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

Apple Watch Series 7: In-Depth Fitness Review

For fitness buffs and starters alike

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In our previous video, Michael Josh did an unboxing of the new Apple Watch Series 7 in Starlight. He even became NY’s next top model as the Apple Watch can also be your next best fashion piece.

This time around, we go all-out to show you the fitness benefits of using the latest Apple Watch.

While an incremental update and lack of new sensors mean little, the longer battery life, faster charging, and larger display of the Apple Watch Series 7 mean it’s even better than before.

Here’s our in-depth fitness review of the new Apple Watch Series 7.

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Laptops

realme Book review: Done right the first time around

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realme Book

The pandemic has brought about major changes on how we depend on our gadgets. We stay glued to our smartphones for hours to stay connected. Most of us also continue with our work from home setup, causing the demand for laptops to continue to rise and opening the market to new players. 

realme tries to steal the scene as they make their laptop debut with the realme Book, aimed at competing at the midrange level where many brands have already made their mark. 

Let’s check out if the realme Book can be a great contender in the laptop arena. 

Familiar yet better  

realme Book

Having a first look at the realme Book, the similarity of its design is undeniable with the MacBook though I don’t really think it’s a bad thing. Its sleek and stylish minimalist design actually makes me feel like I’m using a premium laptop. 

Compared to its smartphones that have those flashy labels, realme veered away from that with their first laptop as they kept the label subtle and you can barely see the “Dare to Leap” mark on one of its rubber feet. 

Its 14-inch sleek aluminum alloy body with matte finish really feels solid and has little or no flex on its slim chassis.

If you’re someone who likes to work in different corners of your home or at al fresco shops, the realme book can easily fit in your bag with its 14.9mm width and 1.38kg weight. When working on a flat surface, the rubber feet on the back actually help the laptop stay stable. 

In terms of port options, you get one USB-A port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and two Type-C ports, one being a Thunderbolt 4 for the core i5 variant.

realme Book

The USB port was a bit too tight that it required me to exert effort to pull out my USB device. Also, this laptop lacks an SD card slot and HDMI port. It doesn’t bother me that much but it may be a deal-breaker for other users. 

realme Book

Top-Notch Display 

One thing that the realme Book can really boast about is its display. As full HD display is common in laptops from its competition, the realme Book takes it up a notch with its 2K Ultra-HD screen with 2160 x 1440 pixel resolution delivering stellar image quality with sharp detail. 

The realme Book also packs in 100 percent sRGB wide color gamut that enables true-to-life visuals and a peak brightness of 400 nits which maintains high quality image even under direct sunlight. 

What also sets it apart from other laptops is its 3:2 aspect ratio, giving you more vertical room compared to most laptops that are either 16:10 or 16:9. This feature is an advantage when it comes to your productivity especially if you usually work on documents, spreadsheets or social media content for work. 

However, this becomes a disadvantage when you’re watching videos since you’ll have wider black bars at the top and bottom of the screen due to movies and series being usually formatted with 16:9 ratio.  

Another impressive feature of this laptop is that realme was able to fit its web camera on its narrow bezels, unlike Huawei that had to sacrifice a good camera angle with their Matebook’s hidden camera placed on its keyboard. 

realme Book

Comfortable for work 

Speaking of the keyboard, typing on the realme Book is satisfying thanks to its 1.3mm key travel and the sound of its clicks is just right for my preference.

The keyboard also comes with a 3-mode backlit option which you can activate and adjust by pressing the F7 key. This is convenient especially when you have to work or use the laptop for a while during the night. It is also interesting since this is a feature that you barely get to experience on laptops at this price. 

realme Book

Compared to other laptops, the trackpad on the realme Book is pretty huge but doesn’t get in the way of typing. It is also very responsive to the touch and works precisely with all gestures and clicks. 

realme Book

And similar to the Huawei Matebook devices, it also has a fingerprint-sensor embedded power button to boot it up which is actually a handy feature to have in a laptop. 

Power Performance 

As for breezing through tasks, the realme Book is highly capable to give you the best experience being powered by the 11th Gen Intel Core processor. Paired with this is the Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 8GB DDR4 memory and 512GB PCIe SSD storage. 

Aside from writing and creating social media content, I sometimes do photo and basic video editing for my side hustles. With the power combo under this laptop’s hood, it didn’t come as a surprise that the realme Book actually handled my tasks smoothly. 

Even with games such as Valorant, I was able to play it at 2K resolution at high settings and it didn’t feel laggy at all. Of course, if you’d want a faster frame rate, you can always lower down your settings to improve your gaming experience. 

realme Book

I also noticed that while playing games, the laptop didn’t feel heated up at all. I checked via HWMOnitor and its temperature was just hovering a little over 60 degrees. This is actually cool for its slim body. I guess we can attribute this to its efficient cooling system with dual 8mm heat pipes and high speed, high airflow fans.

