Reviews

OPPO Reno3 Pro review: Disappointed but not surprised

It’s just a bit of everything

Published

on

Posh, chic, and regal. That’s how I saw OPPO’s new design language when it launched the Reno, Reno 10x Zoom, and Reno2 last year. I was astounded and found a deeper appreciation for the brand. It’s as if OPPO rebranded to something befitting a stylish and upscale market.

OPPO Reno Sunset Rose | Her GadgetMatch

So when OPPO introduced the Reno3 series late in December, you would think it was a plot twist meant to shock your senses and blow your mind. Unfortunately, It was disappointing.

Like déjà vu

The Reno3 Pro comes in a design that we’ve all seen before. Gradients, bold and stunning colorway, and a vertical, bumpy camera module similar to phones we’ve seen in the past few years.

While it’s refreshing to see a familiar face in a sea of stovetop- and washing machine-looking camera module designs, OPPO’s attempt was a bit disenchanting. The company failed to stick to the new design language they started. I had high hopes and I was disheartened. I should’ve never expected anything.

Despite all this, The Reno3 Pro isn’t that bad. Its lackluster design comes with a glass on its front panel, toughened by a corning Gorilla Glass. The back panel and its side frame are polycarbonates that feel like glass.

The phone is easy to grip, thanks to its curved back panel. Even though it’s big enough for my small hands, it’s still comfortable and secure to hold on to.

This particular unit I have comes in a lively colorway called Auroral Blue. Though it’s inspired by the Auroras, I find the color refreshing that it reminds me of the ocean. Particularly because I’ve been stuck at home for almost two months now. My beach trips were canceled, so I spent most of the days bathing in an inflatable pool or one hour in the shower.

Damn good screen

Another disappointment was the lack of Ingress Protection. I couldn’t fully enjoy watching Community on Netflix, or my favorite travel vlogs on YouTube while submerged in water. There’s this constant fear of dropping the phone — breaking some of its parts such as its screen and speaker.

But before you tell me how dumb I was for using a phone with no IP rating near water, let me tell you an open secret: I live my life on the edge and I like taking risks. Kidding aside, waterproof pouches and cases are useful in this situation.

Also, the screen was so damn good, it’s unfortunate if you won’t experience it in a situation you’re most comfortable at. The Reno3 Pro has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display, which is irresistible especially if you love binge-watching on Netflix. Its panel boasts intense brightness that I don’t even have problems using the phone even under crazy sunlight at noontime.

Moreover, its speakers were loud enough that I refused to connect it to my House of Marley wireless speakers. It’s just as loud as my Samsung Galaxy S20. Who needs a portable speaker when you have these phones as loud as megaphones?

Simple, quick, and easy-peasy

Using the OPPO Reno3 Pro was a piece of cake. With my life and my job, I’ve been accustomed to switching from one smartphone to another. This helped me determine which user-interface sucks the most, and ColorOS 7 isn’t one of them.

Navigating, customizing, and personalizing were easy, to say the least. I have to commend OPPO, ColorOS7 is definitely a step-up from previous versions. Although its swipe gestures aren’t on par with the Samsung Galaxy S20 — which is the best I’ve experienced so far.

Its button placements were a little bit confusing, too. I’m used to having the volume keys on the right, while the power button is on the left. In OPPO Reno3 Pro, it’s both on the opposite sides.

Fingerprint scanning and facial recognition were quick as well. It also has the best feature of all time: Dark mode!

The Reno3 Pro is fun to tinker with. There are nifty features you’ll enjoy exploring, and this phone is a good start if you want like tweaking things here or there. If the Reno3 Pro failed me in its aesthetics and design, it won me over with its easy-to-learn system and seamless navigation.

Performance isn’t its statement piece

If there’s one thing I don’t really like with the Reno3 Pro (aside from its design, of course), it’s the connectivity issues I encountered throughout my usage.

It takes a while to send messages on social apps like Messenger, Twitter, and Instagram. Compared to when I use the Galaxy S20 or even an older Huawei Mate 20 Pro, I find it frustrating that I had to restart the apps and the Reno3 Pro often to successfully send a message.

Although, performance isn’t really the statement piece that OPPO wears like a badge. The Reno3 Pro is running on MediaTek’s Helio P95 chipset, with 8GB RAM, and 256GB storage. With this power, I tempered my expectations so I won’t be frustrated with the frequent restarting of apps (and phone, on certain occasions). And no, having a higher ram and bigger memory doesn’t mean your phone will do well.

At the very least, it was able to run Ragnarok M: Eternal Love without lags and delays — only heating up.

