Reviews

Samsung Galaxy S9 Review: Brilliant but underwhelming

Brilliant but underwhelming

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For any creator serious about his craft, the end goal is the same — to create the best version of a product possible. You achieve this through innovation and experimentation, in rinse and repeat cycles until something great is created.

But then what happens next?

It’s a predicament shared by many of the best technology brands in the biz, and one that Samsung finds itself in this year. Its new Galaxy S9 smartphone, while better on the inside, is the same on the outside. And while that is only part of the story told, it is the narrative by which many a reviewer will tell the story of Samsung’s new flagship.    

Depending on who’s looking, the Galaxy S9’s recycled design can be seen any of two ways: either that it lacks the freshness that phones are so often measured by each year, or that Samsung has achieved the pinnacle of smartphone design and that the best way forward is to keep things as is.

The Galaxy S9 shimmers in Lilac Purple / Photo by Michael Josh

I agree more with the latter, at least when it comes to looks. Two years in and the S9 is still the most beautiful smartphone on the planet. Its curved Infinity Display and all-glass build are hard to match. And now with colors ranging from coral blue to lilac purple, it’s hard not to fall in love with one at first sight.      

But are looks enough? Does the Samsung Galaxy S9 have enough new features to back up its good looks? Is it the best Android smartphone ever made? And should you go out and buy it?  

But first, more answers to your most important S9-related questions.

Is dual aperture a gimmick?

Samsung claims it’s reimagined the smartphone camera on the S9. While that might be more marketing than fact, it’s dual aperture camera is an unprecedented engineering feat.

No Android smartphone thus far has had the ability to change the aperture on a single lens. On the S9, you can switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4. But why would you want that?

The Galaxy S9 has a unique variable aperture camera

A large aperture gives your photos that creamy background blur when shooting up close, but more importantly helps you take brighter, better photos in low light.

The S9’s f/1.5 is the highest aperture we’ve seen on a smartphone and significantly improves night shots. In fact photos we took at night using the S9 looked brighter than what the scene actually looked like in real life.

Why then would you need to switch to f/2.4?

The higher aperture, the bigger the depth of field. Sometimes details get too soft especially around subjects and sometimes you just want more details in focus; that’s where the smaller f/2.4 comes in.

The Galaxy S9 picks the best aperture depending on how much available light / Photo by Michael Josh

To be honest, the average user should not have to worry about any of this, and Samsung doesn’t think so either, so it’s making these adjustments in the background. With the goal being, you getting better photos regardless of the shooting situation.

For more advanced users wanting more control, there is Pro Mode that lets you manually switch between the two among a host of other camera settings.

Does the Galaxy S9 take better photos versus X?

DxOMark, an independent body that rates cameras, recently gave the S9+ its highest overall score and highest photo score. While the results of its test are debatable, it’s oftentimes a good benchmark to see how a smartphone fares in the camera space.

We will need more time to conduct an in-depth head-to-head test of our own, but based on some preliminary comparison photos versus the Pixel 2 and against the iPhone X shot during the day, deciding on which smartphone takes the best photos will boil down to a matter of taste or how technically meticulous you are.      

It’s in low light, however, that the Galaxy S9 shines, it is hands down the best low-light camera smartphone you can buy today.

Should I get the S9+ for the second camera?

The S9 comes in two sizes: 5.8 and 6.2 inches — the S9 and S9+ respectively.

If you get the bigger S9+, you not only get more memory (6GB vs 4GB), a bigger battery (3500mAh vs 3000mAh), and a larger screen. You also get two rear cameras.

The Galaxy S9+ has two rear cameras / Photo by Chay Lazaro

This second camera is a 2x zoom lens, a great thing to have if you like getting in closer on subjects without sacrificing the quality of your photos.

The second camera also enables a feature called Live Focus which we’ve also seen on the Note 8 and the A8 (2018) series. It’s a must-have feature on any top-of-the-line smartphone, giving your portraits a nice blurred background. Unique to Samsung’s implementation is the ability to adjust the amount of blur while taking the photo and after, and if you decide you like the non-portrait, wide-angle version better, the S9 also keeps a copy for you.   

These two features justify the US$ 120 premium of the S9+. If you’re torn between the two, it is the model I recommend.

Selective Focus on the S9 isn’t very reliable

It’s worth pointing out that on the S9, you can still blur out backgrounds using a software feature called Selective Focus, but it’s just not as good at cutting out subjects from their background.

