Reviews

Realme C12 review: No fuss budget phone

Living up to its battery beast name?

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The realme C series had another new member in light of their recent new realme C15 release: the realme C12. Taking no time at all to ease off new entry-level releases, realme had us chiming into DJ Khalid’s Another One in the same month. No? Just me?

Before I try and humor all of you with recycled jokes from the pricing article. Let’s get into the review. The realme C series smartphone line-up promises balancing all its features out, all without breaking the bank–from camera capabilities, phone design, to battery capacity. But, does it live up to that?

No fuss, no muss

The realme C12 is a dual-sim budget smartphone with a 6.5-inch stunning display. The phone features and specifications aren’t anything technologically new or revolutionary. The phone seems to be almost identical to its big brother, the realme C15. If there’s something these two phones make sure to hit the nail on, it’s functionality, affordability, and durability. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Uncanny similarities

The realme C12 looks exactly like the realme C15. You could quite easily swap them without noticing. On the back, the phone is decked out in Geometric Gradient Design with a fingerprint reader, triple camera set-up, and the realme logo.

Spider Man Reaction GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The phone doesn’t wear the budget tag on its cover. The Geometric Gradient Design saves it from looking cheap and plastic. And, even better, it’s relatively cheap without looking like it is. The phone comes in these colors: Marine Blue or Coral Red.

Budget phones still come with a catch

The realme C12 is powered by a Helio G35 Processor paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. Don’t fret too much if you’re worried about running into problems. This is enough to run most apps on the Google Play Store without much of a hitch. And, if you’re concerned about storage, the phone has a dedicated microSD card slot.

The realme C12 doesn’t falter on features when tested.  When swiping, unlocking, scrolling, and quickly opening and closing apps, it easily performs without hiccups. To complement the speedy processor, the realme C12 has a 6000mAh battery which makes a full day of non-stop work and play, look like a piece of cake.

For gaming, the phone didn’t seem too bothered with Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. But, if you expect jaw-dropping gaming performance, you’ll find this phone a little lacking. The realme C12, like the C15, suffers from casual stutters when trying to play at the optimal settings. So, if you notice your phone is doing some heavy lifting while you’re playing, it’s best to adjust to lower settings.

Another phone, another catch?

The realme C12 features a triple camera set-up with a 13MP primary shooter, a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP B&W portrait lens. On the front, the phone has a 5MP selfie camera. Testing these features out was a lot of fun and the phone did well even in low light.

hi!

sleepy cat selfie

The realme C12 performed well even with little to no lighting but it does trade this off with detail. But, with a phone at its price point, it outperforms phones in the same category quite easily.

chocnut cookies I made!

 

sleepy catto

I tested out its focus and it didn’t struggle much at all. The crutch to these features, if I had to be nit-picky, would have to be how depended the rear cameras are to how much lighting you have. The less of it you have, the less detailed the photo will be.

felt like trying out different sorts of beers

Mango likes to hang out with my while I work

To the realme C12’s defense though, most phones at this price point won’t even be able to capture good evening shots so they deserve a little bit more credit.

lovely midday scenery

night light

Decent phone with an identity crisis?

The realme C12 looks identical to the realme C15. I’m not talking specifications and features; I’m talking face value design. The phones look too alike. I’m not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing but, it does leave some people scratching their heads.

Look, there are clear differences between the realme C15 and the realme C12. The C12 has the triple rear camera set-up while the C15 gets an additional camera on the back; the C12 has a 5MP selfie camera while the C15 has an 8MP one, and the C12 has 3GB RAM and 32GB storage while the C15 has 3GB or 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. The rest is the same. They’re both equipped with the same processor, the same battery, the same design, and cover.

I can only assume that the three added features between the C12 and the C15 are why they’re called the model they are. But, it doesn’t answer how they’re barely distinguishable from one another.

realme C12

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for a phone that can deliver on every front while letting you play on the highest settings, this isn’t the phone for you. If you need a phone to get through a long day of non-stop work and play while delivering decent shots in low light settings, this is the phone for you. The realme C12 is a good all-around entry phone to recklessly abused for your daily grind use.

The realme C12 costs PhP 5,990.

Laptops

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review: Power from a new generation

More business-focused than ever before

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ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Young and established professionals go through a lot day in and day out. Even under work-from-home conditions, a lot of people require devices with great, long-lasting power to keep them going. Fortunately, a lot of companies tend to provide such business-centred devices to their employees unless you already have a powerful laptop to use.

