Reviews

Samsung Galaxy A12: A great budget phone to unleash your awesome

Published

on

Galaxy A12

The Philippines is widely known as the social media capital of the world. It would be criminal if its consumers weren’t offered smartphones that don’t break the bank while maintaining top-notch quality.

The competition in the entry-level market has been heating up, and Samsung just released its contender for the crown of budget phone king. Can you be a star with the Samsung Galaxy A12?

Before we go any deeper, let’s take a look at some of the specs of the Samsung Galaxy A12:

Display 6.5-inch HD+ PLS IPS Display, 720 x 1600 pixels, 20:9 Aspect Ratio
Processor MediaTek Helio P35
RAM + ROM 3GB RAM/32GB ROM, 4GB RAM/64GB ROM, 4GB RAM/128 GB ROM, 6GB RAM/128 GB ROM
Cameras Quad Rear Cameras (48 MP Main, 5 MP Ultrawide, 2 MP Macro, 2 MP depth)
Selfie Camera (8 MP)
Battery 5000 mAh
Security Features Fingerprint scanner (side-mounted), face recognition
Other Features USB-C Charging Port, Headphone Jack

Build quality that doesn’t feel budget

One of the standout features of the Samsung Galaxy A12 is how it doesn’t feel cheap to the touch. Seeing it to believe isn’t enough. You need to hold the device to appreciate its sturdy build.

The phone is constructed well and you can imagine it taking a couple of hits in case you accidentally drop it. Of course, slapping on a case is ideal, but we can understand if you decide to rock this in the flesh. Granted, I am biased as an Atenean, but the blue this phone uses is BEAUTIFUL.

Galaxy A12

Upfront, you’re greeted by a tear-drop display. There are bezels on the side, but they aren’t too big that your viewing experience would be impeded.

Galaxy A12

On the right side of the A12, you’re greeted by volume rockers and a handy fingerprint scanner that’s integrated with the power button. The device also has face recognition as an option for security, but their fingerprint option is not only more secure, but also faster especially since we have to mask up outside.

Down under, the phone uses a USB Type-C port for charging and wired data transfers. A headphone jack is also present. Good news A12 users, you don’t have to go wireless just yet.

Performance that fits its price tag

The A12 has been marketed primarily for its social media use. On that note, it definitely performed up to par.

During my two weeks using the A12, the phone breezed through basic phone tasks and social media use on Wi-fi. Even when outside the house, it did well on mobile data whenever I take pictures and post stories on my social media pages.

However, it did face some challenges in more difficult circumstances. When I’d use Mobile Data outside and open Facebook along with work apps such as Outlook and Teams, the A12 would stutter and struggle. It’s important to note, however, the review unit provided to me only had 3GB of RAM.

The A12 also isn’t a gaming powerhouse. For instance, I needed to use default settings when playing Asphalt 9, as the app would crash every time I’d try to use High settings with the A12.

But this is an entry-level device after all. Asking of it to perform intense productivity tasks and gaming would have blown away all expectations. As long as you focus your attention on social media use, multimedia consumption, and basic phone tasks, you’re going to be just fine.

Long-lasting battery

Even with the pandemic, Filipinos still need their devices to be away from outlets as much as possible. Thankfully, the Galaxy A12 is just the kind of smartphone.

During the three days I’d be away from home on weekdays, the A12 had an average Screen On-Time of five (5) hours and 21 minutes, with the phone still having 40 percent left in the tank when I’d get home. Aside from social media and heavy media consumption, I also used mobile data on the device and some navigation here and there.

The A12 definitely lived up to its billing of having a 5000mAh battery. This can easily last you two days if you spend most of your days at home, and even if you’re on-the-go because work calls for it, you can still breeze through a day without needing to plug it in a charger.

Great cameras at best, average at worst

To the A12’s credit, its cameras produced surprising results, especially when it was subjected to good lighting conditions. Even its five (5) megapixel wide-angle sensor produced some great shots. It’s a Samsung, so of course, colors are going to be saturated and bright.

