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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.

Accessories

Razer now has its own gaming finger sleeves

Keeping your thumbs dry

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Razer has somehow transformed into the ruler of gaming lifestyle accessories. After releasing treasure troves of peripherals and devices, the company has slowly branched off into stranger and stranger niches including toasters and SUVs. Razer is now blending peripheral with accessory in its latest product: Razer Gaming Finger Sleeves.

If you haven’t heard of finger sleeves before, think gloves but only for your fingers — or, in this case, finger. The Razer Gaming Finger Sleeves are meant to be worn on your thumbs. It’s specifically made for mobile gamers.

Made with a mixture of sliver fiber fabric, nylon, and spandex, the sleeves can keep your thumbs dry for serious gaming on your phone. Despite wrapping your thumbs, Razer says that the fabric is still breathable at 0.8 millimeters. They’re also a universal fit for any type of thumb.

Mobile gaming is one of the most popular forms of entertainment especially in Asian countries like the Philippines. Playing on your phone can easily whittle away the time spent in traffic or outdoors. However, since some countries are too warm and humid, sweat can just as easily accumulate and create an unsightly portrait on our otherwise pristine phone screens.

The Razer Gaming Finger Sleeves are out now and retails for US$ 9.99.

SEE ALSO: Razer unveils its Phantom Keycap Upgrade Set

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The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset now sports Midnight Black

Nicely paired with the DualSense controller and your “Midnight Black” PS5

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Pulse 3D Wireless

Back in June, Sony announced two additional colorways for its next-generation DualSense controller. Apart from the classic white, the PlayStation 5’s newest controller also received a Midnight Black and Cosmic Red. This time around, they’ve extended the invitation to another PS5 peripheral, the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset.

Much like the DualSense controller, the headset will also come in Midnight Black. Other than this, everything else is pretty much the same for the Pulse 3D Headset. In essence, it still gives you deeper, more immersive 3D sounds to games that fully take advantage of this. It’s just that now, you have other color options to choose from. Whether or not this also comes in Cosmic Red, Sony has yet to announce that.

It’s worth noting that included in the PS5’s second major update is an equalizer for the 3D Pulse. It adds another layer of control for players. This lets them enjoy the game precisely the way they want to. But if tweaking isn’t your thing, there are also three presets: Standard, Bass Boost, or Shooter.

The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset in Midnight Black will be available on October 29 for PhP 5,590/ SG$ 149 / MYR 469/ DR1,699,000 / THB3,490 / VND2,699,000.

SEE ALSO: How to use the DualSense controller with PC, Mac

 

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Xiaomi Pad 5, Mi Smart Projector 2 go official

Along with other AIoT products

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Xiaomi has always been rich with AIoT products. You need it, they have it. And now they’ve expanded their lineup even further with Xiaomi Pad 5 and Mi Smart Projector 2 just to name a few.

Xiaomi Pad 5

Meant for work, school, and then play, the Xiaomi Pad 5 is an all around tablet. You’re getting an 11-inch WQHD+ 120Hz display so you’ll definitely enjoy tapping on this slate. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 processor for all your work and play needs.

Taking work even further, you can pair it with the Xiaomi Smart Pen. Its 4096 pressure sensitivity and 240Hz touch sampling rate hopes to emulate a natural writing experience.

Mi Smart Projector 2

If you wanna enjoy media on a larger screen than the 11-inch Xiaomi Pad 5, you can consider getting the Mi Smart Projector 2.

It has a 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution in a compact size. It’s a handy, portable, plug and play device with Dolby Audio support. The device can quickly project a perfectly square screen on most walls. It also runs on a certified Android TV system with built-in Google Assistant.

Mi Smart Band 6 NFC

Xiaomi takes its latest smart band further by adding NFC. It still has all the monitoring tools you know and love like SpO2 function, sleep tracker, and stress-level detection. And all the workout and exercise functions are still present.

What’s new with NFC? Xiaomi collaborated with Mastercard with a focus on contactless payment. Payments can now be fast, secure, and convenient. No need to pullout your card or cash. It now also has Amazon Alexa built-in.

Xiaomi Mesh System AX3000 (2-Pack)

Having connection problems at home. Have no fear, the Xiaomi Mesh System AX3000 is here. Two of them. It offers a strong and reliable Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 network coverage of up to 4,000 sq.ft. It also supports a maximum number of connections up to 254 devices.

Pricing and availability

The Xiaomi Pad 5 will be available in two colors: Cosmic Gray and Pearl White.

Xiaomi Pad 5

  • 6GB+128GB — EUR 349
  • 6GB+256GB — EUR 399

Mi Smart Projector 2 — EUR 599
Mi Smart Band 6 NFC — EUR 54.9
Xiaomi Mesh System AX3000 (2-Pack) — EUR 149

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