Reviews

realme 6 Pro review: A step up from the competition

Has realme perfected the midrange formula?

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Putting “pro” on a smartphone implies that more high-end features should be expected. That’s what the realme 6 Pro is gunning for: more high-end features but also with a price tag that doesn’t breach premium territory.

The realme 6 Pro is the company’s answer to the demand for midrange phones with near-flaghip experience. This time around, the company upped its game by including more features that anyone can appreciate. As such, this device is also a step-up from last year’s realme XT in a lot of aspects. So, let’s find out what realme 6 Pro has to offer.

Design that strikes the eye

This year, realme is doing something different across its realme 6 series. All the phones are getting their own unique back designs. For the realme 6 Pro, you get a “lightning strike” effect that hits the eye when light hits the back cover. The company says this design was deliberately chosen to represent the youth’s vim and vigor. That makes sense, considering that realme is trying its best to be the smartphone brand of the youth.

Another thing that really strikes me is the finish of this device. realme has been churning out solid smartphones that don’t feel like they are made out of plastic. Holding the realme 6 Pro for the first time, you’ll be forgiven for thinking it’s made out of sturdy metal. Only when you “knock” on the back that you determine that this device is really made out of plastic. So, kudos to realme for that.

On the side, you’ll notice the flat power button that also acts as a side fingerprint scanner. Like the realme XT, the realme 6 Pro has a USB-C port on the bottom which supports quick charging.

A smooth and fluid display

In all honesty, the realme 6 Pro is the first device where I had the chance to play with a 90Hz display extensively. Right off the bat, I can tell you that the difference between 60Hz and 90Hz display is night and day. The best word to describe it is smooth. Yes, everything feels smooth with that refresh rate. Opening animations and scrolling are smooth, and once you switch back to 60Hz rate again, you may think that something is janky.

You actually have to see how life-changing 90Hz refresh rate is. Pity though, that most games still don’t support 90Hz refresh rate. That 90Hz is most useful when you’re playing games because everything’s much smoother with it.

Aside from high refresh rate support, I also like that the display is on FHD+ resolution. For a midrange in this day and age, having an FHD+ screen is necessary. You can expect to stream your favorite Netflix episodes or YouTube videos in glorious 1080P.

One minor gripe I have with the display is that it is not an OLED screen. I may be nitpicking here, but I think OLED screens are much better than a regular IPS LCD screen. Plus, more and more midrange devices are switching to OLED screens. You won’t really be bothered with the lack of an OLED screen here though since the colors are vibrant and there’s a lot of details to go around.

Performance that impresses

One word to describe realme 6 Pro’s performance: impressive. Under the hood, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G. This midrange processor is on par with the performance of high-end Snapdragon chipsets of yesteryears. It can handle almost any task you throw at it with ease.

I have yet to notice any lag in opening apps with this device. That’s an excellent thing, and not surprising since there’s 8GB of RAM to back the performance of the midrange processor.

Gaming is one aspect where you’ll feel like the realme 6 Pro is a step-up from the midrange competition. The processor here is capable of handling graphically-intensive games that you throw at it. Rules of Survival — a well-known battle royale mobile game — runs smoothly even in high graphic setting. Casual games run well on this device considering its powerful midrange processor.

realme UI is okay, but bloatware takes up space

As for realme UI, you may either love it or loathe it. Personally, I like realme’s twist on Android 10. Most of the interface elements are copied from iOS, and it shows. However, there are also a lot of tweaks and additions that make the interface stand-out. For example, you can use screen-off gestures, toggle the smart sidebar, or clone social media apps so you can use another account. You also get new features from Android 10 like Digital Well-being and a revamped gesture navigation.

If there’s really one annoying thing with the realme 6 Pro, that would be the bloatware. On first set-up, you’ll be surprised to see myIM3, Lazada, Trip.com, UCBrowser, WA Business, Webnovel, and much more pre-installed. This feels like a huge step-down for a 2020 release. Most manufacturers are already trimming the number of pre-installed third-party apps but it looks like realme hasn’t gotten the memo yet.

Luckily though, some of the apps on this device are actually useful. Game Space automatically frees up some RAM and activates the Do Not Disturb mode whenever you’re playing a supported game. This device also has some useful utilities like Compass, FM Radio, and the Weather app that’s not available on stock Android by default.

Cameras that impress

For the realme 6 Pro, you get a rear cameara setup of 64MP wide-angle + 12MP telephoto + 8MP ultra-wide-angle + 2MP macro lens.

