Reviews

Realme 3 Review: The complete budget package?

Cheap doesn’t always have to be bad

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Realme is a young smartphone brand; some might not even be familiar with it. But, with OPPO acting as their parent, they’re not tapping into unfamiliar territory. The company introduced itself last year with a goal of capturing the budget segment.

Initially, they repacked OPPO phones and sold them at a cheaper price. Realme phones started to take shape with the release of the Realme 2 and 2 Pro. Now, we have the Realme 3.

With stiff competition from Xiaomi and even OPPO, can the Realme 3 triumph? Also, is it a good budget device on its own? Let’s find out in this review.

It’s got a 6.2-inch display with a teardrop notch

Resolution is just HD+

The power button sits on the right side…

At least it’s easy to find

… while the volume keys and SIM tray are on the right

It accepts a microSD and two nano-SIM cards

The micro-USB and 3.5mm port are at the bottom

Along with the microphone and loudspeaker

The back is glossy and has the fingerprint reader in the middle

Plasticky, but it’s fine

The camera module has a small yellow ring for added flair

It highlights the main 13-megapixel shooter

The phone comes in either blue or black

They are called Radiant Blue and Dynamic Black to be specific

Gradient and unibody

The plasticky body of the Realme 3 is no different from the rest of the budget phones in the market. To make theirs different, the Realme 3 uses a unibody design. The glossy back panel of the phone wraps all the way up to the display. It doesn’t have a side frame that joins the front and back panels, or at least it’s not visible on the outside. It kinda reminds me of the OPPO F5’s body but with a different finish.

While the Realme 3 can be considered to have a unibody design, it’s not as seamless as more expensive devices. Still, this approach is more pleasing, not only to the eyes but also to touch.

When it comes to the display, the Realme has to make a compromise. The phone’s screen is practically borderless with a claimed 88.3 percent screen-to-body ratio and a tiny notch, although the HD+ resolution is nothing to write home about.

Nevertheless, the lack of sharpness doesn’t equate to overall bad display quality. The panel is bright enough to be used outdoors and it shows images and videos vividly. I’ve seen worse in this price segment, so the Realme 3’s screen gets a passing grade.

New and improved interface

Realme is OPPO’s sub-brand, so it’s not surprising to see them sharing resources. In order for Realme to give a great user experience, it borrows OPPO’s ColorOS. Those who prefer a clean install of Android will have to look somewhere else like Nokia’s Android One lineup or the pure Android-touting ZenFone Max M2 from ASUS.

ColorOS generally looks pleasing, but it’s missing some of the essential Android features. Thankfully, the Realme 3 comes with ColorOS 6, the newest version available, and it’s already based on Android 9 Pie.

If you think about it, the Realme 3 is one of the budget phones currently available that’s running on Android’s latest version. It even has newer software than OPPO’s more expensive models. We don’t know if the Realme 3 will make the jump to Android Q, though. ColorOS don’t have a strong reputation when it comes to major updates.

So, what does ColorOS 6 bring to the table? First of all, you can finally dismiss notifications by swiping it; a feature that took years to come to ColorOS. Also, you can interact with the notifications, and there’s now an option to have an app drawer. ColorOS 6 looks clean and minimal as well.

When it comes to performance, I have no complaints. The phone runs smoothly and can handle multiple running apps. MediaTek’s Helio P60 processor is the brain of the phone paired with 4GB of memory. It also has 64GB of expandable storage to store all your files. For a phone in this price range, the Realme 3 offers a lot in performance.

Gaming-wise, the Realme 3 can pass as a decent gaming phone. Despite being a bit older, the Helio P60 with its Mali G72 GPU can play some games even on high graphics settings. Demanding titles (or unoptimized ones) must be played on medium to low settings to keep the frame rates high.

Keep in mind that our unit is the global version and it’s different from the one that was launched in India. That is why it sports a Helio P60 processor rather than the newest Helio P70. As of writing, the Helio P70 version is exclusive to India.

Surprisingly impressive cameras

The Realme 3 is probably one of the best cheap phones that can take photos really well. I don’t normally expect good stills from budget phones, but the Realme 3 really impressed me. It’s equipped with a main 13-megapixel f/1.8 camera and it’s accompanied by a 2-megapixel depth sensor. There’s no ultra wide-angle or zoom lens here.

