Hands-On

Redmi 7A Hands-On: Nailing the basics

Plus major battery life 

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One time a friend messaged me saying his phone broke and asked what’s affordable and reliable that he can buy and use in the meantime. My first instinct was to recommend a Redmi phone. And the Redmi 7A is one such phone that fits what he was looking for — affordable and reliable.

Getting the basics right 

This is what Redmi — Xiaomi’s “budget line” — has always been. Something you can rely on when in a pinch, and something you can hold on to long after you’ve gone past that pinch.

The specs won’t jump out at you: Snapdragon 439 chip, 2GB of RAM with either 16GB or 32GB storage that’s expandable up to 256GB via a microSD card slot. But this combo is enough for what I consider basic smartphone needs.

Naturally, you would want access to social media. This phone can Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with no problems whatsoever. However, to get the most out of this phone, I recommend getting the lite versions of these apps. There are also lite versions of Spotify and Messenger that I opted to use while I had this phone on hand.

Lite apps are your friends

Lite apps will take up less space — something you don’t have a lot of — and consumes less data. Perfect for this phone. You probably also need to get a bit of work done. For that there’s GMail Go. Another lite app for your convenience.

Of course, it’s also running MIUI 10 which is one of the smoother Android skins out there. Navigating the phone feels snappy enough that you don’t feel shortchanged.

It can game… sort of 

Don’t expect to have a lot of games here — not unless you go out of your way to buy a microSD card. I tried Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on this phone and it handled it fine but I constantly got messages of my storage being full.

That said, it should have no trouble playing more casual games. The type you play while waiting in line, trying to pass the time, or just waiting in general. I have no recommendations because the casual ones I know are too old and I don’t know if they’re even in the Play store any more. 😂

Cameras are okay

You’re getting a 12MP rear shooter and a 5MP front-facing camera. Oh simpler times.

Single rear camera to keep things simple

The cameras are okay, you just have to make sure you’re at an area with natural light or at least somewhere with a good amount of light to capture respectable shots.

The last few shots were taken indoors with not ideal lighting which is why it’s grainy. You can just say it’s a filter. 😝

Superb battery and other features

Now here’s where this phone is at its best. When it’s powering you through your day. It has a 4000mAh battery and since it’s not supporting a lot of crazy features, you get extended hours on this thing.

I’ve used it as a secondary phone and it takes about three to four days before I even decide to charge it. And it’s not even completely drained at that point. With more regular use, it should last you about a day and a half before you feel the need to reach out for a charger.

Splash-proof and durable. Getting a case is optional

The phone also happens to be splash resistant. So you don’t necessarily have to go rushing to find a case to protect it. It’s pretty durable all on its own.

Another feature that some of you might find useful is the FM radio. When you’re at home and not sure what to listen to, you can just fire it app and toggle through radio stations quickly. If you’re in a public area, simply plug in your earphones because yes, this still has a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Is the Redmi 7A your GadgetMatch? 

At PhP 4,790 (US$ 92) for the base model, to me it’s really that emergency phone or a starter phone. It’s the one you purchase for now as you’re trying to save up for a better, more powerful model.

The battery is no joke

That said, this will also work as a phone for older folks who simply want a way to stay in touch with their loved ones without having to figure out too many things on their phone. You can get this for your kids too, although getting a phone for your kid isn’t something I actually recommend. Maybe if they’re already in their teens. But I’m not a parent so what do I know.

If you need something that’s no frills, no fuss, and gets the basics just right. It’s hard to find other alternatives at exactly PhP 5,000 or below it. The Redmi 7A is the right choice.

SEE ALSO: Redmi Note 7 Review: Best budget option?

Cameras

EZVIZ S2 Action Camera: A road trip companion

Dashcam and action camera in one!

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Nowadays, it’s hard to choose an action camera to accompany you on your adventures. Everyone’s top-of-mind is the popular GoPro Hero series and DJI’s new Osmo Action. However, I find these two cameras too much, both for me and my wallet.

On top of it, I’m not a professional adventurer nor a sports enthusiast who would need a high-end action camera. All I need is something I can take with me on my water activities to capture moments occasionally while I’m living in the moment. In search of an affordable action camera that would fit anyone’s budget, I found the EZVIZ S2 2-in-1 Action Camera, which also doubles as a dash camera.

Lightweight and small, this camera is easy to bring wherever you go.

It has a 2-inch IPS LCD touchscreen panel.

You can find an uncovered mini HDMI and micro USB port.

On the other side is the power and settings button which lets you navigate the camera and access different modes.

Found on top are its speaker grilles and shutter button…

… while the bottom sports the battery, micro sd slot, and a hole for the mounts.

While driving to the Bicol region in the Philippines, my friends and I used this camera momentarily to test its capabilities. Thankfully, this camera comes with mounts and accessories like a waterproof case in its box. However, it’s difficult to navigate it as a dash camera since you need to place it inside the case before you can mount it on your windscreen.

Furthermore, the case’s buttons need to be pressed hard. It felt like a marketing ploy since this camera could be better if sold as just an action camera.

But if you look at it on a different perspective, a 2-in-1 camera like this would be nice to have on road trips. Imagine finding a serene spot in the middle of nowhere, and you grab your dash camera. Instantly, you have an action camera to immortalize your precious moments.

Capture your adventures

Then again, if its capability as an action camera we’re talking about, the EZVIZ S2 is enough. Sure, we always want the best of the best. However, in some cases, we don’t really need an expensive camera.

