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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

Accessories

Travelon: Stylish anti-theft bags that look good with your outfits

Keep your gadgets and gizmos safe on every trip

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We’ve all heard the pitch: Travel bags that will protect your valuables, must-haves for any trip that’ll keep your gadgets and documents safe, ultimate strength bags that can’t ever be slashed, and so on…

As a traveler, I care a lot about my stuff’s security. However, I never really bought into the whole travel-safe bag hype for one reason: Most bags I’ve seen which advertised said safety travel features weren’t really good-looking in my eyes. I wanted travel-friendly packs that weren’t only functional, they needed to look good with my travel #OOTDs.

In an almost cosmic coincidence (I say this because I have a bunch of trips lined up), I discovered Travelon.

This brand carries a number of travel bags and lo and behold: I actually liked a lot of the bags on display in their store. This travel bag they sent me home with is one I’m particularly fond of.

Just me enjoying my new cute backpack that no one can ever steal from

The bag comes from Travelon’s tailored collection and comes in five different colors: onyx, sapphire, plumrose, aquamarine, and sable (which we have here). I love how muted this hue is, perfect for more dressed-up looks.

As good as it looks, this bag is also one tough cookie with slash-resistant panels built into it. Just how strong is it? Well, we tried it out and let’s just say shenanigans won’t cut it (literally).

Even its detailed straps are slash-proof so you can be sure they stay on your shoulders.

Unique to Travelon is their locking hardware. Zippers are fitted with clasps that act as an extra precaution. Your bags won’t be opened as easily because of this. You can lock it on either side of the zipper…

… or lock the two handles together.

Inside, your stuff is always organized. You won’t believe the number of pockets this bag has.

There are card compartments, a slot for your passport, even a pen holder, plus another zippered pocket. These compartments also block RFID meaning the information on your passport and credit cards are safe from scammers who will attempt to get your info through a random scan.

More space to carry the handful of review devices I travel with

There’s even a key holder because there’s nothing more infuriating than having to rummage through your bag for your keys.

All these features packed into an unassuming good-looking bag.

This particular bag is priced at US$ 80 which isn’t bad, most anti-theft bags are priced similarly.

And, if you’re going to spend, might as well spend on something that looks good, right?

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Accessories

This is a notebook that will charge your phone because why not

One good-looking and useful planner!

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The good old notebook is being given an update.

If you’re still sentimental about stationery, or if you’re the pen and paper type of gal and you still can’t shake your organizer habits, this folio might be right up your alley.

The Tesmo notebook is a good-looking journal. The outside is bound by a durable leather material, there are slots for your pen, cards, and notes, plus you can easily refill the pages with standard A5-sized paper. What’s so different about this organizer then?

Place your phone on the notebook and you’ll find out. This organizer doubles as a wireless charger. Basically, it will charge any Qi charging-capable device — that means your iPhone X and most Android flagships — without even plugging in the phone.

With an 8000mAh battery capacity stored away in its cover, this notebook also allows simultaneous charging of up to three devices. It’s equipped with all the ports you’ll ever need: micro-USB, USB-C, and Lightning adapter.

It’s the journal that every career woman needs — well, okay, not exactly need. It would be cool, though. And, it’s honestly one profesh-looking planner. It comes in gray, black, and brown (pictured).

Check out their Kickstarter page here.

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Apps

What I learned about myself using Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing Dashboard

Am I on my phone too much?

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When Android Pie was unveiled and released last week, I pretty much craved pie because everyone was talking about the delectable dessert. But, I was also very excited about one particular feature: The Digital Wellbeing Dashboard.

Image of me actually eating pie the day after the Android Pie unveiling

Announced earlier, this dashboard was supposed to be a ticket to a healthier lifestyle — well, at least in theory. In an effort to curb unhealthy phone user habits, a dashboard that tracks app usage is built in to Android’s newest operating system. Although not available to everyone as of writing, Pixel users (like yours truly) are able to try out the beta version of the dash. Since I’m a sucker for self-actualization and information that may potentially heal (and hurt) me, I tried it out for the last week or so and here’s what I learned.

I’m on my phone — a lot

No sh*t, Sherlock.

I know I’m always looking at these tiny screens but I didn’t realize I was literally living my life in front of it. A record day saw me looking at the screen for — get this — 11 hours and 55 minutes. That’s half a day! Legitimately, that’s the whole time I’m not sleeping. And take note, I review phones so this isn’t the only screen I look at in a day.

Given these numbers, I’m honestly unsure how I get anything else done in my life.

I get a ton of notifications

I mean sure, technology connects people, but I didn’t realize just how connected we are.

According to my data, I get around a minimum of 250 notifications per day and this number varies. At some point, there was a whopping 620 notifications. Let’s think about that for a minute; that means around 51 messages per hour in a 12-hour day. There are only 60 minutes per hour so that means almost a message for each freaking minute.

On average, Facebook Messenger tops the list for these notifications followed by Gmail and Telegram.

I check Instagram more than I should

Now, this is funny because as you just saw, Instagram isn’t on that list of top app notifiers. But, this might also be because I turned off IG notifications because they were distracting me (yay for being self-aware?). This health dashboard tells me that I unlocked my Instagram app most, with as many as 153 times in one day. This was, on average, followed by Facebook and Twitter.

The top three apps I spent time on are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, which just tells me that I’m ‘gram crazy and I’m on social media too much (which isn’t really news to anyone).

Grayscale is annoying and I hate it

Part of the dashboard is a feature aimed at curbing being on your phone before bed (which I do a lot 🙄). Wind Down allows you to set such times and then gives you an option to turn on Do Not Disturb and a Grayscale that makes browsing less desirable for people who should be sleeping and not looking at their phones.

The mess of an app IG becomes on grayscale

Reading tweets on grayscale is weird and browsing through Instagram is just plain wrong. I guess, in that way, this function is effective in getting me to stop being on my phone — until I turned it off the next day and never turned it on again.

I refuse to turn on the app timer as I justify social media use as work

Say what you want because it’s true. 😅

See, there’s a timer option on the dash that allows you to limit app usage time. Thing is, I’ve never turned it on. Why? Because I work on the internet and turning it on may amount to catastrophic consequences.

I will keep using this to justify my action of disallowing app time limits, so what’s your excuse?

It must be noted that, as mentioned earlier, I use more than one phone on a daily basis and am on social media on my laptop a lot, too. That being said, it’s worth pointing out that this still isn’t a complete picture of my daily phone and internet habits. Even though this data only shows a fraction of the grand picture, it already says a lot.

As with everything in life, the choice is in your hands (er, on your phone). Though I am ultimately left to decide what to do about my phone habits, knowing is always the first step.

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