Reviews

OPPO Reno3 Pro review: Disappointed but not surprised

It’s just a bit of everything

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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.

 

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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

Computers

LG UltraGear 25” Gaming Monitor review: Enough to get you started

Comes with key features for your first gaming PC build

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I’ve seen a ton of people purchase full gaming PC setups since the pandemic took center stage in our lives. I’m pretty sure a lot of these people spent the past few months saving every peso they could for it. Of course, I also did it with all the money I saved up and planned every purchase very carefully.

In getting your gaming PC build, one of the more important peripherals to consider is your monitor. Most people will tell you that any monitor is okay, but experts will say that you shouldn’t just get any monitor. Apart from color accurate and bright displays, your monitor should have a high enough refresh rate to keep up.

It’s exactly what the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor brings to the table, at least on paper. But is this worth checking out, especially for first time PC setup builders? Here’s a rundown of the specs:

It has a 23.6-inch TN FHD panel, with a 144Hz refresh rate

It comes with two HDMI ports and one DisplayPort

The design, on its own, is nothing spectacular

The LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor comes in a package you normally expect from most lightweight gaming monitors. A hardened-plastic enclosure covers the display, and the monitor even comes with a metal stand in gray and red accents. Upon unboxing, I found it relatively easy to set up and position alongside my PC setup.

Immediately, the first and only thing I noticed was the thick bezel surrounding the display. To be honest, it’s a relatively minor issue for me ever since other brands started reducing theirs. Although I would have appreciated a little more screen space, especially while playing games.

A display that meets expectations for the most part

Most gaming monitors come with high refresh rates to keep up during pressure situations. Fortunately, the LG UltraGear Gaming Monitor comes with a 144Hz panel which is more than enough. Also, it even sports a 1ms response rate so you’re able to stay at the top of your game. 

Most games I tried with this monitor performed with relative ease and no visible sign of image tearing. FPS games like CS:GO and Valorant, in my opinion, work best with this setup given that you can run these games on low-end setups.

Also, it’s quite bright and color accurate which is great for content creators. Although, in some cases, I felt that it didn’t handle dark color areas well. I tried to compensate by simply adjusting the brightness, but it didn’t do anything significantly different. At least it’s an anti-glare TN panel, so you don’t have to worry about the sun.

Comes with features that works depending on the other hardware

This monitor supports AMD’s FreeSync technology which further improves gameplay experience. Honestly, I felt this should be a standard for most gaming monitors — including those that support NVIDIA GSync. Also, there are other optimizations like Dynamic Action Sync (DAS) and motion blur reduction.

However, this monitor actually benefits you only if you’re currently rocking an AMD Radeon graphics card. Ideally, it would still work pretty well when you plug it to an NVIDIA card but expect some image tearing. It wasn’t a big issue for me since I could still apply the reduced motion blur and DAS.

Port selection for this monitor is more than enough for a normal PC setup. Two HDMI ports are available at your disposal, which is great if you want to use it for your consoles. The added DisplayPort provides more connectivity, especially since most graphics cards support it. Keep in mind though: if you plan to plug your console, don’t expect the 144Hz refresh rate.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For PhP 12,599 (US$ 257), the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor ticks all the necessary boxes. What you have is a high refresh rate monitor with good color accuracy, and fully optimized for gaming. Combined with a great selection of ports, this monitor is a great option for your first PC build.

However, if you have strict preferences for your monitor, this might not be what you’re looking for. If you’re not a fan of thick bezels or you’re more conservative with your money, I wouldn’t practically recommend this. Also, you wouldn’t be able to fully maximize its potential if you don’t own an AMD graphics card.

All things considered, it’s enough to get you started on your gaming PC setup. Even with cheaper alternatives out there, I still recommend you give this a shot.

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India

POCO M2 Pro review: A Redmi Note 9 Pro without ads

What’s the difference?

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With a new strategy in place, POCO announced the POCO X2 in the first quarter, and now, it’s back with another offering — the POCO M2 Pro. It’s an affordable offering that’s found a comfortable spot in India’s INR sub-15,000 price bracket. But, there’s a twist.

POCO made its debut with the POCO F1. It was a legendary phone because it did the unexpected — flagship-grade performance at an affordable price. Since then, POCO as a brand has been synonymous to aggressive pricing and top-notch specifications. However, the POCO F1 was launched in 2018 and a lot has changed since then.

For starters, POCO was a dormant brand throughout 2019 and made a comeback at the beginning of 2020. We expected a successor of its infamous first phone, but everything was going to change. POCO is now an independent brand that takes autonomous business and marketing decisions. To make it clear, Mi, Redmi, and POCO are three different teams right now.

If you look closer, the POCO M2 Pro is nothing but a rebranded Redmi Note 9 Pro. Furthermore, the 4GB+64GB entry-level option of both phones has the same price of INR 13,999 (US$ 186). So, what’s different about POCO’s offering? Why should this phone be your GadgetMatch?

A proven design that fits everyone

The Redmi Note 9 Pro series has a very ergonomic design that looks premium as well as sturdy. The quad-camera setup has a significantly larger bump but it gets covered perfectly with the in-box case. The rear sports Gorilla Glass 5 and underneath it is a diagonally-lined pattern. While the phone looks stunning, using it without a case isn’t recommended since it’s prone to smudges and micro scratches.

