Reviews

Pocophone F1 Review: It’s all about the performance

Flagship-specced phone that’s cheaper than a Xiaomi!

Published

on

If you find the Xiaomi Mi 8 or the OnePlus 6 to be great flagship killers, wait until you get to know the Pocophone F1. From the makers of Xiaomi, the Pocophone F1 offers even better value for money. It’s got the flagship specifications of US$ 800 phones for just around US$ 300.

You might not have heard about Pocophone because it’s a new contender in the competitive smartphone market. I was able to use the phone for a few days prior to the official launch and here’s what I have to say about it.

It’s got a 6.18-inch IPS LCD with rounded corners

The corners seem to be way too rounded

There’s a notch and it’s pretty wide like Xiaomi Mi 8’s

That’s because it also hides an infrared camera

The power and volume buttons are on the right side

Blending with the rest of the polycarbonate frame

The hybrid card slot on the left accepts a microSD card

In exchange for a second SIM card

The USB-C port is at the bottom along with the loudspeaker

The earpiece also acts as a speaker to create a stereo effect

Our review unit comes with a Kevlar back

This one is called the Armored Edition

The dual cameras share the same spot with the fingerprint reader

The reader is easily reachable by the index finger

We need to talk about the design…

The Pocophone F1 will not win any design awards because it’s not asking for one. It borrows some of the Mi 8’s blueprint and mixes it with its own. To keep the cost down, the Pocophone doesn’t sport a metal body. Unlike the Honor Play which screams premium when held on hand, the Pocophone doesn’t leave any lasting impression.

It’s got a polycarbonate body, so the sides and buttons of the phone feel plasticky. Our Armored Edition unit has an edge thanks to its Kevlar back, but the regular ones will definitely feel cheaper. I can’t also help but notice that the bezels of the phone are not proportional, but that’s already nitpicking.

The bezels aren’t proportional to each other, just saying

Also noticeable to my eyes are the extremely rounded corners of the display. The Pocophone is not the first phone to implement rounded corners (the first one I know of is the LG G6), but Pocophone’s are excessive. This results in cutouts of the interface, especially when playing games that have buttons positioned at the edge.

Having a notch already limits content in full screen and the overly rounded corners are another concern.

The rounded corners cut out some of the on-screen interface

Good thing the 6.18-inch Full HD+ display is bright with up to 500 nits and color accurate with 84 percent NTSC coverage as per manufacturer’s claims. Also, it’s protected by Gorilla Glass, although they didn’t specify which version.

The Kevlar back reminds us of the old Motorola DROID RAZR phones

Overall, the external characteristics of the Pocophone are just so-so. Having a polycarbonate body is okay because it keeps the cost down, but it could have been better to have a similar build quality with the colorful iPhone 5c or the early Nokia Lumia phones. Nokia and Apple were able to prove that a plastic-made body won’t feel cheap when done right.

Definitely the most powerful phone in its segment

The Pocophone might not have the best build, but it’s definitely one of the most powerful phones in the market right now. Xiaomi, the parent company, is known to offer flagship-specced phones at lower price points. They managed to outdo themselves through the Pocophone.

This phone comes with a Snapdragon 845 processor which also powers the likes of the LG G7 ThinQ, Samsung Galaxy S9, HTC U12+, and Sony Xperia XZ2. As you know, the league of Snapdragon 845 comes with hefty price tags, but not the Pocophone F1. It even has up to 8GB of memory and 256GB of expandable storage.

MIUI with an app drawer! 😲

I’m going to get a bit technical, but it’s worth noting that even with a lower asking price, it’s got LPDDR4X DRAM and UFS 2.1 storage. Basically, it has fast memory and storage speeds like on an expensive smartphone.

Running the show is Android Oreo skinned with MIUI 9.6. Although, this is not the same MIUI we’ve known from Xiaomi phones. It’s not that big of a deal, but if you’ve owned a Xiaomi phone you might be surprised about this: This particular version of MIUI has an app drawer. The rest of the MIUI is similar to what we’re accustomed to.

I often hold the Pocophone like this because I’m always playing

Like the Honor Play, the Pocophone is going to appeal a lot to mobile gamers. The Adreno 630 GPU that comes with the Snapdragon chipset is a beast at mobile gaming. It easily handles graphics-intensive games on the highest settings possible. PUBG Mobile, for example, can run in Ultra settings without any hiccups. I also tried Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Asphalt 9: Legends; both fared well.

The Pocophone F1 is equipped with a thermal solution called LiquidCool Technology. This keeps the temperature of the device in check especially when it’s under pressure. The phone is claimed to have fluid inside its cooling module which evaporates to vapor and then recondenses as liquid later on. I’m not able to confirm this because it happens inside the phone. Nevertheless, I never felt the Pocophone overheating when playing.