However, it wasn’t always consistent with its images. Take this next picture for example. Lighting conditions were up to par, yet for some reason, the image ended up with cooler tones than usual. It wasn’t bad per se, just surprising given Samsung’s penchant for coming up with saturated images.

The inconsistency didn’t just occur with wide-angle shots. Even photos taken with its main sensor wasn’t always consistent with its level of color accuracy.

Its main sensor also struggled indoors with artificial light and results were average at best. The colors were okay but details left much to be desired.

Selfies were a little more consistent, however. It performed admirably on good lighting conditions, with colors and saturation being reasonably consistent.

Indoor shots were expectedly worse, but they did quite well for an entry-level selfie shooter.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Starting at Php 7,990, the Galaxy A12 is a competitive option for the social media native on a budget. It has great build quality, a striking design, battery life that will last you for days, and a camera that definitely works, especially when subjected to good lighting conditions.

Galaxy A12

As long as you’re willing to sacrifice intense multi-tasking and graphics-intensive gaming, and can be satisfied with quality social media and multimedia use, then there’s no doubt this can be your GadgetMatch.

Laptops

Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen review: 4 months after

Published

on

Huawei MateBook D 15

The work from home and online class setup had us all adjusting to this new normal. You’ll see a lot of inquiries on Facebook groups about LED ring lights, microphones and midrange laptop recommendations. Huawei’s MateBook D series is among the ones you’ll see that has gotten a lot of popularity for this purpose.

It makes perfect sense, since back when I first reviewed the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen, I had a lot of good things to say about it. After four months under regular use, there are quite a few more that I came to realize about this device that I think you guys might find interesting.

It can get things done

A quick refresher on its specs, the D 15 2021 we have with us has an 11th gen Core i5 with the Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. 

It’s no question, if you’re just going to use this for online classes or regular zoom meetings, the D 15 probably won’t even break a sweat. However, I consider my power requirements to be somewhat on the heavy side for my photo and video editing needs.

What surprised me was I didn’t find myself having to go back to my main editing workstation and have actually done more work on the D 15 than I expected. It may not be as fast, but it also wasn’t drastically slower.

Plus the fact that this has a more accurate display with its 100 percent sRGB color gamut, the 15.6-inch LED display is perfect for my daily Photoshop use.

Portability also applies at home

Huawei MateBook D 15

Working from home for a long time and looking at the same thing over and over, not having to be able to go to places, had many of us bored and unmotivated. I personally always had that urge to look for another spot just for the change of scenery.

Thankfully, weighing only 1.56kg, it gave me the flexibility for me to place it in different places. I didn’t worry that the surface wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Battery life

The capability to place the D 15 on different places wouldn’t really matter if you’re still stuck near an outlet because you’re constantly required to plug it in. Fortunately, the 42Wh battery of the D 15 keeps us away from the charger for around nine to ten hours before needing to plug it back in.

Huawei addresses issues and gives regular updates

Huawei MateBook D 15

During its time with me, the D 15 had quite a few driver and software updates. Along with one of the updates came a fix for an issue I had with its fingerprint scanner where it frequently had trouble recognizing my fingerprint. While it shouldn’t have had that issue to begin with, the regular updates are an indication that users aren’t abandoned and issues are in fact being addressed on Huawei’s end.

I also learned from Huawei’s website that the MateBook series has a Windows 11 upgrade rollout plan. That’s something nice to look forward to.

Undesirable camera angle

Huawei MateBook D 15

Sadly, not everything is praise worthy on the D 15. The hidden web camera, while innovative, came at the cost of an awful camera angle. Since it is placed on the keyboard, it is also pointed upwards.

Using it, you’ll mostly see an unflattering image of yourself often emphasizing the size of your nostrils.But if you decide that you’d want to use a laptop raiser for a more comfortable viewing angle, the camera won’t be pointed downwards. That’d make it barely usable.

