Hands-On

OPPO Reno 2F: All about the camera

Power isn’t really its strong point

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When OPPO killed the F series, we were introduced to the Reno earlier this year. A few months later, the Reno has been succeeded and in its lineup, an affordable version was launched, too.

Meet the Reno 2F. Earlier, rumors circulated about its price being too much for its specifications. Now that it has launched, let’s take a look at whether the price is really justified.

Here’s the Reno 2F in its full glory

The right side has the power button and card tray…

… while the left side has the volume rocker

The bottom houses a 3.5mm headphone jack, primary microphone, a USB-C port, and the phone’s speaker grilles

Its top accommodates the pop-up selfie camera and a secondary microphone

On the back, you can find the quad-camera setup along with the O circle up top and LED flash

OPPO ensured the Reno 2F — as part of the Reno lineup — speaks the Reno’s design language despite it being a toned-down version. It looks classy and premium, especially with its colors shifting when hit by light at a certain angle.

Power isn’t its strong point

On paper, the Reno 2F isn’t that promising. The Reno 2F prides itself with curved edges, a 6.5″ full-screen AMOLED display, and a Corning Gorilla Glass protection.

Taken out of the box, it runs ColorOS 6.1 based on Android 9 Pie. On the inside, it has an 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, similar to how most phones in the same price tag back their internals. Additionally, there’s a MicroSD slot that can handle up to 256GB of additional storage.

It’s also powered by MediaTek Helio P70 and runs a Mali-G72 MP3 graphics card. Furthermore, it boasts of a 4000mAh battery capable of 20W fast charging through VOOC Flash Charge 3.0. Moreover, the Reno 2F includes an under-display fingerprint scanner.

Processor alone, the Reno 2F is losing compared to its competitors and in the midrange bracket. But where the phone truly shines is its quad-camera setup.

All about storytelling

Nowadays, it’s important to have a camera that captures all the moments you encounter in life. We’ve built an age where storytelling is a must whenever we upload our content on social media. The Reno 2F may lack the power expected in its bracket, but it compensates with its cameras.

The Quad camera setup houses a 48-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 2-megapixel monochrome camera, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Its motorized pop-up camera accommodates a 16-megapixel single camera. The front and rear cameras are capable of Full HD video recording at 30fps.

Now while it sounds good reading about its camera setup, take a look at how these cameras really perform.

Decent shots, balanced colors

In daylight, the Reno 2F is excellent in capturing photos. Even in poor lighting conditions such as yellow lights found indoors, the Reno 2F processes it differently after you’ve taken a shot. It balances the color correctly, which might be difficult if you’re aiming for dramatic and colored shots. But then again, there are editing apps which you can use to get the look you’re going for.

But if there are cases where you’d rather see how accurately it balances the color, the photo above is exactly the way I saw it. A wall decor on top of bricks lit in all its purple glory. Compared to other cameras I’ve tested before, there’s always a cool or warm tint added after the photo was processed.

Even inside cafes and bars filled with too much yellow light that might make your photos look warm, the Reno 2F was able to minimize the tone so it looks aesthetically pleasing. And even in busy backgrounds, the Reno 2F created proper depth as seen in my Maple Vanilla Cold Brew. Of course, this was taken with just the auto mode because portrait mode sucks.

Portrait-perfect?

It took several tries to achieve a shot that satisfies me using the portrait mode. As someone who’s not a fan of portrait mode due to its imperfect cutting out skills, the Reno 2F created an excellent cutout, especially for a midrange phone. Of course, we still need more time to test its portrait mode and that’s for another story.

For now, I’m pleased with how smartphones are making an effort in perfecting the portrait mode. Until then, I’ll still be iffy about it.

Go closer

The Reno 2F’s 2x zoom is perfect when you don’t want to move closer to capture the shot you’re aiming for. Case in point: I love bicycles and benches, and I figured it’s going to be a pretty subject. I was carrying a heavy backpack, along with a tripod, which made me lazy to move around. Using the 2x zoom made it easier for me to capture my shot without exerting any effort.

Choose your perspective

We are blessed to have the three important modes in a smartphone on this price range. The Reno 2F lets you capture ultra wide angle shots, a regular shot in Auto mode, and take closer shots up to 5x zoom.

Beautiful in wide

Wide angles are my favorite, especially when I’m taking landscape and architectural photos. The Reno 2F’s ultra wide angle mode is fun to play around with.

Night mode vs Auto

Sitting (and feeling) like a king, I had this photo taken with a wide angle lens which uses an f/2.2 aperture. Curious to see if night modes are getting any better, I took a comparison photo with and without night mode.