Quick juice up 

When working, I usually take short breaks in between major tasks to refresh my mind. So it’s actually enough for me that the realme Book’s 54 Wh battery can support up to 9 hours of work and leisure, keeping me powered and connected.

And once the battery already ran out, the 65W fast charger got me to a 50 percent charge in just 30 minutes so I was able to conveniently continue with whatever I’m doing.

It’s also a plus that the charger of the realme Book is small and just slightly heavier than a smartphone charger so it’s an easy carry in the bag. It also has the same USB-C cable used to charge our smartphones so you won’t have to carry another charger for your smartphone when traveling. 

Immersive speakers  

For a laptop this slim, I was quite surprised that the sound coming from its down-firing Harman speakers is considerably loud and well defined. 

When I tried listening to my playlists, I did notice that while it did not have as much bass as I would have preferred, it does sound fuller compared to others. When it comes to binging series and playing games, the speakers did a great job of simulating space that sounds pleasant and immersive. I guess I can say, it does sound better than many of the laptops I’ve tried.

Is the realme Book your GadgetMatch? 

As a new player in the laptop market, the realme Book makes a pretty great attempt at laptops and definitely challenges competing and more established brands. 

Sure this laptop may not be perfect but realme has brought their expertise in creating attractive smartphones to this laptop that definitely looks premium for its price. Also with its 2K Ultra-HD display, sleek and sturdy aluminum build, premium design, powerful performance and immersive audio, this laptop is definitely a solid deal for its price. 

The realme Book is available in Real Grey and Real Blue colors and retails at PhP 37,990 for the i3 variant and PhP 47,990 for the i5 variant.

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Reviews

vivo X70 review: Sexy, camera beast

It has the makings of a high-end smartphone!

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Over the years, vivo set out to take its brand to greater heights. Like OPPO, the Chinese company aims to be in the same league as Huawei — rivaling Samsung and worthy enough to take on Apple.

We thought it would be the NEX series that will elevate vivo’s standing, but the line didn’t fly. Instead, we get the X series which seems to refresh every six months or so.

Early this year, we got a hold on the vivo X60 series, which we’ve praised tremendously as the camera smartphone to beat. With the X70 series, vivo really took it up a notch.

In our vivo X70 Pro+ review, the Android flagship rivals Samsung’s best. So, can the base vivo X70 deliver on what its series promises — a premium flagship with cameras to beat?

Unboxing

The vivo X70 comes in a sleek, black box with its letters carved in a shiny silver colorway.

Details are on point with the way the box is crafted. It really excites you to see what’s in store for you.

Of course, the phone is wrapped in plastic — which will be the main point later.

Underneath is a set of accessories essential for your smartphone experience: warranty card, SIM ejector tool, USB-C cable, a 44W FlashCharge power brick, a clear case, a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle, and wired earphones.

Bringing sexy black

Seeing the vivo X70 for the first time charmed me. The Cosmic Black variant gave a sexy appeal, dressed in a black finish that’s soft but not slippery.

When hit by the sun, or any light, it explodes with shimmery glitter. I like how Vivo has taken what could otherwise be a black phone and not make it boring.

It has fine details, too. On its top, you can find a text written as “professional photography” that shines depending on the light.

Found on its right side are the power button and volume rockers.

The bottom side houses the sim tray, a USB-C port, and speaker grilles. There’s no headphone jack, which is why vivo included a dongle in the box.

It’s a bit sad, but you can only use two NanoSIM cards on its SIM card tray.

A sexier camera module

The vivo X70 series deviates from the familiar form of its predecessor, both for the X70 and X70 Pro. The X70 Pro+ has a larger camera bump added with curves around the module to soften the offensiveness of the large bump.

And it has a mirror-like piece called Ceramic Window, which doesn’t serve any practical purpose but it’s a nice design touch that helps balance the big bump.

Meanwhile, the X70 and X70 Pro doesn’t have the Ceramic Window. Instead, both phones have a slimmer, rectangular camera module that blends more with the design. Camera lenses are arranged vertically, and the LED flash is situated in the middle part.

Story-ready cameras

Onto most people’s favorite part: camera performance!

The vivo X70 has a triple rear camera setup: a 40-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel telephoto, and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens. It doesn’t have the beastly lenses its siblings sport, but it doesn’t mean the vivo X70 can’t pack a punch in the camera department.

Regular, wide-angle, and 2x zoom

On a cloudy day, the power of Zeiss T* coating began to shine through. There were no exploding highlights whether you take a regular snap, a zoomed-in shot, or even if you use its wide-angle lens.

