Ruby Woo lipstick, Dorothy’s ruby slippers, my hair, my heart ❤️… the list goes on.
The R11s also comes in black or champagne for those of who like less daring options. However, unique to the red version is what OPPO calls the “Starry Sky” screen — that black to red gradient on the phone’s front which makes for a seamless transition from the bezel to the body.
This “Starry Sky” screen sans actual stars ⭐️ is one of my favorite near-borderless design features. The subtle gradient is a nice identifying detail in the present sea of bezel-less devices that, more or less, all look similar up front.
Speaking of bezel-less devices, their onslaught has made bezelled phones look dated — the R11 included. The R11s fixes that.
This new screen has an 18:9 aspect ratio — which basically means the view is taller or wider, depending on which orientation you use the phone in. Other than that, the screen should be the same as the R11’s with the same color, brightness, and durability. All these things I can attest to, except for the durability, because I’m not dropping these phones on purpose just to check.
What’s on the inside
Of course, with great screens come great responsibility — and certain sacrifices in the form of the loss of capacitive buttons and the fingerprint scanner up front. Said scanner has been demoted and moved to the back.
Admittedly, I initially hated the idea of having the scanner on the phone’s rear. I had to flip my phone over or lift it up from the table (yeah, all that work, shocking!) to unlock, as opposed to just tapping with a finger like I used to do when the scanner was up front. But, I eventually got used to it and it helped that the fingerprint scanner on this thing was pretty quick and accurate.
The R11s also has facial unlock technology which works well when lighting is good, but is a bit unreliable in less than ideal lighting scenarios. The phone doesn’t recognize me half of the time when I’m wearing glasses which is a bit weird since the phone would unlock even when my eyes were closed. (Beware y’all with snoopy partners!)
Unlock times were good at less than a second, though I’ve seen other devices do better.
With a midrange Snapdragon 660 processor, this phone is pretty capable. For the benefit of those who don’t deal well with specs, all this means is that you can pretty much do gaming…
… or more importantly, use Snapchat AR on this device without any trouble.
The R11s runs on OPPO’s ColorOS 3.2 which is basically the Android version of Apple’s iOS — I say that because the interface looks very much like an iPhone’s.
Battery capacity is at 3200mAh which lasts me a whole day and frees me from the burden of lugging around a power bank. The bad news? It still uses a micro-USB port! Back to more good news: It has VOOC charging, OPPO’s version of fast charging, and it only takes around an hour and twenty minutes from zero to a full charge. All this power in my hands! ✨
With dual cameras on the rear, the R11s’ main selling point is that both shooters (16 and 20 megapixels) have wide apertures of f/1.7 which will allow more light to get in and make for even better low-light performance.
Of course, I tested that premise. I busted out the R11 whose dual shooters also feature 16- and 20-megapixel cameras, but with apertures of f/1.7 and f/2.6 (f/2.6 means smaller aperture which equates to less light). There was definite improvement. See for yourself:
The rear cameras are also equipped with a beauty mode built into the portrait mode. Perfect for shots like this…
… or this…
… and even group shots like this where everyone looks all cute and fresh, you don’t even realize someone is doing the cheers with jam. *cough* Chay *cough*
The front-facing shooter is a 20-megapixel camera. This camera’s beauty mode has integrated artificial intelligence. What does that mean? Simply that it uses machine learning to enhance your features and remove blemishes without looking too artificial — a qualm I’ve always had with OPPO’s beauty mode. With AI beauty mode, the phone gives you great selfies without blurring out actual facial features. Think along the lines of getting that fresh #NoMakeUp look (you girls know what I’m talking about! ?) every time, all the time, without actual makeup. See below:
Here are a few more photos (and a sneak peek of my life) from the R11s.
Is the OPPO R11s your GadgetMatch?
Although there’s still space for improvement when it comes to facial unlock technology, OS interface, and the micro-USB port, I still enjoyed this phone. Admittedly, there are faster, snappier, and more responsive phones I’ve tried out, but all my needs — funny games, Snapchat, VSCO and Adobe Lightroom photo editing — were met by the R11s. If you prioritize smartphone photography, selfies, and your Instagram feed, this may be the phone for you. I had way too much fun shooting selfies on this.
With these slight but impactful improvements, the R11s is definitely a better phone over the R11. Especially because it retails for the same price as the R11 when it was released: CNY 2,999 (around US$ 450) for black and champagne versions. The special red handset retails at CNY 3,199 (around US$ 480).
It seems these selfie experts are well on their way to becoming more than just that. In the meantime, I enjoy their efforts, my near flawless selfies, and all the pretty portraits I can shoot.