If you take a look at the photos, I’d prefer auto if it meant I need to share the photo urgently with my friends and families. The photo taken with night mode is far from perfect, but it opens an avenue for editing and post-processing. When everything is lit, it’s the best time to tone it down, apply your aesthetics, and own the photo.

Toned-down selfies

Selfies are decent when it’s not in beauty mode. Using the auto mode, you get an accurate color balance on your selfie. Applying the portrait mode on your selfie to blur your background adds a green tint to your photo.

Beauty modes are here to stay, but you have an option to turn it off. OPPO boasts of having a smart skin tone recognition which adjusts your skin tone based on the ambient lighting. However, it’s not enough to convince me to use a feature that wipes away my face and makes me look like a doll.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The OPPO Reno 2F is difficult to recommend, especially for buyers looking for a value smartphone. The only advantage of the Reno 2F is its powerful cameras that even I, a flagship lover, like.

 

If camera is a priority especially when you love uploading in social media to death, then you might want to give this phone a try. Either way, you can just get a mirrorless camera if photography is all you care about.

For those interested to buy this smartphone, it’s priced at PhP 19,990 (US$ 389). It’s available in two colors: Sky White and Lake Green. The Reno 2F is now available in OPPO stores nationwide.

SEE ALSO: OPPO Reno 2 review: On the right track

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy M31: How long does a 6000mAh battery lasts?

We took the phone out for a spin!

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Having long-lasting device is a must when you need to stay connected.  When Samsung proudly introduced the Galaxy M31 with a  6,000mAh battery, it’s like god heard my woes. No more reliance on power banks and hogging wall sockets!

But how long does a 6000mAh battery last, especially for someone who’s overly attached to his smartphone? To find the answer, we fully charged a Galaxy M31 to see if it will last more than my ex-flings (or a day, in this case).

Hour 00: Making you mine

It was 2:20 PM when I took the fully charged Galaxy M31 to finish setting it up, and personalize it as my new daily driver for god knows how long. If you’re familiar with Samsung’s One UI 2.0, navigating the phone is a breeze.

I installed my essential apps — particularly Spotify — and spent at least an hour and a half to finish personalizing the phone. It was almost four in the afternoon when I decided to take a nap, with the battery currently sitting at 96 percent.

Hour 02: Vibing with your quirks

Thirty minutes later, I woke up from incessant sweating caused by a vexatious, humid atmosphere. When I checked the phone, I wasn’t surprised to see it drop to 95 percent. After all, Spotify was still playing on the background. I started prepping up to take a bath while dancing to “Mamma Mia” (I do hope youngins still know this classic).

Most of my Sundays are usually spent doing different hobbies, but having to test a phone’s battery life derailed my perfectly laid up weekend plan.

In lieu of doing things that feed my soul, I watched The Half Of It on Netflix and played Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in between supper, hourly snacks, skincare, and prepping myself to sleep.

Hour 08: Quarter good

Even with an annoying notch, watching and playing on a Super AMOLED screen is still a treat. I’m accustomed to using flagship smartphones, but the Galaxy M31 packed a punch for a midrange phone.

It’s powered by an Exynos 9611 chipset (which caused some heating), and a 6B RAM, and 128GB internal storage. A hiccup-free experience is guaranteed!

It was 10:10 PM when I turned the Wi-Fi off so I can sleep peacefully. The battery currently sits at 76 percent.

Hour 15: Staying strong

My nights are constantly haunted by my crushing regrets. In between interrupted periods of sleep, the phone’s battery sat at 75 percent. I decided to get out of the bed around 5 in the morning, planning a full day ahead.

I started catching up with news while hydrating myself with lemon water. Afterward, I opened my favorite app — Nike Training Club — to perform morning stretches. It offers quick, guided workouts for different purposes: strength, endurance, mobility, and flexibility.

Before I start my workout, I brought along my Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Fit E. If you’re deep into Samsung’s ecosystem, you’ll be disappointed with the unavailability of Galaxy Buds’ plugin, so no wireless listening for you. Although, you can rely on the Galaxy M31’s loudspeakers. Thankfully, the phone still connects seamlessly with my Galaxy Fit E.

At 6:25 AM, the battery dropped to 70 percent after conducting my morning routine. Do note that Spotify is constantly playing, even when I’m not actively using my phone. (Life without music sucks.)

Hour 17: Picture-perfect memories

It was almost seven in the morning when I started shooting a friend’s baked goods. As I sung to Taylor Swift’s “Death by a Thousand Cuts”, I let myself have fun using the Galaxy M31’s quad-camera setup.

I wrapped up around 7:19 AM with a 67 percent battery life. I took a bath and drove to Starbucks to get my favorite cold brew. Along the way, I took some selfies and snaps and uploaded them to Instagram Stories.