Equipped with AI, the rear cameras take amazing photos considering the price of the phone. Other budget phones tend to oversharpen their stills, but not the Realme 3. My only gripe about the phone is the aggressiveness of its HDR feature which makes the image look a bit unnatural. Also, slight movements can result in blur. Check out these samples:

When the night comes, the Realme 3 can still take sharp and well-exposed images thanks to its Nightscape feature. As far as I know, the Realme is the first to introduce a multi-frame, anti-shake algorithm to its price range. Basically, the phone takes a few photos within three seconds and stitches them all together. Here are some samples:

As for selfies, the tiny notch in front houses another 13-megapixel sensor. Coupled with AI, the Realme 3 takes good-looking selfies. It features AI beauty mode and simulates bokeh for a more pleasing self-portrait..

A battery that can last for hours

One of the most important feature I look for (I think everyone should) in a smartphone is battery life. Longevity is crucial, especially if a phone has a lot of features to brag about. Budget phones nowadays don’t sacrifice battery life, and that includes the Realme 3 with its 4230mAh capacity. On top of that, the bundled charger is also a pretty fast 10W brick.

Even with heavy use, I didn’t have any trouble using the Realme 3 as my daily driver. It can last a whole workday with enough juice to keep playing music while I commute back home. My usage includes all-day social networking, chats, emails, and a few minutes of gaming. The phone can easily last for two days if you don’t use it as much as I do.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

As a budget phone, Realme 3 ticks all the boxes: nice design, good cameras, decent performance, and long battery life. For only PhP 9,990, it can easily be your GadgetMatch. Not just because it’s cheap, but because it’s a good phone overall. It has its potential downsides, especially when it comes to software updates, although that shouldn’t be a big issue for most. You can even get it for as low as PhP 6,990, but with lower memory and storage space.

Of course, the flashy design and maybe the UI of the Realme 3 may not be everyone’s cup to tea. But, for those who don’t care about these and just need an affordable phone that won’t disappoint, the Realme 3 is a great deal.

SEE ALSO: Realme C1 Hands-on: Redefining entry-level devices

Health

How I got fit with the OPPO Watch

Our goal is to survive

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OPPO Watch

When the global health crisis struck the world into a colossal spiral while we all watched anxious in our homes, I decided to escape into a fitness challenge. Hey, I needed some form of healthy coping and I thought putting my frail, petite figure into the ringer was a good way to keep me distracted.

So, since the end of March of this year, I decided to do at-home workouts six days per week. And, by the end of April, I had somehow dedicated hours into working out consistently from Sundays to Fridays.

Deciding to be fit

If you’re thinking, “she’s mental,” hi. Yes, I am. I always knew I was capable of sticking to something I wanted to work towards. I’d go so far as to say I’ve always had an obsessive tendency towards things I set my mind on. There was, of course, a good incentive: my mental health.

I’ve always struggled with my mental health. Even when writing about how video games helped me through rough patches in my life, I’d spiral back into the same mental state over and over. I wanted to break that horrible cycle. And so, I set myself to use fitness to expend energy I would usually have to be anxious or self-destructive on something healthier and beneficial.

Oh, I almost forgot a tangent motivation to all of this: I was weaning off my medication. So, if you didn’t know, which you probably didn’t, I was taking antidepressants and mood stabilizers to get by.

Whenever I had teetered into fitness, I weirdly felt on-top-of-things. I brought this up to my psychiatrist and knew that if I wanted sustainable stability, I had to work on long term changes to my lifestyle.

So, back to the task at hand, I had consistently worked out, built muscle where I didn’t know I had and gained a ton of weight. By late August to early September, I had felt better mentally.

Tracking with the OPPO Watch

When I got the OPPO Watch, I had already checked out most of my personal goals except one: getting stunning abs. I went to work on journaling ab workouts I was going to do and healthy meals I wanted to treat myself to. I was planning on running outside to get my daily 10,000 steps through the watch’s Wear OS out of the way and was pretty excited to strap on the OPPO Watch.

