Reviews

OPPO Reno 2 review: On the right track

Rebranding done right

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It wasn’t too long ago when OPPO launched the Reno, the company’s new branding for its smartphones; gone are the F series and the R series. Several months and variants later, it’s now time for its successor.

OPPO is sticking to its new design language

With the Reno, OPPO also introduced a new design language — something that’s truly their own. While the OPPO Reno 2 is narrower and slightly lighter than the first OPPO Reno on paper, this phone is still massive.

OPPO made the back curvier so it’s now more comfortable to hold, even with the case on. Most people could care less, but I really appreciate how secure and premium the bundled leather-like case is. I wish more phones came with something like this.

There’s a headphone jack at the bottom, too. We’ve gotten used to wireless headphones by now but having a headphone jack is still a welcome feature. It’s nice to be able to watch Netflix outdoors like when you’re waiting for the bus without worrying whether your headphones are charged.

Speaking of watching Netflix, the Reno 2 can hold its own even outdoors — its AMOLED display is bright. The unobstructed display is beautiful and a pleasure to use.

Great cameras

Like a lot of other smartphones we’ve seen this year, the OPPO Reno 2 has a 48MP wide angle lens, 13MP telephoto lens, and an 8MP ultra wide angle lens. There’s also a fourth camera — a 2MP monochrome sensor, which should help take better low light photos and portraits.

The phone also features a 5X hybrid zoom and 20x digital zoom. Periscopic zoom is an impressive achievement for smartphones, and it’s nice to have really, but we haven’t really found any practical uses it for it. In fact the only time we probably ever use this feature is when we’re reviewing phones and taking sample photos.

What we find more useful is the ultra wide angle lens — for when you’re taking photos of food and want to be a little more discreet about it, or for when you just want to show off both your outfit and your background. It’s great for taking photos of sights too when you’re traveling.

Portrait mode 2.0 is supposedly better, but unless it can truly separate your hair against the background, we’d still use it sparingly. Just because you have portrait mode, it doesn’t mean you should use it all the time.

The same goes for bokeh effect on video. It’s supposed to mimic that background blur a professional camera is able to make when shooting video but the technology just isn’t there yet. What we really like though is the Reno 2’s improved video stabilization — it works really well.

There’s also ultra dark mode, which captures low light photos better — even tricky scenarios like NEON signs or backlit photos.

The pop-up selfie camera is here to stay

A few years ago OPPO was all about the selfie. In several markets in Asia they were known as the “selfie expert”. Even if OPPO already dropped that strategy, you still get an array of beauty customizations when taking selfies.

Although we prefer turning it off completely as even AI Beauty Mode does more than take out temporary blemishes.

The Reno 2 also retains the freefall protection feature. In case you drop your phone while taking a selfie, the pop-up camera will automatically retract.

Gaming performance

The Reno 2 sports an upper midrange Qualcomm chipset called the Snapdragon 730G. Even if it doesn’t have a high end processor, it holds up really well because of its Adreno 615 graphics card.

If you still play Pokemon Go like me, just know that this phone won’t experience any hiccups even while you’re in the middle of a raid.

Solid battery life and super fast charging

We’ve been using the OPPO Reno 2 for about a week now and it lasts a whole day of heavy use, or a day and a half of moderate use. That’s a lot of photo taking, navigating, playing Pokemon GO, browsing social media, and texting even until night time — thanks to its huge 4000 mAh battery, dynamic AMOLED display, efficient processor, and optimized Color OS 6.

When it’s out of juice, topping it up is easy because of OPPO’s proprietary VOOC charging. It can get to 50% in just 30 minutes.

Is the OPPO Reno 2 your GadgetMatch?

I remember when we would review OPPO’s R series a year or two ago, we’d always had apprehensions in recommending them. Their price to performance ratio didn’t always make sense.

At EUR 499 and GBP 449, the Reno 2 is priced cheaper than the R series at launch. It delivers in every aspect. Even if most of its features are gimmicky and not exactly practical for everyday use, it’s a great phone overall that can handle anything you throw at it.

It’s a pleasure to use and a pleasure to hold. It ticks two things that are most important to us: great cameras and battery life. It even has a USB-C port, super fast charging, and a headphone jack.

There’s also that je ne sais quoi — you know when you hold a phone you’re inexplicably drawn to it? This is one of those phones.

Reviews

POCO M5 review: No need to break the bank

More than just a gaming phone

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Gaming is usually an expensive hobby. Between new hardware and pricey games, it’s too common to feel broke as a gamer. However, buying into gaming shouldn’t always break the bank. If you’re a mobile gamer, the world now has options to feed your habit without feeling guilty. Earlier this month, POCO launched a new gaming smartphone for budget-conscious gamers — the POCO M5. Now, almost a month after the launch, let’s see how the phone holds up.

