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realme 9 Pro: A midrange camera powerhouse

For your visual content needs

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As someone who’s been in the writing and creative career for years, I firmly believe in the famous phrase, “content is king”. 

But now that visual elements have taken the world by storm, we can probably tweak that and now say, “visual content is king”. 

And what better way could we keep up by having the perfect device that answers the demands for  amazing visuals? That’s where one of realme’s new camera-focused midrangers perfectly fits in — the realme 9 Pro

Now let me tell you how this smartphone delivers. 

#CaptureTheLight like a Pro 

I can barely remember the last time I was able to do a photowalk since I am usually too busy during the day. And I honestly didn’t have the right camera to take snaps at night. But when I got a hold of the realme 9 Pro, what was impossible became plausible. 

This smartphone is equipped with a 64MP Nightscape Main Camera that lets you capture beautiful photos even in difficult lighting. I went to BGC for a couple of weekends and I thoroughly enjoyed taking photos even at night. I was able to capture great ones that can be instantly uploaded on my social feed. 

The realme 9 Pro’s Night mode cleared up the images I took and details of the subjects were more visible. You can also distinctly see the boost in sharpness and color. And even by turning the Night Mode off, the photos still look good though details were a bit softer and colors were a bit on the dull side. 

realme 9 Pro

Night Mode ON | Night Mode OFF

Though the main camera is called a ‘Nightscape Camera’, photos taken during the day were also pretty amazing. You can definitely notice the wide dynamic range, great sharpness and adequate details.  

realme 9 Pro

realme 9 Pro

realme 9 Pro

I am not fond of using photo filters with my previous smartphones since most of the time, colors and effects were pretty overdone. 

But what makes the realme 9 Pro even more convenient and fun for content creation is its Street Mode that adds a unique touch to your photos.

realme 9 Pro

90s Pop | Street Mode

realme 9 Pro

B&W Plus | Street Mode

realme 9 Pro

Dramatic | Street Mode

Each in-cam filter has a perfect use for certain locations, situations or feel that you want to achieve without going overboard. 

Regular shot

My personal favorites were the 90’s Pop, B&W Plus, Dramatic and Astral.  

Here are more samples of filtered photos.

realme 9 Pro

Cyberpunk, Modern Gold, Flamingo, and Dazzle

You can also make your night scene photos a bit more fun and interesting. There’s Street Mode’s Long Exposure modes such as the Neon Trail that lets you capture moving vehicles perfectly.  

realme 9 Pro

As for the 9 Pro’s 16MP selfie camera, it takes decent shots especially under good lighting conditions. It also does a good job at simulating depth and cleanly separates the subject from the background. 

Depth simulation was also evident with its Portrait Mode. The subject is truly isolated from the background creating a more appealing look. Dynamic range is also good and the subject is well exposed even in challenging conditions. 

What I actually wish that realme improved on are its 8MP wltra-wide camera and 2MP macro lens. Using the ultra-wide lens, photos lacked a bit of detail caused by the lower resolution. Colors were also slightly washed out and showed less sharpness. 

As for its macro lens, photos can be barely used as content since they were blurry as it was difficult to get a usable shot due to its 4-cm fixed focus distance. 

Dazzling design 

The camera may be the ‘main character’ when it comes creating content but the design of the realme 9 Pro also contributes a lot to making amazing ones. 

realme 9 Pro

The realme 9 Pro is just 8.5mm thin and weighs just 195g so it makes it easier to carry around and use while hustling from one place to another. It also has flat edges wrapped around and the plastic back is nicely curved to the sides. This makes it easier and more comfortable to grip when taking photos. 

realme 9 Pro

I also can’t help but feel confident as I took the realme 9 Pro out for a spin. I saw a few people looking at its distinct Aurora Green design.

realme 9 Pro

But still, I can’t help but wish I also got a hold of the Sunrise Blue variant with the Light Shift Design that changes from blue to red when exposed to sunlight. 

Ultra Smooth Display

 

With the realme 9 Pro, realme decided to level up for a higher refresh rate with its 6.6-inch display. This boasts a 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling rate so browsing through websites and scrolling through apps is a smooth experience. 

realme also claims to have implemented a granular refresh rate control including 6 refresh rates depending on the scenario.

