Reviews

Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro Review: Looks good, feels good

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The Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro is the newest release from the brand’s Galaxy J line. Following the release of the widely popular Galaxy J7 Prime, this Pro has pretty big shoes to fill. 

Let’s get to it — here’s what I thought of the Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro.

Scratching the surface

Looks matter. Smartphones basically become an extension of your hand (I mean really, count the hours you have that phone on you and you’ll get my point) and if I’m going to spend that much time with a gadget, it may as well be with a handsome device. The Galaxy J7 Pro is exactly that.

The full metal body on the 5.5-inch screen looks and feels good on your hands. It has a nice weight to it that makes it feel premium despite its lowered price.

Button and port placements are still similar to the Galaxy J7 Prime: micro-USB and headphone jack at the bottom, volume buttons on the upper-left side, plus speakers and the lock/unlock button on the upper right. The fingerprint scanner-equipped physical home button is on the bottom chin, in between two capacitive buttons (back and recent apps).

The real star of this phone is its display. Its screen looks like a million bucks — okay, not a million but it does look really good (and I stress the “really”). The J7 Pro has an AMOLED screen, something only premium high-end phones are usually equipped with. Because of this, the Galaxy J7 is one of the first entry-level phones to have an Always On display — a feature I’ve found to be quite useful.

This means time and notifications are displayed on your screen (without being too bright as the AMOLED allows for only portions of the screen to light up) for quick and easy access. I daresay I’m definitely going to miss this feature if I go back to my iPhone.

Picture perfect?

Equipped with two cameras, the J7 Pro takes pretty decent photos. There are 13-megapixel shooters on each side, both equipped with their own flash.

The front-facing camera has Samsung’s own beauty mode built in, and it’s looking quite fine. (Like me! Haha. I kid, but thank you for the flawless selfies, Samsung!)

Low-light photography is a camera’s true test, and for a phone that’s been marketed as “a great night camera,” I expected better results.

Then again, the night-time shots were okay for the phone’s 13-megapixel specs, so I really can’t complain about that either.

It’s what is on the inside that counts

The J7 Pro is powered by a midrange Exynos processor, the same one that powered last year’s J7 Prime. Although this shouldn’t limit the phone’s capabilities for light to medium users, heavy smartphone users (such as myself) may be a little frustrated with app crashes (especially if you tend to leave most, if not all, apps open and running) and screen lags.

The phone has one SIM card slot and runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage expandable up to 256GB. Its battery life is impressive with a capacity of 3600mAh, which lasted me almost 12 hours even on Wi-Fi.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If looks were all that mattered, the J7 Pro would go home with all gold stars from me. However, in smartphones (and in life), that isn’t the case.

As much as I would have loved to see higher specs on this thing, I have to rein myself back in and remember what the Samsung Galaxy J series is about: budget smartphones. For those looking for an expensive-looking phone in that department, this is definitely the one.

This Pro Galaxy is a premium-looking phone with entry-level specs because it is that: an entry-level phone. To expect more from it just because it looks pretty (and looks pretty expensive, which is a good thing) would be unfair to a phone that’s only dressed up to look like a flagship. If anything, how good it looks should definitely just be a plus.

The Galaxy J7 Pro retails for PhP 15,990 in the Philippines. It’s expected to retail for INR 20,900 in India.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime review

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Laptops

RedmiBook 15 review: Focused on Performance

Is it worth your while?

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RedmiBook 15

It is quite noticeable that more and more smartphone brands have been venturing into the laptop scene. This isn’t surprising. Since the pandemic, demand for laptops have seen a large increase for remote work and online classes.

Moving into this direction, it was just a matter of time for brands like Xiaomi’s Redmi to also take this on. Being one of the top brands offering the finest value-for-money smartphones, the question remains. Can they do the same with their laptops?

That’s what we’re finding out in this review of the newest laptop from Redmi — the RedmiBook 15.

Design and Build quality

RedmiBook 15

The design of the RedmiBook 15 is pretty straightforward. You can tell that it gets its inspiration from the unibody design and looks rather basic. That said, it was still given much thought. With just a plain top lid engraved with a subtle Redmi branding, this fashion is surely one that minimalists will appreciate.

There’s no large sticker carrying the specs of the laptop and instead there are only two case badges placed on the palm rest.

Straight away you will feel that the body is indeed plastic with its smooth and flat finish. Fortunately, it’s not one that feels like it would break on you easily as it does seem like it can withstand daily use. 