Juice up on its summery heat

Playing games isn’t one of the best things you can do with the OPPO Reno3 Pro. Don’t get me wrong, the Reno3 Pro optimizes frame rate and touch sensitivity for better gameplay. I had a really great time playing with it.

Ragnarok M: Eternal Love can’t adapt a full screen with the OPPO Reno3 Pro

It’s just difficult to hold it for a long time due to excessive heat. Additionally, the battery drains fast, especially when you play games more often.

But if you’re only using the phone to chat, make calls, scroll on social media, browse the internet, play music, and watch your favorite shows and movies, the battery will last longer than you think it would.

With 4025mAh, the fully-charged phone lasted for 11 hours before dropping to 23 percent. Assuming you use the phone just like every average user.

If you’re out of juice, you don’t have to be patient for it to fully charge. In 30-minutes, I was able to power the battery from 23 percent to 87 percent. In less than an hour, I got it to 100 percent. That VOOC Flash Charge 3.0 is real!

Best selfie phone, so far

Last but not least, it’s time to talk about OPPO’s badge of honor — its cameras. Is the Reno3 Pro the perfect phone for selfie lovers and photography enthusiasts, just like its promise? Yes and no.

The OPPO Reno3 Pro has an obtrusive, dual punch-hole front camera — housing a 44-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel depth of field lens.

I have no qualms about its front camera, though it applies an excessive beautification even without the AI Beauty Mode. I realized the beauty of its selfie camera when I took a selfie at a time when I look exhausted after working out and feeling careworn after a four-hour sleep.

A lot of times, OPPO receives flak for the intensive beautification. But the key is to never use the AI Beauty Mode because “too much of anything is bad for you.” Sans the beauty mode, the Reno3 Pro still lets you take beautiful selfies.

In my defense, this is how I look whenever I’m fresh from the bath, or when I’m all prepped with concealers and primer before going to work. OPPO captures the look I was going for even without applying skincare and makeup.

That’s one thing I loved, especially since this lockdown has made me follow a less-intensive skincare routine. I relied more on this phone to help me feel good about myself, unlike the iPhone 11 Pro who made me feel bad with its super-detailed selfies.

To top it off, the Reno3 Pro is perfect for selfie-takers and selfie-lovers. There’s a lot of features to play around with, as long as you don’t use its AI Beauty Mode. Promise me you won’t.

A glimpse of someone’s humdrum life

Despite having a Quadcam setup, the photos I took with the Reno3 Pro seemed like a glimpse of someone’s humdrum life. In short, it’s dull and monotonous — just like this entire lockdown.

The Reno3 Pro has a 64-megapixel main camera, 13-megapixel telephoto lens, 8-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel mono lens. It’s also capable of 5x Hybrid Zoom and 20x Digital Zoom.

Honestly, I had more fun playing with the rear cameras for videos than photos. Though the videos I shot were a bit desaturated, I find it easier to color grade since it looks flat and dreary. Here’s a glimpse of my quarantine life, as told by the Reno3 Pro.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by mj (@marcusjucutan) on

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The OPPO Reno3 felt like a step back after seeing the marvelous Reno 10x Zoom and Reno2. For an upper midrange phone, there are other alternatives that can outclass the Reno3 Pro. It’s only a matter of preference and how you’re going to use the phone.

For what it’s worth, the Reno3 Pro is a good all-around phone for those who want to get things done. Those who’d love to have a bit of everything: Balanced power and speed, enough juice, awesome display, great selfies, decent shots, and be able to play every once in a while. Nothing excessive, but not entirely lacking.

The Reno3 Pro is available in Auroral Blue and Midnight Black. In Singapore, it retails for SG$ 749 (US$ 525) while in the Philippines, it retails for PhP 28,990 (US$ 575). It’s officially available through OPPO concept stores nationwide, e-commerce partners, and Smart via postpaid plans.

SEE ALSO: Content creator switches from iPhone 6s to OPPO Reno3 | OPPO Reno3 series pricing and availability in the Philippines

Gaming

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time review: Worth the 22-year wait

This should have been the proper sequel to the trilogy

Published

on

When Crash Bandicoot resurfaced in 2017, I felt utter joy and nostalgia at the same time. Even though Crash Bandicoot: Warped was the first Crash game I ever played, the franchise became a great part of my childhood. With the release of the N. Sane Trilogy, it now gave new players an opportunity to experience some hardcore platforming that most late 90s kids remember.

