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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Kovol 65W 4-port charging station Hands-On

Small in size, big on power

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Kovol 4-port

Nearly everyone I know carries around two to three devices. It’s some combination of a laptop, smartphone/s, and tablet/s. Imagine having to lug around these devices along with their power bricks. That’s a significant weight added to your bag. Enter the Kovol 65W 4-port charging station. This thing, as the company says, is small in size but big on power. 

Personally, I’m a member of this multi-device tribe. I almost always carry with me a laptop and two smartphones. That’s excluding any other smartphones or laptops I may be reviewing at the time. 

This is part of the reason why I’m in the ‘USB-C Everything’ camp. It would make our lives as tech reviewers just that much better. But since that reality may not be happening anytime soon, multiport GaN chargers like this are the next best thing. 

Regulated power 

Just because it has 65W written on it, doesn’t mean that it’s the only power output available. It can smartly allocate power to each device based on its needs. The 65W ranges from 65W, 45W, 30W, 25W, 20W, and 18W. So, whichever fast charging output your device supports, that’s what it’s getting. 

There’s also a 120W version of the charger and it can output at 87W aside from others that have already been mentioned. 

Kovol also claims it has low-heat and safe-charging. This means there will be no risk of overheating and overcharging your device. During my time using the charger, I can say I never felt any sort of unusual heating from it. 

How fast is it, really? 

But of course, the real question is how fast it actually is in real world use. Fret not, I have you covered. I’ll list the charging times of the three devices I primarily use. 

Before we start though, I would like to describe my normal usage. I’m totally not the type who lets the devices reach red levels of the battery indicator. Small beads of sweat immediately form around my head as soon as my devices’ battery indicator shows anywhere between 40% to 50%. 

Go ahead. Laugh all you want. But I’ve been in waaaay too many situations when I forgot to juice up only to need to charge but without any power outlet nearby. It’s a sticky situation I would like to avoid as much as I can. 

With that said, here are the charging numbers I recorded. Duration in minutes (mins) is how long it took to reach 100%.  

iPhone 11 Pro 

  • At 30% – 40 mins 
  • At 40% – 32 mins 
  • At 50% – 23 mins 
  • At 65% – 16 mins 

OPPO Find X3 Pro

  • At 10% – 59 mins
  • At 30% – 46 mins 
  • At 40% – 37 mins 
  • At 50% – 25 mins 
  • At 65% – 18 mins 

13” M1 MacBook Pro 

  • At 35% – 1 hour, 41 mins
  • At 40% – 1 hour, 26 mins
  • At 50% – 1 hour, 10 mins
  • At 65% – 40 mins

Naturally, these numbers will vary depending on your devices and the kind of wired fast charging they support. But what’s evident is that these are more than decent charging speeds. These are especially useful if you only have a limited time access to a power outlet when you’re out and about. 

Small for its power

 

The charging speeds are impressive but what really takes the cake is how small the Kovol 65W 4-port charging station is. It’s a little chunky, but it’s short enough that it’ll easily slide into your bag without taking up much space. 

Personally, I carried it in this tiny-gadgets-and-cables pouch I normally bring around whenever I step out. 

Its small size is also helpful when you have limited table space. It can sit just right next to your devices without taking away any wiggle room you might need. 

Price and availability

Some manufacturers are following Apple’s lead in taking away the power bricks from brand new devices. It’s a good reason to invest in a multiport GaN charger other than the ones already mentioned. 

The Kovol 4-port charging station comes in two variants. Pricing are as follows: 

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5 reasons why you should consider the OPPO Enco W11

Transition easily to the wireless lifestyle!

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Anyone can hesitate to step on a wireless journey if everything you see is all godd*mn expensive. Unbeknownst to many, there are pairs of wireless earbuds that are affordable and perform exceptionally at the same time.

One example is the OPPO Enco W11. If you’re considering switching to the wireless side, here are five reasons why the Enco W11 would make the perfect fit. In your ears and life, probably.

20-hour battery life

The Enco W11 lets you enjoy up to five hours of playback time on a single charge. Use the charging case and you can extend that to 20 hours.

Moreover, the charging case can recharge your pair of wireless earbuds for only 15 minutes, and you immediately get one hour of playback time.

Fits snugly

Depending on the form factor, some wireless earbuds can be a tad uncomfortable. Thankfully, the Enco W11 comes with an exquisite design that goes along with the shape of the ear. Plus, there are three sizes of soft silicone ear tips to choose from.

