Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy A6 Hands-on: Repackaging the older series

A combination of the Galaxy J7 Pro and Galaxy A8

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The latest midrange phones of Samsung are finally hitting the stores, but they got us a little confused. Since the introduction of the Galaxy A series, it has always been the family of upper-midrange Samsung phones with a premium design. In 2018 though, Samsung is blending the Galaxy A and Galaxy J’s designs; the result is the new Galaxy A6 phones. There’s a regular and a better plus variant, but let’s check out the former first.

This is the Galaxy A6: A phone with a 5.6-inch Super AMOLED display and an 18.5:9 aspect ratio or Infinity Display, as Samsung calls it. The resolution of the display is underwhelming at just 1480 x 720 pixels or 294ppi, but it’s still pretty sharp. The Infinity Display of the Galaxy A6 doesn’t curve to the sides unlike with the Galaxy S9 flagship, yet the bezels are minimal.

The vibrant Super AMOLED display is a common Samsung trait

We have the usual sight in the front including the 16-megapixel f/1.9 selfie camera paired with its own LED flash, earpiece, and sensors. There’s no branding on the face of the phone so when the display is turned off, it looks sleek and clean on the table.

Too bad it doesn’t have the Always On Display feature, even though it has an AMOLED screen.

It’s an Infinity Display but not edge-to-edge

Having the loudspeaker at the side has now been a staple among Samsung midrange phones. It’s a much better placement than on the bottom since you don’t cover or muffle it when viewing in landscape orientation. This is ideal for watching videos or playing mobile games.

Both the loudspeaker and power button are on the right side of the phone

The volume buttons are on the right

Those who dislike making a choice between a microSD card or secondary SIM card will be glad to see the triple card slots of the Galaxy A6. There are two card trays inside the phone: one for the main nano-SIM card and another for the second nano-SIM and the microSD card.

You have to take out two trays to get all your cards inside

The body of the phone is mainly made up of aluminum with U-shaped antennas similar to the Galaxy J7 Pro’s frame. To be honest, the Galaxy A6 can easily be mistaken for the Galaxy J7 Pro if not for the rear camera. Speaking of, the Galaxy A6 has a 16-megapixel f/1.7 rear sensor inside an area shared with the fingerprint sensor. Thankfully, it’s identical to the Galaxy A8’s and Galaxy S9’s placement.

There should be fewer smudges on the camera lens

Going further into the internals of the Galaxy A6, it’s powered by an Exynos 7870 processor — the same silicon the popular Galaxy J7 Prime had back in 2016. The processor is getting old, so we’re hoping Samsung will use a newer one in their next release.

Good thing the bigger Galaxy A6+ has the latest Snapdragon 450, or else it’ll be just an under-powered midrange phone.

The variant we have here has 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage, but there’s also a 4GB/64GB combo available in select markets.

The Samsung Galaxy A6 with the 3GB/32GB configuration retails for PhP 16,490 in the Philippines while in India, it goes from INR 21,990 up to INR 22,990 depending on the variant.

Hands-On

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition hands-on

Two displays are better than one

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The quest for the bezel-less future is far from over, and Vivo has yet another surprise in store for everyone before it bids farewell to 2018. Recently launched in Shanghai is a smartphone that will surely catch your eye because this time, it has two displays: the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition.

Ever since the start of the year, Vivo has been introducing one innovation after another: in-display fingerprint scanning, Time of Flight (TOF) 3D sensing technology, and who could forget the all-display Vivo NEX with a pop-up selfie camera that we reviewed in June.

The design story

While we appreciate brands trying to come up with different notch-free solutions, it makes us question the choice of reverting to pop-up mechanisms to achieve an all-display smartphone.

Vivo’s new proposal has two displays: a 6.39-inch Super AMOLED screen in front and another at the back at 5.49 inches. The Ultra FullView display boasts a 91.63 percent screen-to-body ratio, slightly higher than the original Vivo NEX’s 91.24 percent.

Having two displays may sound excessive but it actually has practical applications. On top of that, this implementation eliminates the need for pop-up cameras and one of 2018’s most hated smartphone feature — the notch.