Earlier this year, they announced the arrival of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Activision, Vicarious Visions, Toys For Bob, and Beenox all came together to work on the trilogy’s “proper” platforming sequel. When I heard about this, I dropped everything and waited for as long as possible to get my hands on the game.

After finally playing, it’s honestly the Crash platforming sequel I had always wanted. There’s a big reason for that.

The original “Crash Bandicoot 4” just didn’t hold up well

See, before It’s About Time, there was actually another Crash Bandicoot dubbed as the fourth title: The Wrath of Cortex. It was released on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube back in 2001-2002, almost 3-4 years after the original trilogy. For this game, the story centered around the presence of Crunch Bandicoot, another bandicoot creation of the game’s main antagonist, Dr. Neo Cortex.

Crash in The Wrath of Cortex for the PlayStation 2

The game itself received relatively average reviews, with most people simply feeling like it was a downgrade from the original. I tried playing the game again recently, and by 2020 standards, it feels unpolished. Gameplay as a whole was fairly janky, the story just doesn’t seem to add up, and it’s just a carbon copy of Warped but more slippery.

Level design for Tornado Alley in The Wrath of Cortex

So when Activision and Vicarious Visions announced that another Crash Bandicoot 4 was coming out, I had hoped that it wouldn’t end up like Wrath of Cortex. And boy, was I ever relieved that it didn’t.

Taking the premise of Wrath of Cortex, but making it better

It’s About Time takes place directly after the events of Warped — specifically the secret ending of the game after getting all the collectibles. Essentially, Cortex and his crime partner, Dr. Nefarious Tropy decide to simply open time rifts across the continuum. Aku Aku, the all-powerful mask that protects Crash, senses the impending danger and alerts Crash about it.

The whole game takes you through different time periods, even going as far as more recent events in the Crash universe. You are tasked to awaken different Quantum Masks that will help you in your quest to stop Cortex and N. Tropy. I honestly thought that they did the masks thing better than Wrath of Cortex in this regard.

As you progress through each level, you face a ton of challenging platform segments and waves of enemies and death-inducing obstacles. Within every other time period, you have boss levels with major recurring characters from all other past Crash games. In essence, it tries to incorporate the classic Crash formula, but enhances the experience. 

Plus, you get to go on adventures as either Crash or Coco. In some cases, you even get to play as Tawna Bandicoot, Dingodile, and Cortex himself! 

Gameplay that’s as smooth and difficult as the N. Sane Trilogy

One of the main things I was looking for in It’s About Time was consistency. I wanted this new Crash game to remain consistent with the remastered trilogy in terms of gameplay, character movement, and relative learning curve. See, the original trilogy was not an easy set of games to get around, especially if it’s your first time playing.

For long time Crash fans like myself, I felt that this game was more pain-staking yet just as smooth to control as the trilogy. Crash keeps some of his skills that he earns from Warped like the Super Body Slam and Double Jump, which I thought were the two logical ones to keep. However, you’re going to need more than just those abilities since the game throws so many obstacles later on.

It’s a painful grind to finishing the game at 100% completion this time around. Instead of collection crystals, you collect gems from accomplishing certain tasks within each level. From breaking every box to not having more than three deaths, these would require several perfect playthroughs. Honestly, that’s just insanely difficult to accomplish, and I’m all for it!

The most vibrant and creative game design in any Crash game

The moment you start your adventure to N. Sanity Peak, you’re already greeted to the gorgeous and colorful level design. I felt that Toys For Bob took a page out of their work on the Spyro: Reignited Trilogy with all the colors for each level. As you progress through the game, you’ll have brief moments to just take all of that in.

In terms of overall level design, it is a big step up from the N. Sane Trilogy in my opinion. For the most part, it gives you a different variety of level styles you haven’t seen in the original trilogy. From vine-swinging to rail-riding, the developers went all out to give you a different Crash game all together.

Furthermore, they even managed to sneak in similar obstacle patterns from the previous games. Something silly like timing challenges or platforming segments are just a few examples of these. I felt that these were put in here to cater to the long-time or hardcore Crash platformer fans.

Great deal of fan service and easter eggs

Apart from the sneaky insertion of familiar segments from older games, they also added a ton of small details referencing other games, as well. I mean, I wouldn’t call the giant Spyro float or the Spyro inflatable by the beach small details. However, the developers really threw in a ton of easter eggs.

Because I took my sweet time trying to get through every level, I noticed most of these the moment they came up. Most levels are sprawling with references to the purple dragon, or characters from older Crash games like Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure. They even went all out to promote Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled in one time area.

