Reviews

Redmi 8A Review: Too much for too little

There’s no competition!

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When Xiaomi announced the Redmi 8 series, it’s banking on it to take on Realme as well as Samsung. Expectations are high and there’s no room for error in a competitive market. I’ve been using the Redmi 8A for quite some time now and even though it’s an entry-level phone, the experience of using it is far from it.

With a starting price of just INR 6,499 (US$ 92), it has to continue its predecessor’s legacy as well as make a mark for itself. Has Xiaomi cut any corners to keep the price low? Can this phone be your GadgetMatch?

It has a shockingly huge battery

The phone comes with a 5000mAh battery, a feature we have yet to see in phones that cost 10x more. I was able to get at least two days of heavy usage on a single charge. With this, you’ll never have to worry about carrying external power packs since the phone itself acts like one. Though the huge battery does make it slightly bulky, the overall user experience remains unhindered due to a lighter polycarbonate design.

It supports 18W fast charging and can be fully charged in less than two hours. Xiaomi is targeting developing markets like India with this phone and there are still places where electricity supply is spotty and unreliable. For users in these towns, this phone makes a lot of practical sense because you don’t need to be hooked onto a power socket. If you have a flagship phone, the Redmi 8A can make an excellent secondary offering as well.

A design we’ve never previously seen in this segment

We don’t expect an entry-level phone to have any focus on design, but Xiaomi has been clever and added tiny circular contours on the back that look different and make the phone grippy. Unlike other plasticky phones, the material here is hard and there are no flimsy corners or sides. The phone feels like a brick in hand, but with slightly curved sides on the back that makes it comfortable to hold. Competing phones come nowhere close to the build quality of the Redmi 8A.

My unit is called “Sunset Red” and actually features a red-orangish gradient. The gradient isn’t very easily visible but adds a nice touch to the overall design.

The volume rockers and power buttons are located on the left side and are sturdy. There’s a satisfying click to them and definitely, don’t feel cheap. The SIM tray is on the right and obviously, there’s dual SIM support. Additionally, there’s a dedicated microSD card slot for expandable storage.

I’m glad Xiaomi took the lead and added and a USB-C port for charging and data transfer. The port is widely used now and extremely convenient. Don’t worry though, a 3.5mm headphone jack has also been included and the two ports sit on the bottom, along with the speaker grill. The speaker is sufficiently loud and I wouldn’t expect anything more considering the price.

On the front is a 6.2-inch LCD display with HD+ resolution and a tiny water-drop notch. It is quite bright and usable under direct sunlight. Colors are vibrant and the screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. The glass is slightly raised and a small plastic layer protects the glass against accidental drops. The chin has been cut slightly and sports the Redmi branding.

The same camera sensor as on the Pixel 4

Yep, you read that right. The Redmi 8A’s rear camera sports an IMX363 sensor that’s capable of shooting pictures up to 12-megapixel. Obviously, the Pixel-series has an edge because of Google’s algorithms and processing experience. However, the Redmi 8A shoots above-average pictures with a lot of room for improvement.

In well-lit conditions, the pictures are more on the softer side and dynamic range is often blown out. Focusing is extremely slow and it’s better if you don’t just point and shoot. However, with a little more effort you can definitely take some good pictures. The process would involve manually tapping, adjusting exposure, and selecting the HDR mode. This makes the overall shooting experience slow and tedious.

With a single-sensor, portrait pictures are hard to come by since edge detection is really bad. Low-light shots are decent, but there is a lot of noise. Thankfully, the AI mode does a good job of improving colors in well-lit conditions and often helps in taking difficult shots.

The front has an 8-megapixel selfie shooter and the in-built beauty mode is aggressive by default. Make sure your hands are steady because even a slight movement will mess up the picture.

All that’s fine, can it play PUBG?

Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 439 chipset that has four cores clocked at 1.95GHz and four cores at 1.45GHz. This is coupled with an Adreno 505 GPU and 2GB RAM in the base variant. For day-to-day usage, the processor is efficient and can get all tasks done without a hiccup. For better multi-tasking, it’s recommended you go for the 3GB option.

Games like PUBG are playable with decent frame rates, but overall experience is underwhelming. Although I wouldn’t expect an entry-level phone to kick ass. This phone isn’t built for graphics intensive games and is targeted towards users who need basic requirements to be fulfilled. Most apps like Instagram, Chrome, Google Maps, and Spotify run smooth. As a media consumption device, the phone excels with flying colors.

It ships with MIUI 10 out-of-the-box and it offers some cool functionality that’ll be beneficial to the end-user. This includes an app cloner, heavily customizable UI, smooth gestures, and face unlock support. Since there’s no fingerprint scanner for authentication, face unlock is the only practical option and it’s quite fast.

Keep in mind, this authentication method is less secure and you shouldn’t rely on it for top-notch security. MIUI 10 is filled with bloatware and ads in the System UI, something that’s fairly common across all affordable Redmi-branded phones. The haptic response is on point and the overall experience is smooth and fast. Xiaomi has invested some time in optimizing the UI and this extracts maximum bang for the buck.

Is the Redmi 8A your GadgetMatch?