For instance, most people don’t care about the camera you’ve used to take a photo. No matter how wonderful it is, they’ll care about the place, the way you took your photo or the story behind the moment you’ve captured.

This is the reason why it’s perfectly okay to use a cheaper action camera like the EZVIZ S2, in case you have doubts. The samples I took has good color reproduction, average white balance processing, and noticeable grains. Due to my incredibly high standards, I find it difficult to like the camera’s outputs — but my friends did. As I asked around, I find that most people have no qualms about the image quality.

The photo mode has three shooting options for you to choose from — Single shot, Burst, and Timelapse. The mode also gives you the option to shoot in different sizes: 2MP, 4MP, and 8MP. There’s a professional mode, too, in case you want to experiment with your shots. You can customize the white balance, adjust the ISO and exposure value, and even apply filters.

Better for videos

The EZVIZ S2 focuses on video recording. It has a dashcam mode with an emergency recording feature, which prevents the footage from being deleted. This is useful as a piece of evidence, especially during crucial and unforeseen accidents.

There’s also a video mode where you can record at 1080p in 50 fps. The camera can handle three different shooting modes such as video, video+photo, and timelapse. If 1080p is too much, there’s a 720p recording, too, which can cap off at 120fps for slo-mo recording. Additionally, there’s a pro mode for you to adjust your settings the way you like it.

Here are some stills that were taken from the video clips I shot. As long as there’s sufficient light, you can capture photos and videos without any worries.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The EZVIZ S2 2-in-1 Action Camera is perfect as a travel companion, especially for those who love taking road trips. You get an action camera and a dashcam in one for only PhP 4,299 (US$ 84), complete with mounts and accessories. You can choose between black, orange, yellow, and blue for the unit. For this price range, it’s a sweet deal. This is being distributed by VST-ECS Philippines.

This camera is also helpful for starters pursuing underwater and adventure photography; a stepping stone before they upgrade to more professional gear.

Moreover, the EZVIZ S2 is helpful when documenting your adventures every now and then. During my stint with this device, I realized that sometimes, we don’t really need the best. All we need is something that’s enough to capture precious moments while we live our lives to the fullest.

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Hands-On

Motorola razr Hands-On

The popular RAZR is back!

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The new Motorola razr is a modern version of the popular RAZR V3. It still has a sleek design, but now has a 6.2-inch Flex Display with a perfectly executed zero-gap hinge.

It runs on Snapdragon 710 chipset, 6GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 2510 mAh battery with 15W TurboPower charger right out of the box.

But does all of that justify the $1499 price tag?

This is our Motorola razr hands-on.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on: An expensive sneak peek into the future

It’s not for everyone

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2019 is the year of the foldable phone. First in the ring was Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Announced in February, it was supposed to launch as early as April. As we all have probably read or heard, its early release to reviewers was met with a lot of issues. Samsung had to delay its official launch.

Over the last few months they’ve been busy reworking the Fold; now it’s tougher than ever and ready for the real world.

A reintroduction

In some ways you can think of the Galaxy Fold as a 7.3-inch tablet that you can fold into a candybar phone with a 4.6-inch display.

When folded, all buttons are on the right hand side of the device: volume rocker, power button, fingerprint sensor, and its SIM tray.

On the bottom a USB-C port and speaker grilles.

What’s changed?

Samsung focused on addressing the main issues that plagued its first release. Some users previously peeled off what they thought was a screen protector that turned out to be a very important protective layer. That layer is now tucked under the bezels so you don’t even know it’s there.

There’s also a cap that is meant to prevent dust and dirt from getting underneath the protective layer.

The hinge, too, has been reinforced. The gap between the hinge and the display has also been reduced.

Having used the original Fold, I can say that opening and closing i feels more secure. Even if you feverishly snap it open and close. All these changes have been made to ensure the phone survives the rigors of the real world.

One UI has also been optimized for the Fold. Home, back and multitasking buttons for example can be flushed to either side of the display for one handed use.

To open more windows alongside the app that’s already open just swipe from the right side and use apps edge to launch new apps. Closing windows is one tap or swipe away.

When you’re on an app and a notification comes in, you can press and drag the notification to open it as a separate window, so you can respond to a WhatsApp message easily, for example.

Even if you have two displays you can seamlessly switch between both by enabling a setting called App Continuity. That way whether you’re adding a contact on the big screen, or using your map on your small screen, you can close or open the display and continue what you were doing seamlessly.

Imperfect innovation

While the changes are much improved, the Galaxy Fold is not perfect. The front display is very small and is very hard to type on. I’d use it for things like Instagram, maybe. Even then, I’d benefit from the larger display. Not all apps support the squarish form factor, either. YouTube videos of course will only fill to fit a portion of the display. Although there are games like Asphalt 9, that are optimized to fill the display.

The Galaxy Fold doesn’t use a glass display, so there will always be creases in the middle. That’s just a limitation of the technology.

Otherwise, make no mistake — its a top of the line device. It’s got high end specs, and the same cameras as Samsung’s current flagship smartphones: three rear cameras and two selfie shooters up front.

Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are also available, along with a few other bells and whistles.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I am excited about the Galaxy Fold, and am thrilled that it’s full steam ahead. It’s an early device and it can get only better with time. What needs to happen now is app developers and Android need to optimize for this new, niche form factor.

With a price tag of US$ 1,980 in the US, SG$ 3,088 in Singapore, and PhP 109,990 in the Philippines, the Galaxy Fold is not for everyone — not even for people who can buy it outright. It’s for early adapters who want to get their hands on new technology ahead of everyone.

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