Reno5 Reno5

Hands-On

OPPO Reno5: Ideal upper midranger

It’s a stellar overall package for its price

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OPPO’s Reno line has slowly carved out an identity as somewhat of an affordable premium smartphone. Priced at around half of what flagships today cost but offering about two-thirds of the features, the OPPO Reno line has the makings of the ideal upper midranger, and the Reno5 fits that description to a T.

How it looks

The Reno5 (both the 4G and the 5G variants) come in either Galactic Silver or Starry Black. The Black has a more traditional glass finish, thereby being more magnetic to fingerprints and smudges, while the Galactic Silver has a frosted matte finish making it more palatable if you don’t like using a protective case.

Reno5

The Galactic Silver Reno5 is flashier. The color kind of shifts depending on how light hits it. If you’re into phone finishes that catches the eye, this is totally the way to go.

Button placements are pretty standard. On the right hand side is the power button while the volume buttons are on the left. At the bottom you’ll find the speaker grille, USB-C port, and 3.5mm jack (nice).

Reno5

At around 180g and with these dimensions (159.1 x 73.4 x 7.9 mm) with a 6.4-inch display, the Reno5 sits very close to my personal sweet spot in terms of overall smartphone size. It’s a little too light to my liking but it never feels fragile.

The ‘Oxygenation’ of ColorsOS

There’s been some buzz about how OnePlus — a sister company of OPPO under the BBK electronics umbrella — is becoming more and more like OPPO. What’s getting lost in all that noise is how OPPO is turning into OnePlus just as much as the latter is being ‘OPPO-fied.’

This is most evident in ColorOS 7.2. From its cluttered and bloatfull past, the UI skin that OPPO layers over Android has gotten more breathing room letting more oxygen come through. The customizations available run deep — everything from light vs dark mode, the shape and size of the icons, to the accent color of the settings menu.

Also present are the gesture shortcuts that longtime OnePlus fans will be familiar with like drawing a V to open the flashlight, O to open the camera, and double tap screen to wake. These are all OxygenOS staples that have found their way to OPPO and sometimes other Android skins too.

Some purists or overly zealous brand supporters might dismiss this as blatant copying, but is it really that big an issue especially when these are all quality of life improvements no matter how subtle they may be?

All things considered, ColorOS is now overall more appealing thanks in large part to applying design decisions first applied on OnePlus’s OxygenOS.

OLED, 5G, and Snapdragon 765G

This section is probably the least contentious about this phone. Its display, performance, and promise of next gen mobile connectivity work exactly as advertised. The 6.4-inch OLED display has a 90Hz refresh rate. It’s nice and smooth with the deep blacks typically found on OLED displays. It could use a bit more brightness when under intense daylight, but it’s in no way unusable under such circumstances.

The 5G variant will cost you a little more and it’s not at all a bad deal considering most especially if you live or frequent areas with 5G coverage. We used the OPPO Reno5 as a hotspot hub for half a day and it did not feel at all like we were on mobile hotspot.

Shifting talk over to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765g SoC, this seems to be the best-performing midrange chip. It won’t leave you wanting in terms of general smartphone use. We didn’t use it a lot for gaming on this particular handset but previous experience dictates it’s pretty darn good for mobile gaming as well.

Battery life is also pretty straightforward. Standby time is great and the 4300mAh will last you a day on moderate usage. That goes down to around five hours when used primarily for gaming and with 5G connection.

Fun with the cameras

Reno5

The Reno5 sports a quad-camera system: 64MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth. But all the fun really happens in the software sid of things.

It still features OPPO’s fun AI Color Portrait mode that isolates the subject from the background by draining the color out of the background and putting the subject front and center in full color.

Reno5

This same feature also works on the 32MP selfie camera.

Reno5

Even more exciting, this feature is now also available in video mode so there are more ways for you to have fun with it.

Another addition is the Night Flare Portrait that captures your subject in a nice stylized night shot filled with color and creamy bokeh.

Reno5

More than just portraits

Naturally, the cameras along with the AI engine behind its imaging works not only for these fun and funky portrait images and videos. As a standard shooter for documenting your daily life, it’s more than reliable. Check out these samples:

A nice meal for lunch

Naturally, save room for dessert

Ultra wide. Take stroll after downing some delicious food

 

Capture things in good detail

Snap a quick selfie

 

Or ask someone to take a quick portrait photo

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The easy answer is yes. The OPPO Reno5’s overall package is the ideal upper-midranger. There’s a lot of fun to be had with its camera features, it looks great, and performs just about as good as any phone in its price range.