For Lenovo, their ThinkPad lineup serves as that dedicated list of business-oriented products that offer long-lasting power. With every generation and iteration of this legacy sub-brand, there are more business-centered features added to enhance the work experience. This is how the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 shapes up to be, in my eyes.

So, does the new generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon stack up? Here’s what you’re getting with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8:

It has a 14-inch FHD, anti-glare display

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

There are sets of USB-A, HDMI, and USB-C ports with the device

A 10th generation Intel Core i7 powers the device

It comes in a classic Black finish with a carbon fiber lid

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Excellent build quality, as expected

I have to admit that it’s been a while since I’ve looked at a ThinkPad device. I’ve seen other people rock the device in most coffee shops and work areas, but never experienced using one. Still, looking at the 8th generation of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, I’ve seen how far this legacy has come while maintaining some key features.

For instance, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 is just a kilo in weight, which is pretty damn light. It was easy to carry around, and it’s sleek in its own right with the carbon fiber lid. Now, when I had oily hands, I did get some of my fingerprints on it — relatively visible to the naked eye. It’s kind of a fingerprint magnet, but it easily blends in every time.

Apart from these, another key feature of the overall build is its retention of the red-dot mouse and mouse buttons. While I wouldn’t necessarily use it more than the precision trackpad, I found it a nice touch to keep around. As someone with an affinity towards the past, something as classic as this small red dot took me back. But, enough nostalgia and let’s focus on the now.

Superb performance for business tasks and activities

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with a quad-core, Intel Core i7-10610U processor inside that powers everything underneath the hood. Despite being a quad-core CPU, it provides great performance for business-related tasks, especially on the go. Of course, it also helps that this device also comes with 16GB of RAM to manage the load, as well.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

I used this machine on occasion for some of my tasks for my day job, and it held up pretty well. From handling tons of data entries in Excel to conference calls on Microsoft Teams, it showed no signs of slowing down. Also, I was working at such an efficient rate (by my standards) with my files loading up quickly thanks to the SSD inside.

I felt that a lot of thought and work was given to a business-centered device like this. In essence, it’s a device designed to reduce bottlenecks from your workflow while also giving you more features to enhance the experience. Even if you’re using this device casually, I think it holds up well. But, more on those features later on.

One long-lasting battery fit for the long work hours

This device comes with a built-in 51Wh battery inside, and such battery made this device last long without charging. While I was working on all my data reports, presentations, and even some articles, it still had about 50 to 55 percent left. To exhaust one full charge, I took around 14 hours without reaching for the charger.

Within that 14-hour span, I managed to get some work done plus watch a few videos on YouTube and Netflix. For the most part, I didn’t have to put the battery in Power Saving Mode to supposedly extend my hours by a few tick marks. I felt that you can seriously go on a full work day, and then some.

If you manage to exhaust this long-lasting battery, the 65W USB-C charging brick charges the device almost instantly. I say almost since it took an average of an hour and 45 minutes to go from zero to 100 percent. When you think about it, this device brings you back into your work without any interruption. That is, if you count reaching for the charger an interruption to your workflow.

None of that excruciating heat in the way

At first, I thought that something this thin and light meant that cooling the device was difficult. As with most business laptops, these devices tend to feel some heat every time you run complicated data queries on Excel. At least, that’s how my work laptop went every single time I open an Excel file with a size greater than 200MB.

With the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, however, I didn’t feel any heat as much as I thought I would. To its credit, it doesn’t have any fancy dedicated GPU on board, so one possible source of heat is gone. Still, even under long and intense workloads, the laptop didn’t heat up as much.

On the times it did heat up, it wasn’t as excruciating as it would be on, let’s say a gaming laptop. Every time I use this on my lap for long workloads, it feels warm around the upper portions where the battery is housed. Still, I didn’t experience as much heat on the keyboard nor on my lap, which makes this device comfortable to use.

How about those business-oriented features?

I mentioned earlier that this laptop came packed with nifty business-oriented features, and there are some I applaud Lenovo for including. For instance, I loved the addition of dedicated function keys for voice and video calls integrated for Teams and/or Zoom. If you want to avoid the hassle of dragging your mouse to answer the call, now it’s possible to do so with a simple key press!

Also, the Dolby Atmos speakers at the bottom and top were a nice touch. Along with an active noise-cancelling microphone during calls, it made for a great sound system every time I had an online team meeting. For everything else like music and movies, it provided deep levels of sound.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

As for the HD camera, it was decent when I was using it for video calls. It’s not particularly great, however, in image quality, especially if you’re just using it to take selfies while on call. At least, you still get the privacy shutter when you’re not using it, so I give it a pass.

