Reviews

Realme XT review: Gorgeous and fabulous

It’s more than just a 64-megapixel camera phone

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I always pride myself on having an impeccable taste when it comes to aesthetic and style. I have extremely high standards; not just in my everyday choices in life, but also in the little things I encounter. Such examples are food, coffee, the type of vehicle I want to ride on, and gadgets I’d love to try.

Yes, you read that right. I’m a picky person in everything and I’m only captivated by things that are beautiful. While it’s true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there are a few cases where what I found beautiful was perceived the same way by the people around me.

Case in point: The Realme XT.

Brims with beauty and elegance

I got my hands on the Pearl White Realme XT. Seeing this beaut brings me the feeling and sense of wonder. It’s beautiful to look at, like a fairytale that came to life. The Realme XT is gorgeous, magical, wonderful, and exciting to flaunt in front of everyone.

Using a classic, timeless shade combined with the radiant glow of shifting colors, Realme outdid itself. This phone is just majestic to look at.

Designed with form and function

Realme didn’t forget function, despite trying to achieve perfection through this smartphone. It has soft buttons which made the volume rockers and power button lovely to press every now and then.

Even though it’s tall like every phone of 2019, its curves are crafted with the user in mind. However, its grip isn’t perfect for my tiny hands. Thankfully, the phone isn’t as slippery as any other glass phone.

On the other hand, everything we need at is here. There’s a card tray for your SIM card and a dedicated MicroSD slot that supports up to 256GB of storage. You can also find a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microphone, a USB Type-C port, and its speaker grilles supported by Dolby Atmos.

There’s always a deal breaker

Humans are never contented. We always find the something lacking or we reject the thing that doesn’t suit our preferences. Admittedly, I fell in love at first sight with the Realme XT when I first saw it in person. It’s glamorous and it made me want to use and own it. However, flipping the phone gave me a horrendous sight.

While this sounds dramatic, I hate the notch no matter what form or style it is. It’s appalling to look at, and I’m still wondering until when I’m going to see this trend on smartphones this year. However, this deal breaker is something that can’t be helped.

It’s like seeing someone with a full set of toned abs and muscles, only to find his nose annoying. Genetically speaking, it’s something that you can’t fix unless you undergo surgery. But let’s be real: No one in the right mind would fix his natural-born appearance just to please someone with unattainable standards. Same goes with this smartphone, you just need to live with it.

Red flags that are difficult to ignore

Apart from its awful notch, I had trouble with its screen. The Realme XT has a 6.4″ Super AMOLED full HD+ display with a Gorilla Glass 5 protection. Yes, it sounds and looks pretty good. Its display is bright, filled with vibrant and well-saturated icons. Underneath the screen is an in-display fingerprint scanner, which authenticates quickly.

However, I had a hard time viewing the screen under extreme sunlight while I was in Boracay Island. I find this confusing since most AMOLED panels have excellent sunlight legibility and this one can’t handle being used outdoors. My only solution is to use the phone under a shade so I can still play games, watch videos, chat, and surf.

A little bit tacky

On top of my problem with sunlight, I’m disappointed with the UI design that ColorOS 6 has. Originally not fond of its skin, I opted to find ways to change its theme.

Changing the theme is easy peasy. There are a variety of free themes to choose from, so I can guarantee you can find something that resonates with your personality and style.

Sweet and smooth

The Realme XT runs ColorOS 6 based on Android 9 Pie. This phone also packs 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. Additionally, it runs an Adreno 616 for its graphics card, and it’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 712. I haven’t experienced any hiccups during my entire usage, and I find it easy to switch between apps and multitask.

I even played Mobile Legends on the highest setting possible and it didn’t lag one bit. Navigating the game is a piece of cake since it runs smoothly. Given that I have no interest in gaming smartphones, I don’t have the authority to tell whether this phone is a beast in this department or not. But one thing’s for sure: It definitely can play any game you’d like.

Lasts longer than it should be

My entire day includes communicating through messaging apps, scrolling through social media, reading news, and stalking my crush on Instagram. As people know, I’m a heavy, power user which runs multiple apps and loves to switch between apps every now and then.

This only means one thing: I’m on my phone a lot. Back then, I used to only care for cameras when choosing a smartphone. Seeing how my behavior and the way I use my smartphone changed, I realized how important it is to find a smartphone that packs a lot of power and the battery you need for an entire day.

The Realme XT has a 4000mAh battery and can be charged with the fast 20W VOOC charging. On standby, the phone can last two to three days. Even when you use it fairly or abusively, the Realme XT can really last for an entire day.