What I like about the vivo X70 is that the Zeiss T* coating isn’t its only strong suit. In whatever mode and lighting conditions, the vivo X70 showed its prowess.

Here’s a regular photo of a Salted Caramel Latte from Elephant Grounds Manila. Notice how the background took on a creamy blur, or bokeh since that’s a term most people are familiar with. I didn’t even use Portrait Mode to create the background blur.

The output reminded me of high-end phones that I’ve played around with over the past two years. This is some next-level sh*t from vivo!

Indoors, the X70 captures enough details and depicts an incandescent tone due to the lighting condition. However, the camera struggles in balancing the temperature as seen on the cool-hued highlights and warm shadows.

It’s definitely a rocker when it comes to photos taken with a lot of natural light. Some shots I’ve taken with the vivo X70 had a moment in my Instagram Stories.

With balanced colors and vibrant processing, I didn’t think of editing and plastering some filters like I would with my usual content.

The power of Zeiss T* coating can also be seen during dusk and lowlight. The neon and night lights looked crisper and sharper, removing unnecessary flares from blown highlights.

Great companion for food trips

In case you didn’t know the trick, I use 2x zoom to capture my food shots — be it a flat lay or a zoomed-in crop of the food I’m delighting on.

The X70 comes with AI processing that identifies food easily, resulting in a shot with popping colors. Although, even without the AI processing, the X70 captures vibrant photos of food whatever the lighting condition is.

See those strawberry doughnuts that were taken inside my bedroom in the middle of the night. The photo is kinda noisy, but they’re still vibrant and crispy.

Stronger, cleaner bokeh

Time and time again, we’ve preached on shying away from Portrait Mode since smartphone makers haven’t perfected the feature. And we looked like cutouts from a magazine whenever we use Portrait Mode.

But vivo has made significant progress in that area. Look at my dog’s photo and notice how it created that soft blur on its edges as if it was taken by a mirrorless camera.

Left: Selfie taken using default mode | Right: Selfie using Portrait Mode f/1.0

I’ve tried the Portrait Mode while taking a selfie and set the aperture to f/1.0 to create that strong background blur. And hopefully, add depth to an otherwise flat photo. If you’re unfamiliar with photography terminologies, the aperture is listed as bokeh on the camera interface.

The cutout looks awesome for the upper half, especially in my hair. It’s clean and precise — vivo certainly has come so far. However, it didn’t blur the railings of my chair and everything else on the bottom half.

This is precisely why I personally don’t like Portrait Mode. It looks unrealistic from a photographer’s perspective. And it still needs to be perfected. Moreover, strong blurs are often used on product shots and zoomed-in crops, not when you’re a little bit far from the camera.

Beautified, anytime of the day

Regardless of the lighting condition, the vivo X70 takes selfies that make you feel good about yourself. I have complained about unnecessary beautification even in regular shots taken using the vivo X50, but the selfie I took for the X70 is surprisingly better.

It retained the details — scars, pimple marks, wrinkles, and the texture of my face — but still made it soft and appealing. There’s still a pad of beautification, but it’s barely noticeable. The selfies are reminiscent of photos I took using Xiaomi’s high-end smartphones. Which, for me, is still the selfie king of smartphone brands.

The beauty mode, on the other hand, still gives an unreal output. But the effect gives you more flexibility and freedom to alter what’s only necessary, and hopefully tone it down. Do note that beauty mode is only accessible when you use Portrait Mode.

In my case, I put the aperture back to f/16 to remove the unnecessary background blur. And so we can focus on how the beauty mode lit my face as if it was glowing. Eyes are also sparkly, and my skin looked more alive. Except, it’s still far from reality.

I got good use of the beauty mode when I worked out at night. I wanted to take a selfie but I look so worn out. Using the beauty mode and a bit of background blur put more attention to my face — which has been looking lively and fresh even with all the sweat.

The only caveat is that I look like a Ken Doll (yes, Barbie Doll’s boyfriend) due to excessive smoothening. Even if I toned down the smoothening, the effect has been more visible due to direct light hitting my skin.

Nonetheless, vivo’s cameras for both front and rear are amazingly good. I actually took some photos that I uploaded to my Instagram feed — and I only upload photos from smartphones that I really like.

This photo is an example of a post-processed photo taken using the vivo X70. And yes, it’s up on my Instagram for anyone to enjoy.

Eye-candy display

Moving to its front, the vivo X70 sports a 6.56-inch AMOLED display. It didn’t have a curved screen like the vivo X70 Pro+ but the vanilla X70 still looked like a beaut.