A generous availability of ports

Huawei MateBook D 15

Being the boxing fan that I am, the recent Pacquiao fight had me subscribing for a pay-per-view service. The full sized HDMI port on the D 15 was heaven sent. During the fight as I was able to output the fight on our dated TV set. It let us to enjoy the stream on a bigger screen.

The availability of USB ports on both sides also let us to choose where certain devices can be plugged. We didn’t worry about hitting our external drives with our mouse or fitting multiple USB devices side by side.

Multi-Screen Collaboration

I did not find myself using this feature as much. However, having this capability eliminated the need for me to grab a USB cable to transfer files from my phone. A quick tap of my phone and I was ready to transfer photos I recently. It’s great for some quick editing before posting on Instagram. 

Is this still your GadgetMatch?

Huawei MateBook D 15

When I think of the D 15, freedom is the word that comes to mind. It gives so much freedom to work anywhere with its portability and battery life. You get freedom to do what you wish with it with its capable hardware. There’s also freedom from wires with the Multi-Screen Collaboration. And even freedom to plug various devices with its great selection of ports.

It’s a no fuss kind of laptop that just gets things done. Its sheer simplicity is what makes it a great device.

If you’re interested in getting the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, you can now get it for PhP 48,999.00.

 

Continue Reading

Reviews

Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Review: Best Android smartwatch yet?

But is it any better than the Apple Watch?

Published

on

Samsung launched the Galaxy Watch4 just recently — which is the successor to 2019’s Galaxy Watch Active2.

Now with the power of a BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) via its Bio Active Sensor, the Galaxy Watch4 can simply measure your body composition with just your two fingers and wrist.

But is it any better than the Apple Watch?

Watch our Samsung Galaxy Watch4 review now to know more.

Continue Reading

Accessories

Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1: Intuitive and portable podcasting rig

Published

on

AU-AM200-S1

I am a fan of quality and affordable gear. Modern manufacturing techniques and advancements in technology gave us a vast selection of gadgets in all shapes and sizes.

With the gaining popularity of live streaming, the demand for good audio interface and microphones is growing. The brand Maono, relatively speaking, is a newcomer that offers affordable audio products.

What we’ve got here is the Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1, which is a portable podcasting gear. This is the very first product I’ve got the chance to try from this brand and I’m liking it so far. This bundle is ideal for someone who is just getting into podcasting or a musician looking for a cheaper alternative.

What’s in the box?

AM200 Podcast Console

At first glance I actually thought it was a miniatured DJ turntable because of the two mini platters, but those are just volume knobs for the mics and music. It is a 3-channel mixer-type audio interface with five outputs. The two inputs are designated for mics and/or instruments and the other input is for music. Three outputs (3.5mm TRRS) for smartphones are available so you can stream simultaneously on different platforms.

A separate main and monitor output is available so you can listen to what your audience hears. Note that all the inputs and outputs are for 3.5mm jacks so if you are planning to plug in an instrument directly using a PL (1/4 inch) cable, you will need a 3.5mm adapter.

Plug and play

You can connect it to a computer with the USB A to C cable that is included. It doesn’t require any drivers, so, just plug it in and it’s good to go. It should be compatible to most DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) for music recording. There is a 3-band EQ along with a “REC” volume knob which is like a “Send” knob to feed the audio to the devices it’s connected to.

Two crossfaders control the monitor volume and echo level. The “monitor” crossfader controls both the volume level for the (main) output and the monitor (output). I wish they installed separated levers for each one to control them independently.

This is also the case for the mic volume knob, it controls both the levels of mic 1 and mic 2. It would’ve have been handy if there are separate knobs for each but I think they did this design to fit in a compact box.

For outdoor streaming and recording

At the middle portion, you’ll notice along the LED indicator level signal is a battery indicator. Yes, this is also battery powered which makes it suitable for out of home live streaming, if you prefer creating something for your viewers elsewhere. You can easily recharge the batteries with the USB C cable.

