Reviews

Samsung Galaxy S20 review: 3 months later

Is it still “the one” to buy?

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I’ve used a Huawei flagship for four long years, and I’m now looking to upgrade my current daily driver — the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Admittedly, Huawei’s lack of Google Mobile Services made me look elsewhere. I can’t survive without Google, unlike others. Hence, I was elated to try the Samsung Galaxy S20.

Three months in and I find myself wondering, is it still “the one” to buy when there are so many options to choose from? And is it anyone’s GadgetMatch? Let’s find out in this review, or rather, my experience with it as my daily driver for three months. But first, let’s have a refresher on its looks!

Wonderstruck

When I first saw the Galaxy S20 series, I was enchanted by its charming colors: Cloud Pink, Cloud Blue, and Cosmic Gray. I was  pining for Cloud Blue but I got Cloud Pink instead. But who am I to complain? I’m still trying out the smartphone I fell in love with at first sight.

Samsung maintained its design language albeit it’s subtly refined in the S20. For starters, the corners are more rounded compared to the S10. It was comfortable and I found myself glued to my phone, unable to let it go.

On the right side, buttons are now simplified. Now, there’s only two — one for the power button and one for the volume rockers. There’s also a subtle accent wrapping the buttons, exuding a sleek look.

The top side contains the SIM card slot and an inconspicuous earpiece, keeping it clean and smooth.

Meanwhile, the bottom features the speaker grilles, a USB-C port, and another earpiece. Overall, Samsung’s refined design for the S20 made it look and feel posh. The subtlety in its design is effing attractive.

You’re so gorgeous

The S20 has an alluring display, better than my previous handset. Coming from a 6.39-inch OLED screen, it was a treat to use the S20’s 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x screen.

Its curved display is still here, but it’s hardly curved anymore. Samsung offered a middle ground for those who like and dislike curved screens, so everyone can enjoy this beaut. Although, a punch-hole in the middle of the screen might be distracting to some.

Honestly, Samsung’s punch-hole struck a balance though it still grabs attention over a light interface, like Facebook. If some of your preferred apps support Android 10’s dark mode or have their in-app dark mode setting, utilize it. Your eyes will thank you later!

I’m captivated by you like a fireworks show

It’s important to invest in a smartphone with an astounding display; something that captivates us and makes us want to look at it all the time. After all, we spend most of our time looking at screens.

The S20’s screen has HDR10+ support, perfect for your entertainment needs. It’s marvelous, impressively vivid, and cinematic — what else can you ask for?

Moreover, the S20’s screen supports 240Hz touch-sensing rate. You can choose between two refresh rates for your screen: 90Hz using HD+ resolution, and 120Hz using FHD+ resolution.

Frankly, I didn’t care about refresh rates. What’s the fuss when you’re not a gamer, right? But experiencing it first-hand, I finally understood why people are obsessed with it.

I have only used the phone as a companion to my life’s shenanigans. Despite not being able to use 120Hz on games that would take advantage of it (if there’s any), I was still spoiled.

Browsing, scrolling, and navigating apps on my phone is such a pleasure. Once you go 120Hz, there’s just no turning back.

I see sparks fly whenever you smile

In lieu of hideous camera placements being used nowadays, Samsung is using a bigger, rectangular module that’s already sported by some of its smartphones.

There’s a reason why Samsung uses a bigger bump: to house larger sensors. By now, I’m certain you know the S20 uses a triple-camera setup on its rear. There’s a 12-megapixel main camera, a 64-megapixel telephoto lens capable of up to 3x hybrid optical zoom, and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens.

But let’s forget the numbers and see how it actually fares. There’s a saying that “results speak louder than its numbers.” I think I coined that.

I mostly judge a camera’s ability to produce mouth-watering photos sans using built-in filters. Laudably, the S20 produced vibrant and well-balanced food photos in different lighting conditions. You can post-process the photos to accentuate its details and colors.

