Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy A20 Hands-on: One of the familiar faces

One of the many new similar-looking phones

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Samsung‘s new strategy involves compelling models that are competitively priced. One of those is the Galaxy A20 which is priced under US$ 200. It’s been quite some time since I’ve tried a budget Samsung phone. This makes the Galaxy A20 interesting — at least, for me.

How does a budget Samsung phone fare? Here’s my hands-on.

Let’s get right into the phone starting in the front:

It has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display…

Fairly big for a budget phone

… with a V-shaped notch

Samsung calls this Infinity-V

On its left, a triple card slot

Fans would love this

The physical buttons are all on the right

One for power and another for volume

At the bottom: headphone port, USB-C, and speaker

USB-C on a budget phone!

Its back is really glossy

It’s called “3D Glasstic”

It has two rear cameras and a fingerprint scanner

Keeping the essentials in check

The new wave of Samsung phones

The Galaxy A20 is part of Samsung’s reimagined Galaxy A series for 2019. The Galaxy A series used to be Samsung’s midrange lineup. Now, it also covers the budget segment. The move battles the rising popularity of Chinese manufacturers in developing markets.

The Galaxy A50, which is currently one of the best midrange phones shares a lot in commone with the Galaxy A20, design-wise. Both phones have the same 3D Glasstic body — a fancy name for glossy plastic. To be honest, I still prefer the previous matte bodies of the discontinued Galaxy J series, specifically the Galaxy J6 or the Galaxy J8.

The Galaxy A20 sports a Super AMOLED edge-to-edge display with a small V-shaped notch. To meet the target price point, the phone’s display only has an HD+ resolution. The lower pixel count is pretty obvious to the naked eye. The lack of sharpness is redeemed by the panel’s vibrant colors and deep blacks.

Decently fast and stable

Performance-wise, the Galaxy A20 doesn’t disappoint. I have little expectations for a budget Samsung phone. Still, the phone has proven me wrong. It already has Samsung’s new One UI on top of Android 9 Pie out of the box, a big advantage over older Samsung phones. I particularly like One UI’s system-wide dark mode. Likewise, I don’t have to wait for Android Q to get that.

The processor of the phone is Exynos 7884. It’s paired with 3GB of memory and 32GB of expandable memory. This is not the fastest configuration you can under US$ 200, but it gets the job done. The storage might not be enough to store all your games and videos, though. Thankfully, the phone has a dedicated microSD card slot for expansion.

Generally, the Galaxy A20 performs okay with everyday tasks like messaging, browsing the web, and scrolling through social networking apps. There’s no hint of sluggishness with day-to-day use. Although, it takes a bit longer to load heavier apps. The phone just needs an extra second or two compared to faster (and more expensive) phones.

In the gaming department, I am surprised that the Galaxy A20 can deliver better than the competition. My staple games — like Asphalt 9: Legends and PUBG Mobile — run smoothly with little to no lag. I’m not saying the Galaxy A20 can be your next gaming phone. At the very least, it can handle casual games and graphics-intensive titles in low to medium settings pretty well.

Also, the Galaxy A20’s battery capacity is impressive. The phone has a 4000mAh battery inside — bigger than most cheap phones today. Additionally, it also has a USB-C port that supports fast charging up to 15W.

Ultra wide-angle is a treat

Finally, you can get dual rear cameras on a budget Samsung phone. Like with the Galaxy S10e, the Galaxy A20’s setup is a combination of a normal camera and an ultra wide-angle shooter. The main one has a 13-megapixel sensor with an f/1.9 aperture. Meanwhile,the ultra wide-angle camera has a 5-megapixel sensor.

Like with most phones today, even in the budget segment, the Galaxy A20’s main camera can shoot decent stills in bright environments. At night or in low light, the quality becomes so-so. The phone also has an 8-megapixel front camera which takes not-so-pleasing selfies.

As for the wide-angle shooter, it has a really wide FOV like an action camera. Having this secondary camera will let you take an image with a different perspective. It’s also fun to use; you’ll enjoy trying it out in open areas.

Of course, there’s a catch. The quality of the wide-angle shots is nowhere near the main camera’s. At least, it’s definitely more useful than just a depth sensor. The Galaxy A20’s camera also has other features like Live Focus for bokeh and beauty mode for an instant touchup.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

In my opinion, the Galaxy A20 is proof of Samsung’s realization of its customer’s love for more value for their money. Despite brand unfamiliarity, Chinese manufacturers are luring phone buyers by offering bang-for-the-buck devices.