Reno5

It also doesn’t hurt that in the Philippines, OPPO went out of its way to make sure it can be had in may different ways including through TelCos and via installment basis.

The OPPO Reno5 is by no means a perfect smartphone (no such thing exists anyway), but for what you’re getting in relation to its pricing, it’s a stellar option.

Apps

Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay 2.0: Cut through the queue

Make life less hectic!

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Starbucks Mobile

When you’re an adult, coffee isn’t just a power-up drink helping you get through the day. It becomes an avenue for conversation, an invitation to meet people, a kick you need to fuel your creativity and productivity.

While there are several ways to brew coffee and there are different local neighborhood cafés to explore, Starbucks has always been within reach. And it has ingrained itself as an important part of my working life. A staple of the modern workforce’s culture. A lifestyle — tradition to an extent — that seeped in through the interstices of friendships and family.

When the pandemic struck, I started learning how to brew my own coffee. Occasionally, I order my caffeine fix through Grab or Foodpanda. But the experience isn’t the same.

Keyword: Experience. That’s precisely what Starbucks offers. So when Starbucks Philippines sent me a holiday card to try the new Mobile Order & Pay, a feature they had for a while that was rehashed, I decided it’s time to go out and try again.

Exploring the app

The Mobile Order & Pay 2.0 is available through the Starbucks app. If you’re a Starbucks lover, you probably have an account registered to Starbucks Rewards. The app is easy to use, particularly because of its clean user interface (UI) design.

Through the Starbucks app, you can check your account’s transaction history, monitor the stars collected via the Rewards program, and make some changes to your personal profile and payment methods. The app also has a lot of promotional materials, parading their latest drinks and treats that you can avail yourself of in-store or online.

Starbucks Mobile

And more importantly, you can reload your account, register your cards, and of course, get ahead of your day and order your favorite beverages.

Cut through the line

Once I got my cards settled in, I ordered my go-to drink: Cold brew topped with four pumps of white mocha sauce. I placed my order through the Mobile Order & Pay 2.0 feature, which gave me four options to pick up my order. Although, the options vary depending on the closest branch near you.

There’s the usual In-store pickup where you head straight to the pickup counter for your order. Yes, you won’t get in line anymore. When I tried this pickup option, everyone gave me looks when I went past the queue and headed straight to ask the Barista about my order. I had the audacity to ask about my drink because the app notified me when the order was ready.

Starbucks Mobile

When I got my drink, I walked out of the store feeling ravished. It felt like I was in a slow-mo montage of a coming-of-age film where the protagonist suddenly did something extraordinary. Frankly, this is my favorite pickup option. It makes so much sense to just get your orders if you can walk inside. And that gives you extra steps for your smartwatch to count. Get moving, people!

But if you don’t like the hassle of scanning your QR codes and getting your temperature checked, or the usual mumbo-jumbo you encounter inside a store, there are other pickup options outside.

Just wait outside

My other favorite option was the Outdoor pickup, which I chose when I was passing by Starbucks The Grove — my favorite branch in Pasig. I was dead-tired from a weekend night-out with my friends at Okada Manila, and the all-night casino adventure bled through a Monday morning.

I was on my way home, ready for work. Then, I realized I badly need the good ol’ Barista Drink. Nothing can beat an americano topped with white mocha sauce splashed with sub-breve (and no water!). Especially when it comes to waking you and your senses up. More importantly, you can have it served iced or hot depending on your preferences.

Starbucks Mobile

I placed my order when I was already in Arcovia City, a kilometer away from The Grove by Rockwell. Apparently, you can’t order ahead for an Outdoor pickup if you’re 3 kilometers away, which I tried to do when I was still in Taguig. So you have to be close to the branch if you want to place your order.

I tried to do the math in my head, calculating if I can pull over for a minute while I wait for my order. But I’m bad at numbers so I went ahead. The app said the order will be ready in five to six minutes anyway.

I pulled over when I arrived at the branch, and I didn’t wait long enough for one of my favorite baristas to come out to my chosen pickup point and hand me my order.

Stay in your car

I hate parking. Or wasting the time spent trying to park properly in between enormous SUVs. Or finding a spot to park your vehicle. This is why I don’t understand the Curbside pickup option, where the barista locates your designated parking slot and gives your order while practicing social and safe distancing.