Besides, it works wonders when taking photos of my friends. Whether it’s backlit or indoor shots, you can expect the S20 to deliver terrific photos apt for the ‘gram.

The S20 works as a travel companion, too. I’ve used its 3x zoom and wide-angle mode, capturing different moods and perspectives for travel photos.

Speaking of wide-angle, I love this feature more than the zoom. It’s best used during your travels to showcase a place’s charm.

Selfies are an absolute bomb despite sporting a mere 10-megapixel front camera. Even in low-light conditions, the front camera produced vibrant photos albeit it’s still far from being praise-worthy.

We were in screaming color

My friends and I struggled using the front camera in low light conditions, so we opted to use the rear camera and a timer. Still, the S20 produced well-lit, striking, and detailed photos, even though we didn’t use Night Mode.

If you’re a Night Mode fan, take advantage of the wide-angle feature to add perspective to your shots. Additionally, the S20 provides stabilization to aid you while using Night Mode. You don’t have to hold your breath now when taking handheld photos.

At utmost darkness, the S20 still captured a well-lit scene using Night Mode. For zoomers, you can utilize its 30x zoom, although you might not like the results compared to when you use a Huawei P40 Pro.

Like a rainbow with all of the colors

The S20 is capable of recording 8K videos and 4K resolution on both its front and rear cameras. However, I only used 1080p to document a weekend getaway. After all, who needs 4K or 8K right now?

Furthermore, I edited this one-minute video using cut-to-cut clips I’ve taken through Adobe Premiere Rush for Samsung, an app exclusively found on the Galaxy Store.

It’s a cruel summer with you

My experience with the S20 resembled my erratic relationship with the last person I dated. Sometimes I adore it, sometimes I’m confuzzled.

Par exemple, apps like Twitter suddenly stop refreshing, requiring a reboot. The phone also heats up quickly. A lot of S20 users in online communities are also complaining about how you can fry an egg using the phone’s intensive heat.

The heat is most felt when you’re doing memory-consuming tasks like video editing. If Samsung didn’t opt for the Exynos 990 chipset for its global units, I’m certain people wouldn’t struggle with heating issues.

This wasn’t something I experienced when I used the Galaxy A71 which sported Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset. Back then, the midranger ran Black Desert Mobile — a highly graphics-intensive game — without hiccups.

Samsung placing an Exynos chipset for its global units while using Snapdragon for US variants feels like Samsung only cares about the US market.

I love you and that’s all I really know

But those are the only flaws I encountered. For the most part, navigating the S20 is splendid and buttery smooth. It’s the reason why I stuck with it. After all, it still gave me reasons to love it.

And like a bloody martyr in love, I chose to gloss its shortcomings since I’m head over heels with the experience. First, it has a smooth and seamless navigation. There’s also an apps edge feature allowing quick access to my favorite apps. The 120Hz refresh rate helps against exhausting my eyes when scrolling, too.

The S20 runs One UI 2.0 based on Android 10. It’s cleaner and contains less bloatware. It’s also equipped with 8GB of RAM and 128GB built-in storage, offering the right amount of speed you’d expect from a flagship smartphone.

There are Samsung staples that I relish, too. For instance, Samsung Members offer great deals from spas, resorts, cafes, and even restaurants.

Lastly, there’s an AR Emoji, which made me fond of creating avatars. I find it’s an ideal response whenever I don’t have a precise GIF to articulate my emotions during a conversation.

A nightmare dressed like a daydream

I can’t refute how the heating issue is a dealbreaker for a lot of people. When push comes to shove, consistent heating can potentially damage the battery.

The S20 sports a 4,000mAh battery, expected to last for a day for power users. During my stint, the S20 lasted up to ten hours from the full battery down to fifteen percent. It’s somewhat momentary, but the S20 kept up with my nonstop usage for eight hours.

Samsung has a dreadful case when it comes to battery life, which is why you need little tricks to improve it. However, it’s the high refresh rate that took the most toll on my handset’s battery life.