One handed opening of the top lid does open about 90 percent of the way and with practice, it is possible to get through entirely.

It also has a fairly slim footprint and weighs acceptably light as it even fits my bag which is designed for 14-inch laptops but without much headroom left.

RedmiBook 15

For the ports, we do appreciate that we are getting a lot on this laptop but the selection could have done a bit better. There are three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, RJ45 LAN port, 3.5mm combo audio port and a full size SD card reader. Sadly, there is no USB-C port.

Keyboard and trackpad

RedmiBook 15

The RedmiBook 15 comes equipped with a full sized keyboard that looks a bit ordinary without any sort of backlighting or fancy features. The plastic keycaps feel relatively rough which is similar to what we would feel on other entry level laptops.

Thankfully, key spacing is pretty substantial and each key press feels satisfying. A bit of a surprise on my part but this indeed feels great to type on. I actually did write this review on it and I didn’t run into any issues that I was expecting to experience like hitting the power button accidentally.

People who don’t prefer connecting an external mouse are also likely to enjoy using the trackpad on the RedmiBook 15. The one we have here is huge and it tracks cursor movement nicely. Tap and swipe gestures are also responsive, making navigating the Windows user interface effortless.

Display

RedmiBook 15

A 15.6-inch, Full HD display is what we’ll mostly be looking at on the RedmiBook 15. This display has a matte anti-glare coating and is wrapped around some fairly slim bezels with a 720p web camera on top.

It’s a pretty average display for an entry level laptop. However, colors on this display just leaves much to be desired. Oftentimes it looks washed out and it’s difficult to discern what color you are looking at as it suffers from undesirable viewing angles.

It took me a while to find the sweet spot but I discovered that the best way to view this is to push the display far back between 100 to 110 degree angle. And even that does not make the whole screen perfectly clear. To add, just getting slightly off axis would make it even harder for your eyes to see.

I couldn’t really suggest doing photo editing or color grading on this but web browsing and other non-screen dependent tasks would be okay.

Specs and Performance

RedmiBook 15

The RedmiBook 15 comes in two variants. The one that we have is running on the 11th gen Intel Core i5 11300H processor with 8GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB PCI-E SSD while the base model runs on the Intel Core i3 1115G4 with 8GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB SATA SSD storage

On paper, the Core i5 variant that we have has the upper hand over its competition in this price range. The Core i5 11300H being a high performance processor, this can presumably handle a fair amount of processor intensive software that the average person would use. This means everyday tasks, like Zoom meetings and online classes along with heavy web browsing, wouldn’t be a problem on the RedmiBook 15.

During our test, the performance we experienced was superb and everything was smooth as we had hoped it would be. This also comes preloaded with Windows 11 and I do appreciate that it doesn’t seem to have bloatwares installed.

Despite not having a discrete graphics card, I was still curious on how this laptop would perform running games. And to satisfy my curiosity, l went on to test some. Quite surprisingly, this is able to run Bioshock: Infinite at very high settings at very acceptable frame rates. It may not be a recent title, but keep in mind that this is still a AAA game. Running the game at high settings is still commendable.

It’s also nice to know that running games didn’t raise the temperatures too high as the laptop only managed to reach a peak of 84 degrees celsius in game.

Sound Quality

RedmiBook 15

For the sound, we are getting two 2W down firing speakers below the device that come with DTS tuning. Sound quality wise, I find that these speakers sound tinny especially with music playback but it does sound alright for spoken dialogue.

It’s more on the quieter side of the spectrum but the panning of the sound from left to right when playing games is noticeable.

Battery and Charging

RedmiBook 15

Running on battery, I was able to reach approximately six hours on balanced battery mode. I think this is a pretty okay result for a laptop this size. But we could probably squeeze in around an hour or more if we ran on power saving mode or if we held back on some tasks but that would depend on your use case.

For its charging, the included 65W charger was able to juice up the RedmiBook 15 from 11 percent to 22 percent in 15 minutes. While the whole charging time took two hours and forty six minutes which is also nothing out of the ordinary.

Is the RedmiBook 15 your GadgetMatch?

RedmiBook 15

Despite some of its flaws, I think the RedmiBook 15 gets a lot of things right. The minimalist design plus the large trackpad, good keyboard and the powerful performance are, no doubt, its main selling points.