Although the Galaxy A20 is far from holding the bang-for-the-buck title, it’s a good option for those who want a budget Samsung phone. It has the basics covered with a few extra features to make it stand out.

The Galaxy A20 is priced at PhP 9,990 in the Philippines, MYR 699 in Malaysia, and INR 11,490 in India.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy A50 Review: The ideal midranger, almost

Hands-On

The Huawei Nova 7 and Freebuds 3i is the perfect match

Some things are better in pairs

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Huawei is adding two new devices to their ever increasing portfolio. These are a phone and another TWS option — the Huawei Nova 7 and Freebuds 3i. 

The two devices share a common trait in that they offer flagship-level performance for less. More details on pricing and availability later on. For now, let’s talk about the devices.

Huawei Nova 7

The first noticeable thing about the Nova 7 is the design on its back, especially for the purple variant. It follows the Nova pattern introduced in the Nova 5T.

Since it’s laying face down, next thing you’ll notice is the quad-camera setup. It’s rocking a 64MP main camera, an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, an 8MP telephoto lens, and 2MP macro lens (which you probably wouldn’t and shouldn’t use).

Naturally, it has all the AI camera features and post processing found on Huawei phones. We haven’t tested the cameras but we’ll throw in a quick comparison with a similarly priced phone for the review.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can flip it over to reveal the 6.53” OLED display. For screen refresh rate junkies, you’re only getting 60Hz here — which is still fine. That OLED looks mighty fine on the eyes.

Inside, it’s powered by the new Kirin 985 SoC. It’s flagship-grade and has support for 5G. In the Philippines, Huawei is currently leading the market in terms of sheer number of phones with 5G.

They started in 2019 with the Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G and followed it up with the P40 Series. As of writing, Huawei also has the distinction of offering the most affordable flagship phone in the Philippines — the Huawei Nova 7 SE. 

As to the actual availability of 5G, that’s a topic for another article. But if you want some extra reading, here’s our 5G explainer.

Back to the phone, it has an 8GB + 256GB memory and internal storage combo. It also has a 4,000mAh battery with support for wired 40W Huawei SuperCharge. No wireless charging here.

First impressions 

We’ve been using the device for roughly a couple of days now and it’s been delightful to use for the most part.

If you’re salty about the lack of a higher refresh rate, I would say the vivid OLED display kind of makes up for it. Scrolling side-by-side a device with an IPS LCD screen but with a 120Hz screen refresh rate, it certainly feels less smooth. But what it “lacks” in fluidity is more than made up for by the crisp and vibrant display. Certainly crispier than any IPS LCD display.

In terms of general day-to-day use, it’s pretty stellar. We’ve noted on our OnePlus Nord review how good these midrange/upper-midrange SoCs have gotten and the Kirin 985 along with the RAM and the stability of EMUI 10.1 contributes to a hiccup-free experience.

App access is improved by the introduction of Petal Search. Type whatever app you need and you’ll be shown the source of the app. But you can download it directly from the Petal Search’s interface.

The phone is still without Google Mobile Services, so certain apps that require it like Google’s entire suite of apps, VSCO, Sound Hound, and others won’t work at all. Regardless, there are alternatives for all of these as we’ve noted in this App Gallery feature, and this video. 

Huawei Freebuds 3i

The Huawei Freebuds 3i is the Freebuds 3’s younger sibling. Like the Nova 7, we’ve had it for a couple of days and are blown away but how it performs.

It has ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) and this is something you notice right away as you put it on. The Freebuds 3i does this through the in-ear design and its three microphone system.

The stem design also isn’t just for show or to look like a certain competing TWS earphone. The stem acts as the microphone pick-up. We tested it on a few quick calls and the people on the other line noted that we sounded crystal clear.

It also has touch controls that are configurable through the Huawei AI Life app.

The perfect pair?

Huawei isn’t exactly packaging the two together. But since they’re launching at the same time, we used the two together and it’s quite a treat.

Like any first-party accessory, the Freebuds 3i is immediately detected by the Huawei Nova 7 making for a hassle free pairing.

The Nova 7 doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack so if you want to jump straight into the wireless life, pairing it with the Freebuds 3i is a good place to start.

Quick note: The Nova 7 does come with wired earphones along with a USB-C to 3.5mm converter in case you’re not yet ready to let go.