The rear is the only thing that physically differentiates the phone from Redmi Note 9 Pro. The USB port, volume rockers, fingerprint scanner, and speaker grille are from the same Redmi mold.

I don’t mind rebranded phones as long as they’re not yet available in the same market. If POCO wants to be taken seriously as an independent brand, it needs to stand on its own and bring out original offerings. Realme has done a much better job of publicly distancing itself from OPPO, even though it leverages the same supply chain.

A perfect display

It sports a 6.67-inch Full HD+ display with a tiny punch-hole cut-out that houses the front camera. Unlike the competing Realme 6, it doesn’t have a 90Hz panel and runs at 60Hz. However, considering the price, I wouldn’t consider this to be a con. There are barely any games that can leverage higher refresh rates and the phone is meant to be an all-rounder.

The screen has sufficient brightness and can be seen easily under direct sunlight. The colors look slightly over-saturated but it can be adjusted according to your preference. Being an LCD panel, it does a pretty good job of creating deeper blacks.

POCO Performance

The brand is known for its performance-centric phones and the legacy continues here with a Snapdragon 720G chipset. Any task you throw at it will be done without a glitch. My unit has 6GB RAM and it never slowed down or struggled to handle multiple apps at once. Being a power user, I often use Outlook, Twitter, Gmail, Microsoft Word, and WhatsApp in close proximity. Safe to say, it didn’t feel like I needed a better or more powerful chipset.

I don’t play a lot of games except for reviewing and PUBG is my first preference. The overall experience is smooth and hassle-free. Even at higher settings, the phone gets a little warm but there no visible frame drops. Although, the weight of the phone does get annoying after a while. Similarly, a heavy game like World of Tanks also gets through without any turbulence.

The phone ships with MIUI out-of-the-box and since the Redmi Note 9 Pro series also ships with the same chipset, software updates should drop-in seamlessly.

Powering the phone is a 5000mAh battery and I clocked a little more than seven hours of screen time on a full charge. It has support for 33W fast charging and takes around one hour and twenty-five minutes to fully charge.

Quad-cameras that’ll get anything done

The rear houses a quad-camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 5-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel sensor. We’ve seen this camera setup on a plethora of Xiaomi phones and it’s safe to assume the output is top-notch. Thanks to Xiaomi’s reach, the AI-assisted changes are accurate as well as satisfactory.

I mean to say, the algorithm knows where to work and how to produce pleasing pictures. Sometimes you may notice over-saturation in landscape pictures, but AI-mode can be switched off with a quick tap. The dynamic range is near-perfect while the overall tone is on the warmer side.

While daytime pictures are excellent, the primary sensor struggles in the dark. Shots can often be grainy or blurry if you’re not careful about being steady.

For the pros out there, a manual mode is available to tinker with the finer details. Portrait mode works flawlessly and works on better than expected on dogs too!

The display cut-out houses a 16-megapixel selfie camera and it’s flawless. Details are retained accurately and the focus is ultra-fast. This sensor also is tuned on the warmer side and comes with an optional beauty mode.

On the video side, it supports recording at up to 4K 30fps. Obviously, there’s no optical image stabilization. But, the electronic rendering is good enough and gets the job done.

No ads in MIUI

Yes, the phone runs on MIUI 11. No, it doesn’t have any ads.

This is the only visible change I can see between the POCO M2 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro. MIUI has a lot of customization and functionality, minus the learning curve. The phone is perfect for everyone can be used without any deep technical knowledge. Software support is stable and while there were a few bugs, the overall experience remained unhindered.

The most frequent complaint about MIUI is the ads. This phone won’t spam your notification area and this can be a relief for many. There are a few pre-installed apps, but they can be easily disabled. In a nutshell, the POCO M2 Pro offers a better user experience while retaining top-notch hardware. Lastly, instead of MIUI launcher, this phone has POCO launcher.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I’d recommend this phone without any buts. The display is immersive, performance is best-in-class, the cameras do a decent job, and the battery can easily last you a day. With MIUI, the uniform Xiaomi experience is brought back without its biggest con. Design is a personal preference and I’ve found both, the POCO M2 Pro, as well as the Redmi Note 9 Pro, be impressive.

For the consumers, this is a win-win situation. But, for the brand, it’s a mixed bag. POCO intended to move out of Xiaomi’s camp but hasn’t been able to do that efficiently this year. To become a truly independent brand, it’ll have to stop depending on the parent so much and create its own identity. Right now, the original POCO F1 fans are disappointed along with the current followers who expected a fresh offering.

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Reviews

Google Pixel 4a Unboxing & Review: Unbelievably Good?

A direct contender of the iPhone SE and OnePlus Nord

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Google’s ‘a'(ffordable) line-up may be long overdue because of the pandemic — but after several months of waiting, we finally have one on our hands.

Cheaper than last year’s US$ 399 Pixel 3a, the US$ 349 Pixel 4a might just be the most affordable flagship killer contender you can get over the 2020 iPhone SE and the OnePlus Nord.

But can the mid-tier specifications and less-fancy phone features justify its affordable price tag? Head over to our in-depth Pixel 4a review here.

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