Reviews

Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro review

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The Galaxy Note 7, which we’re sure many of you have heard about by now, isn’t the only new Samsung smartphone with a huge display out there. The Galaxy A9 Pro has more screen space, plus a much more agreeable battery capacity that could get it to last through another day without a recharge. In other words, it is big for good reasons.

But are those reasons good enough to warrant a purchase over similar devices from Apple, ASUS, Huawei, OPPO, Xiaomi, and others? That would ultimately depend on how much value you attach to what the A9 Pro brings to the conversation. And how much you’re willing to spend on a smartphone that could easily negate the need for a tablet.

There’s no getting around how unwieldy this device can get for people with small- to regular-sized hands, and that’s largely by design to accommodate a generous 6-inch screen and an even more generous 5,000mAh battery.

The metal frame feels solid and substantial and resilient enough to cope with the rigors of an active lifestyle, and the chemically strengthened glass back suggests a reassuring sturdiness. At 210 grams, it’s heavier than the Apple iPhone 6s Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, and the Xiaomi Mi Max, which are big phones, too.

As intimidating as the A9 Pro may sound, however, its makers likely did the best they could to keep the dimensions as small as possible; the smartphone is pleasingly thin (7.9mm) given the battery size, and the bezels on the left and right edges have been kept to a minimum, adding to the charm of the full-resolution Super AMOLED display.

Once again, Samsung has done a fantastic job with the A9 Pro’s panel, providing punchy, saturated colors, inky blacks, and super-white whites. Brightness levels are high enough that the display remains visible outdoors on a sunny day, and viewing angles are consistently good. The additional screen real estate is better suited for video consumption and playing games. To keep the panel in immaculate shape, it is protected by scratch-resistant 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4.

But however big and ideal, the size of the display introduces a couple of caveats: First, trying to swipe across or get to the top of the screen can lead to some finger gymnastics that are dangerous to pull off while holding the glass-backed A9 Pro with one hand; second, text and images don’t appear as crisp on the phone as they would on a higher-resolution panel.

Also on the front is a home button that, as is usually the case with Samsung’s modern midrange and high-end handsets, houses a fingerprint scanner. It works well, and we can imagine that it’ll be difficult to go back to using a PIN or a password once the user gets the hang of unlocking the device with a thumbprint.

The 16-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization and an f/1.9 aperture produces above-average results, though dynamic range and exposure can be hit or miss. Switching to Pro or HDR mode helps, but at night or in the dark, there’s little you can do to mitigate color and noise issues.

The selfie cam has an 8-megapixel sensor and the same aperture as the main camera, allowing for sharper, clearer, and more detailed snaps. The wide lens means you can fit more people or more of the scene in the frame.

Under the covers is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 system-on-a-chip, alongside 4GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage. Those specifications aren’t meant to draw a crowd, but the processing package provides enough oomph to make you rethink the A9 Pro’s place in the Samsung hierarchy. The Pro naming convention isn’t just for show; this phone is a serious performer that rivals the best of the best from last year.

It powers through general tasks like web browsing and email with little to no lag; it can render demanding games at consistently high frame rates and for long periods of time without overheating; multitasking feels fluid and seamless, and navigating the Android Marshmallow-based interface is a pleasant interlude between apps.

Most notable of all is how long this phone lasts. If we wanted to drain the battery quickly, it would require a deliberate and focused effort, which is to say you probably won’t have to plug it to a power supply on a nightly basis. We found the A9 Pro — unlike so many in the segment — can get to a second day without enabling Ultra data saving mode, which will squeeze a few extra hours of use.

Its 5,000mAh fixed cell is the real deal, making the A9 Pro one of the most enduring phones we’ve ever tested. And when it does need charging, the battery replenishes at an impressive rate, thanks to Qualcomm’s quick charge tech.

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The Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro sells for 3,499 yuan in China, P25,990 in the Philippines where it is already available. It’s rumored to launch in India next month; other markets are likely to follow suit. For a product that’s priced dangerously close to flagship territory — in this case, between $530 and $560 — the challenge is always justifying an existence among more affordable yet capable phones.

Fortunately for the A9 Pro, its winning mix of screen size and battery life, coupled with a fast processor, makes for an attractive option for power users who don’t want to overspend.

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Reviews

vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review

vivo’s best smartphone just got even better!

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The vivo X70 Pro+ was launched just several months ago. However, we’re already having a follow-up!

Unlike the X50, X60, and X70 series, the X80 series only consists of two models this time around.

Namely the X80 and X80 Pro — with the latter being vivo’s latest flagship smartphone.

But what makes it different from its predecessor? And what makes the successor a lot more exciting?

Watch our vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review now to find out more!

 

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Samsung Galaxy S22+ review: Love at first touch

Can’t help but fall deeper

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Galaxy S22+

A cosmic pull. A supernatural attraction. These aren’t phrases one normally says on a smartphone review. And yet, here I am. Falling madly for the Samsung Galaxy S22+. 

However, this wasn’t the case from the get go. First, I saw it in photos and it was alright. Then, I saw the specs on paper. Yeah, that’s pretty good. It was just another flagship, I thought. 

