Samsung Galaxy A34 review: Awesome, trustworthy all-rounder

The pros easily outweigh the cons~



Choosing a mid-ranger in today’s landscape can be a daunting task. It’s an exercise of trust; a challenge of how willing you are as a consumer to put your heart into a smartphone you’ll likely be with for years.

It becomes even more difficult to navigate through all the options with the sheer variety of what’s being offered in the market. Everything looks so good, but sometimes you can’t help but ask yourself if you’re being catfished.

Get the right phone and you have a partner that feels like family.

Get the wrong phone and you’ll feel like you purchased a phone of betrayal.

No one wants to be betrayed. All we want is a phone that we can trust at the right price point. Can Samsung’s newest mid-ranger, the Galaxy A34, capture your heart in the long run?

Awesome, premium-feeling design

Class shouldn’t require glass; the A34 is proof of that. Reviewers will often cite the use of plastic as a sacrifice manufacturers have to make to reduce costs.

While it may be true, it doesn’t have to make your device look bad. Samsung found a way to keep its newest mid-ranger pretty without breaking the bank.

The design is undeniably Samsung. It mimics design cues from the more expensive Galaxy S line of phones while using a matte plastic finish to maintain a premium look.

No matter which color of the A34 you choose, you’ll undoubtedly come home with a device that looks and feels good on the hand.

Awesome performer for your day-to-day

No one wants to be a wannabe flagship who can’t perform. It’s a good thing Samsung took that to heart with their newest A-series phone.

Give the A34 time to warm up once you boot it right out of the box. Once it finds its bearings, you’ll get a mid-ranger with software and hardware that can compete with the best.

Gaming is reasonably good as long as settings aren’t amped up to max levels. Office tasks are where Samsung’s software truly shines. One UI has evolved over the years from a messy, bloat-filled experience to a bright yet clean interface that can be appreciated by all types of users.

Samsung’s beautiful screen only adds to everything. The company’s displays are the best in the industry, and the A34 helps strengthen its claim. Colors are bright and details are crisp; just exactly what you need for a premier media consumption experience.

Its speed won’t beat flagships, that’s a tall task. But it can at least match up to them thanks to its efficiency and effectiveness. At this price point, that’s more than enough.

Awesome that lasts

The definition of smartphone durability has changed, especially as consumer habits have evolved. Our devices are no longer just exposed to offices or motor vehicles; now we can work remotely beside beaches and commutes can be done using bikes.

Being exposed to that much can be taxing for our phones. An Awesome look with Awesome performance is useless with poor endurance.

The A34 happens to check all the boxes you need out of a modern smartphone that lasts. It utilizes a plastic back, an immediate recipe for durability. It comes with IP67 certification, which means it has what it takes to survive outdoor environments.

Where it surprises is battery life, a noted weakness of Samsung phones, especially when compared to competing devices. Its 5000 mAh battery meets expectations, and even on a heavy day with plenty of hotspot usage and navigation, it can last you an entire day.

Awesome camera for your social media image

The present generation needs a camera for their beach trips while fulfilling their food blogger dreams. The A34 can be that camera.

The best way to describe Samsung’s camera performance without using the word ‘awesome’ is consistent. Normally, multi-camera setups can be tricky and incoherent, especially among mid-rangers. The A34 doesn’t fall under that category.

No matter the lighting condition, Samsung’s newest mid-ranger came out with a solid shot. It isn’t extraordinary or mindblowing but it isn’t sub-par either. Open the camera, point-and-shoot; it simply works.

I felt this the most during the most recent long weekend. The shooting experience was effortless and I had confidence the photo would be Social Media-worthy. Users need more of that nowadays. No-frills. No worries. Just vibes.

Even with difficult lighting conditions, the A34 still came out with respectable output. Night shots are clear and even indoor shots had great results.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Smartphone purchases can sometimes boil down to taste or budget. There are some with a wider palette while a select few can be picky with their choices.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have any special needs with their smartphone usage and you simply want an all-around smartphone that you can trust, then the Galaxy A34 is for you.

The versatility and flexibility its flagships are praised for can also be found with Samsung’s newest mid-ranger. It’s difficult to promise that it will check all your boxes. Depending on your needs, it can have a few misses here and there.

In cases when it misses, the pain you’ll feel won’t be all that extreme. You’d be willing to sweep it under the rug because the pros easily outweigh the cons.

This phone won’t be a purchase of betrayal for you. This is something that can feel like family; a mid-range smartphone you can trust.

The Galaxy A34 5G starts at PhP 19,990 for the 128GB variant and PhP 21,990 for the 256GB variant. It comes in two colors: Awesome Violet and Awesome Black.