Before we hop into my journey with the OPPO Watch, here’s a couple of things you might want to know. The Oppo Watch’s dual-curved 1.6-inch AMOLED display makes it look identical to the Apple Watch.

Elephant in the room finally out; let’s talk specs. It’s got a Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC with an Apollo Chip. All of that runs on Wear OS by Google and is powered by a 300mAh battery. And, OPPO boasted the watch’s 21-day battery capacity. So, I was hyping myself up for a two-week ab workout program to accompany the specs and features the watch was decked out on.

Let me just get it out there: as much as the OPPO Watch has an identity crisis on potentially being an Apple Watch wannabe or clone, it delivers on looks. The watch is pretty and the interface never once stuttered while I used it. But I digress…

Road to getting abs

On day one, road to maybe getting abs, the watch flopped and stopped recording my run, and ab exercises because it had run out of battery. Frustrated but also quietly relieved, I dropped my plan for the afternoon and eased out of my workout quicker than I often would.

You see, I had become overly obsessed with working out. So much so, that I was scheduling everything else in my day around the 2-3 hours every single day I wanted to exercise.

Although it was a disappointing first day, it was a wake-up call. I had always felt fatigued and out of breath from just doing typical chores. I’ve long ignored this symptom of over-training and kept overworking myself.

As much as the watch didn’t get to keep up with my “typical” day, it drew red flags on the fact that I was unusually active.

Don’t get me wrong. The OPPO Watch is a great smartwatch. It’s got a ton of features I want a smartwatch to have. It had a training assistant, a heart rate monitor, a sleep tracker, sedentary reminders, and had a vast array of workouts you could track through Wear OS.

It was the best thing to help validate the hard work I was making on a daily. I would use and abuse installing the Google Fit app to track my strength training, workout sets, and footsteps. But, if there’s anything I slowly learned from over-training and “over tracking,” it’s that you tarnish your relationship to exercise if you obsess over calories.

More to getting fit than looking a certain way

If you’ve been hating yourself for not getting fit or not losing weight while the rest of the world is ablaze, let this be the reminder you need. We’re here to survive, not to pressure ourselves into losing weight, getting fit, building unhealthy self-images, or getting sick and injured.

This year, especially, is not the time. I know that being isolated can feel relentlessly daunting and peeking into social media feeds into unhealthy and toxic standards you might feel pressured to try to achieve. But, there’s more to health than trying to look a certain way — there’s the important bit about how you are and how you are feeling.

A lot of the ironically toxic parts of health and fitness is from building fundamental goals on visual validity: a number on the scale, a measurement, or aesthetic muscle development. When health and fitness should be about developing something sustainable: strength, flexibility, stamina, or better well-being.

It’s also good to note that quick and sudden fixes can show fast results but won’t be sustainable long-term. The quicker the change, the quicker it is to lose. Easing your way into small changes until you achieve a healthy lifestyle that isn’t restrictive of anything you want is the way to go.

For the past two weeks with the OPPO Watch, I decided to be more attuned with myself, mentally and physically. It was a good time for my body to recover from brutal stress I put it through.

The watch’s Wear OS features breathing exercises that helped a lot with this. I would find myself struggling with anxiety late at night and I’d go on the watch and do the breathing exercises until I calmed down. I know the feature is simple and I can do without it but, having something to guide me through deep breathes really helped.

Throughout my two weeks of what was meant to be non-stop ab exercises, I decided to work out on days I felt like working out and rested on days I wanted to. The OPPO Watch gave me a good feel of my health with my heart rate and step count even if I stayed indoors.

It monitored and gave me customizable daily goals which were less about reaching them every day and more about realistic and forgiving progress.

Oh! It’s good to note that the watch might be able to last about a week but it’ll need to be on power saver mode. You’ll be limited to viewing the time, checking your pulse when you want to, counting your steps, and getting notifications.

On that week, I kept active and went about my day without worrying about the nitty-gritty details of how much calories I burnt from walking, running, or lifting weights.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I didn’t keep the OPPO Watch on power saver mode for long for a few reasons. To recover from over-training, I wanted to improve on my sleep and work on my relationship with exercise and calories so tracking my sleep was important to me.