The shots taken by realme 6 Pro is excellent in daylight conditions. You get a nice color rendition all-around, though it may appear a bit saturated for some. Noise is kept to a minimum, and the cameras nail the white balance for most shots. There are enough details to go around too. However, zooming in on a particular shot, you also notice an oil painting effect that somewhat ruins the shot.

Turning on the HDR helps to recover some of the overexposed areas in the image, particularly the skies. In the images below, you’ll notice how the image with the HDR appears more realistic. The garage on the left image is just smeared out, while on the right, you can work out some details. The green fence has a much natural color too on the right. Overall, it’s better to leave the HDR settings turned on.

At night, realme 6 Pro took photos with a lot of smeared details and muted colors. They also have a lot of noise in them. This is why you ought to turn on Nightscape mode in this setting. With Nightscape, the camera’s aperture remains open for a longer period of time, letting in more light in the process. As such, you get a more true-to-life image with more resolved details, vibrant colors, and lesser noise.

There’s a lot of camera modes to pick from too. Aside from the Nightscape mode, you also get Ultra Macro and Panorama mode on this device. It’s worth mentioning that the camera can switch from ultra-wide-angle lens to wide-angle, 3x zoom mode, and 5x zoom mode in an instant, making the realme 6 Pro a versatile shooting device.

Steady selfies

The selfie camera on the realme 6 Pro is more than fine for everyday usage. There are two selfie cameras on this device, unlike most midrange devices on the market. The main selfie camera is a 16MP wide-angle while the other is an 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera. The main camera reproduces color nicely with plenty of details for most situations. Realme applies beauty filters by default, resulting in smoothened skin and artificial skin tones. Some may not like this though, and fortunately, there’s an option to turn it off.

How does the ultra-wide camera fare? The photos taken with the camera still gets the color right, but you will also notice some smeared details. In most cases, I still recommend using the main selfie camera.  The only time I would recommend using the ultra-wide camera is when you have a lot of people that need to fit in for that one selfie.

Solid battery life

Battery life on the realme 6 Pro is one of the best I’ve seen from a midrange smartphone. It really is a huge step-up from the competition, considering that realme put a large 4,300 mAh battery on this device. Of course, your mileage may vary. Playing games or browsing continually for hours will drain the battery more. The same is true when you fire up the 90Hz screen refresh rate. Expect a day’s battery life if you do all these three.

However, that large battery also means you can stretch realme 6 Pro’s battery life for two days. All you have to do is be mindful of your device usage or close any battery-draining apps. Selecting the refresh rate to “Auto” will also help in extending battery life.

There’s an included 30W VOOC fast charger on the box. It charges the device quickly, and I was able to go from 7% to 95% in an hour. It’s super-fast, which is useful if you always charge on the go.

Is the realme 6 Pro your GadgetMatch?

realme really stepped up their game this time with the realme 6 Pro. It carries features that you’d normally only find on flagships, and it is easily one of the best midrange phones out there. However, all the step-up in features also comes a hefty price tag. This device comes with a price tag of PhP 16,990 (USD 339) for the highest configuration, which is 8GB of RAM + 128GB of storage.

However, that price tag is worth it considering the features you’re getting here. You are actually getting a much better value with this device compared to realme XT, which has also the same price at launch. It finally feels like that realme has perfected the midrange phone formula with this device. As such, the realme 6 Pro can become your next midrange GadgetMatch, considering that it is a step-up from the competition.

Laptops

Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen review: 4 months after

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Huawei MateBook D 15

The work from home and online class setup had us all adjusting to this new normal. You’ll see a lot of inquiries on Facebook groups about LED ring lights, microphones and midrange laptop recommendations. Huawei’s MateBook D series is among the ones you’ll see that has gotten a lot of popularity for this purpose.

It makes perfect sense, since back when I first reviewed the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen, I had a lot of good things to say about it. After four months under regular use, there are quite a few more that I came to realize about this device that I think you guys might find interesting.

It can get things done

A quick refresher on its specs, the D 15 2021 we have with us has an 11th gen Core i5 with the Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. 

It’s no question, if you’re just going to use this for online classes or regular zoom meetings, the D 15 probably won’t even break a sweat. However, I consider my power requirements to be somewhat on the heavy side for my photo and video editing needs.

What surprised me was I didn’t find myself having to go back to my main editing workstation and have actually done more work on the D 15 than I expected. It may not be as fast, but it also wasn’t drastically slower.

Plus the fact that this has a more accurate display with its 100 percent sRGB color gamut, the 15.6-inch LED display is perfect for my daily Photoshop use.