Apple M2 Max MacBook Pro 16-inch Review: Four months later

Insanely Powerful!



Apple silently revealed the revamped M2 Pro and M2 Max-powered MacBook Pros just last January 2023.

While the design isn’t any different from its predecessors, it promises significant boosts in performance.

However, this isn’t meant for those who already owned the M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pros launched in 2021.

Spoiler alert: This is a huge upgrade from the 16-inch Intel Core i9 MacBook Pro from 2019.

But would you compromise the portability of the 14-inch version over a bigger screen and battery?

Watch our review of the new M2 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro, four months later.

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How well do PlayStation games run on the ROG Ally?

Spoiler: Pretty good



ROG Ally, PlayStation Dual Sense

The ROG Ally has caused quite a buzz in the gaming community at large. Personally, I’m thrilled at the prospect of owning a handheld gaming PC/console to play games I otherwise would not have access to. I mainly play on my PlayStation 5 (PS5). Naturally, I was curious how some of my favorite games will run on the ROG Ally. 

Things are promising on paper. The ROG Ally is built to be able to run AAA titles. Here’s a quick look at the specs of the unit we had for recap:



CPU AMD Ryzen™ Z1 Extreme Processor 

      • 4nm 
      • Zen 4/ 8 core & 16 threads  
      • 24M cache 
      • CPU Clock: up to 5.10 Ghz 
      • TDP: 9 – 30 watts
GPU With AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme Config: 

  • AMD Radeon™ Graphics 
  • RDNA3 & 4G RAM capacity / 8.6 TFlops 
  • 12 CU 
  • GPU Clock: 2.7GHz
Panel Full HD (1920 x 1080), 120 Hz / 7 ms eDP1.4b, 500 nits, IPS-panel, 100%  sRGB, FreeSync™ Premium, Gorilla® Glass Victus™ and Gorilla® Glass DXC,  10-point Touchscreen 

Gyro support

Memory  16GB (LPDDR5 6400Mhz) dual channel LPDDR5 8GBx2 on board  memory
Audio  2 x 1W speakers with smart amp technology, Dolby Atmos®, Hi-Res Audio,  AI Noise Cancellation
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth  WiFi 6E (802.11ax) / Bluetooth® v5.2 
Storage 512GB (for Z1 Extreme config) 

+SD card slot UHS-2

I/O PORT ROG XG Mobile interface (8PCI express lanes) and USB Type-C  combo port (with USB 3.2 Gen2, DP 1.4 support) — (1x)

3.5mm Audio jack — (1x)

Micro SD slot (UHS-II, Micro SD 4.0) — (1x)

Battery  40Wh
Adapter  65W PD adapter, supports pass through charging
Dimensions  280.44 * 111.18 * 21.22 mm


PlayStation Studios on PC 

PlayStation, in the past couple of years, has decided to spread the love and let PC players experience some of the best they have to offer. Currently, there are 12 PlayStation exclusive titles playable on PC. And they’re available on either Steam or the Epic Games Store. 

In case you’re curious the available games are as follows: 

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • God of War (2018)
  • Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves Collection
  • Destiny 2: Lightfall 
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn
  • Returnal
  • Days Gone
  • Predator Hunting Grounds
  • Sackboy: A big Adventure
  • The Last of Us Part 1

PlayStation Asia was kind enough to give us codes for three of the 12 titles now available on PC. Here’s how they ran on the ROG Ally. 

Quick note: I played on Performance mode with brightness hovering at around 50-55% indoors in an air conditioned room. 

Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered

Marvel’s Spider-Man, along with NBA 2K, is my comfort game. Whenever I feel frustrated or just having a bad day, I fire up either game. On Spider-Man, I just swing aimlessly around the digital Manhattan that Insomniac built. 

It was such a delight to learn that I can do this on the go now too with Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered playing pretty darn well on the ROG Ally

I had the framerate limiter turned on, maxing out at 60. Despite that, I only reached a max of 31 fps with dips to as low as 15. It looks bad on paper, but is much more tolerable during actual gameplay. The dips usually happened during cutscenes. Majority of the gameplay hovered around 25-30 fps. 

ROG Ally, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered

I knew it was never gonna reach the level of detail and smoothness that I get on the PS5 and LG C2 combo that I usually play on. There was plenty of noticeable stuttering especially during the busier sections of the game. But I didn’t think any of it was game breaking. 

Audio wasn’t as loud as I hoped it would be despite me playing in a pretty quiet room. I opted to pair it with Bluetooth earbuds (OnePlus Buds Pro 2) to get the most of the audio. There were no audio delays whatsoever which was a very welcome development. 