On top of that, the breathing exercises weren’t accessible on power saver mode which was a huge bummer seeing as that feature helped me through some anxious nights — what a legend of a feature.

The OPPO Watch is decked out with so much to help you get better, happier, and healthier but only in ways, you choose to. So if you’re not a fitness fiend and are looking for a smartwatch to just track your pulse, steps, and of course, keep track of time, consider this watch. The OPPO Watch costs PhP 12,990/GBP 229.

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Gaming

Marvel’s Avengers: Does it stick the superhero landing?

A title featuring Earth’s mightiest heroes carries great expectations

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Marvel's Avengers

The Avengers is the most popular superhero team today thanks in large part to the 23 films and counting that belong to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU. This could lead one to believe that anything that has “Marvel’s Avengers” on it will be well-made and polished because of heightened expectations and the backing of perhaps the largest entertainment company today. Well, not quite.

Perhaps we should have seen this coming following the rather lukewarm reception to the A-Day trailer that was released in E3 2019. But that was just a trailer. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics — the companies responsible for the game’s development — still had time to address things.

While there may have been improvements here or there, the overall experience just falls a bit short of the grandiose, spectacle, and fun factor that we’ve come to associate with the Avengers.

Heroes divided

So what’s wrong with it, exactly? There’s not one big glaring thing. But the sum of its parts just doesn’t feel like it makes up a cohesive whole.

Just like how the team was split up after the disaster that was A-Day, the game feels like it’s split between two disjointed parts.

The first is the Reassemble Campaign which takes you through a 10-12 hour single-player Action-RPG type of campaign. You get a chance to play as all of the Avengers but the story is mostly told through the perspective of Kamala Khan AKA Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel hard-carrying this game

The second is the Avengers Initiative which is the multiplayer live service part of the game. It’s the part that the developers hoped would keep players coming back.

While the two game modes share the same combat, skills, items, and mission design, the overall experience varies heavily depending on what type of game you’re into.

Ms. Marvel coming of age story

At the core of the Reassemble Campaign is Kamala Khan/ Ms. Marvel. She goes from this bright-eyed fangirl in A-day to a hero in her own right, fighting alongside the heroes she admired.

As someone who generally prefers single-player games, this was the part of the game I enjoyed the most. It’s got enough heart, humor, and character that made the MCU such a mainstream hit, while also sprinkling a little bit of Saturday-morning-cartoon campiness.

The best thing about the story is the dynamic between the characters: Kamala and Bruce Banner’s mentor-mentee relationship, the anger between Tony Stark and Bruce after the latter’s testimonies in court after A-Day, and this bromance between Tony and Steve Rogers.

There’s a lot of great character moments here that should be familiar to Marvel fans whether you came in from the comic books, TV series, or the MCU.

It isn’t without any problems though. Thor had very little to do with the plot except for just being there. He played the deus ex machina role when he first rejoined the team. I guess that’s fitting for a literal god.

The boss battles are also very mediocre. After squaring off against Taskmaster and the Abomination, the next boss battles will all be against AIM Robots. For a superhero hero team with such a rich rogues gallery, this was rather disappointing.

Modok was the only other non AIM robot villain

While it sort of makes sense given the flow of the story, I think they could have thrown in even at least one more Marvel villain there or at least have another tussle against Taskmaster and the Abomination.

Other than that, the story is pretty solid. I wish I could say the same for gameplay.

Grinding for gear

The core of the gameplay is the combat, skills, and gears. This is what connects the single-player campaign to the multiplayer missions. It’s a mixed bag to say the least.

The skill tree for each character is deep but you’ll have to grind through the missions to really get to all of them. More on this later. Meanwhile, the gears are… okay.

There are plenty of skills to unlock

While most other reviewers griped about the lack of cosmetic effect from the gear you pickup, I thought this was mostly okay. It’s almost the same with Marvel’s Spider-Man where I can pick whatever suit I want but change my abilities depending on what the mission requires.

The thing is, in the Spider-Man game by Insomniac, the suit came at no cost. In Marvel’s Avengers, while you can grind your way into some awesome cosmetic changes, a bulk of the better looking ones are stuck behind a paywall. That’s what really grinds most people’s gears, I think.

What grinds your gears?