Hour 20 to 28: The last hurrah

I was back at my desk around 10 AM and started my daily grind. The phone sat at 43 percent after heavy and constant usage. I pulled my laptop and started working. Even with a bigger screen, I still used my phone to respond to messages, moderate social media pages, and watch on Netflix while eating.

The phone’s battery dipped to 15 percent at 6:48 PM, when my shift was about to end. To my astonishment, the Galaxy M31 lasted more than 28 hours on a single charge.

I charged the device at 7:08 PM and left it while I had dinner, took a bath, and did some house chores. It took at least three hours to fully charge the device from 15 to 95 percent, using its 15W fast charging adapter via USB-C.

On a side note, the Galaxy M31’s battery is such a rocker when left on standby mode. On a Tuesday afternoon, I left a fully charged Galaxy M31 in a safe. I checked back Saturday afternoon, and I was surprised to see its battery dipped from 100 percent to 33 percent.

Is it your GadgetMatch?

Summing it up, the Galaxy M31 is a capable and dependable midrange smartphone. It offers reliable performance with a battery that can keep up with you for more than a day. If you’re a power user looking for an affordable handset with no bells and whistles, this one is for you.

The Galaxy M31 is currently available in Black and Blue and retails for PhP 13,990 (US$ 283). It’s online-exclusive and will be available for purchase at Samsung’s Online store.

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realme X3 SuperZoom: A potential flagship killer

It all depends on the pricing

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I wrote about realme being a true disruptor and they have a chance to continue on that path with the realme X3 SuperZoom.

On paper, this phone screams flagship.

realme x3 SuperZoom

Display 6.6-inch Ultra-smooth FHD+ display

120Hz refresh rate

Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+
RAM + ROM 12GB + 256GB
Battery 4200mAh

30W Dart Flash Charge

Rear cameras 64MP Ultra high-resolution wide angle

8MP Ultra-wide angle

8MP Periscope

2MP Macro

Selfie cameras 32MP Main

8MP Ultra-wide

Right off the bat, you’ll notice two things that are present in most 2020 flagships that this phone doesn’t have. One is support for 5G, and the other is wireless charging.

However, those are two features that many people might consider icing on an otherwise perfectly tasty cake. Both 5G and wireless charging are nice to have, but I wouldn’t call them pillar features at this point in time.

Flagship performance

I had a blast using this phone for the past week since setting it up. Having used midrange phones that didn’t offer a higher screen refresh rate for a while and then jumping back to a phone with a 120Hz screen refresh rate, you can certainly tell the difference.

I cannot stress enough how smooth and fast everything feels. Browsing, swiping, toggling from app to app, it all felt seamless and speedy on the realme X3 SuperZoom.

To date, I’ve only used three phones with this feature — the Galaxy S20 Ultra, Find X2 Pro, and the ROG Phone 2. Now, the realme X3 SuperZoom joins that list. That’s pretty good company.

In fact, that Snapdragon 855+ and 120Hz screen refresh rate combo was one of the main highlights of the ROG Phone 2. Naturally, I tried a little bit of gaming on the realme X3 SuperZoom.

I played Call of Duty Mobile for the first time since reviewing the ROG Phone 2. While the performance is largely the same, the experience is a tad bit different.

Not entirely “flagship feel”

This one’s harder to explain. There are certain premium phones that just scream premium owing to a combination of things — the phone’s overall feel, a certain heft, looks, and performance.

While the X3 SuperZoom knocks it out of the park in the performance department, it falls just a tad bit short in the other departments. But I’d like to emphasize that this isn’t an entirely bad thing at all.

The phone — especially the Arctic White variant that I have — looks stunning. The front and back are made with glass, but a closer inspection will show that the sides are made with plastic.

Unlike phones that are north of PhP 40,000 or around US$ 800, it doesn’t have that wholistic glass feel, premium heft, and overall “it” factor. But that’s okay, because it’s not trying to compete with those flagships in that department.

Focusing on what matters

That “flagship feel” is almost an abstract concept and is truly reserved for most premium flagship phones. It’s a luxury.

This brings us back to what I think is the overarching theme of the realme X3 SuperZoom, and perhaps the theme of most realme smartphones —  flagship features for less.

One of those flagship features are the cameras. You’ve already seen the specs up top, so now here’s a quick look at the zoom features. The samples below only go as far as 10X Zoom — which I think is the optimal zoom on this phone.

It can go as far as 60X Zoom, but as I mentioned in previous reviews, the max zoom capacity on these phones isn’t necessarily their best.

I also like the color and detail it produces. Here’s a photo under good daylight.

This one’s indoors with a wide window light source.

While this one is taken at night.

There are a lot more features to explore which we will try to do so in the full review.