My average play time was about one hour and 20 minutes. That’s with the battery going from 100% to 20% each time. 

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Coming from the same Studio and pretty much being essentially the same game, Spider-Man: Miles Morales didn’t run too differently from Spider-Man Remastered.

I played in the exact same conditions: Indoor room, AC on, started at 100%, performance mode, and medium brightness settings. Curiously, the frame dips happened more during open-world swinging and not as much during cutscenes. This could be because of the busier version of New York due to the events of the game being set during the Christmas season. 

But the numbers weren’t too different. I still maxed at 31 fps, with most of the gameplay hovering around 25-30 fps, and the lowest dip coming in at 16fps. 

Again, nothing game breaking and it is much more tolerable during gameplay. Naturally, you have to have your expectations set properly. The ROG Ally is, after all, a handheld gaming PC. 

Average play time is around one hour and 25 minutes with about 75% to 80% of the battery life being consumed. 



Returnal is one of the titles I was most excited to try. I was curious about how the audio and controller rumble would translate to the ROG Ally. On the PS5, Audio and DualSense implementation are two of the game’s many strengths. 

Due to audio cues on enemies’ locations, this game is best played with earbuds/headphones on. The experience on the ROG Ally isn’t quite 3D Audio on PS5 levels, but it’s as close as it gets. 

The same can be said for the controller rumble. It’s not as precise nor finely implemented as the DualSense – that’s a unique feature after all. However, I was still thoroughly impressed with how the ROG Ally implemented rumble in certain sections of the game. The rumble effect is also a testament to how well-built the Ally is. Despite the internals shaking, the Ally never felt brittle nor that it would suddenly come apart. 

Knowing this is a shooter game, I turned the framerate limiter off and reached highs of 115 fps. The framerate did dip to as low as 15 fps which is about the widest variance I got from any game I played using the Ally. This did affect gameplay especially during sections where I had to deal with multiple enemies. 

I did experience plenty of crashes which isn’t ideal for a game like Returnal whose progress relies on you surviving as long as you can on a single run through. But this only happened during the first few minutes. After a while, it seemed like the ROG Ally had adjusted to the performance-demands of the game. 

It took about an hour and 10 minutes before I had to plug-in the Ally to not lose a playthrough. 

Remote Play?

ROG Ally, Dual Sense, Horizon Forbidden West

Since the ROG Ally is essentially a handheld gaming PC, you can certainly install the Remote Play app on it. However, you can’t just immediately use the gamepad. To play Horizon: Forbidden West, and generally just run the app, I had to pair the Ally with my DualSense controller.

You can map the gamepad so that it works but mapping isn’t an activity I enjoy nor did I have the time (I had to return the review unit) to do it. Other reviewers pointed to using a third-party app called Chiaki. But again, I didn’t have time to test it. I did see gameplay of it though so it seems to be working just fine. 

Knowing that you can do all these on the Ally actually makes you question the upcoming PlayStation Q handheld. Sure, the integration will likely be seamless. But its core function can already be replicated on other handhelds and handheld-like devices. I digress.

It’s worth noting that the relatively smooth experience I had with the ROG Ally was also aided by an internet connection that constantly hovers in the 250+ mbps range along with a Wi-Fi 6 router. 

The ROG Ally is PlayStation friendly 

If you want to know what it’s like playing PlayStation 5 games on a handheld device, the ROG Ally is easily one of the best devices to play with. The gameplay isn’t quite as smooth but you shouldn’t expect it to be. And yes, you’ll find yourself reaching for the power adapter after a little over an hour of playthrough. But being able to play AAA titles on a handheld device still feels crazy to me.

Having started gaming on a family computer and covering tech for a living, it’s still mind-blowing to me how far technology has come. The stuff I only dreamed of as a little fat gamer is coming true thanks to the ROG Ally and its contemporaries. 

The ROG Ally Z1 Extreme retails for US$ 699. The ROG Ally Z1 variant retails for US$ 599. Pre-orders begin on May 11. It will be available for sale worldwide on June 13, 2023.

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OnePlus Pad Review: If iPad Ran on Android

Give this Android tablet a chance



First announced during the Cloud 11 Launch Event in India way back in February 2023 together with the OnePlus 11, the newest OnePlus Pad seems to rival the very dominated tablet territory full of iPads.

And by that, even making direct accessory contenders such as the OnePlus Stylo, a Folio Case, and even a Magnetic Keyboard.

But is the experience even close?

Well, if you’re looking for an Android tablet less than what the latest entry-level iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab offers,

it’s a tablet you might want to try out — and our OnePlus Pad review might just entice you to buy one.

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