Recently, I attended a wedding and I only had the Realme XT with me throughout the day. Fear crept in my body after realizing that I left my power bank and the phone might not last until the evening. To my surprise, the Realme XT lasted even when I used Waze to navigate while driving, watch videos on YouTube, chat with friends on Messenger, browse on Instagram, upload my stories, and take lots of photos and videos.

I was able to do a lot, and I didn’t expect the phone to last longer than it did. It was at this moment that I found a better appreciation of Realme’s phones, which has been bragged to me as a budget phone that has a lot of juice and power.

Shining and sparkling bright cameras

The Realme XT is equipped with a quad-camera setup, which includes the following: 64-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel wide angle lens, 2-megapixel meant for macro and 2-megapixel depth sensor cameras. On its front, the Realme XT houses a 16-megapixel selfie camera. Additionally, it can take high-quality videos up to 4K at 30 fps.

At first, I wondered who would need a megapixel number this high? Smartphone manufacturers keep chasing numbers yet what they’re doing translates to me as an attempt to capture more markets who are blinded with the thought that a higher megapixel count means better photos.

My argument is somewhat true since some phones and even cameras are equipped with a lower megapixel count yet still produce stunning imagery. But I gave the Realme XT a try, like a person giving someone a chance.

Then I realized, the Realme XT does wonders. These 64-megapixel photos captivated me. It felt like I was being brought to another world, delving into a life of picture-perfect moments and stunning clarity so clear — your fuzzy relationship can’t even.

Even with photos shot on auto mode, it’s hard not to fall in love with its cameras.

The only downside is the quality of photos you can take at night. It’s not that bad, but it’s not that good either. Even with nightscape on, I struggled and I decided not to use the Realme XT during my dinners and parties. After all, some nights are worth living the moment instead of documenting everything on a smartphone.

But of course, here are a few samples I took during the blue hour.

The quality downgrades, so if you prefer stunning night shots without resorting to nightscape, you might want to opt using the 64-megapixel camera.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Realme XT is one gorgeous and fabulous phone. No doubt, it’s one of the prettiest this year. Sure, there are pretty phones out there like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10. However, it’s the type of beauty that comes with a price. I’m a firm believer that beauty shouldn’t come with too steep a price. It should be something that everyone can enjoy.

Apart from its beauty, the Realme XT is a capable smartphone. While it may have its shortcomings, these red flags are easy to gloss over since the phone has a lot to offer such as its wonderful cameras, its trusty battery life, and power that lets you do more even on an affordable smartphone. Like in love, there’s always something a person can bring to the table. It’s up to us to see the bad side or choose to see their worth.

The Realme XT costs PhP 16,990 (US$ 333) in the Philippines. It’s already available on Lazada today. If you pre-order now, you will also get the Realme Youth Buds that’s worth PhP 3,990 for free.

Reviews

Google Pixel 4a Unboxing & Review: Unbelievably Good?

A direct contender of the iPhone SE and OnePlus Nord

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Google’s ‘a'(ffordable) line-up may be long overdue because of the pandemic — but after several months of waiting, we finally have one on our hands.

Cheaper than last year’s US$ 399 Pixel 3a, the US$ 349 Pixel 4a might just be the most affordable flagship killer contender you can get over the 2020 iPhone SE and the OnePlus Nord.

But can the mid-tier specifications and less-fancy phone features justify its affordable price tag? Head over to our in-depth Pixel 4a review here.

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Nike Air Max 2090 review: Incredibly comfortable everyday sneakers

Really cool, too 😎

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The 2090 is the latest in Nike’s Air Max line. It’s supposed to be related to the Air Max 90 — but more futuristic — hence the name Air Max 2090. In fact, you’ll actually see that Nike maintained many key aspects of the Air Max 90 in this shoe as we go along.

The Air Max 90 of course first dropped in 1990, exactly 30 years ago. The new Air Max 2090 retails at US$ 150, which is higher than what we usually pay for, but Nike is positioning this as a premium lifestyle sneaker.

Even though the Air Max series is historically meant as a running shoe, and Nike is kind of loosely pitching this as a performance shoe, the Air Max 2090 is still a lifestyle shoe.

Design and construction

What I have is the launch colorway, pure platinum, but the Air Max 2090 also comes in a whole bunch of colors including a really cool ice Blue colorway, volt green and blue, and fuchsia purple and yellow.

If you want something really low-key there are all-white and all-black versions as well. If you want something more similar to the OG Air Max 90 colorways, there is a Duck Camo Air Max 2090.

Starting with the upper, it’s mostly covered by translucent mesh. The mesh is pretty lightweight and somewhat see-through. I actually really like this because it means whatever socks you wear under this shoe will slightly change the look of the shoe, which is pretty cool.