While I’m genuinely happy to have the S20 accompany me throughout the day, the battery started deteriorating three months later. It dips for two to three percent in just an hour despite being on standby and only keeping the WiFi on.

Thankfully, it charges fairly quickly over Power Delivery 3.0 using a 25W adapter and a nice, thick USB Type-C to Type-C cable. You just need to charge it for at least an hour and a few minutes.

One second it was perfect, now you’re halfway out the door

Wistfully, the S20 doesn’t have a headphone jack but you can use any Type-C cable, in case you’re still using wired earphones. If you already went wireless, it’s common knowledge that Samsung has its own line of wireless earbuds.

Pairing the Galaxy Buds with the S20 is effortless, and the sound quality is clear and loud. The connection is consistent, too. It’s not flaky, unlike the person I last dated. Having a consistent connection is important for me, especially when working (or dating).

It’s agonizing when the music suddenly stops because of poor connection with the handset (as I’ve experienced using the Mate 20 Pro). Even in relationships, you’d hate it when the guy suddenly ghosts you, right?

If you want to live your life out loud, the S20 is equipped with a stereo speaker setup tuned by AKG. It’s loud enough to fill the bathroom with your favorite tunes.

I found myself using just the S20 instead of bringing my House of Marley speakers during late night showers. Oh, it has an IP68 rating, too. You don’t have to worry about your phone getting wet!

You and I will be safe and sound

It’s always nice to feel secure — whether it’s on your device, your home, or your relationships. For a flagship smartphone, expectations should be high when it comes to security and peace of mind.

First, the S20 had an IP rating, ensuring protection against the elements. Accidents do happen, mostly during night outs where you spill your drink over your phone.

Next, it has three types of device protection: in-display fingerprint scanner, the usual password-protection, and facial recognition. All forms of protection work fast, requiring minimal effort to access your phone. If you have trouble reading your fingerprint scanner, you might need to read this little trick.

Apart from physical security, I care about my online security now more than ever. While I’ve been privy of ways on how to keep my accounts secure, I still rely on my handset to keep me safe and secure. Thankfully, Samsung cares about security as much as I do. It even has its own security platform and solutions!

For starters, you can utilize Samsung Pass much like Google Passwords to keep your accounts safe and remember your login info again for easier access next time around. Then, there’s Samsung Knox — which I only learned from a data and security conference held in 2019. I even talked about how Knox is the one thing that keeps Samsung apart from other brands in an exclusive interview.

In a nutshell, Knox is a fail-safe to protect your data. Learning about it made me appreciate the thought Samsung puts in its smartphones. It’s always the little things that make us fall in love with a brand even more. How can you not love something (or someone) that made you feel safe and sound?

Can you be my, my, my lover?

This is where the “Is it your GadgetMatch?” part comes in. The Samsung Galaxy S20 is still one of the best flagships you can get in 2020, hands down. It’s the perfect paradigm of a smartphone; everything just works with little effort on your part.

Priced at PhP 49,990, it’s ideal for those who want to upgrade from their Galaxy S8 or S9. It’s also suitable for those who want to jump from midrange to the flagship category, especially if you have the money to burn.

For former Huawei users who are looking for a flagship alternative that has Google (aka me), it’s an excellent choice.

If you prefer a bigger handset, there’s the S20+. Then, there’s the S20+ Ultra, in case you need a monster phone. If you still don’t know which Galaxy S20 is your GadgetMatch, you can read our brief comparison.

Alternatively, those who aren’t loyal to Samsung might find the OnePlus 8 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro as viable options. Both phones offer the same flagship experience and prowess, but at a much affordable price.

You can purchase the Samsung Galaxy S20 at Samsung’s online store and its authorized retailers like Abenson and MemoXpress. It’s available in Cosmic Black and Cosmic Gray.

SEE ALSO: Which Samsung Galaxy S20 is your GadgetMatch?