Art Bokeh on the Galaxy S9+ / Photo by Joshua Vergara

Speaking of, if you’re really serious about background blur, Samsung added a new feature on the S9+ called Art Bokeh. If the conditions are right, when you go in and adjust Background Blur on a Live Focus image, you’ll get a bunch of shape options to choose from. You can get bokeh in the shape of stars or hearts as shown in the image above.

Super slow-mo 960fps, so what?

To better appreciate the next two features, you have to understand Samsung’s target demographic, a generation of creators who have an affinity for sharing and expression.   

If you like creating shareable videos, GIFs, and Boomerangs, you might like Samsung new super slow-mo feature. On the S9, you are able to slow down time more than ever before on a Galaxy smartphone.

To capture the best super slow-mos, you need plenty of light. The sample below was shot inside a controlled environment with plenty of available light.


The Sony Xperia XZ Premium was the first to get this feature, one whole year ago. Slow-mos shot on both phones are rather similar in terms of quality, with the S9’s slow-mos a tad bit warmer.  

On the S9 though, it’s easier to operate. Auto Mode detects motion and starts capturing once it senses movement. This way you get the shot each time.

But Auto Mode works best when you can control what you’re shooting. Out in the real world, you’re best using manual capture; you’ll need plenty of practice to get your timing right.

Finally, when you shoot super slow-mo video, the S9 adds background music automatically so you can instantly share your creations to Facebook or Instagram. You can go in and edit the track or just remove it entirely.

Not Animojis

When the iPhone X launched last year, one of its more quirky features was Animojis, basically the ability to animate nine popular emoji using the phone’s face tracking features.

The iPhone X has True Depth sensors that can match muscle movements on your face so your Animoji basically does as you do. Samsung hoped to do one better on the S9 with a similar feature called AR Emoji. Unfortunately, we didn’t enjoy it as much.

While we like the ability to personalize and create characters after our own likeness, we feel more often than not, AR Emoji characters don’t look like the selfies they are based on.

But more bothersome is the fact that AR Emoji don’t track as well. They especially struggle when trying to match speech. So nope, AR Emoji Karaoke is out of the question.  

Send animated stickers featuring your own emoji

We do like the personalized animated stickers, though. They are cool, and we like how you can use them across any or all of your favorite chat apps. They are accessible by pressing the sticker icon on your default Samsung keyboard, and are also saved as GIFs in your Gallery app.

Stereo speakers

Audio has just gotten better on the S9.

If you’re like me and watch a lot of videos or play games without headphones, you’ll like the new stereo speaker setup on the S9. Sound comes out of the earpiece up front, and the speaker grilles on the phone’s bottom. The sound is louder and more pronounced.  

The S9 also now supports Dolby Atmos, so you get surround sound-like audio when listening to content that supports it. Last year, Netflix announced support for Atmos with titles like Okja and Snowpiercer, but it doesn’t quite seem to work on the S9 yet.

Hello Bixby

Like Apple and Google, Samsung has its own personal assistant, Bixby.

And to show you its committed to Bixby, the S9 retains the S8’s dedicated Bixby button. If it’s not your cup of tea, you can deactivate the button completely, but you cannot remap it as a shortcut to other apps or commands. That would have been a killer feature.

Samsung promises Bixby 2.0 will come next August or September when it unveils the Note 9. For now, it remains underdeveloped.

Bixby Vision can estimate how many calories are in the meal you’re about to have

Sure, Bixby can do new things, like live translation when ordering food overseas. And when your meal arrives, you can also have Bixby give you an estimate of how many calories you’re about to consume. Cool tricks, but they do not replace a good old personal assistant.

In the interim, I suggest you use Google Assistant; it’s accessible via the usual voice command, “Okay Google.”

Improved biometrics

One way to recognize the S9 from an S8 is to turn the phone around and look at the position of its fingerprint sensor. Proving that it listens to user feedback, Samsung has graciously located it to underneath the camera instead of beside it.

It’s in a much better place, but unfortunately it’s still too close to the camera, and part of one single unit, instead of being separate. In my week or so of use, I’ve often brushed my S9 camera’s lens while trying to unlock my phone.  

Intelligent Scan on the Galaxy S9 combines facial recognition and iris scanning / Photo by Michael Josh

It’s kinda a big deal for me as the fingerprint sensor is still my default way of unlocking the phone. It’s just quicker, snappier, and more reliable even if Samsung has beefed up its “Intelligent Scan” by integrating its facial recognition and iris scanner.