But everything changed when it came to my doorstep and held it in my hands. 

(P.S. All of my subheadings below are taken from the song “One Touch” by Gabe Bondoc. You can play it while you read 🙂). 

One touch and I’m hooked and I am drowning

Galaxy S22+

I am completely aware how overly infatuated I’m coming off and will come off for the rest of this article. But, having been in this smartphone reviewing gig for close to seven (7) years now, I’ve become almost numb to the usual releases. 

Yes, every now and then I take a liking to a smartphone or two. But it has been a while since I really, really wanted to keep and/or buy a phone I’m reviewing. 

The Samsung Galaxy S22+ just felt perfect on my hands. The right width, the right length, and the right thickness. The heft of the device, its shiny metallic edges, and the clean premium finish of the back all scream premium. The material on its back has a smooth, matte feel and finish. It’s both smudge and scratch resistant.


I’m a fan of its button placements too. With both the power button and volume rockers flushed on the right-hand side. It’s easy to slide up and down to press what you need to press.

And the metal lining on the edges feels smooth but grippable and perfectly complements the flat display. 

Excuse me, I don’t mean to be staring

It’s no secret that Samsung consistently offers one of the best displays, especially in their flagship line. This remains true for the 6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel equipped on this beaut. The colors are rich and crisp under favorable lighting conditions. But even in broad daylight, the display is bright enough (1750 nits peak) to be comfortably operated without having to squint. 

Galaxy S22+

I had a grand time watching my favorite shows on the Samsung Galaxy S22+. I’ve had it for a while so I saw a few episodes of the Netflix K-Drama Business Proposal on it. I have also been catching up weekly on the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. For content that supports it, HDR10+ kicks in to elevate the visual experience. 

Galaxy S22+

The display looks so majestic that it prompted me to put the love of my life Momo Hirai of TWICE as my wallpaper. And then of course, there’s the dynamic refresh rate that goes up as high as 120Hz. This means the screen changes its refresh rate depending on what you’re doing. If you’re scrolling through socials and what not, it kicks into high gear to give you a smooth experience. When idle, the refresh rate lowers down to save battery. 

My heart won’t slow ’cause of you

The Galaxy S22+’s overall performance will really keep your heart racing. Normal, day-to-day interactions with your phone just feel extra sharp. The many features mentioned above coupled with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 powering this phone keeps it humming no matter what you do. 

Keeping up with the news in the morning, checking socials to see what you missed, using messaging apps to keep in touch whether for work or personal matters – all of these just feel like a breeze. And the ONE UI 4.1 skin on top of this Android 12 flavor definitely contributes to just how things flow when you use this smartphone. 

Galaxy S22+

I didn’t do a lot of gaming, though. To test it, I defaulted to my go-to which is a few hours of Call of Duty Mobile. As expected it runs without hiccups on high graphics settings. There’s a game manager of sorts here that I didn’t tinker with much. It’s not too different from the ones implemented in previous Samsung phones. Some key features include focusing the phone’s resources to gaming and limiting or completely blocking notifications. 

Battery life is also admirable. One afternoon, I used it to tune into a friend’s wedding via Zoom. The entire ceremony lasted roughly around two (2) hours. In that period, the Galaxy S22+’s battery went from 82% to 76%. 

Naturally, that isn’t the single indication of its battery performance. I generally start my days at around 9AM and end at around 8PM. On days that I’m glued to my laptop, with only occasional glimpses on the phone, I would end the day between 60% to 70%. On days that I’m out and about and rely on it a lot to get work done, my day ends with around 25% to 35% of battery left. 

You’re looking fine today, not that I only noticed now

Galaxy S22+

I have already done an entire separate article about the cameras on the Galaxy S22+. It’s one of the things that I enjoyed the most about the phone. It’s almost as if it’s impossible to take a bad photo with this on hand. 

Easily switching between lenses is great. But what’s even better is how the quality and color reproduction doesn’t vary much from lens to lens. Check these samples out.

Samsung Galaxy S22+

And you can even use 10X Zoom with barely any detail loss, especially if it’s a photo that you’re just uploading on social media. 

Samsung Galaxy S22+

That versatility is unmatched and is fantastic for quick, run and gun shoots like the one I did during the opening of the XM Studio in Singapore. 

I am thoroughly impressed and extremely satisfied with the quality of images it produces. And that’s saying a lot seeing as my regular daily phones include an iPhone 11 Pro and an OPPO Find X3 Pro. Both of which are excellent shooters in their own right.

Oh and yeah, “Nightography”. 

Samsung Galaxy S22+

You think there is a way that I can get you to stay?

You see, the thing about the Galaxy S22+ is that with just the first touch, you already know you’re in contact with something that you should hold onto for dear life. I can’t tell you how many oohs and aahs I got after letting other people hold it in their hands. It just has that effect.

Additionally, the phone is a smooth amalgamation of many other standout phones. It has the breathtaking display of Samsung phones, an overall footprint that feels like an iPhone 12/13 Pro Max, cameras that rival those that partner with notable camera brands, and much, much more. All of that comes in this package that looks and feels well-built on a phone that is easily an all-rounder performer. 