Even if you’ve never played any Crash game before, you’d dart your eyes at them. I think Toys For Bob and Beenox made it a point to spoil you with all of these references. 

How things should have been

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time served its true purpose as the official fourth chapter of the Crash universe. It takes the core Crash formula and throws it into a brand new world, with a plot that makes sense in the grand scheme of things. I’d like to think that this whole game is just much more enhanced than the original trilogy all in all.

From the fantastic visuals to the difficult gameplay style, It’s About Time goes for an authentic yet novel approach. It will make you feel a great deal of awe while you constantly try to die less than 20 times every stage. It sticks to the brutal platforming mechanic it’s known for, while improving the experience.

I can honestly say that the absurdly long 22-year wait for a sequel to the trilogy was worth it. If you want to experience rage and fulfillment all in one game,  I highly suggest you pick this up.

Continue Reading

Gaming

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel review: Raw gaming power

Everything you expect from a gaming smartphone

Published

on

Legion Phone Duel

One look at the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel and you know right away that it’s made for people who hardcore want to play. But smartphones are for more than just gaming and that balancing act is what Lenovo tried to achieve.

The company has an interesting messaging on why it’s named “Duel”. It’s mostly on how it was built, but it’s also about striking a balance between work and play. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first unbox the phone.

The box looks fantastic and is easier to figure out than its primary competition.

Legion Phone Duel

Opening it up reveals the Legion Phone Duel. A mechanical door opening sound effect plays every time you open the box. 

Cheated a little bit here. The phone will be wrapped with the usual plastic protection when you first open it up.

Digging deeper into the box you’ll find the massive power brick with two USB-C ports for dual charging. More on that later.

Elsewhere inside the box is USB-C to 3.5mm audio jack, a sim tray ejector tool, and the user guide.

It also comes with a plastic case for “some” protection. It snaps on the phone any which way as part of the dual, symmetrical design.

Taking a closer look at the phone, at the back you’ll find Legion’s slogan: Stylish outside. Savage inside.

How well does it play? 

Let’s jump right into the gameplay. To launch games you have installed, the phone has the Legion Realm. It’s the gaming hub where you can customize how much of its combination of specs — Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus and up to 16GB RAM — will be used for your gameplay session.

Funny thing is, it doesn’t seem to know exactly which apps are games or not. Upon firing it up the first time, it incorrectly identified Skype, Guitar Tuna and VSCO as gaming apps. You can, of course, manually take out and add apps, but this is a software kink that has to be fixed in an update.

Speaking of software kink, the Legion Phone Duel is built to go on landscape mode even on the home screen. But every time I try to enable auto-rotate, the screen kind of glitches for a second. It’s not that big of a deal but is worth mentioning.

Alright. Let’s jump in for real.

Call of Duty: Mobile

Legion Phone Duel

This is the game that I spend the most time with. On any given day, I would fire up a quick match when I need to step away from work for a while. I got pretty much the exact same sensations when I first played Call of Duty: Mobile on the ROG Phone 2.

The 144Hz screen refresh rate is smooth AF. It almost feels like you have an edge over the other players. Moving around and aiming the crosshair at my targets was easier.

This being a first-person shooter also really takes advantage of everything the phone has to offer. The shoulder buttons feel amazing and responsive. With this, you’ll be racking up kills in no time.

Genshin Impact

This is the game that I wish I could spend more time on. I typically don’t enjoy playing Action-RPG types on smartphones, but the combination of the phone’s raw power and stunning display along with the game’s design and gorgeous visuals made this such a fantastical experience.

Would like to note, though, that this is also the title where I experienced the most level of heating. It was nothing alarming, though and it mostly happened during days when it was also unbearably humid.

League of Legends: Wild Rift

Honesty hour again. For this game, I only really played the tutorial part — which I thought it handles better than Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. I personally get no kick playing these types of games, but if this is your jam, know that it looks great and plays really well on the Legion Phone Duel.

Asphalt 9 

This is the standard game for testing/playing racing games. The last time I played this though was on a budget tablet and I was pleasantly surprised at how good the game looks and plays on a high-end device.  Again, same satisfying experience all throughout.

Injustice 2

This is my go-to for trying fighting games, but like Action-RPG titles, I prefer to play fighting games on devices where I can button mash. That said, this game had the most noticeable graphical jump for me. I just don’t remember it looking this good on the other devices where I played it.

Delivers on gaming

As a gaming smartphone, the Legion Phone Duel impresses. All the design decisions that went into making this a truly satisfying gaming experience hits all the right spots.