I can easily see professionals like app developers, writers, teachers and even students really appreciating this. It almost has most of the things it takes to be a powerful and affordable contender for creative work that it’s just unfortunate that it is greatly held back by its display.

At the price it’s going for, there are other options with less powerful hardware that have better displays which I personally would be more inclined to choose.

Then again, if your priorities fit in the categories we mentioned, I think the RedmiBook 15 will still perform well for you.

The RedmiBook 15 is priced at PhP 37,999 for the Intel Core i5 11300H, 8GB, 512GB SSD variant and PhP 26,999 for the Core i3-1115G4, 8GB, 256GB SSD variant.

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Laptops

Apple M2 MacBook Pro review: Affordable, powerful

Looks the same outside, more powerful inside!

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I love talking about new Apple hardware and I’m excited about the arrival of the new MacBook Air. It’s probably the most exciting news to come out of this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

But what some folks might not have known is that another M2-powered Mac was also announced.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro.

A new 13-inch MacBook Pro?!

Because there are many different MacBook Pro models, let’s first take a look at how this new 13-inch MacBook Pro stands in Apple’s current lineup.

Think of this model as the entry-level MacBook Pro. It sits alongside the 14-inch MacBook Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro — which Apple unveiled late last year.

The 13-inch and 14-inch models are of a roughly similar size, but the 14-inch has a larger screen thanks to thinner bezels.

In some ways, the 13-inch model is like the iPhone SE is to the Mac. It sports an older design but comes with new insides and a lower price.

There are plenty of differences between both models, which we’ll also discuss, but TL;DR, the reason Apple is keeping this model around is choice.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1299. Meanwhile, the 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1999, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2499. So, if you want to go pro and don’t want to break the bank, this here is your much more affordable option.

Unboxing

Alright, we might have gotten ahead of ourselves there. Let’s do a quick unboxing before we move on to our review.

Our MacBook Pro shipped in this brown box. But obviously, if you pick one up from the store it might not have this outside layer.

You know the drill by now, just look for the arrow, and rip to break the seal.

Inside here is the actual 13-inch MacBook Pro box.

Up front, there’s a white box with a photo of the laptop.

Tug here to break the seal…

And from here we can now lift up this lid.

Inside is the new 13-inch MacBook Pro wrapped in environment-friendly paper instead of plastic.

Also in the box are a USB-C to USB-C cable.

There’s a packet with some paperwork.

And two space gray stickers.

And underneath, a 67W adapter.

Still the same on the outside

Last year when Apple unveiled the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, they came with a major redesign. Chamfered edges were traded in for softer, rounded ones. Four feet lifted the laptop up from surfaces and provided more airflow for cooling.

Inside, the keyboard was black on black with full-sized function keys and the display got slimmer bezels. More real estate. And a notch.

Now unlike those models though, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro sports the same design as its predecessor from 2020. What does this mean?

Well, to start, the chassis is pretty much similar to unibody MacBook Pros from the last five years or so.

The keyboard looks like this.

There’s still a Touch Bar up top instead of physical function keys.

There’s no notch but it’s got thicker bezels.

Having used the new 14-inch MacBook Pro for more than half a year, I don’t wanna go back. But that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with this older design. It’s truly a work of art and one that has stood the test of time, and it’s still a stunner.

I actually like this keyboard better — particularly being able to see the aluminum frame in between the individual keys.

Also, if you’re a fan of the Touch Bar this is the last remaining Mac that has one. Like all MacBook Pros, it’s available only in either Space Grey or Silver.

A more powerful Mac inside

While its outsides look the same, on the inside, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is more powerful than ever. The transition from Intel to Apple Silicon was a huge jump for the Mac in terms of performance.

Apple’s M1 chip was and is groundbreaking. Without getting too technical, picture this: My first M1 machine was an entry-level MacBook Air. A thousand-dollar machine that ran circles around my US$6000 top spec Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The new MacBook Pro runs the even newer M2 chip, which offers even more power and better efficiency. The M2 can handle even heavier workloads much better. It also now supports up to 24GB of Unified Memory, with 8GB being the starting configuration.

Apple is promising nearly 40% faster video editing performance as compared to the M1 MacBook Pro. But of course, you’re most likely not upgrading from an M1 MacBook Pro to an M2 MacBook Pro. And in that case, Apple says to expect a 6x performance boost.

To showcase that, we exported a 10-minute, 4K, GadgetMatch video on a 2019 Intel-based 13-inch MacBook Pro and the new 2022 model.