Is this your GadgetMatch for WFH?

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Starting at PhP 129,990, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 provides the ease of a business experience. Apart from a well-built device, it comes with the hardware and the features dedicated to business professionals of all kinds. Also, it lasts long enough to get you through the entire work day, and even a little bit past that.

Sure, it’s not as versatile as ultrabooks or gaming laptops in terms of the tasks you can throw at it. It doesn’t have the flashiness of RGB, or capable graphics drivers for gaming and video rendering. For what it’s worth and for what it’s target consumer is asking, this device is more than enough.

At such a high price point, it’s not an easy investment for multiple employees in any given company (especially now while we’re still in pandemic mode). However, its power and longevity certainly make it a device worth considering for a WFH setup.

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Gaming

ROG Flow X13 review: One of a kind

A jack of all trades

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“How is that a gaming laptop?” 

This was the initial reaction of my colleagues when I first took the ROG Flow X13 out of my bag. And who can blame them? One quick glance doesn’t tell you much.

The design is very understated


Nothing here screams gaming. It has a nice subtle ribbed pattern on the cover in a very stealth-ish black.


Perhaps the only dead giveaway that this is, in fact, a gaming machine is the ROG logo which is noticeable but doesn’t dominate the look.

Powered by AMD Ryzen 5000

AMD has been absolutely killing it in the gaming processor department with plenty of reviewers recommending AMD-powered gaming laptops over Intel ones.

The ROG Flow X13 we have specifically has the AMD Ryzen 5900Hs with Radeon Graphics 3.30Hz.  This particular device also has 16GB of RAM along with 1TB of storage. Yes, it’s a beast. For the graphics card, this one is sporting an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q design. More on this later.

For a 2-in-1, it has a fair collection of ports

On the right hand side are: One (1) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, One (1) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support DisplayPort / power delivery that’s sitting right next to the power button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner.


On the left are: One (1) 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack, One (1) HDMI 2.0b, One (1)ROG XG Mobile Interface (More on this later). Also, you’re gonna want to use that headphone jack. The speakers on this thing doesn’t get loud at all, and the sound is just mostly okay.

It also features ASUS’ Ergolift hinge that’s always a satisfying sight.

A 2-in-1 for heavy tasks

Over the time that I’ve had the notebook, I’ve used it more for work than gaming. It’s a healthy 80-20 split, and to no one’s surprise the ROG Flow X13 had zero trouble handling heavy tasks.

I did everything from writing scripts, copy-editing articles, dealing with presentation slides, as well as headache inducing spreadsheets. Typical work stuff. Oh, and I also opted to use Chrome over Microsoft Edge despite recommendations from peers to do otherwise. I can’t quite escape from Chrome just yet.

On top of that, I’ve also handled some basic photo editing and have moved files from different sources. I didn’t notice any considerable heating even on days that I opt to keep my air conditioning turned off to manage my electricity consumption.

I’ve only ever really used it remotely a couple of times and continuously working outside, the machine will give you around six to seven hours depending on how much you push the processor and the display.

The backlit chiclet keyboard is easy enough to get used to. I thought the travel was great but I did wish the keys were a little larger. That said, it’s fairly easy to use and is not a dealbreaker at all. Much of the same can be said about the trackpad. Then again, there’s only so much space you’re working with on a notebook this size.

Speaking of display… 

This particular unit we have has a 4K WQUXGA (3840 x 2400) resolution. It measures 13.4 inches with a 16:10 ratio. If you’re mostly using this for gaming and you don’t have to deal with photo editing a lot, the 1080p version should suffice.

The display is Pantone Validated, has anti-glare, with a 60Hz refresh rate, adaptive sync, and since it has a tablet mode, it naturally has a touch screen.

Like any 2-in-1, you can prop it up in a variety of ways. You can go tent mode like the image above, tablet mode like mentioned earlier, and the mode where the keyboard is facing down and away from you.

Gaming on the notebook 

You can certainly play AAA titles on just the notebook alone but you’ll have to turn the graphics down to medium. That’s precisely what I did when playing Control: Ultimate Edition while out in the wild.

Although, to be perfectly honest, most of the gaming I’ve done with just the notebook is with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered. I’ve been on a bit of a Final Fantasy binge of late spending the past weekends beating Final Fantasy XV on the PS5 and starting FFVIII Remastered on the ROG Flow X13.