So on the phone’s settings, you can opt to choose the High refresh rate of 120Hz, drop down to Standard which is 60Hz or set it to Auto-Select. This lets the system choose the appropriate refresh rate for the scenario. This allows the display to go as low as 30Hz which may actually help you save some battery along the way.

With this refresh rate, realme went with a FHD+IPS Display but it still isn’t something to be disappointed about. It produces vibrant colors and great contrast that comes quite close to what I have tried with some AMOLED displays.

Powerful all-around 5G Performance 

realme 9 Pro

Considering that the realme 9 Pro is a camera-focused smartphone, its performance still isn’t to be underestimated. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chipset with Adreno GPU 619, 8GB RAM with up to 5GB Dynamic RAM and 128GB of internal storage, this device is pretty fired up.

I immediately tried out Asphalt 9: Legends with its highest settings and it ran without a hitch. All the graphics loaded quickly and were smooth all throughout.

It was also impressive how I was able to play the action-packed Call of Duty: Mobile with very high settings on at a buttery smooth rate. 

realme 9 Pro

This processor also comes with 5G capability, allowing for connecting to the fastest network bands available. Which is why during my stay at a cafe in BGC, I was able to stream my favorite films and music at very fast speeds.

realme 9 Pro

Unlike other midrangers that were launched so far this 2022, the realme 9 Pro was launched with Android 12 out of the box with realme UI 3.0. The UI didn’t feel bloated and only came with a few customizations from realme such as their theme and accent color selections.

Battery and Charging 

realme 9 Pro

The realme 9 Pro packs a 5,000mAh battery which should be a standard for smartphones nowadays. It lasted me a day and a half of social media use and content creation. There’s also some Youtube watching and gaming on the side. 

Charging with its 33W Dart Charger, 30 minutes of charging got the battery from 10 percent to 52 percent. And a full charge took a total of an hour and 14 minutes which is a pretty desirable result.

Is the realme 9 Pro your GadgetMatch? 

If it still isn’t obvious, the realme 9 Pro is a great catch. It brings some flagship-level features in the midranger segment. 

It also has outstanding cameras along with photography modes that lets you create visual content that you can straight up use on your social media feed. You can’t go wrong with its ultra smooth display, highly competent processor with 5G connectivity and sufficient battery life. Even more-so if you’re into photography or content creation. 

realme 9 Pro

The realme 9 Pro (8GB+128GB) is available for PhP 16,990 but as an early-bird offer exclusively on Lazada, you can get PhP 2,000 OFF and just purchase it for PhP 14,990 until March 18, 2022. 

It will also be available at all realme official stores and partner dealers nationwide. The realme 9 Pro will be up for pre-order from March 16 to 25. Upon claiming on March 26 to 27, it comes with the following freebies:

  • Pocket Bluetooth Speaker
  • realme Type-C Superdart Cable
  • realme Mobile Game Finger Sleeves 

Laptops

Apple M2 MacBook Pro review: Affordable, powerful

Looks the same outside, more powerful inside!

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I love talking about new Apple hardware and I’m excited about the arrival of the new MacBook Air. It’s probably the most exciting news to come out of this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

But what some folks might not have known is that another M2-powered Mac was also announced.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro.

A new 13-inch MacBook Pro?!

Because there are many different MacBook Pro models, let’s first take a look at how this new 13-inch MacBook Pro stands in Apple’s current lineup.

Think of this model as the entry-level MacBook Pro. It sits alongside the 14-inch MacBook Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro — which Apple unveiled late last year.

The 13-inch and 14-inch models are of a roughly similar size, but the 14-inch has a larger screen thanks to thinner bezels.

In some ways, the 13-inch model is like the iPhone SE is to the Mac. It sports an older design but comes with new insides and a lower price.

There are plenty of differences between both models, which we’ll also discuss, but TL;DR, the reason Apple is keeping this model around is choice.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1299. Meanwhile, the 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1999, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2499. So, if you want to go pro and don’t want to break the bank, this here is your much more affordable option.