A 10-minute and 12-second video with a 45.65GB file size gave different results. For instance, the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro exported the video for only 3 minutes and 23 seconds. Meanwhile, the 13-inch 8th-generation Intel Core i5 MacBook Pro took 13 minutes and 16 seconds.

Clearly, from these results, you can see how much of a performance improvement the M2 chip delivers. But perhaps even more impressive is how much more power-efficient Apple Silicon is.

Apple is promising about 20 hours of battery life and in our tests, we were getting close to that.

While usage may vary depending on what you’re doing, what’s more important to note is that even if you’re working on something more resource-intensive — the laptop requires less power to complete those tasks.

So, your laptop lasts longer even if you’re pushing the system a bit harder. Compare that to a 12-core PC laptop and you’re getting about 75% less power consumption.

A simple way to illustrate this is by taking a look at the bundled power adapter of the 13-inch MacBook Air.

This 67W power brick is all that’s needed for the Mac to run at full performance.

Meanwhile here’s the massive 180W power brick that comes with the new Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo that runs off the latest Intel i9 chip.

The size of the bricks illustrates how much more power is needed by a Windows machine and how much more power is consumed when you’re on battery.

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 13 2022

Since both the 2022 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro have M2 chips, which one should you get?

Let’s take a look at what differentiates the two: The M2 MacBook Air starts at US$ 1199, and the M2 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at US$ 1299.

Specs-wise they are nearly identical — apart from a larger battery on the Pro which Apple says delivers two hours more battery life. What sets the MacBook pro apart and gives it a performance edge are its built-in fans.

The MacBook Air doesn’t have fans. Frankly, fans come in handy for sustained workloads. What does this mean? Well, if you’re exporting a video and it’s taking a long time, say 30 minutes, the presence of fans will mean that once your laptop starts to get warm because the workload is pushing your computer to its limits, fans can kick in to keep things cool.

It allows the laptop to perform at max capacity for longer. That in its essence is the case for the MacBook Pro.

Apple MacBook Air M2

That said, the MacBook Air also has its pros. The most obvious is portability. Its updated design makes it feel more current. It has a bigger, better screen with more colors, higher max brightness, curved corners, slimmer bezels, and a 1080p FaceTime camera.

Apple MacBook Air M2

The new MacBook Air also now has MagSafe which offers fast charging as well as safety. For instance, if someone trips on your chord it won’t take the Mac down with it.

It also frees up that second USB-C port. Sans MagSafe, when the 13-inch MacBook Pro is plugged in, it effectively only has one free USB-C port. All for US$ 100 less.

Is the 13-inch MacBook Pro your GadgetMatch?

If you’re the kind of user who needs a Pro Model but doesn’t want to spend a lot of money then this is the device for you. Also, if you’ve been holding off from upgrading to Apple Silicon and wanted to wait for Gen 2, now is the time.

With an educational discount, you can get a new M2-powered Pro for US$ 1199. That said, I am of the belief that the upcoming M2-powered MacBook Air is a better value.

Apple MacBook Air M2

It is the Mac that most people should buy, even if, caveat, I have not reviewed one yet. So, maybe, you should wait for its release later next month.

Pro users needing more power need not worry. The M1 Pro and M1 Max-powered 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros from last year are still more powerful computers. Get them if you need even more performance power, more USB-C ports, and more connectivity options overall.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro will be available in stores starting June 24th.

Here is its official pricing:

  • USD 1299
  • EUR 1599/1629*
  • GBP 1349
  • SGD 1879
  • PHP 74,990
  • RUP 129,900

*countries that belong to the European Union (EU) have varying prices from region to region.

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Reviews

Apple M2 MacBook Pro Unboxing and Review

More Important Than You Think!

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During WWDC 2022, Apple announced the newest 2022 M2 MacBook Air with a major redesign — making it the instant star of the show.

But for others, the M2 MacBook Pro is what they’re aiming for.

It might still be the same with its classic aluminum unibody design, 13.3″ Retina Display, and a Touch Bar from 2016 — but inside it’s even more powerful.

Also equipped with the new generation of Apple’s Silicon Chip dubbed ‘M2’, it surely knows how to make professionals drool.

But is it worth the money? Or should you just get the M2 MacBook Air instead?

Or what about getting the more expensive 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro chip?

Watch our unboxing and full review on the M2 MacBook Pro now to find out more!

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