Flagship killer? 

There’s a lot going for the realme X3 SuperZoom. Its performance, looks, and camera capabilities are all top-notch. The realme UI — which is unsurprisingly reminiscent of ColorOS 7.1 — is clean AF.

There’s still some bloatware that you can easily tuck in the app drawer, but overall, it adds to the smooth and fast experience with a clean look and a ton of customization options.

In India, the price of this phone has been revealed to be INR 32,999 or US$ 436. That’s roughly PhP 22,000 BUT realme Philippines has been careful to point out that due to “local tax and tariffs,” the pricing will likely be different.

The launch and pricing announcement is happening on July 9 2020, iff they’re able to keep this below PhP 30,000, then we might just have a strong flagship killer contender.

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Hands-On

OPPO A92: The A9 2020 in a different skin

Makes you think it’s new

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There’s nothing particularly striking about the OPPO A92. In many aspects it’s… just right. The battery performance is stellar, and ColorOS 7.1 is in the running as one of my favorite Android skins. Everywhere else, it’s just solid.

It might seem underwhelming on paper, but if you think about it, it’s practically right in line with what you ought to expect from a smartphone at this price. Anything else that goes beyond this is a bonus.

Here’s a quick look at the specs:

OPPO A9 2020

Display

6.5” IPS LCD

Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 665

RAM + ROM

8GB + 128GB

Cameras

Quad rear (48MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP)

Punch hole selfie (16MP)

Battery

5,000mAh

Unlock

Side-mounted fingerprint scanner

Other connections

USB-C, 3.5mm jack

To me, this represents the baseline of what you should expect from a midrange smartphone. Nothing too fancy, nothing gimmicky, just the right amount of performance to get you through whatever it is you need to get through.

Solid, steady performance

I used the phone for roughly a week. Coming from flagship smartphones, I can definitely feel the difference but it still did what I needed it to do.

Browsing social media and jumping from Facebook, to Twitter, and then Instagram, and then back to Twitter is relatively smooth. There was no significant slow down but, as I’ve mentioned, if you are coming from a flagship you will notice a difference. There’s a bit of a drag, but it’s negligible for the most part.

I didn’t really do a lot of mobile gaming on the phone save for a few Asphalt 9 races. Just like everything about this phone, the experience is… okay.

I did have some trouble when the things on screen I needed to press were located near the edge. The phone just didn’t respond right away and it caused mild stress on my part. Told OPPO about this and it might be an isolated case with the unit I was lent.

Is it really a binge-watch machine?

The short answer is yes. We partnered with OPPO upon the phone’s launch and our talking point is how this phone can probably last longer than you during binge-watch sessions.

With a 5,000mAh battery and no exorbitant features to eat-up that power, the phone does last long. In this video (which I will also reluctantly add in this article), I noted how I didn’t charge the phone after an overnight binge-watch test. I used it sparingly over the next three days and it still didn’t run out of juice.

I can confidently say this will probably get you to a day and a half, even with heavy usage.

That UI is so damn clean

Other than Samsung going from TouchWi to OneUI, ColorOS’ journey from an iOS-wannabe to embracing everything about Android has been one of my favorite Android skin transformations.

There’s still a fair amount of bloatware and an annoying AppMarket, but everywhere else, ColorOS 7.1 is clean, extremely customizable, and just smooth to use and navigate.

You can pick the icon shape and style, and dark mode can even force apps that don’t have a dark mode yet to, well, go dark. It’s still a pretty shaky execution but they do a better job than vivo’s FunTouchOS. That’s at least true for the forced dark mode on the Facebook app.

Is it really an upgrade from the OPPO A9 2020?

This is a rather tricky question to answer. In terms of succession, yes, this is a follow-up to the OPPO A9 2020, but the only real differences are its weight, design. Even the weight part is nearly negligible with OPPO A9 2020 at 195g and OPPO A92 at 192g.

Some significant changes though are the fingerprint scanner location (side-mounted on the OPPO A92 vs rear on the OPPO A9 2020) and the selfie camera (punch hole on OPPO A92 vs waterdrop on OPPO A9 2020).

Side-mounted fingerprint scanner/power button

Otherwise, you get the same quad camera setup (48MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP), the same selfie camera (16MP), the same processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 665), and the same configuration (8GB + 128GB). They even share the same launch pricing (PhP 15,990 or US$320).

For the most part, it’s the same phone under a different skin. If you liked the look of the OPPO A9 2020, then go for that one as it should be cheaper now. Personally, I think that design had more of an identity.

The OPPO A92 exists to create the illusion that after only six months, the company might have something new to offer — which isn’t the case. It’s like your ex coming back dressed differently. But deep inside, it’s just the same person.

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