Reviews

POCO X4 GT review: Midrange MVP?!

More than bang-for-your-buck

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MVP debates, no matter the league, sport, or context, are always bound to be contentious.

More often than not, deciding on an MVP requires voting; a practice of democracy without a consistent set of criteria that’s followed by all voters. There’s a reason why the NBA’s only had one unanimous MVP in its history. Even then, that unanimous MVP’s victory still has its fair share of doubters.

From the voter’s perspective, choosing an MVP boils down to this question; will you have any regrets about choosing this player over its competition? It’s a complicated discussion where voters will only be judged by their singular choice.

Voting for an MVP in the smartphone world’s mid-range category is difficult and requires plenty of thought. More than the sheer number of options companies give consumers, not everyone has the same set of priorities as each other.

There may be some who prefer a device for gaming. Others might be camera-focused so they can get the best shots for the ‘gram.

Then, of course, there are those who just want something that can help with their overall workflow. The options are aplenty, and the criteria are mixed, but you can only vote for one.

POCO X4 GT

An MVP candidate

The POCO X4 GT has entered the fray as a potential mid-range MVP. POCO’s been churning out bangers for a while and it hopes to keep it going with the X4 GT.

POCO is promising no speed limited with their newest mid-range offering. It’s a big promise to make, and fulfilling it may make the difference between MVP and bust.

As gargantuan of a task as it may be, let me try to have a crack at it. With my personal criteria of aesthetic, performance, durability, camera performance, and overall value, we’ll try to see if the POCO X4 is a phone you’d be proud to vote for mid-range MVP.

Aesthetic: A mid-ranger you wouldn’t send to a beauty pageant

There’s been talks of smartphone designs being bland and boring, and it’s especially evident in the mid-range segment.

It’s reasonable, considering most consumers in this segment are focused on performance above all. But an MVP can’t just be productive. It also has to make a good first impression.

POCO X4 GT

The X4 GT is just okay. It isn’t ugly by any means. It just isn’t a phone that would immediately capture the attention of your friends. You don’t judge a book by its cover, but some unique design would have been nice.

Based on looks alone, the X4 GT isn’t what you’d call a surefire MVP candidate.

Performance: Speed that’s both blistering and comforting

When talking about performance, the first thing that comes to mind is speed. The faster the better. The higher the benchmark scores the better.

If you’re looking for a phone that’s fast, the X4 GT is it. It claims to have a 144Hz screen, and while it doesn’t feel as different compared to a 120Hz setup, it definitely feels smooth and snappy.

The few games I played on the unit (read: Fruit Ninja for this nostalgic millennial) ran without any hiccups and it’s easy to imagine it can run more graphics-intensive games.

POCO X4 GT

What makes this phone’s performance stand out is how it can control its speed. There are far too many devices in the mid-range segment that focus too much on speed while forgetting about consistency and everyday user experience.

Thankfully, the software POCO runs on its mid-ranger is clean and without any hiccups. If stock Android is your standard for a smooth smartphone experience, then you’d be very pleased with how the X4 GT runs.

Durability: Materials and a battery for championship contention

There’s no point if your phone performs well if it isn’t durable. It needs to be strong on the outside with materials that protect its innards, while having battery performance that protects your peace of mind. An MVP can’t just put up numbers, it also needs to put up numbers in as many minutes as possible.

The X4 GT succeeds in this regard. While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing phone, its choice of materials is both economical and effective.

POCO X4 GT

They cut costs by opting for a plastic back, but their choice of matte-feeling plastic makes for a phone that not only feels good, but is also durable against accidental drops and scratches.

Its battery life is even more impressive. I used the X4 GT not only as my daily driver, but also as a hotspot device during some work days. It succeeded in both use cases, passing with flying colors.

It’s easily an all-day phone. You could even extend its use for up to two days if you really skimp on battery usage.

POCO X4 GT

Adding to its strong battery performance is its charging. Charging quickly at 67W is one thing. But to charge that fast while keeping the phone’s temperature at a minimum is unheard of.

Someway somehow, the X4 GT keeps its temperature at a minimum whenever it’s plugged. Materials that can sustain drops, a battery that can last, and charging that feels both fast and safe; the X4 GT has it all.

Camera Performance: A setup you’d be proud to use for the ‘gram

Phones in this price range that champion speed tend to skimp on camera performance. It makes sense. After all, why spend more for a camera gamers won’t use as much?

With the X4 GT, POCO answered this question by saying: to win the mid-range MVP. You can’t be an MVP without a good camera.

POCO X4 GT

To be clear, the X4 GT’s camera isn’t great and that’s understandable. It was positioned as a device with elite performance that can match up against flagships, not one with camera performance that’s flagship-worthy. But at the very least, it’s good, and good is definitely reasonable to ask for from a device of this caliber.

It handles portraits very well and captures plenty of detail. I enjoyed using it the most on our lovable cat, and the X4 GT caught our dear River’s fluffy fur very well.

It struggled a bit with tougher lighting conditions, with its tendency of saturate shots leading to slightly unnatural results.

Good thing its night mode shots didn’t look too unnatural. This is a camera you’d be happy to use when you’re out partying, or when you just want to take photos of night time views.

It performed just as you’d expect it on broad daylight. Using the X4 GT to capture shots of the city skyline was an effortless experience.

POCO X4 GT

Selfies were decent, even in darker conditions. There were some misses in terms of detail, but nothing too concerning.

Overall, it’s a camera you’d be comfortable using. Just set expectations properly. This isn’t a setup that can contend with the best-of-the-best, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a camera that justifies its asking price, and that in itself is already a win.

Overall value: More than bang-for-your-buck, this phone feels safe

POCO X4 GT

When talking about value, we tend to use the term bang-for-your-buck. If we’ll rely solely on that qualifier, then yes, the POCO X4 GT is bang-for-your-buck. If that’s what you’re looking for, you should probably close this review and proceed to purchase this device.

But bang-for-your-buck isn’t enough. You reach greater heights when you purchase a phone that’s both affordable and sustainable. A phone that’s sustainable and safe is a phone you’d be confident keeping for the next 2-3 years. The X4 GT is that kind of phone.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The POCO X4 GT is a phone that not only performs beyond its price point, it’s also a phone that feels like something you’d feel comfortable to keep for years to come.

POCO X4 GT

Its a versatile device that can survive multiple use cases. It makes the right sacrifices with its hardware, while providing a software experience that caters to a wide variety of users.

MVP voting will continue to be contentious, especially in the world of mid-range smartphones. At the end of the day, you just need a candidate you won’t regret voting for.

The POCO X4 GT is that kind of candidate, a smartphone you’d be very happy to be choose as your GadgetMatch from day one.

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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