Reviews

ASUS Zenfone 8 Review: Tiny but Mighty

The compact flagship

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Zenfone 8

In a sea full of big smartphones, ASUS made a detour with the Zenfone 8 by making it smaller than its previous Zenfone 7 predecessor.

Packed with flagship specs such as Snapdragon 888, 16GB of RAM and a 120Hz display, it’s simply their best and most compact phone to date.

But how did ASUS managed to fit in all these powerful internals in such a compact body? Watch our full review video of the ASUS Zenfone 8 to know more.

SEE ALSO: Zenfone 8 Flip Unboxing and First Impressions

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Gaming

The realme 8 dares to be more

You’re in for a treat

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realme 8

realme has been bringing in the big guns with their smartphone releases. But, it doesn’t come unwarranted when they’ve been stacking good specs instead of just gaming features. They get it: you want to do more than just play games with their phone line-up. Which is why, they released the realme 8 series.

The realme 8 is pretty much the little bro of the realme 8 Pro. It’s got most of the bells and whistles without the big bro powers. So, how does the realme still stack up to be the best all-around smartphone out there for you?

realme 8

Stunning looks that might fool you

The realme 8 has a 6.5-inch AMOLED display with 180Hz Touch Sampling rate. If touch sampling rate isn’t a metric you’re familiar with, it’s your display’s responsiveness to touch. Refresh rate is a whole different metric; it measures how well your display renders frames per second. Both are tangent features of the display. So, they’re different but, equally as important for gaming on your phone.

If you like strutting in style with your phone, the realme 8 teeters into keeping it flashy yet low-key. The phone features a reflective panel with “DARE TO LEAP” across its logo corner. Plus, realme sticks to classy colors with either Cyber Silver or Cyber Black available for the realme 8.

realme 8

The feelsgoodman specs

Let’s cut to the chase. The realme 8 is a great phone. The phone is decked out with an MTK Helio G95 octa-core processor, which pretty much grants the phone its unapologetic great performance. Whether I was browsing social media, binge-watching videos, or playing games, this phone didn’t stutter once.

realme 8

The phone delivers on buttery-smooth graphics. And, games like League of Legends: Wild Rift, Mobile Legend: Bang Bang, PUBG Mobile, and Sky run smoothly on the realme 8. But, are we really meant to be surprised by that? With the phone’s 8G RAM and 128G internal storage, lags just don’t exist in the same sentence. On top of all that, it manages to stay lightweight. The realme 8 weighs only 177g which is pretty impressive with all the features it packs.

realme 8

Battery can take a beating

Yes, it’s almost criminal. The realme 8 comes with a 30W Dart Charge brick. Which ideally charges the phone up to 50 percent within a matter of 26 minutes. I know what you’re thinking. This sounds too good to be true. Well, unlike the stacked disappointments of the past year, the realme 8 pulls through. It went from zero to 20 percent within 10 minutes which is pretty quick.

realme 8

With a 5,000mAh battery inside, the realme 8 can survive well over a day. It came in handy when I’d accidentally left it out uncharged overnight and still used it the next day. But, I’m guessing it would have been a whole different story had I thrown it into ungodly playing and binge-watching hours.

After a full day of gameplay, binge-watching, podcasts, music, and social media shenanigans, the phone gets close to 15 percent at the end of the day. This is impressive with most phones tossed my way with charging alerts by the tail end of my day.

So, if you’re like me, this phone is pretty reliable. It can take a beating and then some. And, when it does need charging, it won’t take long before you get enough juice in to use it again. It’s good to note that it also supports 15W PD charge, lending versatility on its side.

realme 8

Not just a gaming phone

The realme 8 is decked out with all the features you want from a gaming phone but rounds it all out with amazing smartphone features. So, calling this a gaming phone doesn’t feel fair considering it does well even outside the gaming-perfect specs.

One feature that often gets left out with your typical gaming-centric phone, would be the camera. As for this phone, it’s got an AI Quad camera setup. It’s got a 64MP wide-angle lens, an 8MP ultra-wide lens, a 2MP macro lens, and a second 2MP depth sensor. On the front, the realme 8 has a 16MP shooter with panorama capabilities.