Vivo Design Director Kyle Hsiao admits that the idea of creating both NEX phones came about around the same time while trying to solve the notch problem, hence the short gap between their launch dates. The pop-up mechanism was so easy to implement compared to having two displays on a single smartphone that it took almost 300 prototypes before finalizing the design we have today.

Hsiao says they don’t feel that the iPhone notch is the way to go. When working on the NEX Dual Display Edition, the design team had three considerations: technology, fashion, and most importantly, consumer experience.

Hsiao emphasizes that a smartphone doesn’t just have to look good, but has to be designed based on human needs. Mobile video app TikTok has been rising in popularity, and it’s this generation of users that Vivo had in mind when creating the new NEX — people who create and share their own content, no matter the level of production quality.

The last few years saw brands from China, including Vivo, to be simply copying what Apple does. Ultimately, Hsiao envisions the NEX line to always offer something different — something that breaks barriers. Although it is Vivo’s most premium line, it’s not about using expensive materials or coming out with the most premium phones, but providing solutions to users’ needs in a unique way.

Two displays, still a normal phone

In case you’re wondering, you can switch between the two displays in a multitude of ways. The easiest is by pressing the two buttons on both sides of the phone simultaneously.

Speaking of buttons, placement is usual: volume rocker and power button on the right, and Vivo’s virtual assistant Jovy on the left.

Vivo insists having a physical button for its personal assistant is a choice they made because they want to achieve a meeting of something that’s both real and digital, something users can interact with physically.

Dual nano-SIM card tray, USB-C port, and speaker grilles are at the bottom.

And yes folks, the headphone jack lives to fight another day.

You also get an earpiece on both sides of the phone, and that’s because even if the rear display is just secondary, it functions the same as the main one. So, you can also take calls no matter which one you’re using.

One question we get a lot when it comes to unconventional phones like the NEX is, “Will it work with a case?”

The Dual Display Edition comes bundled with a bumper that matches the phone color so the phone stays protected from accidental drops.

All photos are equal

The Vivo NEX S’ pop-up selfie camera is one of the best we’ve used this year that we even named it our favorite recently.

With another display at the back, Vivo ditches the pop-up mechanism for only one set of cameras on the Dual Display Edition. The setup found at the back doubles as a selfie camera: a 12MP dual-pixel main camera, a 2MP night video camera, and the Time of Flight 3D Camera.

This means all your photos will look equally good, whether landscape, portrait, or a selfie. Vivo believes that selfies need not be inferior compared to photos taken on the main camera.

We haven’t had the chance to take the phone out in the real world during our time with it but if the NEX S’ cameras are any indication, this triple-camera setup will not disappoint.

Some smartphones, especially those made specifically for taking selfies, usually have a front-facing flash or some kind of fill light built in. The NEX Dual Display Edition steps that up with a ring light, which Vivo calls the Selfie Spotlight.

You know how beauty vloggers’ eyes look like they shine? It’s because most of them use a ring light when doing makeup tutorials. Of all the new features on this NEX phone, this is the one I got most excited about.

Because Vivo has always been really popular with its selfies, even if there is no dedicated selfie camera anymore, they actually added more features to make the most out of the two displays.

There are modes like Mirror Mode, which allows you to see yourself on the back display, even while being photographed by someone else. There’s also Pose Director, which can show you pose references that you can copy. This way, you can compose yourself better, and find your optimal angle the same way that Crazy Rich Asian family did.

That circular bump around the cameras is called the Lunar Ring. Apart from serving as a ring light when taking selfies, you can set it to glow when you get notifications or even pulse when playing music.

Improved gaming

Another practical feature a dual-display phone like this offers is extra controls when gaming.

Certain games are played much better when you have a separate controller, but an extra display is the closest you can get to that without carrying another accessory.

We had a limited time with the phone, but we look forward to trying this feature out ourselves once we get our own review unit!

While we’re on the subject of gaming, it’s worth mentioning that the NEX Dual Display Edition has all top-of-the-line specs you can expect from a flagship smartphone in 2018: Snapdragon 845, 128GB storage, and even 10GB RAM, making it one of the first smartphones to come with that much memory.

Faster and more secure biometrics

If you remember on the original Vivo NEX S, we only had one biometric option — an in-display fingerprint scanner. Because the front camera uses a pop-up mechanism, we didn’t get face unlock then.

