Reviews

Redmi Note 8 Pro review: Covering all the bases

The Note legacy continues

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Redmi’s Note lineup needs no introduction because it has been leading charts since inception. The series has single-handedly propelled the brand in developing markets like India and I still come across folks who still use the Redmi Note 3 or Redmi Note 4.

For Xiaomi, this lineup is their comfort zone. Even though Realme has been bombarding the segment for quite some time, the Note-series has stood strong. Obviously, Xiaomi has consolidated the entry-level as well as midrange segment and does not solely rely on the Note-series, it still plays a crucial role in maintaining its brand image as well as market presence.

Note 7 Pro was launched early this year and its highlight was a 48-megapixel camera. The Redmi Note 8 Pro, on the other hand, has a new 64-megapixel camera along with a fresh processor. If you’re looking for an affordable phone that can get everything done swiftly and not cost a bomb, can the Redmi Note 8 Pro be your GadgetMatch?

Guess where we’ve seen a similar design?

The color we’ve received is officially called Shadow Black and it shares the DNA with Mi A3. Both have the same reflecting glass back slightly curved corners. Though, I wish Xiaomi would’ve brought over the build quality as well. The Redmi Note 8 Pro has an excellent design, but it feels normal or mainstream at this point.

In fact, this is how Xiaomi leverages properties of scale to lower down the price and be as competitive as possible. The speaker grill, USB-C port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack are located on the bottom while the top gets the classic IR blaster. On the right is microSD and SIM card tray slots while the left equips the power button and the volume rockers.

On the back is a vertical camera array that houses four cameras and a fingerprint scanner. Weirdly, the fingerprint scanner is actually located on the array and sits very close to the lens. I’d always end up smudging the lens cover while trying to get a hold of the scanner. This is indeed a strange location to put a fingerprint scanner, but on the brighter side, I got used to it within a few days and it became an ignorable annoyance.

The camera bump is huge and being in the center makes the phone wobble when kept down on a table. This same bump also helps in navigating your finger easily to the scanner, so I’m not complaining.

Unlike other offerings, this is the first phone in the series to get IP52 water and dust resistance rating. I haven’t tried dipping it in a glass of water, but the rating is definitely appreciated for maximum peace of mind in a humid city like Mumbai.

It sports an LCD display and we’ve got no complains

The Redmi Note 8 Pro has a 6.5-inch Full HD+ display, but it’s an LCD. This is kind of a bummer for many because the Mi A3, that costs slightly lesser, sports an AMOLED panel. However, don’t judge the phone based on specifications. The display is sufficiently bright and can be easily used under direct sunlight. Even the colors are well saturated and it never feels washed out, even when I suddenly shift from an AMOLED panel.

So, even if it’s a corner cut for Xiaomi, the end experience is definitely not hampered. Since it’s an LCD panel, an in-display fingerprint scanner cannot be supported and a physical one has been added on the rear. The Mi A3 had a very sluggish scanner and I’m glad a physical one is being added — it’s a win-win for everyone.

The display has a small waterdrop style notch on the top and the chin has been further reduced. Additionally, the panel is HDR-compliant, so if you watch a lot of movies or shows, this phone is built for you.

What’s on the inside?

Xiaomi went with MediaTek instead of Qualcomm for this phone and it’s first to be powered by the 12nm Helio G90T chipset. The Mediatek G90T is an octa-core chip with two 2.05 GHz Cortex-A76 performance cores and six Cortex A55 efficiency cores running at 2 GHz. The phone is paired with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 128GB of internal storage.

The Helio G90T is aimed at the mid-range segment, so it’s going up against the likes of the Snapdragon 730G. It doesn’t pack the same horsepower some other gaming devices with flagship specifications have, but it’s still perfectly usable.

On the battery side, it gets a 4500mAh battery with support for 18W fast charging. Although, the bigger battery translates into a heavier phone and the Redmi Note 8 Pro comes in at almost 200 grams. The weight is often difficult to manage when you’re just relaxing because the slippery glass design is not your friend.

The battery was always sufficient enough to get me through a full day of heavy usage. The fast charger now comes bundled along and you don’t need to buy one separately.

All that’s fine, but can it game?