Big but light

Boasting a 6.58-inch screen, the POCO M5 is quite hefty. However, despite the size, the phone is a few millimeters narrower than my main driver. It’s gigantic but not uncomfortably so. Of course, size is a great aspect to boast for a gaming phone. Watching Netflix is more than enjoyable on the POCO M5.

Adding to that, the smartphone is remarkably light for its size. Weighing in at just 201 grams, it sits comfortably on my hand while I’m either watching or playing.

As for other design quirks, the smartphone does take some creative liberties behind the screen. Instead of a smooth back, the rear has a leathery texture, adding to a premium feel. Also, like the Pixel 6 series, it sports a camera island that wraps around the entire width of the rear panel. However, unlike the aforementioned Google flagship, the island doesn’t protrude as much, making for a pleasantly stable surface.

Gaming on a budget

Armed with the MediaTek Helio G99 octa-core processor, the POCO M5 is capable of holding its own weight. Besides the processor, it also has up to 6GB of RAM and up to 128GB of internal storage (expandable through a microSD slot). It’s not quite a flagship, but it’s enough to get the job done.

Everyday operations — browsing, texting, taking photos — felt seamless. The smartphone never felt slow or laggy — at least during non-gaming sessions.

Unfortunately, the phone’s gaming capabilities fall a bit short from “true gaming phone” territory. While Genshin Impact (which the phone came installed with) played well, meatier games like Diablo Immortal did run into some lag spikes. Thankfully, it’s not a huge downside. Despite playing in low to medium settings, Diablo Immortal played well enough to get through an hour of unbridled gameplay.

Heat wasn’t an issue, either. After playing through an hour, the smartphone never really got hot enough to an uncomfortable level. Plus, with a plastic case, the heat simmered down to lukewarm levels. It might be different during a hot summer day, but the transition between summer to fall is a good time to have this phone.

Taken with the POCO M5

An impressive camera for its price

For a phone with an affordable price tag, the POCO M5 carries an impressive camera combination. Sporting a 50-megapixel main sensor and two 2-megapixel macro/depth sensors, the smartphone can deliver photos that are good enough for the ‘gram.

Taken with the POCO M5

Under bright to overcast lighting situations, photos offered substantial detail and contrast. In fact, it was enough to go up against my Pixel 6. Of course, it doesn’t do as much for less-than-stellar lighting conditions. Regardless, it does remarkably well for its price point.

For example, I took the phone to a live show. The photos were a delight. Although, if you zoom in enough, you can spot some pixelation. It doesn’t matter as much, especially since the photo itself is still impressive.

Taken with the POCO M5

Similarly, the phone does well enough for night shots. Taking photos required stable hands, of course, but the photos were decent. A well-lit photo at night is more than enough for a phone of this caliber.

Gaming all day

With a huge 5000mAh battery, the POCO M5 lasted more than a day. The battery does well for everyday use and some moderate gaming on the side. Further, I tried an all-day screen test with the phone. Despite being on for an entire day (that is, from 5AM to 10PM), the smartphone still had more than a quarter of its battery left.

Charging is standard. With a fast 18W charging standard, the phone filled up to 100 from 15 percent in around 90 minutes.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Coming in black, green, or yellow, the POCO M5 is available now starting at EUR 189 (going up to EUR 229 for the highest trim). For its price point, the new smartphone is a worthy purchase if you’re looking to game on a budget. And that’s without the additional frills you’re enjoying.

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Reviews

vivo Y35 review: Y series upgraded

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vivo Y35

We know that the Y series is vivo’s entry-level line of smartphones and is among their highest selling variants to date. So, it does feel confusing that the vivo Y35 still belongs in this category as a lot of its features already belong to a higher class. 

It has everything a Y series should be but also a lot to take it to the next level.

That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss as we talk more about the identity crisis this phone is having and why it actually is pretty good.

Specs

A quick recap of the specs before we proceed. The vivo Y35 is running on the Snapdragon 680 chipset with 8GB RAM plus 8GB of extended RAM, it also has a large internal storage of 256GB and is being powered by a 5,000mAh battery with a 44W Flash Charge.

Designed like a Y series and that means beautiful

vivo Y35

The way this phone is designed looks and feels almost exactly like vivo’s other entry-level offerings. It’s not necessarily a bad thing since their designs are recognizably attractive and are pretty well built.

With this one, the size feels slightly thicker and heavier on the hands. It can be both a blessing and a curse especially for people with bigger hands. I like that it feels a bit chunky. It makes it easier to grip though it also bulges a bit in my pants’ pocket.

vivo Y35

It’s commendable that for a relatively affordable phone, I feel proud to bring out even in sophisticated engagements. Contrasting the camera module’s dark gray mirror finish with the Dawn Gold colorway of the whole body is picture-perfect.

Plus, I greatly appreciate that they finally went with a matte textured back case which doesn’t attract smudges.

Responsive Display 

vivo Y35

If you place the Y35 side by side with other budget phones from vivo, you’ll probably think they’re all using the same screens. Most of them still have a chin and a dew drop front camera design. But on paper, most of them slightly differ. 