The Dual Shoulder Controls with Dual Haptics feel great. The Legion assistant app is easy to access in-game and doesn’t feel intrusive. And it has just the right width and heft that won’t wear you out during extended gaming sessions.

The Dual front-firing speakers are okay. They’re great on a phone but since I regularly use HiFi audio accessories, it was easy to detect that it’s not able to register certain higher frequencies.

Fret not though, the Legion Phone Duel supports all kinds of HiFi audio format. If you have the gear for it, you’ll enjoy this even more.

Accessories? 

Lenovo says the Legion Phone Duel was built only as a phone in mind. With that, it doesn’t come with any special Legion-branded accessories at launch,

However, it is compatible with other more universal accessories. And if you have a keyboard and more, or another controller lying around, you should be able to connect the phone with the right kind of dock.

Weak point: Cameras 

The hardware is present: 64MP main camera and 16MP wide angle.

Even the design and camera position is thoughtful for what it’s trying to be. But the results are… well, they need improvement.

Some photos look like they have some sort of filter.

But every so often you will get a few good shots.

Be careful about shooting vertically, though as you might end up with something like this.

It’s decent indoors with a fair amount of lighting. 

But it really struggles at night. 

Occasionally, you’ll get something decent.

Up front is a 20MP Pop-up camera. 

Legion Phone Duel

It’s steady. Selfies are about as hit and miss as the rear cameras. You also get this nifty dual shot feature. 

But I used it more on a few video calls. It’s wide angle and captures a lot. Quality-wise, it’s decent. Better than any webcam on a laptop. 

Dual Charging 

Another dual aspect is charging. Instead of a single power cell, the Legion Phone Duel has two 2,500mAh situated on the sides of the phone as you hold it horizontally.

It also has two USB-C ports that you can use at the same time when juicing the phone up.

The results I got are as follows: 

  • Started “dual” charging at 10%
  • Got to 100% in 1:12:25
  • Started single charting at 43%
  • Got to 100% in 49:34

Battery life is around what you expect. On a regular day where you’re doing work and are just browsing and playing during breaks, you won’t need to top-up overnight.

But on days where you do nothing but play, expect to run it dry twice as fast than on a regular day.

Dual looks, other things of note

Like any other Android phone, you can customize the Lenovo Phone Duel depending on your preferences. For its part, Lenovo has a selection of default wallpapers that look hardcore gamer and casual user.

Legion Phone Duel

As a media device, this phone is also fantastic. The 6.65” FHD+ AMOLED Display is such a treat to the eyes. That’s true whether you’re watching K-Pop videos on Youtube.

Or perhaps catching up on your favorite Netflix series.

The display is also great even when you’re just casually browsing on social media.

Doubling down on its “dual” approach, the phone (In the Philippines at least), is available in only two variants.

  • Blazing Blue — 16GB+512GB
  • Vengeance Red — 12GB+256GB

Asked why this was the case, Lenovo channeled their inner Yes or Yes Mina saying it’s to make the choice more simple for the buyers. It will be available in all authorized resellers by November 1, 2020.

Is Legion Phone Duel your GadgetMatch?

Lenovo has a few things to fix on the software end. The hardware, though, is fantastic. As a gaming smartphone, the Legion Phone Duel won’t leave you wanting.

It has the raw power to play just about any mobile game. The display is gorgeous with a speedy response time. The front-firing speakers are good on their own but paired with HiFi audio accessories, and you’re in for quite an immersive treat.

Legion Phone Duel

It has the natural shortcomings of a first generation gaming phone — the photos just aren’t there yet. However, it has more to do with Lenovo’s software processing more than anything. With a few software updates, I don’t see how this can’t improve.

But to give a truly final verdict, we’re still missing one key component. Pricing. Price and bundles (if any) will be revealed on October 24, 2020 at the Legion launch in this year’s Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS).

We’ll hold off a final verdict until then and will update this space once the pricing is final.

Continue Reading

Reviews

OnePlus 8T Unboxing and Review

It’s more than just a design change

Published

on

A six-month lineup refresh isn’t nearly ideal to most Android brands but OnePlus is back at it again with a new smartphone!

The new OnePlus 8T offers more than just a design change. Performance will still be fast and snappy thanks to maxed-out internals, but the newer camera system is something most loyalists might like — or hate.

With the recent releases of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, Google Pixel 5, and even the newest Apple iPhone 12 mini, will OnePlus be able to justify its stand of offering the 8T at $50 more over the cheaper US$ 699 contenders?

Watch our OnePlus 8T unboxing and review by clicking this link.

Continue Reading

Trending