It also weighs 4.4g so you won’t feel the weight in your ears, allowing you to listen comfortably while you’re on the go.

Dust and water resistance

Get that extra peace of mind knowing that your pair of wireless earbuds have an IP55 dust and water resistance. It means that you can bring it to the gym, sweat it out, or even run through the rain — and you don’t have to worry about your device. It can stand splashes of water and dirt if you accidentally drop them.

Stable connection, lower latency

Most people are hesitant to switch to wireless earbuds because of the latency issues. With the right technology, the connection can be stable. Such is the case for the Enco W11 which receives signals on both sides to reduce latency. Unlike ordinary true wireless earbuds that receive signals on one side before sending them to the other.

The Enco W11 also uses a built-in Bluetooth 5.0 chip to help you enjoy uninterrupted audio. It’s perfect for those virtual meetings or just tuning out to your favorite playlists or podcasts.

Easy controls

Lastly, the Enco W11 doesn’t require a lot of brainpower to use. It pairs easily and resumes connection instantaneously within 10 meters.

Further, it comes with touch controls that are easy to navigate. You can play or pause your music with a single tap, or move to the next song by double-tapping.

The voice assistant can be activated by triple-tapping, and you can adjust the volume when you touch and hold the wireless earbuds.

Should you buy the OPPO Enco W11?

The OPPO Enco W11 makes it easy for users to transition to the wireless lifestyle, albeit at a cost that won’t hurt their pockets. It’s lightweight, comfortable, and intelligent enough to make navigating the controls smoothly. It has an SRP of PhP 1,690.

On January 27, 2022, Shopee is offering an exclusive deal — a bundle of the OPPO A55 smartphone and the Enco W11 wireless earbuds for only PhP 10,988.

The supply is limited so if you won’t be able to snag the deal, you can still get the OPPO Enco W11. Shop here.

For more exclusive deals, check out Shopee’s Brands Spotlight Festival.

SEE ALSO: OPPO A55 review: Just the basics

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Casio to release G-SHOCK-FC Barcelona Matchday collab model

“Més que un club”

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G-Shock FC Barcelona

Casio announced the latest editions to its G-SHOCK brand of shock-resistant watches: the GBD-H1000BAR and GBD-100BAR.

The latest models were made in collaboration with Matchday: Inside FC Barcelona, a documentary featuring the famed Spanish football club.

A raffle draw also awaits interested participants for a chance to purchase GBD-H1000BAR-4DR watch.

Interested customers can sign up for CASIO ID and submit their entries here from Janaury 28 to February 2, 2022.

Winners will be announced on February 3, 2022 and will have the exclusive chance to purchase the watch between February 4 to 11, 2022. Delivery will be from February 5, 2022 onwards.

Special design, packaging

The base models for the two new watches are the GBD-H1000 and GBD-100, both from the G-SQUAD line.

The new models employ the blue and garnet team colors of FC Barcelona. Inscribed on the bands is the club motto, “Més que un club” (“More than a club”) in the local Catalan language.

The GBD-H1000BAR features a metal bezel in bright gold ion plating, while the soft urethane band loop on both watches features the four red stripes of the Catalan flag.

Specially designed packaging also in FC Barcelona team colors is the final touch in the signature timepieces.

Not lacking in high-tech features

Both new watches are equipped with an accelerometer to count steps and track distances, while the GBD-H1000BAR model also comes with a heart rate monitor and GPS tracking.

Both new models also offer mobile link functions which, when paired with a dedicated smartphone app, support daily health management including step counts, calories burned, activity logs, and more.

The Memory in Pixel (MIP) LCD adds exceptional visibility for comfort in every day use.

Matchday: Inside FC Barcelona

Matchday: Inside FC Barcelona is an eight-episode documentary series focusing on the 2018–2019 season of one the world’s most adored football clubs.

From the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat, the series offers insight into the players, philosophy and culture of the club.

Pricing and availability

The GBD-100BAR-4DR will be available for SG$ 349 on https://gshock.casio.com/sg/ and at all G-SHOCK stores from February 5, 2022. The GBD-H1000-BAR-4DR, meanwhile, is priced at SG$ 799.

Full specifications, check the model pages available here for the GBD-H1000BAR-4DR and here for the GBD-100BAR-4DR.

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