Flagship specs, midrange cameras

The Pocophone focused a lot on speed and, sadly, overlooked its cameras. It’s got a dual-camera setup that’s composed of a main 12-megapixel f/1.9 sensor with dual pixel autofocus and a secondary 5-megapixel depth sensor. It’s a similar setup to the Redmi Note 5 AI but with the addition of enhanced artificial intelligence software found on Mi flagships. The end result is uninspired, but the scene detection feature with the aid of AI is quick to act.

Under bright light, the camera captures plenty of details but it struggles in low-light scenarios. The bokeh effect is pretty good in adding depth to close-up shots. Here are some samples:

As for selfies, a 13-megapixel shooter is able to take decent photos whether under bright daylight or indoors. Check these samples:

There’s portrait mode which applies blur to the background and works pretty well. Edge detecting is up to par with other selfie phones. There’s still beauty mode, of course, but it’ll not turn you into a doll — unlike others.

Able to last a full day

With all the power the phone has, it’s got to have a sizeable battery to keep up. Thankfully, the 4000mAh battery sealed inside the Pocophone is enough to get users through a full day.

Another shot of the amazing Kevlar back

Based on my few days with the phone, it consistently lasted the whole day. From 100 percent in the morning, it has enough juice left before I get home after a full workday. Considering that my usage is moderate to heavy which includes constant social media, web browsing, chats, and gaming, I am still able to get home with battery power left over.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Pocophone F1 is designed to please power users that don’t want to spend their hard-earned money on an expensive flagship. If you like to have the best-possible specs on a phone, the Pocophone F1 is definitely your GadgetMatch.

But, budget phones always come with caveats. The Pocophone F1 is not exactly a budget-friendly phone at INR 20,999 or around US$ 300 for the 6GB/64GB variant, but for a device with a Snapdragon 845 processor — it’s a steal!

The camera performance might not be able to satisfy our eyes, but the Pocophone F1 is something you’d use primarily for gaming. It directly competes against the Honor Play which comes with the best processor from Huawei. These two phones created a new category among smartphones, and we’re not even sure what to call it yet.

SEE ALSO: Honor Play Review: The budget flagship

Reviews

ASUS Zenfone 8 Review: Tiny but Mighty

The compact flagship

Published

on

Zenfone 8

In a sea full of big smartphones, ASUS made a detour with the Zenfone 8 by making it smaller than its previous Zenfone 7 predecessor.

Packed with flagship specs such as Snapdragon 888, 16GB of RAM and a 120Hz display, it’s simply their best and most compact phone to date.

But how did ASUS managed to fit in all these powerful internals in such a compact body? Watch our full review video of the ASUS Zenfone 8 to know more.

SEE ALSO: Zenfone 8 Flip Unboxing and First Impressions

Continue Reading

Gaming

The realme 8 dares to be more

You’re in for a treat

Published

on

By

realme 8

realme has been bringing in the big guns with their smartphone releases. But, it doesn’t come unwarranted when they’ve been stacking good specs instead of just gaming features. They get it: you want to do more than just play games with their phone line-up. Which is why, they released the realme 8 series.

The realme 8 is pretty much the little bro of the realme 8 Pro. It’s got most of the bells and whistles without the big bro powers. So, how does the realme still stack up to be the best all-around smartphone out there for you?

realme 8

Stunning looks that might fool you

The realme 8 has a 6.5-inch AMOLED display with 180Hz Touch Sampling rate. If touch sampling rate isn’t a metric you’re familiar with, it’s your display’s responsiveness to touch. Refresh rate is a whole different metric; it measures how well your display renders frames per second. Both are tangent features of the display. So, they’re different but, equally as important for gaming on your phone.

If you like strutting in style with your phone, the realme 8 teeters into keeping it flashy yet low-key. The phone features a reflective panel with “DARE TO LEAP” across its logo corner. Plus, realme sticks to classy colors with either Cyber Silver or Cyber Black available for the realme 8.

realme 8

The feelsgoodman specs

Let’s cut to the chase. The realme 8 is a great phone. The phone is decked out with an MTK Helio G95 octa-core processor, which pretty much grants the phone its unapologetic great performance. Whether I was browsing social media, binge-watching videos, or playing games, this phone didn’t stutter once.

realme 8

The phone delivers on buttery-smooth graphics. And, games like League of Legends: Wild Rift, Mobile Legend: Bang Bang, PUBG Mobile, and Sky run smoothly on the realme 8. But, are we really meant to be surprised by that? With the phone’s 8G RAM and 128G internal storage, lags just don’t exist in the same sentence. On top of all that, it manages to stay lightweight. The realme 8 weighs only 177g which is pretty impressive with all the features it packs.

realme 8

Battery can take a beating

Yes, it’s almost criminal. The realme 8 comes with a 30W Dart Charge brick. Which ideally charges the phone up to 50 percent within a matter of 26 minutes. I know what you’re thinking. This sounds too good to be true. Well, unlike the stacked disappointments of the past year, the realme 8 pulls through. It went from zero to 20 percent within 10 minutes which is pretty quick.

realme 8

With a 5,000mAh battery inside, the realme 8 can survive well over a day. It came in handy when I’d accidentally left it out uncharged overnight and still used it the next day. But, I’m guessing it would have been a whole different story had I thrown it into ungodly playing and binge-watching hours.