I tried the pickup option in Starbucks Sierra Valley — a humongous, stand-alone branch with a massive parking space and drive-thru option found east of Metro Manila.

Starbucks Mobile

If you’re in a time crunch, this option really doesn’t make sense. But if you have a few moments to spare and you don’t want to get out of your vehicle for safety measures against the COVID-19 (and its variants), then the Curbside pickup is the way to go.

Frankly speaking, it doesn’t work for me. I know having your order brought to you is part of the experience, but I value my time. And it was against my morals to just sit inside my car and wait for the barista to come out and bring my order. In my head, they could be doing more valuable things than going outside the store, when I can pick up my order at their counter.

The In-store pickup is the fastest option in my experience, and I feel good doing the task instead of sitting and waiting around. I guess it’s my can-do attitude speaking, but that’s how I’m really built.

Drive through it

Now, there’s another option to get your order: Drive-thru pickup. You just have to line up in a queue of cars and wait for your turn. Like the Curbside pickup option, I didn’t like the Drive-thru pickup for one reason: It takes too long to get through the drive-thru window.

People are afraid to get out of their vehicles because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s valid. That’s why there are plenty of cars lining up to get their caffeine fix. I spent roughly 30 minutes waiting for my turn, which annoyed me since it would’ve been faster if I chose the In-store or Outdoor pickup.

Making life less hectic

Regardless of my rants and experience, the Mobile Order & Pay 2.0 lets you get your favorite treats and beverages conveniently. In the way you like it.

While I’ve loved the In-store and Outdoor pick-up because they work well with my personality and lifestyle, I know some people (read: friends) would enjoy the Curbside and Drive-thru pickup. Especially since they’re cautious about the pandemic.

Not that I’m not wary of the virus being out there, I just value my time because every second counts. If I wanted to waste my time waiting, I would’ve lined up inside.

Nevertheless, the rehashed feature is worth giving a try. Through the Starbucks app, you can customize your orders. Just like your baristas, the app can modify the size, the number of espresso shots, dairy selection, and various options for your order. All done with just a single tap on your smartphone.

Frankly speaking, the Mobile Pay & Order 2.0 made my life easier especially when I’m in a hurry to get a caffeine fix. Not all days can be spent brewing your coffee, living in a slowed-down lifestyle. Some days, we just need to get through it, and Starbucks knows how to accompany me through those days.

The Starbucks PH app is available on The App Store and Google’s Play Store.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Unboxing and Hands-on

A more affordable Galaxy S21!

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Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE was one of 2020’s popular smartphones — even more than the S20 lineup. With its power-packed performance in a more affordable price point, you get to experience a flagship-grade Samsung phone.

That success also comes with a new successor. The Galaxy S21 FE isn’t very different from the Galaxy S21 — glasstic back, 120Hz AMOLED display, speedy 5nm chipset, and more. But what makes it different and more special versus the entry-level Galaxy S21 and other phones in the market today such as the iPhone 13 mini and Pixel 6?

Watch our Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Unboxing and Hands-on video now!

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Accessories

UGREEN 100W 3C1A GaN Charger: One charger to rule them all

A faster and reliable charger shouldn’t come at a cost

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UGREEN 100W GaN

Owning a new charger is a must nowadays. Whether it’s for your new smartphone without a charger in the box, or just looking for a charger replacement.

But in a sea full of chargers, how are you supposed to know which one to buy? Well, you should buy one that isn’t limited to charging only one device, but a charger to rule them all — and the UGREEN 100W 3C1A GaN Fast Charger is the best candidate for that.

Here are five (5) reasons why I think this isn’t like any other chargers in the market today:

1. Very compact

For comparison’s sake, I’ve decided to compare the UGREEN 100W charger to my two other chargers.

UGREEN 100W GaN

As you already notice, UGREEN is a tad smaller compared to my 87W USB-C MacBook Pro charger. And for obvious reasons, it’s bigger than my 56.5W USB-C PD charger. Still, the differences are uncanny.

UGREEN 100W GaN

Despite having almost the same size as my MacBook charger, it surprisingly weighs lighter. While not as light as the smaller one, it still fits in right in my palms.

UGREEN 100W GaN

And just like any other charger with a US plug, this one also is foldable. All you need to do is store it in your bag or a small pouch whenever you go out.