[irp posts=”15495″ name=”OnePlus 5 vs OPPO R11: Side-by-side Comparison”]
Nokia E3500: Perfect pair or just fine?
Finding companionship on a pair of wireless earbuds
My day wouldn’t go the way it is without listening to something. Be it from my Spotify playlist, a podcast, or even catching up with my co-streamers on a call. But untangling and twisting the crumpled, irritating earphone wire ruins the mood.
Thankfully, those days are over. Since smartphones with a 3.5mm headphone jack are getting rare, I took a leap out of my comfort zone to finally switch to a pair of wireless earbuds.
Scouring the market for a good pair that won’t make a dent out of my pocket can be daunting. What caught my eye was a familiar name I’ve known for years, and I discovered a pair — the Nokia E3500 — that begs to be given a chance.
Love at first touch
The first time I held the Nokia E3500, it felt premium and sleek despite having a charging case made out of plastic. What furthered its elegance were the featherweight material that makes it easy to carry, as well as its matte finish that makes you want to glide your fingers incessantly.
In a nutshell, the Nokia E3500 displayed a blend of practicality and sophisticated design.
The “getting to know” part
I found comfort in using the Nokia E3500. Out of the box, it comes with three pairs to help you find your perfect pair. And when you do, it won’t fall off your ear.
I even brought the E3500 on a beach trip to Liwliwa, Zambales — which was kinda risky since it only has an IPX5 resistance. Luckily, it was secure enough to fit in my ear even if I kept running and jumping.
Pairing the Nokia E3500 is easy. Once out of the case, you can press the touch buttons for two seconds to enter pairing mode. The inclusion of Ambient Mode helps me immerse in the content, especially when situated in a noisy environment. I found that keeping volume to about 60 percent seemed like the right choice to enjoy its audio performance.
Sound isolation is great, too. Imagine sitting by the beach, listening to music while also hearing the sound of splashing waves. Happy and dreamy, isn’t it?
Everything has its rough side, including this seemingly perfect pair of wireless earbuds. Using the Nokia E3500 during my Zoom calls isn’t as smooth and seamless as it should be when listening.
There are few delays with the microphone reception, making it a little annoying when I’m in the middle of a virtual presentation. Hopefully, the next iteration will improve the inconsistent microphone.
Is this my perfect pair?
For a mediocre audiophile like me, I would say yes to Nokia E3500. The charging case itself has a 360mAh battery which helps extend its battery life. Who wouldn’t want an uninterrupted sound trip especially during a long drive?
My experience isn’t as perfect as I thought it would be. But it’s decent and fine. The Nokia E3500 looks gorgeous, equipped with long battery life, great audio quality, and water resistance for peace of mind.
There are cheaper options available in the market, but for what it’s worth — I’d call it a steal, especially for all the features you can enjoy for its price tag.
The Nokia E3500 retails for PhP 3,499.
Fitbit Luxe: Finally, a fitness band that’s actually pretty
One of my major frustrations with fitness bands has always been the way they look. Why is it so hard to make them look pretty enough to wear outside a workout? There’s no rule that they should be unattractive and clunky, right? Enter Fitbit’s answer to said problem: The Fitbit Luxe. It’s sleek and stylish while packing all the necessary features, proving that you don’t have to sacrifice style for substance.
The Luxe is not my first Fitbit having owned my now ancient Charge 2 then an Alta HR sequestered from my husband who wore it for a month then got tired of it because it didn’t go well with his suits.
I wore both fitness bands with pride and as a way for me to send a message that I was now taking my health a little seriously. However, they often looked out of place with most of my outfits. Wearing them to events that had a bit of a more formal dress code always looked awkward. I even thought of wearing a classy watch on my left arm and the Fitbit on the right just to make it work at some point. However, even the smaller Alta HR made me look like I was coming straight from a run.
Form & substance
A common complaint about the Luxe is how small the screen is. Personally, I don’t see it as an issue. I enjoy the size which makes it inconspicuously stylish. Sure, it has a function for you to quickly take a peek at your texts, even read them in full. But who still sends novel-length texts these days? Mine’s usually from delivery services just telling me to pick up my orders. Though I won’t mind getting more notifications from other messaging apps that I have on my phone.
The size also makes it look like a truly elegant timepiece as soon as you slap on a metal strap. I originally wanted the lunar white and soft gold combination but ended up with the orchid (pink) and platinum stainless steel. At first, I was a bit wary of the pink, thinking it might look rather juvenile on me. But it worked out in the end. It’s a lovely shade that I don’t mind wearing with most of my activewear.