Colors pop like any other AMOLED display, but are more evident in the wallpaper I illustrated back in 2020. Anyhoo, the vivo X70 offered a multimedia experience that lets you want to skip work. It didn’t have a stereo speaker, but the loudspeaker made up for it especially when you’re watching your favorite shows on Netflix.

It’s also perfect for gaming, allowing you to play titles that you enjoy even when they’re graphics-intensive. But for the record, MOBAs do well when playing on this phone such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Pokémon Unite. The X70 is lightweight so you don’t have to worry about straining your fingers from long gameplays.

Moreover, it doesn’t heat up easily nor lags on whatever you’re doing with the phone. Performance is buttery-smooth and seamless, especially when you use its 120Hz refresh rate. Oh, scrolling and multitasking are so good. Thanks to its MediaTek Dimensity 1200 processor, 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and 128GB of UFS 3.1 internal storage.

FunTouch is now really fun to use

The vivo X70 runs Android 11 out of the box, with a skin on top called FunTouch. Apart from the Quick Settings Panel which kind of looks clunky, for the most part, it looks just like the Pixel launcher.

Google News Feed when you swipe to the right, and an App Drawer when you swipe up. It comes with a few nifty customizations. Quick Action, for example, lets you assign a shortcut to the volume down button. When you press it for two seconds, you can launch the camera or the flashlight.

Further, I think they have the best implementation of split-screen on Android. With one app open, you just need to swipe up with three fingers. The other half shows you the app drawer from which you can launch a second app.

Lovin’ that fast charge

The vivo X70 has a 4400mAh battery capacity, capable of 44W fast charging. The phone lasted me a day of social media use, horoscope browsing, and taking photos and videos for my Instagram. When my phone’s battery dropped to 14 percent, I charged it using its cable and 44W FlashCharge power brick.

Starting at 14 percent, the battery juiced up to 51 percent in just 20 minutes. Then, it filled up to 70 percent after 21 minutes. It moved to 86 percent after nine minutes, and after seven minutes, the phone’s battery level is now at 94 percent. After six more minutes, the phone successfully reached 100 percent.

Surprisingly, the vivo X70 filled its tank for nearly an hour.

Built-in apps are holding it back from being premium

With everything that we’ve tackled, the vivo X70 seems like a premium phone already. In some way, it already is. But I still don’t feel it. The problem here lies in the bloatware, especially with the unit I had here in the Philippines.

Notifications from multiple pre-installed apps pop up even during the first time I booted the phone. Most of it comes from its pre-installed Browser and the V-Appstore that comes with silent notifications. This can be really annoying if you’re the finicky type and wants your notifications cleared as much as possible.

I don’t really have a problem with notifications. Even high-end smartphones from Samsung and Huawei have those annoying ones. And you can even turn it off accordingly on the settings.

The problem is the content — a lot of which isn’t something that interests me. Most updates sliding in my notification bar are news picked up by the pre-installed Browser.

For example, stories about the break-up of local celebrities Aljur Abrenica and Kylie Padilla, as well as the new affair of Abrenica with AJ Raval. There are also stories about the dramas of Julia Barretto — none of which are stories that entice the market that vivo is trying to appeal to.

I understand that these are from partnerships that vivo has. Infinix, Tecno, and other budget smartphones have this. My business degree understands that these are revenue-driving initiatives. But it doesn’t really help with vivo’s goals to be in the same league as Samsung and Huawei.

OPPO doesn’t even have annoying content in its pricier smartphones, which is why I fell in love quickly with the Find X3 Pro. That’s one reason why OPPO was able to step into the premium category, and here’s to hoping vivo can follow its footsteps.

In the end, holding the vivo X70 with those notifications on felt like I was holding and looking at a budget smartphone like the Infinix Note 10 Pro. I’m certain that’s not what vivo is going for.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The vivo X70 is surely an excellent phone. If you want to soak up the goodness of the Zeiss partnership and the pride brought by the X70 Pro+ as a competitive Android flagship that can rival even Samsung’s best, then by all means go ahead.

Consider the vivo X70 your GadgetMatch. It’s basically a stripped-down X70 Pro+ without all the bells and whistles. A vanilla variant that you can still call a sexy beast.

Its got killer cameras, buttery-smooth performance, and a convenient user experience that lets you live the most out of a tech-oriented lifestyle. It may have its shortcomings, particularly in stuff that holds its back from being a premium phone, but there’s always a workaround.

As an Android fan, I’m certain you can tinker around with the settings on the vivo X70 — and you can customize it the way you want it to look and feel.

The vivo X70 retails for PhP 34,999. It’s available in all vivo concept stores or kiosks nationwide.

SEE ALSO: Galaxy S21 Ultra vs vivo X70 Pro+: Camera shootout | vivo X70 Pro review: Galaxy S21 Ultra Slayer?

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