There are also audio sample pads, buttons for sound effects and pitch shifters.

AU-PM360TR Microphone

AU-AM200-S1

This condenser microphone does not require phantom power. It runs below 5V, through the XLR to 3.5mm cable, unlike the industry standard condenser microphones. With its cardioid polar pattern, it will be more sensitive to sounds being captured in front of it.

Earphones

It comes with a pair of in-ear earbuds with a very long cable, enough to cover the distance for a typical on-desk live streaming. I think that the sound quality would be more appreciated by most modern pop listeners who like a lot of bass. Because it does deliver that low-mid thump.

Tripod

Out of the box, the microphone comes attached to the mini tabletop tripod. The microphone is detachable to the tripod, but if it is used handheld, it will pick-up a lot of hand noise. So, it is better to leave it on the tripod.

Other accessories included are: XLR to 3.5mm cable, two 3.5mm TRRS cables, USB A to USB C cable, and a windscreen cap.

Performance

For podcasting, it is very easy to use. It’s what the AU-AM200-S1 is made for and they did a good job. The microphone delivers a clearer and louder output compared to built-in mics in smartphones/laptops or headsets. You can control the volume of music accompaniment easily with the wheel knob, whenever you want to highlight the music or the voice.

Plus, the sound samples like the applause, laughter, cheering etc., are nice additions for some impromptu segments in your streams. You can also record your own samples by pressing the “loop back” button and assigning to any of the blank buttons available.

Since the microphone does not require a phantom power, the output is weaker compared to classic condenser microphones. The sound quality is good nevertheless.

AU-AM200-S1

For music recording, you can record your instruments with it on your preferred DAW. I connected my guitar to my digital effects processor with a 3.5mm headphones jack going to the mic input of Maono console. I noticed that the 2 mic inputs have high gain levels because my guitar was already clipping with the volume knob on the AM200 console at around 10 o’clock.

Usually, I set the volume on my guitar effects unit on almost full when I am recording with a different audio interface and mixers. But with the Maono AU-AM200-S1, I only had to set the volume of my guitar effects at 50 percent. This is good because it doesn’t have a designated gain knob. Just watch out for clipping- if it happens, you may want to lower the volume from the source.

I recorded a few short audio samples to demonstrate how the Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 handles recording. Please excuse my singing voice.

Mic only without echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only with 50% echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only with 100% echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only without echo – vocal and guitar

Mic only with post-editing – vocal and guitar

Guitar through a digital effects processor

In a full band mix – Recorded vocals and guitars (both acoustic and electric)

Fully recorded demo

 

There are two functions that I have a few comments on:

AU-AM200-S1

Denoise — This is their “smart noise cancelling” feature that reduces background noise. It does its job as a noise gate, but unfortunately, you cannot adjust the settings (threshold, attack, range, etc.). Depending on how loud the ambient noise is, the mic sometimes gets a stuttering sound when this feature is engaged. If the room is quiet enough, there shouldn’t be any problem.

Music Only — This feature attempts to minimize the vocals in the music that you are playing, but similarly to the denoise, it sometimes affects the mic audio quality. I suggest looking for backing tracks of the songs you want to sing during your live stream beforehand.

Is the AU-AM200-S1 your GadgetMatch?

AU-AM200-S1

The Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 bundle is a usable and functional piece of gear. I see it as a bring-it-anywhere, all-in-one podcasting kit. It would have been more convenient (for me) if they included ¼ inch inputs for mics and instruments. Although, I guess it would kind of defeat its portable nature because most PL cables are thicker and heavier compared to the 3.5mm cables included in this bundle.

Pricing and Availability

The Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 retails for $109.00 and is available for purchase in Amazon, Shopee, and Lazada. You can check out their other products at the official Maono website.

Continue Reading

Trending