Unboxing

Alright, we might have gotten ahead of ourselves there. Let’s do a quick unboxing before we move on to our review.

Our MacBook Pro shipped in this brown box. But obviously, if you pick one up from the store it might not have this outside layer.

You know the drill by now, just look for the arrow, and rip to break the seal.

Inside here is the actual 13-inch MacBook Pro box.

Up front, there’s a white box with a photo of the laptop.

Tug here to break the seal…

And from here we can now lift up this lid.

Inside is the new 13-inch MacBook Pro wrapped in environment-friendly paper instead of plastic.

Also in the box are a USB-C to USB-C cable.

There’s a packet with some paperwork.

And two space gray stickers.

And underneath, a 67W adapter.

Still the same on the outside

Last year when Apple unveiled the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, they came with a major redesign. Chamfered edges were traded in for softer, rounded ones. Four feet lifted the laptop up from surfaces and provided more airflow for cooling.

Inside, the keyboard was black on black with full-sized function keys and the display got slimmer bezels. More real estate. And a notch.

Now unlike those models though, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro sports the same design as its predecessor from 2020. What does this mean?

Well, to start, the chassis is pretty much similar to unibody MacBook Pros from the last five years or so.

The keyboard looks like this.

There’s still a Touch Bar up top instead of physical function keys.

There’s no notch but it’s got thicker bezels.

Having used the new 14-inch MacBook Pro for more than half a year, I don’t wanna go back. But that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with this older design. It’s truly a work of art and one that has stood the test of time, and it’s still a stunner.

I actually like this keyboard better — particularly being able to see the aluminum frame in between the individual keys.

Also, if you’re a fan of the Touch Bar this is the last remaining Mac that has one. Like all MacBook Pros, it’s available only in either Space Grey or Silver.

A more powerful Mac inside

While its outsides look the same, on the inside, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is more powerful than ever. The transition from Intel to Apple Silicon was a huge jump for the Mac in terms of performance.

Apple’s M1 chip was and is groundbreaking. Without getting too technical, picture this: My first M1 machine was an entry-level MacBook Air. A thousand-dollar machine that ran circles around my US$6000 top spec Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The new MacBook Pro runs the even newer M2 chip, which offers even more power and better efficiency. The M2 can handle even heavier workloads much better. It also now supports up to 24GB of Unified Memory, with 8GB being the starting configuration.

Apple is promising nearly 40% faster video editing performance as compared to the M1 MacBook Pro. But of course, you’re most likely not upgrading from an M1 MacBook Pro to an M2 MacBook Pro. And in that case, Apple says to expect a 6x performance boost.

To showcase that, we exported a 10-minute, 4K, GadgetMatch video on a 2019 Intel-based 13-inch MacBook Pro and the new 2022 model.

A 10-minute and 12-second video with a 45.65GB file size gave different results. For instance, the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro exported the video for only 3 minutes and 23 seconds. Meanwhile, the 13-inch 8th-generation Intel Core i5 MacBook Pro took 13 minutes and 16 seconds.

Clearly, from these results, you can see how much of a performance improvement the M2 chip delivers. But perhaps even more impressive is how much more power-efficient Apple Silicon is.

Apple is promising about 20 hours of battery life and in our tests, we were getting close to that.

While usage may vary depending on what you’re doing, what’s more important to note is that even if you’re working on something more resource-intensive — the laptop requires less power to complete those tasks.

So, your laptop lasts longer even if you’re pushing the system a bit harder. Compare that to a 12-core PC laptop and you’re getting about 75% less power consumption.

A simple way to illustrate this is by taking a look at the bundled power adapter of the 13-inch MacBook Air.

This 67W power brick is all that’s needed for the Mac to run at full performance.

Meanwhile here’s the massive 180W power brick that comes with the new Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo that runs off the latest Intel i9 chip.

The size of the bricks illustrates how much more power is needed by a Windows machine and how much more power is consumed when you’re on battery.

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 13 2022

Since both the 2022 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro have M2 chips, which one should you get?