Price jump

A smartphone’s price tag is as important as any new feature. And when it comes to determining the S9’s value, it’s important to take a look at how much the S9 costs around the globe.

Prices of the S9 went up everywhere except the US / Photo by Michael Josh

Here’s the thing: In the US, the S9 and S9+ cost as much as the S8 and the S8+ when they launched. But across the globe, prices increased by 5 to 15 percent.

Do all these features justify the price increase? No.

But having said that, when compared to the iPhone X, the S9+ is still more affordable, so there’s that. Depending on where you are in the world, the S9 and S9+ might not be the best value for money phone. But they are at least pretty competitive in the upper end of the price spectrum.

Is the Galaxy S9 your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for the best Android smartphones available today, the S9 and S9+ are a match. The S9+ especially is one the best Android phones in the market today.

Both models are deserving of the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval.

The Galaxy S9 is a pleasure to use / Photo by Michael Josh

Apart from an excellent camera and great looks, you’ll like the S9’s creator-focused features, loud stereo speakers, water resistance, and headphone jack. On the flip side, Bixby is still not ready, AR Emoji is unpolished, and battery life could be better.

The S9 and S9+ are not intended for S8 and S8+ users. If you own an S8, skip this upgrade and wait for next year.

Although, S7 and S7 Edge users might want to strongly consider this upgrade, especially if their contract is up for renewal. US carriers in particular are offering plenty of perks for those pre-ordering the phone.

For the more price conscious though, also consider not-so-premium phones from brands that may not sound as sexy as Samsung or Apple but offer all of these high-end specs at a lower, more reachable price point.

Following years of iteration, Samsung finally nailed it / Photo by Michael Josh

Following many years of iterating, Samsung seems to have nailed it. While in some ways the S9 is almost predictable, its purely iterative step-up also speaks to Samsung’s ability to make great phones. As a fan of innovation though, I want to see more, an under display fingerprint sensor maybe, better battery tech, and ways to leverage artificial intelligence to make their phones better. AI is the future, and it would be interesting to see glimpses of how Samsung plans to ensure their smartphone remains at the center of this computing revolution.

Reviews

adidas SL20 review: Feel like running as fast as The Flash

adidas’ best running shoe so far!

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About a month ago Adidas released a new running shoe called the Adidas SL20 — this shoe was part of the recent Adidas “Faster Than” campaign where they talked about how being “fast” is not something that’s only reserved for elite runners, and that speed isn’t always just about distance and time.

Instead, Adidas emphasises that “fast” is more of a personal feeling, which everyone can experience, even if you don’t think of yourself as a “fast” runner. They backed this up with a series of videos from all types of people, who run just because they enjoy it.

I have been really intrigued about this shoe because I saw a bunch of people post about it in the Adidas Runners Kuala Lumpur group. As you might already know Adidas has their own Runners group in major cities around the world and they can be super useful to keep you motivated — like right now in Malaysia we’re under a lockdown because of the current pandemic.

All runs are on pause but the Adidas Runners KL group has been posting live workout at home sessions which is pretty good and definitely motivates you to stay in shape and workout even from home.

Starting with a bit of a history lesson, the SL20 is a spiritual successor to the ol’ Adidas SL72 that dropped way back in 1972. This was a shoe that was designed to be used in the German Olympics at the time, and was worn by a bunch of athletes back then.

SL stands for “Super Light” and it lives up to its name. With the SL20, Adidas designed a lightweight running shoe that is meant to cater to all types of runners, and all speeds, made just for anyone who wants to feel fast. It weighs just about 238 grams, making it one of the lightest running shoes around. Though it is slightly heavier than the Adios 5.

You realize this from the second you slip these on. The SL20 is a shoe that just makes you feel fast, and you really feel like running when you’re wearing them which is a really good thing for a running shoe.

This is my first pair of really lightweight running shoes. If you’ve never worn a pair of lightweight running shoes before, this will feel like a whole new dimension. That being said, I should mention that these are meant more for short, fast runs rather than long-distance ones.

Design and Construction

When you first pick up the SL20 it’s very clear that the choice of materials was meant to make sure the shoe is as light as possible. There’s a new Light Strike midsole which is much lighter than Boost. But it also has the torsion system, a heel counter, and Continental just like what you’d find on the much more expensive Adidas Ultraboost, which is sweet.