Panorama on the realme 8

Low lighting is just the bane of every mobile phone photography’s existence. If lighting isn’t on your side, most phones will struggle. The realme 8 is sadly not an exception. But, when the sun’s on your side, the photos are pretty good.

The macro looks decent. Just make sure you flood the room with good lighting!

 

The night mode is good too! Stable hands for this mode is key.

The bokeh mode and wide shots on the phone are detailed. Recording videos doesn’t skimp on the 4k experience which is good too. Overall, the phone delivers on all fronts including its camera features. But if you’re looking for big bro camera stats, you should check out the realme 8 Pro.

realme 8

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The realme 8 ticks all the boxes of a quality smartphone. Its got great performance across the board takes really great pictures, has a smooth and responsive display, and lasts for quite some time. And, even if you run out of battery life, its Dart Charge won’t have you away for long.

Overall, this smartphone offers a daring deal. It gives you everything you need and want–and then some more. And, with its PhP 13,990 price tag, it’s the smartphone to beat. Better yet, you can avail of the PhP 1,000 worth of discount on the realme 8 during the flash sale on Lazada starting May 12!

Buy from Lazada

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Laptops

Huawei MateBook D 15 2021: An all around solid choice

It’s no ‘beast’ because iit’s not trying to be

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Being a dominant player in the smartphone scene, I’ve always been curious about how Huawei’s laptops perform.

Having forged their name onto the spectrum of smartphone enthusiasts with their premium Mate series, we know that Huawei has the ability to craft the same caliber for their laptops.

Carrying the Mate branding with its name, let’s take a look if the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen also has the right to be called premium and carry on this reputation.

Performance you didn’t see coming 

The MateBook D 15 2021 is running on the 11th generation of Intel’s Core i5 processor, the 1135G7. Paired with this is the Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and 512GB of SSD internal storage.

On paper, the specs of the 2021 D 15 isn’t really something many of us would consider sensational, but surely this would be more than enough for online classes or even light to heavy work.

I tend to do a lot of photo editing on Adobe Lightroom so I could say that my power requirements do demand a bit of muscle power. The 11th gen Core i5 on the D 15 is able to handle this quite smoothly even with some headroom for web browsing and other multitasking tasks thanks to the considerable amount of RAM.

As you power on the device, you’d immediately notice the swift performance of the D 15.

A surprising contributor to this is its Smart Fingerprint power button which has been carried over from the previous generations of MateBooks.

Automatically tagging your biometrics upon pressing the power button, this move eliminates the need to input your login details which drastically decreases the boot time. I understand this may vary from other users but having recorded the BIOS time at only 2.5 seconds, this has been the fastest boot up time I’ve ever encountered on a laptop.

Classic never goes out of style 

“It looks like a MacBook” was the first comment I’ve heard from the people I was with as soon as I took out the D 15 from the box. Yes, you’ll definitely see the resemblance with Apple’s MacBook line but that’s not to say that it’s a bad thing especially if there are things that Huawei has improved on. Thankfully, this is exactly the case with the MateBook D 15’s body.

The MateBook D 15 2021 has smoother and rounded edges compared to that of a MacBook Pro which makes it more comfortable for your wrists to rest on while still bringing with it that sleek and professional look that we’ve grown to love.

For a 15-inch body, you’d notice that this MateBook is incredibly thin and light weighing in only at 1.56kg and just 16.9mm thin. An easy carry to coffee shops or even just transferring from room to room at home.

Kind of a nitpick on my part though but one comment I do have with this build was it had a very slight body flex on the right hand portion of the palm rest. I don’t know if this was an issue on the particular unit I’m using but whenever my hand lands on that part, it does feel like it sinks down a tiny bit.

More screen for work and play 

Mentioning the size earlier, the MateBook D 15 2021 has a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display panel. A bit bizarre though, is that at only 250 nits this display felt a lot brighter. I mostly stay just around two or three notches above the lowest brightness setting to keep it at comfortable reading levels.