Gaming has been at the core of all recent phone launches and the Redmi Note 8 Pro is no exception. In fact, it performs much better than I expected. MediaTek’s previous chipsets haven’t been that great and that’s exactly why a lot of eyebrows were raised when Xiaomi decided to make the shift.

I tried a few rounds of Call of Duty Mobile and the game starts off with the default graphical settings set at High. But even maxing them out wasn’t enough to make the phone sweat. The same happened with PUBG Mobile. During a classic match, there were near to zero frame drops or random stutters. Even with HDR switched on, the phone kept asking for more work and never seemed to run out of steam.

When MediaTek launched the chipset, it heavily marketed it as a gaming-oriented chipset. Though, the phone does tend to get quite hot over extended durations. It isn’t extreme heating but definitely makes you uneasy for a point of time. Also, we have the 6GB+128GB unit and it still manages to kick-ass. So, if you’re looking for a gaming phone within a strict budget, this phone is your GadgetMatch.

What about those cameras?

Another main highlight of the phone has been its 64-megapixel camera on the rear. The primary sensor is joined by three other modules: an 8-megapixel wide-angle, a 2-megapixel portrait lens, and a 2-megapixel macro shooter. A similar arrangement is also found on the Realme XT.

This makes up for a splendid camera experience for the price, but the whole experience feels very gimmicky at times. That’s because, the camera UI has a lot of features, but they lack polishing. I wouldn’t say the camera is reliable because the software often disappoints. If you need to snap a picture within seconds, don’t rely on this phone.

But, if you are looking for some serious photography, Note 8 Pro won’t disappoint. The 64-megapixel sensor takes astounding photos in daylight and the color reproduction is near-perfect. It can focus quickly and is always accurate when just pointing and shooting. The pictures are sharper than usual when you zoom-in, but that’s just limited to the 64MP mode.

I was impressed by the macro mode because it does let you zoom in and get some crystal clear shots, even at night with accurate colors and minimal noise. Just make sure your hands are steady. The wide-angle lens performed exactly as expected.

There are minor problems with high-contrast scenes, where the Redmi Note 8 Pro then emphasizes the bright areas a bit too much so that details can no longer be recognized. The AI tries to brighten up the dark areas, which works relatively well but leads to slight noise.

In increasing darkness, the image quality then steadily collapses. Even the dedicated night mode only brings noisy mud to the photos and it looks quite similar to a non-night mode picture. Selfies were bang on though thanks to the 20-megapixel front-facing camera.

Ultimately, the user gets an option to choose between four different lenses. Can you depend on this phone for killer pictures? Have a look yourself.

Software still has massive room for improvement

Running on top of Android 9 Pie is Xiaomi’s in-house skin called MIUI. And, it has ads. Too many of them actually. While it’s debatable whether system apps should have OEM-backed ads or not, they definitely should be moderated. Quite a few times these ads were explicit in nature and shouldn’t have directly made their way into a phone that could be used by anyone — a kid or an adult.

Bloatware is spread everywhere and you basically have to manually remove a long list of apps hidden within home screen folders. Spam apps like Likee further lack moderation and again bring me back to the same point — Xiaomi needs to be careful of what’s it’s pushing forward.

You get the usual set of Xiaomi services installed out of the box — Mi Credit, Mi Pay, Mi Video, Notes, Music, Mi Store, and more. The overall experience is much better than my previous stints on the Note 7, but it’s still loaded with random bugs. MIUI 11 was launched alongside the phone, but you’ll have to wait sometime to actually get it.

Beginners and long-time users of MIUI will quickly get used to the system, but if you switch from another smartphone manufacturer to Xiaomi, you need some patience and learning ability, because the UI of Xiaomi is very different from those of other manufacturers.

Is the Redmi Note 8 Pro your GadgetMatch?

Xiaomi has put together a complete package with the Redmi Note 8 Pro, which truly is one of the new kings in the middle class. Obviously, you can’t pitch it against a flagship offering, but considering the starting price of INR 14,999 (US$ 210) and PhP 11,990 in the Philippines, I can blindly recommend the phone. The processor is beefy, design is premium, cameras are above average, and it can be a perfect media consumption device.