The one on the Y35 is a 6.58-inch, full HD+, IPS display but now boasts a 90Hz refresh rate. So it does feel a bit more responsive adding to its overall user experience.

vivo Y35

Given that this isn’t AMOLED, we can’t expect it to have the same vibrance of that kind. But at least the viewing angles are decent and colors are nicely saturated.

Outdoor usage may be a bit of a struggle but not to the point that it gets annoying.

Battery and Charging is its best feature

One of the highlights on the Y35 is its fast charging capabilities. vivo claims this phone can charge up to 70 percent in just 34 minutes. It’s quite unusual to experience in this category of smartphones.

Based on my personal test, the 44W Flash Charge on this was able to get a 20 percent increase in just ten minutes of charging. And from 15 percent, it took a whole hour and two minutes for it to get fully charged.

Not entirely the same as vivo’s claims but still remarkably fast. Especially if we consider that most entry-level phones do take more than two hours to get fully charged.

This means we can now change our overnight charging habit to just charging before we prepare ourselves for leaving the house.

vivo Y35

Battery performance was also fairly good. I managed to use this mostly on data connection, streaming a whole bunch of YouTube videos in a four-hour bus trip to Baguio and I ended the whole day still with 58 percent battery remaining.

That’s pretty decent for a 5,000 mAh battery if you ask me.

Built for Multi-Tasking 

vivo Y35

Aside from the large RAM and storage, there really isn’t much to go crazy about the Y35’s hardware and performance. Apps run more or less the same as other Snapdragon 680 powered phones. But the benefits of having more RAM is quite noticeable.

It can surely handle running apps side by side on multi-window mode but not absurdly responsive. It also manages to return to apps I have running in the background without having to wait for it to load all over again.

vivo Y35

I assume games may have also benefited from the large available RAM as Call of Duty: Mobile is able to run lag-free at very high settings with high FPS enabled. 

vivo Y35

But I feel that among the games I’ve tried, Genshin Impact had a more significant benefit from its specs. Despite being very demanding, the Y35 seemed pretty comfortable handling this game at its default setting with no noticeable slowdowns.

At medium setting, slowdowns did become evident but dropping a few settings to low made the game run at nearly its full speed. I even managed to configure some settings to a combination of high graphic options and this worked out pretty well, too.

Cameras that take Insta-worthy snaps 

vivo Y35

Like the display, I was also expecting the camera to be the exact same one that came with the Y35’s more affordable siblings. With 50MP for its main camera, 2MP bokeh shooter, 2MP macro camera and 16MP selfie camera, on paper, these do seem very similar.

But having the chance to use a lot of them, I can say that that isn’t the case. Image quality has improved but not so drastically.

 

 

 

 

It often gets the colors where I want them and looks Insta-worthy but so long as we manually adjust the exposure slider. Not doing so will mostly result in an overly exposed image which isn’t too appealing.

I noticed that it still has difficulty capturing details in background subjects like leaves of trees. However, I may belong in the minority who actually likes the look of its softness. It kind of reminds me of old digicams which make some shots feel nostalgic if that makes sense.

What I really liked was the ability to recover quickly after taking a shot. I think this could also be a product of its hardware specs and not the camera itself. Whatever it is, it helps ease shooting. The Y35 manages to snap at fast moving subjects allowing me to catch candid moments as it happens.

Is the vivo Y35 your GadgetMatch?

vivo Y35

Priced at PhP 14,999 as of writing, the vivo Y35 does seem to be pushing against the boundaries of the entry-level category. For just a little bit more, a lower mid-range phone isn’t too far off which would likely be better in most cases.

Having this consideration in mind, I think the Y35 would be an ideal fit for people eyeing a budget phone who are willing to stretch their pockets a bit for more features.

vivo Y35

It’s fast enough for daily tasks and games. and is capable of capturing the moment with its decent cameras. It’s also a fast and vibrant display, and best of all, it charges fast and won’t easily die down on you. Plus it also looks really nice, albeit with the notch design.

Basically, it’s a phone that gets the job done with a few extras here and there. Maybe vivo can consider calling this a Y series Plus or Pro? 

The vivo Y35 is available in Dawn Gold or Agate Black colors at their Shopee, Lazada, Tiktok Shop and vivo e-store and all vivo Concept stores nationwide.

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Accessories

Apple AirPods Pro 2 Review

Is it worth the upgrade?

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After years of waiting, Apple has finally updated their AirPods Pro from 2019.

The AirPods Pro 2nd Generation may look like its old predecessor, but it offers more than what its “unchanged” look.

There’s an upgraded H2 chip, better ANC, longer battery life, a charging case with speakers and MagSafe, and more!

But are these features worth the upgrade?

Or is it better for a first-time AirPods user to invest on the AirPods 3 instead?

Head over to our in-depth Apple AirPods 2 review to feed your curiosities.

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