Reviews

Samsung Galaxy A50s Review: Perfect midrange phone?

One of the best midrangers

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Let me preface this review of the Samsung Galaxy A50s with an explanation for Samsung’s A-series. If you haven’t been keeping up with all things midrange or within a significant budget, then let me catch you up. Samsung has recently dropped its J series. When I say dropped, I mean they stopped adding more to the series. Insert dramatic gasp. I sadly didn’t know this because I’ve been off the loop for a bit. Sorry, guys and gals.

As to why that is, I’m assuming Samsung just wanted to rally up and work on a line-up that fit the bill for consumers on a reasonable budget. For a lot of people, looking for a phone that racks up on specs and features that don’t cost an arm or leg is a good deal–if not a steal. This is why this series is set to rock near-flagship features without wrecking your wallets as a flagship phone would.

The Samsung Galaxy A50s is a great phone from the get-go. When you open the box, you’ll see uncanny similarities to its predecessor: the Samsung A50. Released not too long before the Galaxy A50s, the Samsung A50 seemed to be a very promising midrange release.

If you’re into crystals and holographic, you’re in for a treat

The Samsung Galaxy A50s comes in holographic colored design, and it needs more rep. So much of phones have been dabbling into more striking designs overall but the Samsung Galaxy A50s did not disappoint. It gives the phone an interesting profile and makes me think of unicorns vomiting rainbows. Don’t come at me. Sparkles may be tacky to some, but you’re never too old to believe in rainbow vomiting rainbows.

Jokes aside, I strangely prefer the sleek and futuristic design over the A50 since they added a touch of linear cuts almost similar to diamond cuts. The glossy finish and fresh, digitized pattern come with shades of Prism Crush Black, White, Violet or Green. It makes for a striking, bold, and futuristic look. The phone brags an immersive display. Like most phones on the market, it has a 6.4″ inch FHD+ Super AMOLED near bezel-less Infinity U-display. It’s more than just pretty though.

Samsung took it a step further

If you expected the Galaxy A50s to be not so different from the A50, you’ll be eating your words. We all know that the A50 was shockingly released equipped with a flagship-grade processor. This was a surprising move from Samsung earlier this year seeing as midrange phones normally sport a so-so processor that can disappoint some fans. They stepped up the processor from an Exynos 9610 to an Exynos 9611. Samsung’s home-baked processor then was delivering more than enough oomph with smooth performances. So, having the Samsung Galaxy A50s run smoothly was no surprise. On top of that, the phone has 6GB of RAM to help deliver efficient performance.

Before we get into the battery life, let’s talk camera

The Galaxy A50s cameras get an upgrade! It has the same four cameras: three at the back and one in the front. The phone’s rear cameras include a 48-megapixel f/2.0 main sensor, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide shooter, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor.

The rear cameras are similar to the A50, but instead of a 25-megapixel main shooter, the Galaxy A50s has a 48-megapixel shooter. Samsung didn’t skimp out on upgrading their front-facing camera either. From a 25-megapixel front casing camera, the Galaxy A50s gets a 32-megapixel f/2.0 main sensor.

The 48-megapixel main camera makes photos look bright, crisp, and clear. I took both day and night shots for comparison and the day shots are significantly sharper. The evening shots aren’t necessarily horrible, but the darker it is, the higher the chances for the photos to come out with a bit more noise.

An added feature for the camera is the super steady mode which gives you smooth live videos, even when your grip gets a bit rocky. Using the ultra-wide camera is always more fun outdoors. The quality is inferior to the main shooter, but the wider field of view gives it a different feel.

Taken with the Galaxy A50s

I also played with the camera’s live focus to see how the photos would turn out and they didn’t disappoint. Sometimes, it takes a few taps or two for the phone to focus on the right subject. But, overall, the photos turned out great. I mean, who can go wrong with photos of home-baked cookies though?

As for selfies, it’s great. It has a high-resolution sensor with a beauty mode available. Also, you can never go wrong with AR Emoji, a feature from Samsung’s flagship phones.

Long-lasting battery

I was checking how long the phone lasted and it took a good beating. I usually use my phone to play games, work, and go on social media. The fact that it survived a day of about three hours of Underlords, two hours of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and a full day of work and watching Youtube videos is pretty good. If you were to use the phone extensively, the phone gets to about 10% by the end of the day. The Galaxy A50s lives up to its promise of taking a full day use.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Samsung Galaxy A50s is promising. It has near-flagship features that add to its charm. I think if there’s anything to mull over with the phone, it’s how Samsung is catering this series for midrange budgets while attempting to bridge the gap between features that might cause phones to cost more. The phone is amazing if you consider it’s PhP 16,990 price tag. If you want a phone that holds up to quality photos, a striking design, a good processor, and a battery that can take a beating, get this phone.

Editor’s Note: The phone was launched at PhP 18,990 but the price has since gone down to PhP 16,990

Accessories

Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 review: Affordable, but far from perfect

Xiaomi’s premium TWS offering

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The truly wireless earphones market is filled with a plethora of options today, ranging from entry-level offerings like the Redmi Earbuds S to the premium Sony WF-1000XM3. However, the most popular TWS earphones are from Apple — the AirPods.