After a full day of gameplay, binge-watching, podcasts, music, and social media shenanigans, the phone gets close to 15 percent at the end of the day. This is impressive with most phones tossed my way with charging alerts by the tail end of my day.

So, if you’re like me, this phone is pretty reliable. It can take a beating and then some. And, when it does need charging, it won’t take long before you get enough juice in to use it again. It’s good to note that it also supports 15W PD charge, lending versatility on its side.

realme 8

Not just a gaming phone

The realme 8 is decked out with all the features you want from a gaming phone but rounds it all out with amazing smartphone features. So, calling this a gaming phone doesn’t feel fair considering it does well even outside the gaming-perfect specs.

One feature that often gets left out with your typical gaming-centric phone, would be the camera. As for this phone, it’s got an AI Quad camera setup. It’s got a 64MP wide-angle lens, an 8MP ultra-wide lens, a 2MP macro lens, and a second 2MP depth sensor. On the front, the realme 8 has a 16MP shooter with panorama capabilities.

Panorama on the realme 8

Low lighting is just the bane of every mobile phone photography’s existence. If lighting isn’t on your side, most phones will struggle. The realme 8 is sadly not an exception. But, when the sun’s on your side, the photos are pretty good.

The macro looks decent. Just make sure you flood the room with good lighting!

 

The night mode is good too! Stable hands for this mode is key.

The bokeh mode and wide shots on the phone are detailed. Recording videos doesn’t skimp on the 4k experience which is good too. Overall, the phone delivers on all fronts including its camera features. But if you’re looking for big bro camera stats, you should check out the realme 8 Pro.

realme 8

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The realme 8 ticks all the boxes of a quality smartphone. Its got great performance across the board takes really great pictures, has a smooth and responsive display, and lasts for quite some time. And, even if you run out of battery life, its Dart Charge won’t have you away for long.

Overall, this smartphone offers a daring deal. It gives you everything you need and want–and then some more. And, with its PhP 13,990 price tag, it’s the smartphone to beat. Better yet, you can avail of the PhP 1,000 worth of discount on the realme 8 during the flash sale on Lazada starting May 12!

Buy from Lazada

Continue Reading

Laptops

Huawei MateBook D 15 2021: An all around solid choice

It’s no ‘beast’ because iit’s not trying to be

Published

on

Being a dominant player in the smartphone scene, I’ve always been curious about how Huawei’s laptops perform.

Having forged their name onto the spectrum of smartphone enthusiasts with their premium Mate series, we know that Huawei has the ability to craft the same caliber for their laptops.

Carrying the Mate branding with its name, let’s take a look if the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen also has the right to be called premium and carry on this reputation.

Performance you didn’t see coming 

The MateBook D 15 2021 is running on the 11th generation of Intel’s Core i5 processor, the 1135G7. Paired with this is the Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and 512GB of SSD internal storage.

On paper, the specs of the 2021 D 15 isn’t really something many of us would consider sensational, but surely this would be more than enough for online classes or even light to heavy work.

I tend to do a lot of photo editing on Adobe Lightroom so I could say that my power requirements do demand a bit of muscle power. The 11th gen Core i5 on the D 15 is able to handle this quite smoothly even with some headroom for web browsing and other multitasking tasks thanks to the considerable amount of RAM.

As you power on the device, you’d immediately notice the swift performance of the D 15.

A surprising contributor to this is its Smart Fingerprint power button which has been carried over from the previous generations of MateBooks.

Automatically tagging your biometrics upon pressing the power button, this move eliminates the need to input your login details which drastically decreases the boot time. I understand this may vary from other users but having recorded the BIOS time at only 2.5 seconds, this has been the fastest boot up time I’ve ever encountered on a laptop.

Classic never goes out of style 

“It looks like a MacBook” was the first comment I’ve heard from the people I was with as soon as I took out the D 15 from the box. Yes, you’ll definitely see the resemblance with Apple’s MacBook line but that’s not to say that it’s a bad thing especially if there are things that Huawei has improved on. Thankfully, this is exactly the case with the MateBook D 15’s body.