Given my choice of games, despite taking advantage only of the built-in GTX 1650, it never felt like the laptop was lacking. But as we all know, this isn’t its final form.

ROG XG Mobile 

To fully unlock the ROG Flow X13’s potential, there’s this little accessory that comes with it — the ROG XG Mobile.

What is it? It’s probably one of the tiniest eGPU’s to exist right now. With these dimensions: 20.8  x 15.5  x 2.96 cm and weighing just 1kg, this is about as mobile an eGPU can get.

What it does is unlock more firepower for the ROG Flow X13. Kind of like Iron Man’s Hulkbuster suit.

 

The ROG XG Mobile is rocking an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 with ROG Boost up to 1810MHz at 150W and adds more ports for your enjoyment. These are:  One (1) HDMI 2.0, One (1) DP 1.4, One (1) RJ-45 Jack, (1) DC input jack, Four (4) USB 3.2 Gen1 port, and One (1) SD Card reader(Standard)/UHS-II(312MB/s)

The full package

This takes playing those AAA titles to the next level. With it you can easily crank up your graphics settings to ‘Very High,’ which is exactly what I did when playing Death Stranding.

The game looks freaking amazing on the 4K screen and has no hiccups whatsoever when the ROG Flow X13 and the ROG XG Mobile are working in tandem.

A couple of hours of Death Stranding and another couple of hours playing Hades were enjoyable. I’d like to note that I only really get to game on PCs during reviews so most of my point of comparison is coming from all the PS4 and PS5 gaming I’ve done in the past few months.

That said, this is exactly the kind of experience I was hoping for but did not really expect from a notebook this size. None of the ultrabooks I’ve used in the past could even come close to this level of satisfaction when it comes to gaming. Pair it with the ROG XG Mobile and it just takes things to another level.

Mobility and versatility 

The true strength and value add of the ROG Flow X13 and ROG XG Mobile combo is not how it can give you the best overall gaming experience. There’s certainly more powerful gaming laptops out there. However, they’re not this light nor versatile.

At around a US$ 3000 package (pricing in the Philippines will be revealed on the February 20 event), you’re getting what others who have reviewed this laptop call a midrange PC performance.

And for sure, you can build a waaaay more powerful PC with that amount. But you won’t be able to lug that PC around wherever you want. You can go the regular laptop gaming route, but nothing is as light with this much oomph. And if you want an ultrabook, you can forget about a high-end experience playing AAA games.

It’s not like you’re only getting the laptop and the eGPU at that price. Also included in the whole package is a stylus, the ROG Chakram Core gaming mouse, and sleeves for both the ROG Flow X13 and the ROG XG Mobile. As far as packages go, that’s premium value right there.

Is the ROG Flow X13 your GadgetMatch?

Personally, it uniquely fits me. I’ve always wanted to build a gaming rig but do not have the space to house one. The ROG Flow X13 package is the closest I can get to high-end PC gaming but with the space-saving and mobility that my lifestyle requires.

For everyone else, well, the ROG Flow X13 isn’t the best at any of the things it’s trying to do or trying to be. However, it’s the only one that’s versatile enough to do all of it. It’s like that rare, invaluable member of a team that can play second fiddle to just about anyone. That’s such an underrated trait and is what this machine should be celebrated for.

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Laptops

Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i: Perfect combination of style and substance

Two halves – one good, the other great

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2-in-1 laptops are now becoming a mainstream category in the tech world and are pretty much dominated by the two giants — Apple who’s crossing the 2-in-1 space with the Ipad Pro and Microsoft with generations unshaken on their Surface Pro line.

What appears to be an overlooked option though is Lenovo with their Yoga Duet 2-in-1 series.

The word yoga is often associated with the ability to assume multiple forms. This is exactly the case with the Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i. It can take the form of a handheld tablet, a slim laptop, a drawing tablet and even a PC with a detached keyboard.

The good half

I see the Yoga Duet 7i as two halves. The first half is a tablet where the weight of all the internal components are packed in and the other half a magnetically attached Bluetooth keyboard.

A 13-inch 2K resolution IPS touch screen display, an Intel Core i7-10510U processor, 16GB memory, and 1TB of SSD storage all stored in a metal finish body of the tablet with an adjustable kickstand.