I actually bought myself a gold milanese strap online, similar to the ones I used with my older Fitbit models. They’re pretty inexpensive and are available on sites like Amazon and Shopee. The silver hardware on my Luxe also gave me more freedom to mix my metals within my outfit, instead of getting tied down to a gold-on-gold combo. Fitbit also has their own gold, metal strap. You pay a little more for it but it can be a justifiable investment if it will make sure you don’t have to take off the Luxe whenever you need to dress a little more formally.
The Luxe tracks your workouts, your steps, and even your oxygen levels as you sleep. It even has multiple watch faces to match your outfits. My personal choice is the ‘Vogue’ which shows the time in pastel pink and green. Très chic.
My favorite thing about the Luxe has to be the fact that it can now be used to track your swimming as well. It’s something both the older models I owned didn’t have. Sadly, the pandemic has rendered most pools closed, even in our building. I did get to dip my unit in water to check its water lock mode which stops the water from accidentally controlling your screen. It worked really well and my unit survived the quick dip.
We’ll let you know how it fares in the pool or the beach once the IATF relaxes its guidelines. So far, however, this wearable is looking pretty good on that front too.
The Luxe also comes with six months of Fitbit Premium. The personalized subscription service on the Fitbit App opens up a whole new world for one’s fitness goals. It gives you advanced analytics on your sleep data, recipe inspirations, as well as video workouts.
As someone who has the Peloton app, I have to admit that it’s still my go-to for my home workouts, even on exercises that go beyond cycling. Though their guided programs that help you in your other goals like kicking your sugar habit, learning how to do a push-up, and even getting more sleep, are such great additions to your self-improvement plans.
Though I must admit that my favorite among the premium features is how it can give you a comprehensive wellness report upon request. The only requirement is that you have to be using your Luxe for about a month. The report shows you your average heart rate, average steps and sedentary moments, sleep, and menstrual cycles, as well as your heart rate zones.
Great battery life
The Luxe promises about 5 days of battery life but mine usually goes a little over than that. There are times when I go up to a week without charging and I’m someone who tries to workout every other day for about 30-45 minutes and I walk an average of six thousand steps. I know, I could use some more. I also wear the Fitbit to sleep as I enjoy seeing my sleep metrics.
Speaking of sleep, its size really makes it easier to wear the Luxe to bed. From a more practical point of view, the Luxet doesn’t dig into the skin – it’s the most comfortable tracker I’ve ever worn.
Is the Fitbit Luxe your GadgetMatch?
Personally, I think I’ve found the one when it comes to fitness trackers. Ever since I received the Luxe, the only times it left my wrist was for a charge. It does the job without being too invasive when it comes to my daily life – outfits included.
The Fitbit Luxe retails for PhP 8,490 while the gorjana-designed Special Edition will cost PhP 12,990.
5 ways to practice sustainable lifestyle
According to these Filipinas
Living a sustainable lifestyle is something we’re trying to achieve. As much as possible, we make conscious decisions to go green and reduce our carbon footprint in our purchases and lifestyle.
We already started with practicing sustainable fashion. And we hope to practice sustainability when it comes to our beauty products, too.
If you’re still on the fence about making a switch to a sustainable lifestyle, let these Filipinas share with you a tip on how you can do it.
The power of small yet consistent changes
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“Look for changes you can make that are easy and convenient for you. If you can easily swap out an unsustainable product for a sustainable one, take that win! Making changes easy for yourself and your lifestyle ensure a greater chance of long-term success,” says actress and vlogger Coraleen Waddell.
Find and help advocacies that promote sustainability
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“Be vocal, influence your peers, and take action,” says Patch Magtanong, lawyer, beauty queen, and fashion model who was crowned Binibining Pilipinas — International 2019.
Always remember the three R’s
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“Avoid waste by recycling, and consider throwing something out an absolute last resort. Almost everything can be repurposed or recycled,” says singer-songwriter Leila Alcasid.
Be conscious of your decisions
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“Change personal behavior on what you eat, what you purchase, and how you conserve energy and water,” says Janina Manipol.
Choose a product that’s kind to your skin and the planet
Above all, taking care of yourself shouldn’t affect the planet — directly and indirectly. Recently, Nivea is making the jump on sustainable skincare, bringing the WonderBAR to address different skin concerns. Also, it’s good for the planet, thanks to its natural origin, vegan formula, and plastic-free and fully recyclable packaging.
Currently, the Nivea WonderBAR comes in four variants:
- Anti-Pimple Scrub for effectively treating pimples.
- Hydrating for those who have dry skin.
- Radiance for those who want to have radiant and glowing skin.
- Blackhead-Clearing Scrub with activated charcoal for those who want clearer, smoother skin.
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