On the flip side, the Realme XT offers an ad-free interface along with slightly better cameras that work better in low-light. Each continues to have its own forte.

Reviews

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Review: Pro Enough?

How does it set itself apart from the rest of the line?

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While the similarities between Apple’s iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are less distinct than ever, the iPhone 12 Pro sets itself apart enough. Other than that, consumers got more confused with the iPhone 12 mini and 12 Pro Max on the line.

Are you curious to know if the iPhone 12 Pro is your GadgetMatch this 2020?

You can find out more in our iPhone 12 Pro review by clicking this link.

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Reviews

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Superstar Shoes Review

Walk in Miles’ shoes

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For those of you that might have bought the Spider-Man: Miles Morales game you may have noticed that it appears that Miles has switched allegiance.

From the sweet Air Jordan 1 Highs that he famously rocked on the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse animated film to this — a new pair of black and red Adidas Superstars that he wears in the game.

This has been super controversial, both in the sneaker community and the comic book community as well to an extent. Like many others, I agree that the Jordans were a part of Miles and the story line of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

But here’s a thing — this is the 2020 game. It’s a completely different story line to the 2018 animated movie.

So as much as it might be painful to see Miles sporting something other than his Jordans, think of this as Miles from another universe — because that’s really what he is. A universe where he just so happens to be a huge three-stripe fan.

The Spider-Man Miles Morales Superstars dropped this November 19th for US$ 75 in the US.

Unspectacular box

Starting with the box — it’s disappointing to see that Adidas keeps slacking off when it comes to the unboxing experience. They had a chance to create a really cool box for this collab, but nope, we have the usual blue Superstar box.

Opening it up, you have the usual Superstar wrapping paper, and the shoes, with the usual Superstar size tag and this Marvel Gamer verse tag.

Coming to the shoe itself and starting with the toe box, you have the usual Superstar Shell Toe, that’s in a black color here instead of the usual white color.

Moving along the upper of the shoe, it’s in a red leather material with the Adidas Three Stripes on the side in a black color.

This black and red design is supposed to be a nod to the Spidey suit that Miles Morales wears in the game.

Above the black three stripes on the mid-panel you’ll see the word “SUPERSTAR” in black to the side of it.

Coming to the top of the shoe you’ll see the usual Superstar regular lacing system with these flat black laces. Unfortunately, no extra pair of laces here.

You’ll also notice a tiny black lace tag here with the PlayStation symbol. Since this awesome game is only available on PS4 and PS5.

Miles Morales Superstar

Moving on, underneath the laces you have this black leather tongue which seems to have a bit more padding than usual. This is to make them feel even more comfortable on feet, compared to a usual superstar.

At the top of the tongue is the usual branding tag with the Adidas trefoil branding. It’s in this red black on the back leather, keeping in theme with Miles’ Spider-Man suit.

Coming to the inside of the shoe, you’ll notice the Marvel branding on the inside of the tongue, along with a black leather sockliner that feels pretty good against your feet.

There’s the usual Adidas superstar outsole, this time in a black synthetic leather with the Adidas branding in a red color towards the heel.

And then lastly, coming to the back of the shoe you have the usual Superstar heel tab but this has the Spider-Man logo in black and red occupying the heel tab.

Miles Morales Superstar

I know Adidas did this to give it some Spider-Man feel… 

because as you probably noticed there’s not a lot of it on the rest of the shoe, apart from the Miles Morales suit colors used.

Below that you have the same red synthetic leather material as the rest of the upper.

Moving on, that entire upper sits on the usual Superstar rubber midsole. But this time instead of the usual white rubber midsole and outsole, we get this black rubber midsole with this lining of the red outsole below it.

And then, coming to the bottom of the shoe, you have this red rubber outsole in the usual superstar thread pattern.

That’s about it in terms of design.

Fit and sizing

Coming to fit and sizing, the Adidas Superstars tend to fit true to size but Adidas sizing is pretty unpredictable.

I feel like these fit just like any other pair of superstars, true to size but if you have wide feet like I do, I definitely recommend going up half a size.

For example I’m a size UK 11 so I wanted to go up to a UK 11.5. Unfortunately, there were no half sizes available so I went up to a size UK 12. It fits okay but I have a bit more room in the toe box area than I’d like.