Let’s take a look at what differentiates the two: The M2 MacBook Air starts at US$ 1199, and the M2 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at US$ 1299.

Specs-wise they are nearly identical — apart from a larger battery on the Pro which Apple says delivers two hours more battery life. What sets the MacBook pro apart and gives it a performance edge are its built-in fans.

The MacBook Air doesn’t have fans. Frankly, fans come in handy for sustained workloads. What does this mean? Well, if you’re exporting a video and it’s taking a long time, say 30 minutes, the presence of fans will mean that once your laptop starts to get warm because the workload is pushing your computer to its limits, fans can kick in to keep things cool.

It allows the laptop to perform at max capacity for longer. That in its essence is the case for the MacBook Pro.

Apple MacBook Air M2

That said, the MacBook Air also has its pros. The most obvious is portability. Its updated design makes it feel more current. It has a bigger, better screen with more colors, higher max brightness, curved corners, slimmer bezels, and a 1080p FaceTime camera.

Apple MacBook Air M2

The new MacBook Air also now has MagSafe which offers fast charging as well as safety. For instance, if someone trips on your chord it won’t take the Mac down with it.

It also frees up that second USB-C port. Sans MagSafe, when the 13-inch MacBook Pro is plugged in, it effectively only has one free USB-C port. All for US$ 100 less.

Is the 13-inch MacBook Pro your GadgetMatch?

If you’re the kind of user who needs a Pro Model but doesn’t want to spend a lot of money then this is the device for you. Also, if you’ve been holding off from upgrading to Apple Silicon and wanted to wait for Gen 2, now is the time.

With an educational discount, you can get a new M2-powered Pro for US$ 1199. That said, I am of the belief that the upcoming M2-powered MacBook Air is a better value.

Apple MacBook Air M2

It is the Mac that most people should buy, even if, caveat, I have not reviewed one yet. So, maybe, you should wait for its release later next month.

Pro users needing more power need not worry. The M1 Pro and M1 Max-powered 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros from last year are still more powerful computers. Get them if you need even more performance power, more USB-C ports, and more connectivity options overall.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro will be available in stores starting June 24th.

Here is its official pricing:

  • USD 1299
  • EUR 1599/1629*
  • GBP 1349
  • SGD 1879
  • PHP 74,990
  • RUP 129,900

*countries that belong to the European Union (EU) have varying prices from region to region.

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Reviews

Apple M2 MacBook Pro Unboxing and Review

More Important Than You Think!

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During WWDC 2022, Apple announced the newest 2022 M2 MacBook Air with a major redesign — making it the instant star of the show.

But for others, the M2 MacBook Pro is what they’re aiming for.

It might still be the same with its classic aluminum unibody design, 13.3″ Retina Display, and a Touch Bar from 2016 — but inside it’s even more powerful.

Also equipped with the new generation of Apple’s Silicon Chip dubbed ‘M2’, it surely knows how to make professionals drool.

But is it worth the money? Or should you just get the M2 MacBook Air instead?

Or what about getting the more expensive 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro chip?

Watch our unboxing and full review on the M2 MacBook Pro now to find out more!

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Reviews

OPPO A96 review: Just another power performer

Great in many aspects, and that’s all you could hope for

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OPPO isn’t short on delivering great smartphones at such a fair price for most people. In many ways, they’d like to push the boundaries even on rather budget-friendly devices to elevate the experience. Such is the case with a device like the OPPO A96: a midrange device with some powerful hardware right out of the box.

The whole idea behind the OPPO A96 was that it was “Designed to be Powerful.” In theory, all the parts mesh together to form an experience that screams power and performance that isn’t quite like the rest. From the camera to the internal hardware, everything about this device should give any user all the power needed for all their tasks.

Does the OPPO A96 fare well in reality? Let’s find out:

Looking at the literal design

Upon unboxing, the OPPO A96 comes in with a rather simple phone design, complete with the camera setup at the front and back. Of course, the package only comes with the phone and charger inside, so you might have to buy earphones or headphones separately. In terms of color options, you have a choice between Starry Black or Pearl Pink.