AirPods kickstarted the TWS trend, and since then, pretty much every brand has jumped onboard. Xiaomi is known for its reliable yet affordable products, and it has launched a few options previously, but it was limited to its home market of China.

Now, the brand has finally launched the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 in India, and it’s pretty much half the price of Apple’s AirPods.

The Redmi Earbuds S is an entry-level offering while Mi branding is now used for the company’s premium offerings. TWS earphones are incredibly convenient to use, and their demand is consistently rising. Can the Mi TWS 2 offer maximum features for the price and go against the competition?

Do they look like the AirPods?

 

At first sight, you’d think they are the AirPods for a quick second. But it’s soon clear that they aren’t. This is something I appreciate about the Mi TWS 2. In a market filled with AirPods knockoffs, it’s nice to see a different design. However, don’t set your expectations too high.

The earbud’s stem is exceptionally thick, and this is easily noticeable from the side. Thankfully, it doesn’t look that thick from the front view and is oval. The stem is also considerably long, giving the earbud a very bulky look.

The polycarbonate build has a matte finish on the stem while the driver is smooth and shiny. I feel the earphones were designed with utility and features in mind, and aesthetics took a back seat.

If the bulkier design can add more battery life and better drivers, I’m okay with it. This may not be the case with many since they tend to look like cheap AirPods knockoffs.

Each earbud weighs just 4 grams, and they slide in your ears very smoothly. Putting them on is a quick task, and for calls, while driving, these are exceedingly convenient to wear single-handedly. The semi-open design is supposed to be fit-for-all. But, this is where my primary concern lies.

How’s the overall user experience?

The earbuds fit perfectly and are rather stable. But the satisfaction of wearing an earbud is utterly absent because of reduced noise isolation. Even though they’ve never automatically snuggled out, I’m always afraid of losing them while walking. The confidence to wear them outdoors is low.

These too sport gesture-based controls, and the result is below satisfaction. I’d have to try a few times before they actively receive the command. Even play/pause function is rather cumbersome and paired with the loose fit; I’m afraid they don’t fall off.

Thankfully, they have an optical sensor that automatically plays/pauses a song when the earbud is worn or removed. Most times, I’d simply remove them from my ear instead of relying on the gesture buttons.

Lastly, the case is quite basic from a design point of view but gets the job done properly. The plastic build is solid, the lid has magnetic detection, and the earbuds aren’t finicky when plugged for charging. A small LED light on the front will show you the case’s battery status. A USB-C port is located on the bottom.

Pairing them is a straightforward task, and Xiaomi phones will automatically pop-up the status menu just like it’s on iOS. It’ll show you each earbud’s battery percentage along with the case.

But do they sound good?

The brand has added a lot of features on the audio side to make the product look premium. It has support for multiple codecs like SBC, AAC, and LHDC. The last one allows high-resolution audio streaming via Bluetooth. I used the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max to test the Mi TWS 2 and it automatically leveraged the AAC band.

Each earbud houses a 14.2mm audio driver, which isn’t the biggest. But, much of the audio output relies on tuning. Sound testing is also very subjective, so I’ll try to address everyone’s choice.

To start with, the output is very crisp and clear, and the vocals are perfectly heard. If you’re into Bollywood songs or even pop, these should be ideal for you.

Unlike the usual tuning, we see in Indian products; the bass here is well managed. It isn’t too much and ultimately does justice for every user. I’d say these are your GadgetMatch if you listen to podcasts and audiobooks.

The drivers are massively let down by non-existent noise isolation. The design of the earbuds inherently means you can hear pretty much everything happening around you. Even at maximum volume, it just didn’t feel enough.

Lastly, they have “Environment Noise Cancellation” that automatically kicks in when you’re on a call. Background noise is reduced drastically, and everyone I called could feel the change. The overall voice clarity is immensely improved, and high-winds too couldn’t deter them.

How long can they last?

Xiaomi claimed the earbuds can last up to four hours on a single charge and it’s on-point. I was able to get almost four hours with volume at 80 percent.

The case is capable of providing 10 hours of backup, taking the total to fourteen. Thankfully, the case takes just an hour to charge.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re an audiophile, the simple answer is no. The Mi TWS 2 will disappoint you in many ways. However, if you’re looking for work-related earphones, these are perfect.

Calls are ultra-clear, and the overall experience is better thanks to a loose fit. Keep them on, and get through a full day’s work. On the audio side, hip-hop or bass-intensive genre may not suit well here. However, all other vocal-centric songs shall swing by without a hitch.

With a price of INR 4,499, the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 is a solid competitor. When compared to the realme Buds Air, these lose out on aesthetics. But, the minor additions from a function point of view are worth the slight bump in price.

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LG Velvet Review: New breed of flagship killer?

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Over the years, LG was once a pioneer in the smartphone industry with their G and V smartphone series. These phones are packed with a lot of punch and boast new and exciting features.

But LG has forgotten one thing, and that is how to fix their unexciting phone designs. From the G7 ThinQ all the way to V50 ThinQ 5G, those phones almost look unchanged. They might have been minor changes with the newer V60 ThinQ 5G, but it’s still not as eye-catching as other contenders.