This textile liner goes right up against your feet, and generally feels okay but doesn’t really have as much stretch as Nike’s flyknit uppers.

Towards the toe box area there’s an additional layer of protection to prevent your toenails from poking through the mesh, and it has a slightly glossy finish to distinguish itself.

You’ll see a similar kind of fused overlay near the lacing area, surrounding the eyelets, to strengthen the durability of the upper. It’s also accented with a neat cyan blue stitching that I really like.

The lacing and eyelets are in a loop style mechanism where the black, flat laces intertwine through them.

Underneath the laces, there’s black mesh tongue, which has a strange rubberized ring inside a diagonal cutout, the Nike swoosh, and the lowercase air logo which are cut off halfway. This is a weird design element and I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to do, but it looks cool — kind of.

Coming to the inside of the shoe, there’s a black sock-liner and you’ll notice it’s a one piece, internal bootie construction, and the tongue is attached.

The insoles are the usual Air Max insoles, which are in black, and with 2090 printed on top towards the heel and the Nike swoosh in cyan.

Moving on to the mid-panel, there’s a black Nike swoosh outline that is embedded within the outer layer. Like the Air Max 90, the swoosh here is slightly cut off at the bottom, which is accented with this red stitching.

The red stitching is on the mud-guard, which is another element borrowed from the original Air Max 90, but this time around it’s a white synthetic plastic material which runs across both sides of the shoe. Towards the back of this area, there’s an air logo in lowercase and cut off halfway.

The back of the shoe has a ton of padding on the heel. The foam padding definitely adds to the comfort of this shoe, but it’s also rigid enough to give support to the back of your heel, and help with a secure heel lock.

On the outside of the heel area, there’s another mesh-like finish, this time in black, covered with a rubberized heel-tab bumper with grooves that protrude out, which is another element reminiscent of the Air Max 90. You’ll also notice the air and swoosh logos within.

Above that, you have this bright red pull-tab rope loop, which is in the same color as the accent on the mudguard.

Coming to the midsole, it’s pretty chunky with a white colored foam on the forefoot, and a thick air unit towards the heel. It feels like the React foam but Nike has not mentioned it anywhere so there’s no way to be sure if they are similar.

The Air window on the back is 200 percent bigger than the standard Air Unit used before on the Air Max 90, and it’s housed within this silver-colored TPU shell that has the same ridge pattern as the heel-tab on the back of the shoe.

Coming to the outsole, it’s made of a grey rubber with grooves on the forefoot that are similar to the waffle outsole on the Air Max 90. This groove pattern was meant to give you better flexibility with the shoe, and they seem to allow just that.

Towards the very top of the toe area, there’s another hint of cyan, with the Nike Air Max logo towards the center of the outsole, and the Nike swoosh towards the heel area.

Fit and Comfort

Coming to fit, the Nike Air Max 2090 seems to fit true-to-size. I’ll give you the usual disclaimer that if you’re like me and you have wide feet, you might want to go up half a size since these do run a little narrow and the upper isn’t very stretchy, but they’re also long so you end up with more space in the toe box area.

In terms of comfort, these were actually surprisingly really comfortable to wear. They’re a lot more comfortable than the OG Air Max 90, or even the newer Air Max 270s.

The combination of that huge Air Unit and the secret foam Nike is using here makes for a shoe that has great, soft cushioning. This shoe is actually incredibly comfortable to wear and I think these would actually make great everyday wear sneakers.

Is this your SneakerMatch?

Nike has made a lot of Air Max shoes over the years but I really do feel like this is the best Air Max we’ve seen in years.

Not only is it one of the most comfortable Air Max shoes, it’s also a really cool-looking shoe. I love how they made all these tiny little callbacks to the OG Air Max 90.

Nike has been killing it with their sneaker releases lately and I think this is just another great shoe in the collection.

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Accessories

Redmi 9A review: A match for online learning

Does everything you expect it to

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We recently reviewed another budget phone and gauged how well it would do as a student’s companion for distance learning. Seeing as the Redmi 9A fits squarely in that peg, we’re going to do the exact same thing.

This might seem like a cop out way to test the device, but given everything that’s happening, it also seems appropriate.

The status of the pending school year in the Philippines seems like it’s up in the air at the moment. Regardless, if you still choose to equip the young student in your family with a smartphone for online learning, can the Redmi 9A play that role?

Baseline specs

Let’s first see how it stacks up specs-wise to the minimum specs requirement laid out by the Education Department of the Philippines.