Another highlight is that the rear cover is scratch-proof, which is ideally great for those who venture out a lot. Naturally, the rear cover should not collect any marks or fingerprints when you use it. This is quite alright if you’re not too keen on buying phone cases to save your phone from scratches, plus the package comes with a rubber case.

A power performer through thick and thin

Here’s a not-so-little secret about the OPPO A96: it’s a fast and powerful smartphone all things considered. Upon booting up the device, it took a little bit of time for things to start loading up on ColorOS. Once you get the ball rolling, the experience is pretty smooth especially when opening apps and scrolling through social media feeds left and right.

Of course, having a 90Hz refresh rate display certainly helps in the smoothness of the browsing experience on the device. Applications respond pretty well to any sort of interaction on the display, and much of ColorOS is optimized well for a 90Hz refresh rate. Just note, however, that setting the refresh rate to anything but 60Hz eats up the battery a little bit.

Apart from all of these, the phone doesn’t necessarily present anything groundbreaking. At the very least, it shows that most midrange smartphones have a new standard to follow in terms of performance and features. If you’re on the hunt for a phone that suits your particular needs, however, here’s what you can keep in mind:

Suited for anything and for anyone

Regardless of whatever you throw at it, the OPPO A96 will gladly take your tasks and perform great — whether you game a lot or watch a lot. For those who game a lot, this smartphone comes with game optimization features within ColorOS for you to focus in-game without any distractions. 

Although, from our tests, it doesn’t help if you have games with intense graphics settings. For most mobile games we threw at it, they loaded up in full with most of the details popping out for games that aren’t as intensive. If you’re after a much smoother experience, it’s recommended to turn down your graphics settings by a little bit.

Now, if you’re more of somebody who just watches videos all day with some gameplay in there, the bright 6.59-inch Punch Hole display works wonders. Plus, the OPPO A96 comes with dual speakers for a bit of an immersive viewing experience as an added bonus. From our observations, however, audio quality is pretty decent in most room settings.

Lasts long, charges a bit long too

In terms of battery life, the OPPO A96 is no slouch. With regular usage, the device lasts for about a day and a half thanks to the 5,000mAh battery inside. If you go too much on the gaming, you could still push the device to run for at least half a day. As mentioned earlier, this is also dependent on the refresh rate and frame rate you’re playing some games on.

Charging the device, however, took a bit too long than how we would have hoped. See, the OPPO A96 supports OPPO’s SUPERVOOC Fast Charging which essentially speeds up charging times, especially during the device’s most idle hours. From our tests, a full charge still took about two hours, which still isn’t a lot; compared to other phones with fast charging, it’s one of the longer ones

Camera systems could be a bit better

Unlike most of its contemporaries, the OPPO A96 stuck with a dual lens setup for its rear cameras and a single lens front camera. For its rear cameras, OPPO made sure to include a 50MP main lens with a 2MP Bokeh focus lens ideally for better portrait shots. Initially, this worked out pretty well under great lighting conditions, especially when zeroing in on specific images.

However, when taking night shots or even shots in rather dark conditions, the cameras struggle to keep up and produce rather grainy images. Even in camera previews, images look a bit out of sorts in the quality department so you’re better off using the flash to get better quality.

With regards to that single lens front camera, it’s a decent lens to work with under proper lighting conditions. In some cases, details are fleshed out quite nice, but shifting to darker rooms or unsuitable lighting conditions make it struggle, as well.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Starting at PhP 15,999, the OPPO A96 is one powerful device that caters to the needs of anyone for anything you throw at it. It ticks all the boxes of what a powerful smartphone should be for a rather modest price at that. With its long battery life, it prolongs the all-around smartphone experience especially when you need it the most.

Although, like most of the devices within this price range, it isn’t a perfect machine. Even with a beefy battery, charging it might leave much more to be desired for some people. Also, the cameras are a bit of a hit or miss depending on how you want your pictures to look like. With gaming on this device, there are ways to maximize your use while having to sacrifice a bit of detail here and there.

For what it’s worth, the OPPO A96 is a power performer in most aspects. Again, it’s not as groundbreaking and doesn’t introduce anything new, but it gets the job done when you need it to.

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