On the Dual Display Edition, you get both fast and secure options. Built onto the main display is an in-screen fingerprint scanner, a technology pioneered by Vivo.

On the rear display, you can unlock the phone using the TOF 3D Camera. This means you can unlock the phone easily no matter which side you’re using. During our time with the phone, both options worked seamlessly.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

We’ll have to wait ’til we get an international review unit to answer this question, and that’s coming really soon.

The original Vivo NEX, no matter how futuristic it seemed at the time it launched, was a phone that felt normal and practical over time. Even though it came merely six months later, the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition offers an entirely different experience than the former.

But, like we said in our Vivo NEX review, we appreciate how in its bid to distinguish itself among the many global players, Vivo built yet another premium smartphone that’s both innovative and fresh with ideas.

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Hands-On

Realme C1 Hands-on: Redefining entry-level devices

The new king of budget smartphones?

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No, this is not another OPPO hands-on, but we can’t blame you for thinking that it is. Realme, the offspring of OPPO, has just opened up to more Asian markets and they’re pushing their own entry-level device to penetrate the smartphone market.

This is the Realme C1, the identical twin of OPPO A3s. Side by side, it’s hard to tell them apart aside from the brand logos. Is the Realme C1 any different? Let’s find out.

It has a 6.2-inch HD+ display

It’s got a notch, too

The power/lock button is on the right side

It’s unresponsive at times

The volume buttons are on the left…

They get the job done

… along with the triple-card slot

Put in your microSD and SIM cards at the same time

The bottom is packed with the micro-USB and audio ports

As well as the loudspeaker and microphone

The phone’s back is pretty boring

Even the blue variant doesn’t stand out

There’s nothing special about it

To be honest, the Realme C1 felt plain when I first saw it in its box. It’s probably because I got spoiled by all the special patterns and gradients on other phones. The unit I mainly used is the blue one, but I’d suggest the black model more because of its understated look. The black bezels kind of ruin the blue hue for me.

Since the display just has an HD+ resolution, it’s not as sharp as other pricier phones. Good thing the panel is bright enough to be used outdoors; it also produces lively colors and has Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. The notch on top is unnecessarily wider than usual, but no one should expect a sexy phone in this segment.

What I find to be so-so is the phone’s loudspeaker. It sounds tinny and doesn’t get loud even when I’m alone in a small room.

Overall, the phone looks and feels pretty basic, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With all the attractive phones coming out, it’s nice to have a no-frills budget option. That being said, there’s nothing much to write home about the Realme C1’s design aside from that it has a shiny plastic exterior.

Limited memory is a bottleneck

The big question about budget phones is how well they perform. With a Snapdragon 450 processor at the helm, the Realme C1 is able to run the latest apps. The loading times are a bit slower than I’m used to, but there are no general performance issues.

It can’t keep apps always running in the background, though. The phone only has 2GB of memory which is already a minimal amount for Android. The 16GB internal storage gets filled up easily too, so be sure to put in a microSD card.

Of course, ColorOS 5.2 still mimics the look and feel of iOS even though it’s just based on Android Oreo. Personally, I have some issues with ColorOS’ tweaks mainly in the notification system. It takes away the good elements of Android instead of improving it, which is what others are doing.

Gaming-wise, the Realme C1 is capable of running any game I play, but not in their best graphics settings. Asphalt 9: Legends, for example, runs okay but its visual quality is toned down. PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang are definitely playable, albeit in low to medium settings.

Decent photos for a budget phone

When buying a cheap phone, one shouldn’t expect its cameras to excel. Well, the Realme C1’s shooters are not great, but they are surprisingly okay. Equipped with a 13-megapixel f/2.2 rear camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor, this phone can take decent pictures in daylight. It also has a 5-megapixel selfie camera with an AI beautification feature.

Check out these samples:

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I can’t say that it has the best camera in its class, but the quality of the photos taken by the Realme C1 are worthy enough to be used for your social accounts. You can always enhance them using popular photo editing apps from the Play Store.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Realme C1 is not a perfect smartphone. It’s not meant to compete with the best of the bunch, but it’s made to entice people looking for a cheap phone. Also, this is basically an OPPO A3s offered at an even cheaper price.