The LG Velvet isn’t a replacement to their ever-existing flagship series. Instead, LG tries to reimagine things by making sure they produce products that cater the needs of not just tech nerds, but other types of consumers as well.

Here’s our in-depth review of the LG Velvet.

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Accessories

Redmi Earbuds S review: Affordable TWS without compromises

Making TWS earphones more accessible

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Truly wireless (TWS) earphones have been around for a while. Apple kick-started the hype with the launch of the AirPods and numerous brands have released alternatives since. However, they’ve always been very expensive.

With brands keen on ditching the headphone jack, users are often left with no option but to find wireless options. Redmi phones continue to have a headphone jack, but the brand also wants to remain focused on its target — deliver quality products at an affordable price.

The Redmi Earbuds S is the first TWS offering in India under the Redmi brand. While the brand stands strong in the smartphone segment, it has some cut-throat competition from realme. With a price tag of INR 1,799 (US$ 24), does it have enough firepower to take on the competition? If you’re looking for an entry-level TWS solution, can you trust the Earbuds S? Let’s find out!

Not AirPods knock-offs

If you’ve been following the TWS market, the Earbuds S will look familiar. These are sold as the AirDots S in China and many have ordered them previously via international marketplaces. In India, Redmi is calling them the Earbuds S and these could land in more south-east Asian markets soon.

While the trend is to follow Apple’s design language, the Earbuds S is going against the flow. It has its own distinctive design that looks nothing like a cheap knock-off.

The pill-shaped case is compact, feels solid in hand, and has a subtle curve on the bottom. The case size is perfect and it’ll always slide into your pocket smoothly.

Each earbud weighs just 4g and the in-ear design is immensely comfortable. I’ve worn them pretty much all day long and never felt any irritation, pain, or slightest of inconvenience. The snug fit also ensures adequate noise isolation and wearing them while driving for calls is seamless.

There’s not much to talk about with the design since it’s basic and gets the job done. They’re built out of plastic and its clearly evident at first sight.

I won’t count this as a drawback since it helps reduce overall weight and I wouldn’t expect metal or premium construction at this price.

Easy to use, fairly straightforward

The lid is very basic but has a satisfying feel to it when closing. Unlike the popular AirPods, these sit in your ears at a 45-degree angle. Paired along are two earbud tips to suit your ear canal. I didn’t have to use them and the standard size that comes along worked fine.

Using them is a very straightforward process. Open the lid, remove the earbuds, and wear them.

They’ll connect to your phone as soon as they’re disconnected from the case. I’ve never faced any connection issues so far. Each earbud has a button for quick controls such as music playback options and calling up Google Assistant.

On the flip side, you can’t rely on the earbuds to change the volume level or play a previous song. That can only be managed via your phone.

Pressing the button thrice will trigger the low-latency gaming mode. A feature that’ll be very handy while playing online multiplayer games like PUBG Mobile or Mobile Legends.

Each earbud has an indicator light that shows the status. Red means they’re charging while white means successful connection establishment. Lastly, they’re IPX4 certified, meaning sweat resistance. This obviously translates to a perfect workout session.

Punchy bass, relatively good audio

This is where I was surprised the most. Considering the nifty features it already has, I expected some kind of compromise in this department. And, I was wrong.

It has 7.2mm drivers and delivers punchy bass — a must-have for Bollywood music. Mainstream genres like pop sound amazing and if you’re not an audiophile, you won’t have any complaints.

The maximum volume is sufficiently loud and coupled with good isolation, even a busy market street is easily navigable.

However, if you’re looking for top-notch audio, these aren’t meant for you. The low frequency takes over while the mids are flat. You can use an equalizer to change the settings but the inherent tuning is in favor of bass-heavy music.

Furthermore, these connect via the SBC codec and there’s no support for aptX. I wouldn’t call this a drawback because the brand has to cut corners to make them accessible to a wider audience.

Adequate playback duration

Xiaomi claims the earbuds can deliver up to four hours of playback on a single charge and I’ve reached 3 hours 45 minutes in one go. So, their claims aren’t farfetched.

The case can charge the earbuds fully twice, delivering a total of 12 hours of playback in one go. If you’re going to use them for conference calls, music, and other work-related activities, they’ll easily get you through a working day.

The case takes almost two hours to charge fully. For frequent travelers, this can be a major drawback. Furthermore, the case charges via a microUSB port instead of the now-standard USB-C. Don’t forget to carry that extra charging cord along!

Can this be your GadgetMatch?

Yes. It definitely can. While there are a lot of minor additions I’d want to see, the price brings me back to reality.

In a nutshell, they’re designed aptly, deliver ordinarily better audio, and have 12 hours of playback. For US$ 25, there’s no better deal available. Keep in mind, the Redmi Earbuds S are making TWS earphones more accessible to everyone.

If you’re looking for top-notch audio quality, there are premium offerings like the OPPO Enco Free, Galaxy Buds, and 1More Truly Stylish. On the affordable side, realme Buds Air Neo and OPPO Enco W31 can be alternatives but are still priced considerably high.

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