Truly, I never want to let it go. And that’s not something I always say about smartphones. So here’s to hoping that this high praise leads to the Galaxy S22+ staying with me more than a little while longer. 

The Samsung Galaxy S22+ 5G is still available today in Samsung stores near you, via online at Samsung.com, or at your preferred telecommunication service provider. Pricing information on our key markets are linked in the following: USA | Singapore | Philippines

I know it’s been a while since its release. Despite all the hype long gone, it’s still a phone you won’t regret buying.

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Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Review

Charming, action side-scroller

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Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Back in March, I wrote about my brief experience with Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. Now having played the rest of the game, I can safely say that you get more of the same. It is a fun and charming side-scrolling action RPG. 

A prequel game

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a prequel game to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. More specifically, the events in Rising take place about a hundred years ahead of the events of Hundred Heroes. The games are also linked to the PlayStation Classic Suikoden.  

Don’t fret, though, as the game won’t leave you wanting. It is very much a complete experience clocking in at around 20 hours of gameplay, give or take. 

It’s primarily set in the mining town of New Neveah. That premise plays a big part in how the game plays out. The mining areas contribute to the development of the town, which in turn help you improve and level up along the way. It’s a well thought-out gameplay loop in a very fantasy-esque JRPG setting. 

Mining, town-building

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

New Neveah being a mining town plays right into the whole gameplay mechanic. At the onset of the game, the player takes the reins as one of the main characters, CJ. She finds the town in shambles, trying to rebuild. As if that isn’t hard enough, the town also has to deal with monsters and bandits while also managing the slew of treasure hunters and adventurers looking for riches in their mines. 

CJ is there in search of the biggest rune lens she can find as sort of a rite of passage in their clan. Rune lenses are multipurpose magical artifacts. She meets the town’s acting mayor, Isha and agrees to take on odd jobs around the town for a license to do treasure hunting. 

Eventually, she is joined first by the Kangaroo beastman adventurer named Garoo. Later on, Isha joins their party as they not only hunt for Rune Lenses but also try to look for and find out what really happened from Isha’s father – the town’s mayor. 

Town shops as skill tree

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Areas open up one at a time and the odd jobs lead to the reconstruction of many of the town’s stores and shops. These play a key role in leveling up your party. 

Instead of a skill tree, you run errands for the shopkeepers that help them build and expand the stores. These quests yield Baqua, the game’s currency, EXP, and sometimes even key items. 

The shops are key to getting permanent stat buffs. The Smithery will improve the stats of your weapons. The Weapons Shop unlocks attacks for each character. The Armory outfits characters that enable more platforming and traversal moves and so on. 

This extends to accessories and other items too. Improving the Potion shop unlocks higher level healing potions and other accessories increase in levels. There’s also a dedicated street for Rune Lens/Magic things. You can expand your Stowpack and Resource Bag to carry more items. You can also improve the Rune Lenses you can equip. This imbues elemental magic to your attacks. 

Snappy, 2.5D combat

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Combat is fairly easy to pick up. Each character is assigned a single button to attack. Pressing the attack button multiple times unlocks combos. There’s also a Synced Attack that deals heavy damage. You execute this by perfectly timing a strike from one character to another. You start of with just two but it also increases in number which is plenty helpful for bosses later in the game. 

As mentioned earlier, you can imbue attacks with magic through Rune Lenses. Anyone experienced in RPGs should be familiar with how the elements work. Water beats Fire, Fire bears Wind, Wind beats Earth, and Earth beats Water (I’m gonna need to double check this but for now this is pretty much how it works). 

There’s a good number of enemy types. You have ground bound ones, flying types, mages, weapon wielding monsters, bandits, and more. 

Each area will have a different elemental variant of these monsters so it’s important to take note which elements you have equipped for more effective strikes. 

Easy to digest lore

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

The beginning of every game can get pretty overwhelming especially when it comes to its story and lore. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is certainly not immune to this. However, it gets significantly easier to digest the more you go through the story. Especially with how the game is designed to keep you coming back to the town, you develop a sort of kinship with them making the entire journey even more worthwhile. 

For experienced JRPG players, there’s nothing here that will surprise you. That said, it’s still a generally tightly told story with satisfying payoffs. 

Also, I already mentioned this in my preview of the game but I think it merits repeating. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising has the look and charm of 90s JRPGs while trimming the unnecessary stuff and making the experience flow more smoothly. If you’re a gamer parent and want to introduce your child to the wonderful world of gaming, I think this is a great place to start.  

Is this your GameMatch?

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

The gaming community is going through a bit of a lull following massive releases to start the year. Some players are opting to clear their backlogs or hunt trophies. But if you’re still looking out for something new but still want a break from the usual third-person RPG or first-person shooter, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is worth giving a try.

The game is easy to pick-up and play. And it’s an easy recommendation for anyone who wants the look and feel of a classic JRPG but without the high demand for grinding. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is charming, fun, and is a great choice if you want to tide yourself over until the next big AAA title comes around. 

Game is out May 11 and is available on PlayStation 4|5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam, Epic and GOG for US$ 14.99/€ 14.99/ £ 12.99

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