For someone who is looking to upgrade from a feature phone or in need of a secondary device for work-related use, the Realme C1 is a great choice. It practically sits next to the Xiaomi Redmi 5A as the best budget phone around.

The Realme C1 is currently available in select markets in Asia for around US$ 110 when converted. You can get it in India for INR 8,990, PhP 5,990 in the Philippines, IDR 1,499,000 in Indonesia, THB 3,990 in Thailand, VND 2,490,000 in Vietnam, and MYR 449 in Malaysia.

Realme is new to the market and they’re pretty aggressive in offering discounts through their official online channels, so you might even get it cheaper during sale events.

SEE ALSO: Here’s why OPPO created a new brand called Realme

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Accessories

Razer Thresher and Raiju Ultimate Hands-on: Splendid gaming combo

Badass gaming accessories

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If there’s one thing Razer is really good at, it’s making gaming accessories that are both stylish and edgy. The Razer Thresher headset as well as the Raiju Ultimate controller for the PlayStation 4 (PS4) are primary examples of this.

Headset you can wear for hours

At first glance, the Razer Thresher looks like it would weigh heavily on your head. This is not the case. Despite its bulky exterior, this headset is lightweight and extremely comfortable.

The four-inch earcups cover a good portion of your ears and it feels like a headset you can wear for hours. It neither feels too tight nor to loose.

Setup is pretty straight forward, too. Simply plug the accompanying USB stick to the PS4’s USB port, turn on the headset, and it should work with no hiccups.

Immersive audio

Audio quality is right about what you’d expect from a US$ 150 headset. The earcups lend nicely to making the sound feel immersive as you game. When I played Marvel’s Spider-Man with these on, it almost felt like it was me swinging around New York with how much of the environment I could hear.

This headset also has a mouthpiece that’s perfect for co-op games, but since I don’t really play those kinds of games, I wasn’t able to try the headset in that setting. It does record good audio though, so you can opt to use it for that.

Although it’s labeled as an accessory for the PS4, it will work with any device that has a USB port. I used the headset on my MacBook Pro and it worked just fine.

Feels drastically different from the DualShock 4

At first glance, you would even think that the Raiju Ultimate controller was made for the Xbox One. It bears so much resemblance to that console’s controller which is why I felt a little iffy using it.

Most of my console gaming has been spent wielding DualShock controllers. I did try the Xbox but my personal preference is still the controllers bundled with the PlayStation consoles through the years.

That said, I didn’t completely hate the Raiju Ultimate experience. I did have trouble playing NBA 2K19 because the buttons weren’t responding the way they usually would on a regular DualShock 4 controller. This had a significant effect on my game as I wasn’t knocking down the shots I normally would.

The Raiju Ultimate controller comes with a sleek carrying case

Using the Raiju Ultimate led to a close game and a loss against Marvin. We played twice more but I shifted back to the DualShock 4 and proceeded to dominate him on NBA 2K19 like I normally do. (Editor’s note: “Dominate” is such a strong word.)

It comes with an app

The Raiju Ultimate also comes with an app to customize the extra four shoulder buttons. It has four presets to choose from: Sports, Shooter, Fighting, and Racing.

Instead of using the Sports the preset, I tried the other ones but still got the same result. This wasn’t the case when I played Marvel’s Spider-Man. In fact, it was pretty fluid and the shoulder buttons which you end up using a lot in this game responded seamlessly.

If you want a little bit more of customization, you can add a profile and assign specific functions for each shoulder button depending on the game you’re playing. I imagine it being helpful in games wherein you’re asked to press two buttons at the same time. You can just assign those to buttons to a single shoulder button — pretty handy.

Perfect tandem?

While I did have some trouble with the Raiju Ultimate, that was only in one game. Granted it’s probably the game I play the most, I didn’t have the same troubles in other games.

I had a blast playing Marvel’s Spider-Man using this combo. The game felt a lot closer than when I first played it thanks to the Razer Thresher, and the mechanical feel of the Raiju Ultimate really grows on you as you play.

This pair probably isn’t for everyone but if you want a little boost for your gaming experience, I wouldn’t think twice about copping these.

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