You can see we got the awesome Black-White-and-Orange colorway which is the main marketing colorway for the SL20.

The shoe also comes in a cool black-white-and-gold colorway, along with a more formal all-black colorway as well in case you want something a little more low-key.

Starting with the upper, the SL20 is made of an engineered mesh material which feels extremely thin and a major contributor to the whole lightweight nature of this shoe.

The material seems tough enough but as with any shoe with a thin, breathable upper you’ll want to make sure you wear thicker socks or keep a close watch on your toenails, so you don’t end up accidentally poking through it.

Similarly, the tongue also has no padding, being just a thin piece of lightweight fabric. The laces are also pretty soft and there are two extra eyelets up top in case you want an even more snug fit.

One small detail that I really liked was the SL20 branding on the lace tips that is color matched to the three stripes on the shoe.

I also noticed that the lacing is also slightly asymmetrical with a bias towards the medial side which helps with that lockdown feeling, and medial support.

Moving on to the heel area, the SL20 has an integrated heel counter which means that unlike the external heel counter which you’d see on the Ultraboost 20, this one is all internal. The heel counter is made of a hard material which allows you to easily slip your foot into the shoe, but also does a great job at locking your heel into place.

Coming to the midsole, as mentioned earlier, it’s made out of a new material called “Lightstrike ” which is significantly lighter than Boost, which most of y’all have probably heard about. But I’ll talk about the midsole later on.

Underneath that, you have the Continental stretchweb outsole with the red torsion propulsion system integrated into the sole. This gives the shoe more structure and control.

Then there’s the heel, which is more stiff and supportive but I’ll talk about the entire midsole and outsole later on. And for those of you who aren’t as familiar with Adidas sneakers, yes it’s that Continental, the tire maker.

All in all it’s a great looking shoe, with a lot of visual attention to detail in its design.

Quite snug, go up at least half a size

In terms of fit,  the SL20 is supposed to fit true-to-size but it’s a bit of a narrow shoe with a rigid toe-box. Since I have wide feet, Adidas sent me a size up which fits pretty well. I’d definitely advise trying these on in a store if you could, because the engineered mesh upper here is not a very stretchable fabric.

So if you have wide feet like I do, you might want to go up half a size or even up a full size. In case you were wondering, the heel-to-toe drop here is the usual 10mm with a stack height of 29/19.

The light in Lightstrike is truly light

Coming to performance, as I have mentioned — the SL20 feels incredibly light, and you feel it immediately as you start running with them. The engineered mesh upper is weirdly lightweight as if it’s not even there, and the new Lightstrike foam has a good amount of energy return as well.

The Lightstrike foam itself is pretty interesting. It was originally designed for use in basketball shoes, with the thought being that the foam would have enough cushioning, lightweight, but still be very responsive with some court-feel especially with the kind of lateral movement you see in basketball.

It was first introduced in 2018 in the signature sneakers of former NBA MVP James Harden, before also moving on to the Adizero series of running shoes.

With this purpose in mind, Lightstrike is slightly harder than Boost cushioning, sacrificing some of that soft comfort for better energy return instead. This cushioning, along with the lightweight upper, is the reason why you want to go faster in these shoes.

I found myself running slightly faster with these on, and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it was just a psychological feeling of wearing such lightweight shoes, or maybe it’s the overall package of the SL20.

The Torsion system allows for a nice, springy toe-off, and also helps with the energy transition from heel to toe, allowing your foot to go back into its normal state during each strike, and the heel counter keeps your feet firmly locked in.

The slightly harder midsole does mean these are best suited for short distance runs. You could still wear them for long distance or marathon running, but the Lightstrike foam midsole is not as soft a cushion as one would like for a long distance running shoe.

For sprints and everyday jogs, the SL20 is freaking fantastic. But for long distance runs, you might want to check out the Ultraboost 20 or even the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 22 instead.

These shoes really are a lot of fun to run in because they’re just so darn lightweight, with great energy return, that push-off sensation really is amazing so maybe some of y’all might actually like them for long distance runs as well.

Coming to the SL20 outsole, it’s worth noting that you can also feel any stones or pebbles under your foot with these so they really aren’t meant for off-road or cross country runs either — just a road or street runner.

The Continental stretchweb outsole is a great addition, just like what we’ve experienced on Ultraboost for a while now. These are some of the grippiest rubber outsoles around and this means running on even wet roads is not an issue.