Distance Learning, Smartphone Minimum Tech Specs Redmi 9A 
Processor Octa-core 2 GHz MediaTek Helio G25

(Octa-core 2 Ghz)

Memory 2GB 2GB
Display 6”, IPS LCD 6.53”
Storage 32GB 32GB
Network GSM / HSPA / LTE

Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n

Bluetooth

Dual 4G

Wi-Fi

Bluetooth

Ports Micro USB or Type C, 3.5mm Audio Jack Micro USB port, 3.5mm Audio Jack
OS Android 8.1 Android 10, MIUI 12

 

We asked a teacher some questions about how this smartphone will be used by the student in a distance learning setup. Answers have been edited for brevity.

What will students need to access for distance learning?

It depends on the platform the school will use. These can be Google Classroom, Edmodo, Zoom, etc. But certainly, the most accessed sites will be Google and Wikipedia.

Facebook and Messenger may also be used for communication and publishing of some projects. However, this is also dependent on the teacher handling the class.

What are the must have apps? 

Youtube, Google Apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides) or any office app, Dictionary, A notepad app, Web browser, and Email.

How long will they need to be on the phone?

Our planned schedule will start at around 9AM and will end at around 2PM. That’s five 45-minute classes with 15 minutes of break in between. There’s also a 30-minute lunch break at 11:45AM. It may vary from day-to-day but that’s the general plan.

This also does not yet include consultation time. For us, we’ll do 15 minutes at the start and at the end of the day to help make-up for the interaction that will be lost due to the nature of an online class.

Any final notes? 

It’s certainly possible to have online classes despite the student only having a smartphone. Given of course that the smartphone can access everything mentioned previously.

Usually for lectures, the students will only really have to listen to the lectures on video. The teacher can opt to pre-record the classes and make it available for on-demand viewing so the students can access it even after class hours. The rest of the activities will be handled offline and be disseminated via communication apps.

How does the Redmi 9A handle the activities mentioned?

The Redmi 9A almost looks like it’s the exact phone that the Education Department had in mind when they drafted the minimum requirements specs. It fits every spec to a T. So how does it perform?

Like most Android phones, a lot of the Google apps mentioned by the teacher already come pre-installed. And they’ve been optimized to run smoothly on the device’s configuration.

Curiously, the MediaTek G25 struggled a bit more overall compared to the MediaTek G35 on the previous budget phone I put through this test. Although, this could also be a function of the skin (MIUI 12) making things feel slower than it ought to be.

For the record, MIUI 12 is actually one of my favorite Android skins. It’s little design decisions make a lot of sense to me.

For instance, the animation for recent apps is unlike any other Android skin. Instead of making you go left to right to switch, the apps are arranged vertically and you continue with the up-down motion you started with when decided to jump from one app to another.

But as far as apps go, Google is your best friend if you want to maximize budget phones.

Lite apps should be your go to

Budget phones are light on power so it’s prudent to go for Lite apps to not put too much stress on your phone.

Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, and even Spotify all have lite versions. You still get most of what you need from these apps without hogging too much memory.

Same is true for gaming apps. While looking for more Lite apps to use, I found PUBG Lite. It’s gonna eat over 500mb of storage but if you’re really into first-person shooters, this is probably the app to download.

Battery fared nicely

At 5000mAh this thing has plenty of juice. It also helps that it doesn’t have any exorbitant features to support thereby extending the battery life even further.

I simulated the 9AM to 2PM video on demand class sessions by letting the phone marathon through a bunch of YouTube videos. After 6 hours and 23 minutes, I ended up at 68% from a full charge.

Yes, that’s Heejin. Stan LOONA.

Absolutely no issues here. This phone should be able to keep up with you for a day and then some.

Good build quality

This is again one of the more pleasant surprises here. The last time I used a budget phone extensively was about half a decade ago. It felt nowhere near this good.

The Redmi 9A feels sturdy and not the type that will break after a fall or two. Unlike yours truly. It’s hard to see on the black variant but it also has this tiny concentric circle design thing going on at the back. Much like the one found on the Redmi 9.

Fair post-processing on photos

You’re not gonna blow minds with the 13MP rear and 5MP front-facing cameras on this thing. But it does what it’s supposed to. To make sure you get good photos make sure you have a decent light source.

These were taken in the afternoon near a window.

This one was when it’s about to turn into night time.

Is the Redmi 9A an online learning GadgetMatch?

I was really skeptical about the specs laid out by the Education Department. However, this test with the Redmi 9A proved that as far as the necessities go, this gets the job done.

If you’re able to spend more, that’s great. But for people who absolutely can only spend under PhP 5,000 (US$ 100), this is a good enough choice. The Redmi 9A retails for PhP 4590 (US$ 93) and it’s already capable of a lot without forcing you to spend too much.

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