In terms of comfort, honestly it kinda feels like every other pair of Adidas Superstars but slightly more comfortable because of that well padded tongue. When it comes to cushioning, it’s a rather stiff, flat kind of feeling underfoot since there’s really not too much going on there..

But, to its credit, it is a very stable shoe and it’s pretty durable. So if you want a really stylish pair of everyday sneakers, and you’re okay with how the Superstars feel underfoot, this is a pretty solid option to check out.

Is this your SneakerMatch?

As much as I know that these are supposed to look exactly like the shoes Miles wears in the game, I have to admit, I’m kind of a little disappointed.

I just feel like there’s more they could have done, with the color blocking and the PlayStation and Spider-Man logos. They could have also, at least, made the box in the Miles Morales Black and Red colors.

Miles Morales Superstar

I feel like these are shoes made for kids, who would love to wear what Miles Morales is wearing in the game, which is totally okay. Granted, Miles was actually wearing mid-top Superstars in some suits, but it looks like the physical versions are only available in low-tops.

But these are not really for the same crowd of comic book nerds like me who would have copped the Jordan 1 Origin Story, which I feel was much nicer put together.

But then again, maybe this is the best that Adidas’ designers would come up with after talking to Marvel, Sony, and Insomniac Games who had to produce the same shoe in the game as well.

Miles Morales Superstar

At the end of the day, if you want to wear the same shoes as the coolest Spider-Man, here ya go. They’re comfortable, they stand out, and if you’re a Spider-Man Miles Morales fan, you’re going to love these.

Plus how cool is it to wear the same shoes as the in-game Miles, right?

SEE ALSO: Spider-Man: Miles Morales PS4 Review

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Lifestyle

MOK & MOK Mini review: Smoking just got smoke-free!

The future of tobacco?!

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MOK Mini

Government warning: Cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.
The following is intended for readers 18+

Over the past decade, we’ve seen various changes in the smoking and tobacco industry. Technology played a key role in developing new ways of smoking that, surprisingly, people are adopting. From traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other vaping devices emerged.

The revolution doesn’t stop, seeing how Heat-not-Burn (HnB) devices arrived. This innovation is setting the stage for a smoke-free smoking experience. Such an example is MOK — which is now conquering Asia and Europe.

A bit of history, MOK arrived last 2019 in the Philippines. With a disturbing issue in second-hand smoking, the arrival of this HnB device was promising for the archipelago. I’ve always wanted to test it, but it was only a year later when I got my hands on MOK’s revolutionary devices: MOK and MOK Mini.

MOK

The first HnB device MOK offers… is named MOK. It’s a split device comprised of a holder (which I call a heating stick for sticks) and a pocket-sized charger where you can insert the holder for charging and safekeeping.

MOK Mini

The unit I have came in Navy Blue with gold accents. However, its shade of Navy Blue looks like Onyx in most circumstances. Nonetheless, it came in a matte finish for an easy grip.

The combination of gold accents and matte finish made it look fancy, allowing MOK to evoke a classy and luxurious appeal. It complemented my accessories and didn’t look out-of-place when placed together with my Playboy Clutch bag.

Using MOK is pretty straightforward. Simply insert its specially-designed COO sticks in the holder, then press the button for two seconds to turn it on. The light will turn blue and blink to tell you it’s turned on.

Once the blue light stopped blinking, it will start the heating process. Afterward, the light indicator will turn from blue to red to signify that it’s safe for you to start using the device. MOK makes it easy for you by vibrating every time the mode changes, so you don’t have to count or wonder when it’s ready to use.

When the light indicator is gone, that’s when you know the holder needs to recharge. The holder can last up to four minutes. This is where the pocketable charger comes in handy — to allow you to consume up to 20 sticks if it’s at 100% capacity, which can last for one hour and 40 minutes. That is if you’re a heavy smoker.

From my own and my smoker friends’ experience, we got lazy to charge the holder every time we need to consume a new stick. The laziness that comes can make or break the smoker’s experience: either we learn how to reduce consuming more than one stick, or we go back to using traditional cigarettes.

What’s in the box?