2. Wide compatibility

If you’re like me who charges a lot of devices, whether that may be your iPhone or Android smartphone, tablets, iPads, MacBooks, power banks, AirPods or any other wireless earbuds, and even the Nintendo Switch, the UGREEN 100W GaN charger can provide power to all of them. With its wide range of device compatibility, you don’t even need to bring several chargers with you.

UGREEN 100W GaN

Case in point: As someone who goes out for work every once in a while, my bundled MacBook charger not only is hefty, it’s also less-powered. But with the UGREEN GaN charger, it provides power for all of my devices while dealing with less heft in my small satchel or tote bag.

UGREEN 100W GaN

As the world slowly transitions into USB-C, it features three (3) USB-C ports to maximize its fast-charging capabilities. There’s still a single USB-A port for your older devices and peripherals, too.

If you’re curious to find out the tech behind these ports, it supports the current fast charging technology such as PD (Power Delivery) and QC (Quick Charge) 3.0 and Apple’s 5V2.4A USB-A.

3. Faster than ever

Paired with UGREEN’s braided USB-C charging cables (two of each have USB-C and Lightning end ports), I definitely noticed how it fully-charged my iPhone and Pixel faster that my other charger cannot achieve — even if that one has PD (Power Delivery) in it. UGREEN’s braided charging cables are also MFI-certified. This simply means Apple recognizes it as an accessory that can charge your Apple products safely.

UGREEN 100W GaN

While I may not able to pinpoint the total number of charging times for both phones, I’m certain that UGREEN charged both of them faster than my regular charging times. This makes me feel less-worried when charging my phones especially if I forgot to charge them overnight and I’m on a hurry for an errand next day.

This GaN Fast Charger can also fill up my large AF 26,800mAh power bank faster than ever. That’s in stark contrast to my 56.5W USB-C PD charger and the 87W MacBook Pro charger that doesn’t support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0.

And while we’re already on the topic, I’ve still managed to run a quick charging speed test on my MacBook Pro using the UGREEN 100W charger with the braided USB-C to USB-C cable.

  • 2 minutes = 2%
  • 5 minutes = 7%
  • 8 minutes = 9%
  • 10 minutes = 11%
  • 15 minutes = 17%
  • 20 minutes = 25%
  • 30 minutes = 35%
  • 45 minutes = 54%
  • 60 minutes = 70%
  • 75 minutes (1h 15m)  = 82%
  • 90 minutes (1h 30m) = 91%
  • 100 minutes (1h 40m) = 96%
  • 112 minutes (1h 52m) = 100%

The UGREEN 100W GaN charger quickly juiced up my 15-inch MacBook Pro. If I were to compare, charging it with its 87W Apple USB-C charger usually takes around 150 minutes (2h 30m). With those extra 40 minutes, you’ve already went out of the place you’re staying at. This is one among many reasons that the GaN charger works like a charm!

Disclaimer: I only left my MacBook Pro charging when I conducted this test. Overall charging time will vary once you plug in more devices into the charger.

4. Safer and more reliable

UGREEN 100W GaN

One of the main reasons why you should buy a GaN charger over the conventional ones is its fast yet efficient technology. With Gallium Nitride (GaN), it runs cooler than most chargers that use Silicon (Si), which most of us know as that cheap semiconductor still being widely used a lot in devices and in the whole tech space.

In my experience, I tried touching it while it’s still plugged while charging four devices simultaneously but it doesn’t feel that hot — unlike my 87W Apple charger when charging my MacBook.

Not only it does it charge your devices fast, GaN chargers like this one from UGREEN also assures you a safer and more reliable accessory without worrying about overheating and fire hazards.

5. Surprisingly affordable

In the Philippines, it has an SRP of PhP 2,799 — which is pretty affordable compared to other 87W/96W MacBook Pro chargers and other heavy-duty 100~120W GaN chargers in the market. It’s currently available on Shopee, Lazada (for PhP 2,649), and UGREEN Philippines website (for PhP 2,509).

Meanwhile, the braided cables are priced differently. PhP 539 for the USB-C to Lightning variant and PhP 229 for the USB-C to USB-C version.

Here are direct links if you’re interested to buy:

You can buy other UGREEN accessories through:

If you live in USA or the rest of the world, the charger is being sold in their official website for US$ 79.99. The cables are available at Amazon.com.

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