I wouldn’t recommend testing these out on icy streets. I’m always paranoid about falling where ice is involved because I’ve only lived in tropical weather countries, but apart from that, the outsole has no issues gripping and keeping traction even on the rainiest of days.

Overall the Adidas SL20 falls more in the stable end of the spectrum, compared to many other lightweight running shoes. While I still think of it as a neutral running shoe, it has a pretty reasonable amount of stability.

Is this your SneakerMatch?

The Adidas SL20 is just a fantastic running shoe designed for runners who want to run fast. It doesn’t matter what your definition of fast is, because this pair will honestly just make you feel fast when you’re running with them.

If you’re looking for a pair of lightweight running shoes, this is pretty much one of the best options out there right now.

The only real alternative comes from Adidas itself — the Adidas Adizero Boston 8 and the Adidas Adizero Adios 5 — both of which look very similar now to the SL20.

All three belong to the lightweight running shoe category, and they weigh almost the same but the primary difference is their uppers and midsoles, and how they feel when running. Both the Boston and Adios have slightly more premium upper construction, and both have Boost in the midsole, which also means they cost a lot more than the SL20.

The Adios feels more like a racing shoe and offers the least in terms of comfort, whereas the Boston is more of an all-round running shoe. It’s firmer and harder than the SL20 but also softer and more comfortable than the Adios.

Out of all three, I think the SL20 is the most comfortable, though of course not as comfortable as the heavier SolarBoost or Ultraboost sneakers.

Bif you’re looking for a lightweight running shoe to get you started with running or just to be your first lightweight running shoe, I think the SL20 is for you. Even if you are a trained runner who wants a secondary pair of “fast” shoes — these are definitely for you.

The Adidas SL20 is just for anyone who wants to feel fast, without shifting too far away from a comfortable daily running shoe, but still wanting a pair of lightweight running shoes.

Definitely recommended.

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Find X2 Pro review: OPPO’s finest

It deserves your attention

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OPPO has been dominating the budget and midrange space in Asia for many years now, but in the eyes of the rest of the world, the brand is a newcomer. The Chinese company, however, has a track record of innovation, years of R&D, countless experiments awaiting recognition.

Taking center stage is a smartphone that’s so good and so refined, that it can seriously compete with the best 2020 has to offer. The Find X2 Pro is the culmination of everything OPPO has been working on for as long as we can remember.

Luxurious finish

First things first, we need to talk about design. I mean, how can you not? With its bright orange faux leather finish and gold accents, it reminds me of those classic Hermes boxes.

People who prefer subdued colors might like the black ceramic option better, but I love how bold and different this orange finish is.

Just please don’t put the bundled jelly case on, the Find X2 Pro deserves better. Even the midrange OPPO Reno 2 came bundled with a faux leather case. Not only did it protect the phone, it also made it feel more sturdy and premium.

The OPPO Reno 2 came with a faux leather case

Speaking of the Reno series, I miss its original symmetrical design. When the first Reno phones came out, I praised OPPO for finally having found a design language they can call their own. It was refreshing to see after several years of seeing iPhone clones from the company.

While the Find X2 doesn’t look like an iPhone anymore, the design still feels a bit unoriginal. It reminds me of Huawei’s P series that also came in leather finishes.

It also doesn’t have that same wow factor the original Find X had when it came out. That phone had a beautiful curved edge-to-edge display and hidden cameras that popped up when prompted. Having said that, while that phone was stunning I remember thinking that it also felt fragile and gimmicky — like an unfinished product.

The Find X2 Pro is the complete opposite. So while its looks can easily get lost in a sea of Android phones, it’s built great. and feels solid. And its size? Its size is just right.

It feels great in the hands as it’s not hefty like the previous Reno models. It’s something you will enjoy holding and using on a daily basis.

That said, I’d take something solid and refined over being blinded by a wow factor that easily fades away.

Oh and before I forget, the Find X2 Pro is finally water and dust resistant — rated IP68. You still shouldn’t submerge it in liquid especially with the faux leather finish, but in case it happens you’ll know your phone has that extra layer of protection.

Top of the line display and performance

The smartphone display is the one object we look at and interact with the most. That’s why it was important for OPPO to put its best display ever on the Find X2 series.

Watching Our Planet on Netflix almost feels too real especially with HDR video enhancement. Colors pop and — more importantly — are accurate.

Outdoors the phone can hold its own. Reading pages and articles for extended periods of time is enjoyable even when the sun is out and bright.