MOK comes in a fancy box. Inside is a pocket charger, a holder, 10 cleaning sticks, a cleaning brush, a micro USB charging cable, an instruction manual, and a quick how-to guide.

MOK Mini

MOK Mini is the smaller version of MOK, which makes it more pocketable than its sibling. It can easily slide to pretty much anything, which makes it perfect for my girl friend who doesn’t like carrying anything that won’t fit in her compact sling bag.

MOK Mini

It’s currently the smallest HnB device available, working smartly to deliver the same satisfying flavorful experience. It preheats faster at just 12 seconds while allowing you to consume up to 12 sticks at 100 percent battery capacity. Every stick can be experienced for at least 4 minutes, so you can do the math.

Just kidding, we don’t like to do the math. The MOK Mini lasts for less than an hour in continuous usage. It doesn’t come with a separate charger so its battery life can be easily depleted. Although, it charges fairly quickly for an hour and a half using its USB-C cable.

What’s in the box?

MOK Mini comes in a smaller box. Inside, you can find MOK Mini, a MOK cleaning brush, a USB-C charging cable, and a quick how-to guide.

Heat, not burn! What’s the process like?

MOK Mini

Both devices use MOK’s proprietary Heatmaster system — a cutting-edge technology designed to heat specially-designed tobacco, instead of burning it. It’s a flavorful experience similar to traditional cigarette smoking, only without the smoke produced.

When there’s no smoke, you get to puff the nicotine to yourself without inhaling harmful chemicals passing toxins (created by smoke) into an innocent individual near you. In essence, the non-combustible process made MOK’s promise true: a smoke-free, enjoyable experience.

The future of tobacco?

MOK is exclusively enjoyed with COO — specially-designed Heat-Not-Burn sticks that offer the same tobacco experience. It uses real tobacco leaves and comes in three variants: Golden Hue for a balanced, classic tobacco taste; Blue Hue for a refreshing hit of menthol; and New Wave Capsule, mint with a bit of lime.

If you’re wondering if you can use existing cigarettes in the market, no, they won’t fit. I tried it first-hand out of curiosity. Although, having MOK and using exclusive sticks made it feel like I’m part of an exclusive community — of casual and heavy smokers switching to an alternative with lesser risks.

In some countries, HnB devices are being used to swing heavy smokers into consuming less. For MOK, they aim to capture the existing smokers as their market, to help make the world smoke-free, one smoker at a time. They don’t even sell to consumers who aren’t smokers.

The goal is simple: reduce smoke and then hopefully quit someday. Slowly, but surely. If this is the future of tobacco, then it’s a future worth considering.

Maybe one day, second-hand smoke will be a thing of the past and all we have are battered lungs of smokers who really don’t have it in them to quit. Just kidding. Or maybe not.

Is the Mok Mini your GadgetMatch?

MOK and MOK Mini offers an alternative to smokers wanting to reduce their tobacco consumption and hopefully quit one day. For others, these HnB devices allow them to enjoy a guilt-free tobacco experience: no more second-hand smoke for other people. Yay?

For the right reason, MOK and MOK Mini makes for a revolutionizing accessory. The two HnB devices’ differences in size, battery capacity, and design can surely fit any smoker’s lifestyle. Here’s to hoping it can pave the way to a better future.

MOK Mini

MOK and MOK Mini is available in Japan, Korea, Maldives, and European Countries.

In the Philippines, MOK and MOK Mini retails for PhP 3,490 and PhP 2,490 respectively. Its COO HnB sticks are priced at PhP 120 for a pack and PhP 1,200 for a ream. It is currently available at MOK specialty kiosks in Eastwood Mall, MetL!ve, SM North EDSA, SM Manila, and SM Sta Mesa.

You can get it online through MOK’s official stores in LazMall and Shopee Mall, as well as from 60 major vape shops within Metro Manila. Nearly 500 branches of 7-11, Family Mart, and Lawson offers MOK’s HnB devices, too.

It’s also conveniently available in selected GrabMart hubs. Delivery of orders is guaranteed within 90 minutes or less, that is if the hub is near you. Purchasing from official retail partners promises a twelve-month warranty.

SEE ALSO: 9 gift ideas for the man of your life

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