I also recognize that more thought could have been put into the gears seeing as the whole point of the game is getting loot and items while you’re out on missions. For instance, they could have opted to have a set of cosmetic options for gear that negate certain status effects like frosting.

Feel like a superhero

Despite sharing mostly the same controls — light and heavy attacks, dodging, and jumping on the main buttons plus special abilities on the shoulder buttons —  the game does a good job of making each character feel distinct.

Your experience playing as Iron Man will be very different from the one playing as Thor despite both sharing the ability to fly. Same is true for Captain America and Black Widow even though they’re both mostly grounded melee fighters.

Marvel’s Avengers

The stretchy Ms. Marvel also offers perhaps one of the most unique play styles as she also has the ability to heal. It’s perfect for when you’re embarking on multiplayer missions.

Mission unbearable

The missions are where I think the game fumbles a lot. They have a relatively good combat core to build around, but the level designs and challenges leave so much room for improvement.

The missions revolve around retrieving an item, defeating hordes of AIM robots and soldiers, and most frustratingly, defending a small circular area while being swarmed by even more AIM robots and soldiers.

Combat can get chaotic

It’s just a whole bunch of small fries coming at you from left and right. There’s very little variation and it can get old real quick. What’s even more frustrating is to really level up the characters, these are the missions you have to grind through. You don’t get to the really good parts of the combat unless you go through these missions.

Remember the final act of both The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron where the team is battling against armies of Chitari and Ultron’s robots? That’s what the missions feel like except it happens over, and over, and over, and over again.

Good for team players

To balance the opinion, I spoke with our good friend Francis Romero who is both a long-time gamer and huge Marvel fan. Unlike yours truly, Francis actually finds enjoyment in the missions.

What struck me the most with his observation is how team play is crucial in the missions. You can customize your characters’ loadouts to fit the needs of the team. Each one can play a certain role so you can accomplish missions with relative ease.

Flying to a mission

For instance, he said he wasn’t a fan of Ms. Marvel being part of his main team but being a healer, she would be an essential part of the team.

In this regard, the play-with-friends appeal is real. It’s honestly not my cup of tea, but there’s certainly something here that can be enjoyed by people with actual friends or those who play well in a team-setting.

A better future

The other appeal of Marvel’s Avengers being a live service game is the promise of a better future. The developers have already promised that any future DLC content will be free-of-charge.

Hawk-eye — both Will Barton and Kate Bishop — have already been teased and there are more characters coming in the future. Each character, I supposed, will come with their own unique story that will build on the campaign. Their abilities will also be something to consider when building a team for the Avengers Initiative missions.

While the present may be slightly disappointing, a promising future awaits.

Does it stick the superhero landing?

The promise of a better future shouldn’t be the leg that a game stands on. The game can be a little fun at best and a messy, buggy experience at worst.

The loading time from one segment of the game to another is ridiculously long. It almost feels like you can watch an entire MCU film and the game would still be loading when you come back to it.

This loading screen can go on FOREVER

Marvel’s Avengers is weighed down by the expectations surrounding it. When you have a title so mainstream and the backing of an entertainment giant that has dominated the mainstream consciousness for a better part of the decade, it’s fair to expect a polished game. One that feels like the triumphant third act of most MCU films.

Instead, it feels more like the first time Tony Stark took the Iron Man Mark II out for a spin in the first Iron Man movie. It was a fun but clunky ride, and when he soared to go higher he ran into an icing problem.

Marvel’s Avengers

In many ways, that’s what this Marvel’s Avengers game feels like. It’s clunky but fun and while it’s not perfect, there’s certainly something here that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics can build on.

It doesn’t quite stick the superhero landing, but it sure as hell didn’t crash and burn.

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Reviews

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 Review: Ahead of Its Time!

Experience the future for $1999

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The first Galaxy Fold may have encountered several issues, but this year’s Fold is all about polishing and revamping things.

With a more durable hinge mechanism, maximized screen, improved materials, better cameras, and the fastest internals around, the Galaxy Z Fold2 is an impressive engineering feat.

$1999 isn’t cheap, but this device is meant for those who want to experience the future in their hands today.

Head over to our in-depth Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 review here.

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