The MateBook D 15 2021 has smoother and rounded edges compared to that of a MacBook Pro which makes it more comfortable for your wrists to rest on while still bringing with it that sleek and professional look that we’ve grown to love.

For a 15-inch body, you’d notice that this MateBook is incredibly thin and light weighing in only at 1.56kg and just 16.9mm thin. An easy carry to coffee shops or even just transferring from room to room at home.

Kind of a nitpick on my part though but one comment I do have with this build was it had a very slight body flex on the right hand portion of the palm rest. I don’t know if this was an issue on the particular unit I’m using but whenever my hand lands on that part, it does feel like it sinks down a tiny bit.

More screen for work and play 

Mentioning the size earlier, the MateBook D 15 2021 has a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display panel. A bit bizarre though, is that at only 250 nits this display felt a lot brighter. I mostly stay just around two or three notches above the lowest brightness setting to keep it at comfortable reading levels.

I wasn’t very concerned with eye strain however, as this display has been certified under TÜV Rheinland’s reduced blue light and Flicker-free qualifications.

With super-narrow 5.3mm bezels and a rating of 100% on its sRGB color gamut, this display is just a tempting movie companion. The large size, almost bezel-less screen and accurate color reproduction truly makes video consumption an immersive experience.

No cramps for your fingers here 

Looking at the D 15, you’d notice immediately that the keyboard is decently sized and its spacing is quite substantial. Key travel on this however, wasn’t very long. While I personally would prefer keyboards with longer key travel over one with a bigger size, the key travel on the D 15 was where it somewhat fell short for me. That being said, I do think this is a matter of personal preference so this isn’t really something that would ruin the MateBook experience. 

You’ll also notice that for a 15.6-inch device, this doesn’t have a number pad on the side of the keyboard which I think contributes to how Huawei managed to extend the spacing of its keys and incorporate a decently sized trackpad below.

Speaking of the trackpad, I really appreciate its size as it’s able to accommodate my multi-finger gestures with precision and with only very minimal input errors.

Still placed between the F6 and F7 keys on the top is the iconic recessed 720p camera that the MateBook line pioneered.

 Power overwhelming

I personally see the battery and charging features of the D 15 to be its main strength. It took me a good 9 hours and 30 minutes running off of its 42Wh battery before it shifted to power saving mode. Meaning, this laptop can easily run you for more than 10 hours under controlled conditions and once you’re able to plug it in an outlet, its fast charger would only take you about an hour to charge it back up.

The 65w charger is quite comparable to a size of a smartphone charger that would barely add weight to your everyday carry. The charger also uses a detachable USB-C to USB-C cable. This makes it easy to replace if ever it gets worn out.

Also, this same cable can be used to charge our smartphones either from the charger or from the laptop as the 2021 D 15 also has support for reverse charging.

Next level of connectivity

A neat addition also on the MateBook D 15 is the inclusion of the new Wi-Fi 6 technology. This gives the D 15 the ability to connect to more frequency ranges for a cleaner and less interrupted connection. While this does require that we connect to a Wi-Fi 6 capable wireless network to fully take advantage of it, it does give us some sort of complacency with some future proofing. Giving us more reasons to hold on to our device for a few more years from our purchase.

In this category we also have quite a selection of ports with the inclusion of a USB 3.2, HDMI and USB-C port on the left side and two USB 2.0 and a 3.5mm audio port on the right.

Tap and drop files? Yes please!  

A handy feature for people who already belong in Huawei’s ecosystem is the Huawei Share with Multi-screen collaboration.

This feature enables Huawei smartphones to connect and share files, apps and even your phone screen with the D 15 by just tapping it on the dedicated Huawei Share portion of the laptop.

Gimmicky as it may sound at first, I have to say, it really does work. And if transferring files from other devices is something you do often, this might be a feature that you could maximize.

Is the HUAWEI MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen your GadgetMatch?

The MateBook D 15 2021 isn’t what we may call a “beast” of a device as it really isn’t trying to be one. This is mainly designed with professionals in mind or simply people who’re looking for convenience, comfort and just an overall pleasant user experience and it does that very well.

A decent performer, sleek looker, ultraportable 15.6-inch device with a lot of nifty features with the Huawei ecosystem, Wi-Fi 6 and its smart fingerprint power button, the MateBook D 15 2021 is what we could really call a versatile machine.

But here is where it gets a little bit tricky. The MateBook D 15 2021 with the older Intel 10th Gen processor is also currently an available option from Huawei. A less powerful alternative but one that could set you back a few pesos which also gets you most of what the 11th Gen version offers.

If you’re willing to spend a little more for better performance though, the D 15 11th Gen is no doubt a solid choice.

The Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen with 16GB RAM is available in Mystic Silver for PhP 59,999.

Buy from Lazada

Continue Reading

Trending