Portability also applies at home

Huawei MateBook D 15

Working from home for a long time and looking at the same thing over and over, not having to be able to go to places, had many of us bored and unmotivated. I personally always had that urge to look for another spot just for the change of scenery.

Thankfully, weighing only 1.56kg, it gave me the flexibility for me to place it in different places. I didn’t worry that the surface wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Battery life

The capability to place the D 15 on different places wouldn’t really matter if you’re still stuck near an outlet because you’re constantly required to plug it in. Fortunately, the 42Wh battery of the D 15 keeps us away from the charger for around nine to ten hours before needing to plug it back in.

Huawei addresses issues and gives regular updates

Huawei MateBook D 15

During its time with me, the D 15 had quite a few driver and software updates. Along with one of the updates came a fix for an issue I had with its fingerprint scanner where it frequently had trouble recognizing my fingerprint. While it shouldn’t have had that issue to begin with, the regular updates are an indication that users aren’t abandoned and issues are in fact being addressed on Huawei’s end.

I also learned from Huawei’s website that the MateBook series has a Windows 11 upgrade rollout plan. That’s something nice to look forward to.

Undesirable camera angle

Huawei MateBook D 15

Sadly, not everything is praise worthy on the D 15. The hidden web camera, while innovative, came at the cost of an awful camera angle. Since it is placed on the keyboard, it is also pointed upwards.

Using it, you’ll mostly see an unflattering image of yourself often emphasizing the size of your nostrils.But if you decide that you’d want to use a laptop raiser for a more comfortable viewing angle, the camera won’t be pointed downwards. That’d make it barely usable.

A generous availability of ports

Huawei MateBook D 15

Being the boxing fan that I am, the recent Pacquiao fight had me subscribing for a pay-per-view service. The full sized HDMI port on the D 15 was heaven sent. During the fight as I was able to output the fight on our dated TV set. It let us to enjoy the stream on a bigger screen.

The availability of USB ports on both sides also let us to choose where certain devices can be plugged. We didn’t worry about hitting our external drives with our mouse or fitting multiple USB devices side by side.

Multi-Screen Collaboration

I did not find myself using this feature as much. However, having this capability eliminated the need for me to grab a USB cable to transfer files from my phone. A quick tap of my phone and I was ready to transfer photos I recently. It’s great for some quick editing before posting on Instagram. 

Is this still your GadgetMatch?

Huawei MateBook D 15

When I think of the D 15, freedom is the word that comes to mind. It gives so much freedom to work anywhere with its portability and battery life. You get freedom to do what you wish with it with its capable hardware. There’s also freedom from wires with the Multi-Screen Collaboration. And even freedom to plug various devices with its great selection of ports.

It’s a no fuss kind of laptop that just gets things done. Its sheer simplicity is what makes it a great device.

If you’re interested in getting the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, you can now get it for PhP 48,999.00.

 

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Reviews

Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Review: Best Android smartwatch yet?

But is it any better than the Apple Watch?

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Samsung launched the Galaxy Watch4 just recently — which is the successor to 2019’s Galaxy Watch Active2.

Now with the power of a BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) via its Bio Active Sensor, the Galaxy Watch4 can simply measure your body composition with just your two fingers and wrist.

But is it any better than the Apple Watch?

Watch our Samsung Galaxy Watch4 review now to know more.

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Accessories

Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1: Intuitive and portable podcasting rig

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AU-AM200-S1

I am a fan of quality and affordable gear. Modern manufacturing techniques and advancements in technology gave us a vast selection of gadgets in all shapes and sizes.

With the gaining popularity of live streaming, the demand for good audio interface and microphones is growing. The brand Maono, relatively speaking, is a newcomer that offers affordable audio products.

What we’ve got here is the Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1, which is a portable podcasting gear. This is the very first product I’ve got the chance to try from this brand and I’m liking it so far. This bundle is ideal for someone who is just getting into podcasting or a musician looking for a cheaper alternative.

What’s in the box?

AM200 Podcast Console

At first glance I actually thought it was a miniatured DJ turntable because of the two mini platters, but those are just volume knobs for the mics and music. It is a 3-channel mixer-type audio interface with five outputs. The two inputs are designated for mics and/or instruments and the other input is for music. Three outputs (3.5mm TRRS) for smartphones are available so you can stream simultaneously on different platforms.

A separate main and monitor output is available so you can listen to what your audience hears. Note that all the inputs and outputs are for 3.5mm jacks so if you are planning to plug in an instrument directly using a PL (1/4 inch) cable, you will need a 3.5mm adapter.