I wasn’t very concerned with eye strain however, as this display has been certified under TÜV Rheinland’s reduced blue light and Flicker-free qualifications.

With super-narrow 5.3mm bezels and a rating of 100% on its sRGB color gamut, this display is just a tempting movie companion. The large size, almost bezel-less screen and accurate color reproduction truly makes video consumption an immersive experience.

No cramps for your fingers here 

Looking at the D 15, you’d notice immediately that the keyboard is decently sized and its spacing is quite substantial. Key travel on this however, wasn’t very long. While I personally would prefer keyboards with longer key travel over one with a bigger size, the key travel on the D 15 was where it somewhat fell short for me. That being said, I do think this is a matter of personal preference so this isn’t really something that would ruin the MateBook experience. 

You’ll also notice that for a 15.6-inch device, this doesn’t have a number pad on the side of the keyboard which I think contributes to how Huawei managed to extend the spacing of its keys and incorporate a decently sized trackpad below.

Speaking of the trackpad, I really appreciate its size as it’s able to accommodate my multi-finger gestures with precision and with only very minimal input errors.

Still placed between the F6 and F7 keys on the top is the iconic recessed 720p camera that the MateBook line pioneered.

 Power overwhelming

I personally see the battery and charging features of the D 15 to be its main strength. It took me a good 9 hours and 30 minutes running off of its 42Wh battery before it shifted to power saving mode. Meaning, this laptop can easily run you for more than 10 hours under controlled conditions and once you’re able to plug it in an outlet, its fast charger would only take you about an hour to charge it back up.

The 65w charger is quite comparable to a size of a smartphone charger that would barely add weight to your everyday carry. The charger also uses a detachable USB-C to USB-C cable. This makes it easy to replace if ever it gets worn out.

Also, this same cable can be used to charge our smartphones either from the charger or from the laptop as the 2021 D 15 also has support for reverse charging.

Next level of connectivity

A neat addition also on the MateBook D 15 is the inclusion of the new Wi-Fi 6 technology. This gives the D 15 the ability to connect to more frequency ranges for a cleaner and less interrupted connection. While this does require that we connect to a Wi-Fi 6 capable wireless network to fully take advantage of it, it does give us some sort of complacency with some future proofing. Giving us more reasons to hold on to our device for a few more years from our purchase.

In this category we also have quite a selection of ports with the inclusion of a USB 3.2, HDMI and USB-C port on the left side and two USB 2.0 and a 3.5mm audio port on the right.

Tap and drop files? Yes please!  

A handy feature for people who already belong in Huawei’s ecosystem is the Huawei Share with Multi-screen collaboration.

This feature enables Huawei smartphones to connect and share files, apps and even your phone screen with the D 15 by just tapping it on the dedicated Huawei Share portion of the laptop.

Gimmicky as it may sound at first, I have to say, it really does work. And if transferring files from other devices is something you do often, this might be a feature that you could maximize.

Is the HUAWEI MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen your GadgetMatch?

The MateBook D 15 2021 isn’t what we may call a “beast” of a device as it really isn’t trying to be one. This is mainly designed with professionals in mind or simply people who’re looking for convenience, comfort and just an overall pleasant user experience and it does that very well.

A decent performer, sleek looker, ultraportable 15.6-inch device with a lot of nifty features with the Huawei ecosystem, Wi-Fi 6 and its smart fingerprint power button, the MateBook D 15 2021 is what we could really call a versatile machine.

But here is where it gets a little bit tricky. The MateBook D 15 2021 with the older Intel 10th Gen processor is also currently an available option from Huawei. A less powerful alternative but one that could set you back a few pesos which also gets you most of what the 11th Gen version offers.

If you’re willing to spend a little more for better performance though, the D 15 11th Gen is no doubt a solid choice.

The Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen with 16GB RAM is available in Mystic Silver for PhP 59,999.

Buy from Lazada

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