If you’re on a strict budget, the Redmi 8A should be your first choice. It’s quite surprising how Xiaomi has managed to offer so much, for so little. The design is superb, display is on point, and battery is phenomenal. It fulfills all the requirements, considering how affordable the phone is, without any major shortcomings. Many may find the camera to be lukewarm, but come on, you still won’t get a comparable phone at this price.

Xiaomi has perfectly managed its portfolio and if you need more, like a fingerprint scanner, dual cameras, and better performance, the Redmi 8 is for you. At its price, there’s no other phone worth considering than the Redmi 8A.

Reviews

Apple Watch Series 6 Review

Is it worth every penny?

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The Apple Watch Series 6 offers more than just being a “luxurious timepiece”. Over the years, they’ve pioneered in what a true smartwatch can offer. From the ability to track your runs, cycles, and swims, as far as reading heart rate and even ECG. This year, the Watch Series 6 has a new SpO2 sensor that can read blood oxygen levels within the reach of your wrists.

But does all of that make up for a fancy price tag? Why is the Apple Watch a worthy investment for your health?

You can head on to our Apple Watch Series 6 review by clicking the link here.

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Huawei Mate 40 Pro Unboxing and Review: Last of its Kind

Hopefully not

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Every year, Huawei’s Mate series dominate the smartphone world with hosts of new features.

This October, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro finally made its way out of the limousine. As usual, it’s packed with the latest and greatest internals minus the full Android experience. Albeit, you still get support for AppGallery and other existing Huawei services.

With all that mind, is it still worthy to invest your money just to buy this smartphone?

You can watch our Huawei Mate 40 Pro review by clicking this link.

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Infinix Note 7: Best underrated budget phone?

Does size matter?

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The underrated brand, Infinix, is coming in with a perfect phone for when you’re strapped for cash. Infinix has consistently released great phones that deliver every bang for your buck and their recent release is no exception. What’s the latest addition to their great line-up? The Infinix Note 7

Show us what its got

The Infinix Note 7 is a dual-sim budget smartphone with a 6.95-inch HD+ and Corning Gorilla Glass display. It’s decked out in three different colors: Forest Green, Aether Black, and Bolivia Blue. Despite being encased in plastic, the Infinix Note 7 looks and feels premium. Just be more forgiving when the phone looks heavily smeared with your fingerprints — most phones tend to do so.

The phone features and specifications aren’t necessarily what people would view as technologically new or revolutionary. But, with phones on the same price range, this one delivers on all fronts of functionality, affordability, and durability. The phone has loud dual speakers, a great battery life, and reliable performance that makes it a stand-out in with its price tag.

Bang for your buck

The Infinix Note 7 is powered by a Helio G70 Processor paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. If you’re worried about storage, the phone has a dedicated microSD card slot. But, note that the phone has more than enough space to run apps on the Google Play Store without much of a hitch.

The Infinix Note 7 doesn’t falter on features when tested. The phone didn’t stutter or struggle when putting it through the stress test of scrolling, unlocking, and opening and closing multiple apps. On top of that, the Infinix Note7 has a 5000mAh battery that makes your daily grind of work and play look easy.

For gaming, the phone didn’t seem at all bothered with Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Genshin Impact, and Among Us. And, with the amount of storage the phone had, I’d downloaded all the games I wanted with reckless abandon. The phone held up to its dependable battery life too, despite a full day of work and play.

Does size really matter?

The Infinix Note 7 is big for a phone. Facts. If anything, it’s a love child of a phone and a tablet. With its 6.95-inch HD+ display and dual speakers, the phone makes watching Netflix or playing games an overall immersive experience. Despite Infinix sticking to HD+ on a bigger display, it doesn’t really impose on all the great features the phone has.

Remember: the Infinix Note 7 has a good price tag of PhP 7,990. If you’re asking it to feature 2k or 4k resolution, that good price tag isn’t even remotely ideal on top of the other features the phone comes with.

Is the cake a lie?

No, just misunderstood. Hear me out here: The Infinix Note 7 features a quad-camera set-up with a 48MP primary shooter, a 2MP macro lens, 2MP depth lens, and a 2MP dedicated video camera. On the front, the phone has a 16MP selfie camera. These specs can sometimes come misunderstood since Infinix does say the phone features a quad rear camera set-up. The phone technically features three with the fourth as its dedicated video recording camera.

Sunset view

Boop the snoot

The Inifinix Note 7 performed really well even with little lighting. I tried to photograph a dim sunset and most phones would often scrap some details in photos to compensate with the lack of lighting. That wasn’t the case for this phone. With a phone at its price point, it greatly outperforms phones in the same category quite easily. The phone delivers on detailed selfies with it 16MP in-display front camera and doesn’t struggle to focus using either rear or front cameras.

Strawberry and granola on yoghurt

it me

The phone doesn’t seem at all bothered with taking detailed photos. Sometimes the contrast can be a bit much but again, seeing a budget phone like the Infinix Note 7 perform well under tough circumstances that can just be from being nit-picky.

Is this your BudgetMatch?

If you need a phone to get you good shots and get you through a long day of non-stop work and play while delivering good photos overall, this is the phone for you. There’s nothing to complain about with this phone besides Infinix being utterly underrated for the quality of phones they put out. The Infinix Note 7 is a great phone for your daily grind if you’re looking for a phone that delivers on functionality, efficiency, and durability. It even delivers on good quality shots!

The Infinix Note 7 costs PhP 7,990 (US$ 165).

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