Plug and play

You can connect it to a computer with the USB A to C cable that is included. It doesn’t require any drivers, so, just plug it in and it’s good to go. It should be compatible to most DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) for music recording. There is a 3-band EQ along with a “REC” volume knob which is like a “Send” knob to feed the audio to the devices it’s connected to.

Two crossfaders control the monitor volume and echo level. The “monitor” crossfader controls both the volume level for the (main) output and the monitor (output). I wish they installed separated levers for each one to control them independently.

This is also the case for the mic volume knob, it controls both the levels of mic 1 and mic 2. It would’ve have been handy if there are separate knobs for each but I think they did this design to fit in a compact box.

For outdoor streaming and recording

At the middle portion, you’ll notice along the LED indicator level signal is a battery indicator. Yes, this is also battery powered which makes it suitable for out of home live streaming, if you prefer creating something for your viewers elsewhere. You can easily recharge the batteries with the USB C cable.

There are also audio sample pads, buttons for sound effects and pitch shifters.

AU-PM360TR Microphone

AU-AM200-S1

This condenser microphone does not require phantom power. It runs below 5V, through the XLR to 3.5mm cable, unlike the industry standard condenser microphones. With its cardioid polar pattern, it will be more sensitive to sounds being captured in front of it.

Earphones

It comes with a pair of in-ear earbuds with a very long cable, enough to cover the distance for a typical on-desk live streaming. I think that the sound quality would be more appreciated by most modern pop listeners who like a lot of bass. Because it does deliver that low-mid thump.

Tripod

Out of the box, the microphone comes attached to the mini tabletop tripod. The microphone is detachable to the tripod, but if it is used handheld, it will pick-up a lot of hand noise. So, it is better to leave it on the tripod.

Other accessories included are: XLR to 3.5mm cable, two 3.5mm TRRS cables, USB A to USB C cable, and a windscreen cap.

Performance

For podcasting, it is very easy to use. It’s what the AU-AM200-S1 is made for and they did a good job. The microphone delivers a clearer and louder output compared to built-in mics in smartphones/laptops or headsets. You can control the volume of music accompaniment easily with the wheel knob, whenever you want to highlight the music or the voice.

Plus, the sound samples like the applause, laughter, cheering etc., are nice additions for some impromptu segments in your streams. You can also record your own samples by pressing the “loop back” button and assigning to any of the blank buttons available.

Since the microphone does not require a phantom power, the output is weaker compared to classic condenser microphones. The sound quality is good nevertheless.

AU-AM200-S1

For music recording, you can record your instruments with it on your preferred DAW. I connected my guitar to my digital effects processor with a 3.5mm headphones jack going to the mic input of Maono console. I noticed that the 2 mic inputs have high gain levels because my guitar was already clipping with the volume knob on the AM200 console at around 10 o’clock.

Usually, I set the volume on my guitar effects unit on almost full when I am recording with a different audio interface and mixers. But with the Maono AU-AM200-S1, I only had to set the volume of my guitar effects at 50 percent. This is good because it doesn’t have a designated gain knob. Just watch out for clipping- if it happens, you may want to lower the volume from the source.

I recorded a few short audio samples to demonstrate how the Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 handles recording. Please excuse my singing voice.

Mic only without echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only with 50% echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only with 100% echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only without echo – vocal and guitar

Mic only with post-editing – vocal and guitar

Guitar through a digital effects processor

In a full band mix – Recorded vocals and guitars (both acoustic and electric)

Fully recorded demo

 

There are two functions that I have a few comments on:

AU-AM200-S1

Denoise — This is their “smart noise cancelling” feature that reduces background noise. It does its job as a noise gate, but unfortunately, you cannot adjust the settings (threshold, attack, range, etc.). Depending on how loud the ambient noise is, the mic sometimes gets a stuttering sound when this feature is engaged. If the room is quiet enough, there shouldn’t be any problem.

Music Only — This feature attempts to minimize the vocals in the music that you are playing, but similarly to the denoise, it sometimes affects the mic audio quality. I suggest looking for backing tracks of the songs you want to sing during your live stream beforehand.

Is the AU-AM200-S1 your GadgetMatch?

AU-AM200-S1

The Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 bundle is a usable and functional piece of gear. I see it as a bring-it-anywhere, all-in-one podcasting kit. It would have been more convenient (for me) if they included ¼ inch inputs for mics and instruments. Although, I guess it would kind of defeat its portable nature because most PL cables are thicker and heavier compared to the 3.5mm cables included in this bundle.

Pricing and Availability

The Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 retails for $109.00 and is available for purchase in Amazon, Shopee, and Lazada. You can check out their other products at the official Maono website.

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