The detachable keyboard is predominantly made of plastic while its bottom is covered with fabric. The purpose behind the fabric bottom is that when clasped together, the whole device seems to mimic the look of a sophisticated planner.

There’s no denying that the Yoga Duet 7i is a handsome device. It feels really well made and the metal with fabric finish is just a luxurious touch.

Its metal finish has this sort of rubberized coat on it. I assume this is to add a slight grip to its body making it a bit easier for our hands to hold while adding a bit more to the premium feel of the device.

Performing up to the task

On paper, the specs of the Yoga Duet 7i isn’t really what I would consider to be spectacular. Nowadays, any Core i7 powered device would most definitely breeze through word processing, spreadsheets and browsing.

The Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i isn’t any different. Despite being an upper midrange processor, the eight logical cores of the Core i7-10510U handled all tasks I threw at it without any problems. That includes some relatively heavy editing using Adobe Lightroom.

The device did quite heat up when performing tasks that were a bit more power intensive. You could hear the fans blowing out warm air from the top portion of the device. This might be a concern if you’re using the device in tablet mode as it did feel uncomfortable to a certain degree.

The better half

I have a big appreciation for good keyboards. And Lenovo just happens to be on my personal list of brands of which I’m confident would provide good ones especially with their reputation on the ThinkPad series.

Though the Yoga Duet 7i is a different story. Since this device isn’t a laptop structurally, the detachable keyboard shouldn’t be compared with a laptop. Or so I thought.

Lenovo had definitely taken some notes on laptops as the Yoga Duet 7i’s keyboard felt surprisingly similar to the ones of a MacBook Pro. The satisfying click and feedback are all there and despite its compact form, the size of the keys and its spacing are just right.

I can say the same for the trackpad. The feel certainly had a striking similarity to a MacBook Pro trackpad. I guess I can attribute this similarity in feel to its substantial size. Multitouch integration with Microsoft Gestures was seamless. I found myself navigating the Chrome browser just as how I would on a standard sized laptop.

Now, imagine for a moment typing on your lap without the weight and heat of a whole laptop. Or placing the display farther or even eye level while keeping the keyboard at arms reach.

These are just some of the conveniences the Duet 7i’s keyboard can provide. It can work either attached or detached from the tablet. With a flip of the switch, the keyboard shifts to Bluetooth mode, automatically connects and draws power from its internal battery.

With homes being offices to many of us these days, this really opens up more possibilities on how we can position the device as we use it.

Faithful to your eyes

Gazing into this beautiful display was a delight. The 2K resolution on a 13-inch screen felt adequate and didn’t feel too small at all. I was surprised that I did not have the urge to transfer to a bigger monitor at any given point. Not even for photo editing.

As I have, content creators can trust color representation that would be coming from this display. Since rated 100% on sRGB color gamut means there isn’t any over saturation of colors.

Determined to last

Without conserving battery power, I was able to get the Yoga Duet 7i to reach a good eight hours before power saving mode kicked in. Pretty decent considering I tend to keep brightness levels at max. I assume I can easily squeeze in around an hour or two more on power saving mode.

A power issue that I did have with the Duet 7i though was its charging. I didn’t quite understand why there were instances when charging was really fast and then times that it wasn’t. In fact, it was very slow. Oftentimes, I’d have to observe if it was charging and have to re-plug the charger when it wasn’t. There were occasions where I left the unit plugged for hours and came back puzzled to see a very minimal increase on its charge.

Color my world

The E-Color Pen as Lenovo calls it, is the optional digital pen for the Yoga Duet 7i. And it has the ability to pick up colors from real life objects through its sensor by just touching on it. While in concept this may sound useful for creatives doing digital artwork, I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to make it work. I’m not sure if it just required a specific software for capturing color but on Paint 3D, everything else worked as it should.

Also, a nice refresh from Lenovo’s previous stylus pen, the E-Color Pen now is rechargeable through USB-C not anymore needing disposable batteries.

Is the Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i your GadgetMatch?

The Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. I even doubt calling it just a 2-in-1 for its diverse capabilities. It’s attractive, has a great screen and the detachable Bluetooth keyboard is just excellent. 

This gadget would certainly be a good fit for people who work for creatives and those who are always on the go for numerous meetings and presentations. If you can live with its shortcomings, the Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i is a solid choice and should definitely be among the top contenders in its class.

Available in Space Grey and Orchid colors, the Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i’s price starts at PhP 59,995 for the Intel Core i5-10210U, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD variant up to PhP 85,995 for the Intel Core I7-10510U, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD variant.

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