The listening experience, though, is elevated if you do decide to get the Freebuds 3i.

Pricing and availability

The Huawei Nova 7 will retail for PhP 23,990 (US$ 488). It comes in two colors: Midsummer Purple.

Like any recent Huawei releases, it comes with an array of freebies. The first 100 buyers will get a Huawei Watch GT2e, VIP Service, and Tresemmé Shampoo and Conditioner so you’ll look fly in your selfies.

There’s also a spezial offer. The first 5 customers who order the Nova 7 during the airtime of noontime show Eat Bulaga, you’ll get the Huawei Freebuds 3 for free.

If you don’t watch the show, there are other ways to snag a free Huawei Freebuds 3. Just make sure you order between July 31 to August 2, 2020 at these times: 12MN, 10AM, 2PM, 6PM, and 10PM.

Meanwhile, the Huawei Freebuds 3i will retail for PhP 5,990 (US$ 122) with a free case that has a mini lanyard. The Freebuds 3i comes in two colors: Ceramic White and Carbon Black.

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Hands-On

OnePlus Nord Unboxing & Hands On: Prepare to be surprised!

Could this be the new flagship killer?

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OnePlus goes back to its roots with an impressive sub-US$450 smartphone. Could this be the new flagship killer? This is our OnePlus Nord Unboxing & Hands-On.

The OnePlus Nord will retail for 399 EUR / 27999 INR (8/128GB model) when it launches in Europe and India on August 4th.

Other variants include a 12GB/256GB model (499 EUR / 29999 INR) and a special 6/64GB variant for India ONLY which will retail for 24999 INR.

In case the video isn’t working, click here.

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Hands-On

5 things we like about the realme Watch

A fitness band you won’t mind wearing in non-workout scenarios

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realme has been on a roll in expanding their product portfolio. They started with smartphones, added some earphones and powerbanks, and this year they have two wearables so far – the realme smartband and the realme Watch.

Today we’re listing some of the things we really liked about the realme Watch. Oh and quick note – most of this video was shot using the realme X3 SuperZoom.

Battery Life

Okay so, number one is battery life.

At the time that this was written, the Watch was at 52 percent and it has been seven days since the last time it was fully charged. If I use it more or less the same way I have in the past seven days, then it’ll be another week before it completely runs out of juice.

It’s definitely a plus when you don’t have to think about charging your watch too often.

Variety of workouts

At launch it can track 14 different workouts with good variety.

You have stuff like Running, Walking, Strength Training, Yoga and even sports like Football, Table Tennis, and Badminton.

The only “workout” I really got to try is walking, since I absolutely dread running — or any other form of exercise for that matter. But the fitness tracking was fairly accurate for the most part.

I was dying to try basketball since that’s the only workout I truly enjoy. Unfortunately the courts are still closed because in case you forgot, the Coronavirus is still very much out there taking lives and we are totally not winning that battle.

Casual fit

If it’s just your regular trip to the grocery store, then this watch will suit you just fine.

Perhaps, you can also wear this on regular work days if you’re required to report onsite. Point is, since it doesn’t look like a fitness band. You can probably get away with wearing it in most casual situations.

Remote camera

This one was particularly useful for when I was making this video.

The remote camera camera works for both photo and video. And for photos, it can be set to either take the snap right away or with a timer.

Very convenient if, like me, you’re forever alone, and need or want photos of yourself.

Water reminder

For you thirsty folks out there, it also has a water reminder option that you can turn on using the realme link app.

You can set a time period when you should be reminded, as well as the frequency of the reminder. I didn’t exactly follow this all the time since I sorely lack discipline, but it’s nice to have that constant reminder.

Is the realme Watch worth buying?

To properly set your expectations, you’ll need to think of the realme Watch as more of an enlarged fitness band versus an actual Smart Watch, since most of its features are geared towards health and fitness.

And if you look at it, it’s… okay. Not really something you’d want to show off.

Underneath the display there’s this subtle realme branding that could’ve been smaller or they could’ve totally done away with. That might have helped with the overall look a little bit.

The watch faces are also limited at launch, but realme emphasized that a wide variety of choices is coming soon.

For PhP 3990 (US$ 81), you get a fitness band that you wouldn’t mind wearing in non-workout scenarios. I think that’s the primary benefit that you get, for paying around twice the price of a regular fitness band.

In case the video isn’t working, watch it here.

SEE ALSO: realme X3 SuperZoom, realme Watch price in the Philippines

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