Mobile gamers would also enjoy playing their favorites on the Find X2 Pro as it’s powered by Qualcomm’s top of the line processor, the Snapdragon 865. Its display boasts of a 120Hz refresh rate — once a feature only found in gaming smartphones. On top of that is 240Hz sampling rate, which might come in handy when you want the phone to register your taps faster than your opponents.

OPPO is proud of its curved displays similar to what we’ve seen on Samsung phones for many years and more recently on OnePlus devices. While I agree that it’s sexy, I’ve come to prefer flat displays as they are more practical — and everyone on the GadgetMatch team agrees.

Improved user experience

On the Find X2 Pro, OPPO added a new ColorOS feature called Smart Sidebar. By swiping from the edge of the screen, you can access shortcuts so you can launch apps faster.

App icons are also no longer the hodgepodge that they used to be. Overall experience is now more refined, and less iPhone-clone like.

One of the most underrated smartphone features for me is good haptics. OPPO is not highlighting it, and I could understand why, but it’s worth mentioning that the overall experience of using the Find X2 Pro is a lot better because of it.

First class cameras

One department OPPO has spent a lot of time on over the last few years is its camera technology. We were there when OPPO first launched its 5x optical zoom at MWC 2017, and 10x lossless zoom at MWC 2019. And if you ask me, all that hard work has paid off.

This year they partnered with Sony to customize the image sensor on the device. It has 100% focusable pixels — meaning, every pixel on the sensor can be used for autofocus. While not significantly faster than top phones in the market, the speed comes in handy when photographing moving subjects.

The new sensor also improves OPPO’s already impressive low light performance that we’ve seen on the previous Reno models. In scenarios where there’s barely any light source, Ultra Night Mode 3.0 does a great job in exposing subjects, especially when you use its built-in tripod mode.

Here are some shots we took around New York City before the lockdown.

The phone has two other cameras — an ultra wide angle lens and a 6x optical telephoto lens. The ultra wide angle lens produces less distortion as compared to previous OPPO phones that had the same feature, but it’s not as wide as the one found on Samsung’s Galaxy S20+.

Here are some sample photos taken with the ultra wide angle lens of the Find X2 Pro.

The rectangular periscopic camera delivers 10X hybrid zoom. OPPO says the photos it takes is as close to those taken with 6x optical zoom. Here are some sample photos.

Here are some comparison shots versus the Samsung Galaxy S20+. The Find X2 Pro has a shallower depth of field.

The Find X2 Pro does a better job at HDR — exposing more of the shadowy areas. Aside from that, the phones did an excellent job although results vary. Which phone did better would depend on personal preference. You can check out the whole camera shootout here.

For any brand to be taken seriously, it has to have an excellent camera and the Find X2 Pro — just like the Reno phones that came before it — delivers. It even recently topped DxOMark smartphone camera rankings, tying Xiaomi’s Mi 10 Pro.

Selfie game strong

Selfies get a dedicated section in this review. Let’s not forget back in the day, when OPPO was still establishing itself in more markets in Asia, the company dubbed itself the selfie expert.

Its F series were some of the most popular phones because of it. Today, OPPO no longer uses that as a marketing strategy but that doesn’t mean it’s abandoned its selfie game entirely.

On the Find X2 series, the beauty algorithm has been updated to make skin tones more real. When amped up all the way, you can still end up looking like a cringey porcelain doll. With the right settings, it’s able to remove blemishes and add makeup if you want to without completely erasing your pores.

Fastest fast charging technology

Another aspect OPPO has been working on for years is its fast charging technology called VOOC. Its latest iteration is now called SuperVOOC 2.0. It’s the fastest charging technology in the industry to date.

The bundled SuperVOOC 2.0 charger can fully juice up the Find X2 Pro’s 4620 mAh battery in just 38 minutes. The 3-4 sets of circuit training that I do takes longer than that.

If you’re worried that it’s too fast and therefore not safe, the Find X2 Pro actually comes with a customized battery safety monitoring chip. It doesn’t just monitor the battery status during charging, but also tracks whether the battery is damaged over time.

In addition, OPPO’s VOOC technology has always offered five levels of security protection from the power adapter, wire, and in the handset itself. In the years that we’ve been testing OPPO phones, not once have we encountered problems related to charging, so this claim is something we can vouch for.

Is the OPPO Find X2 Pro your GadgetMatch?

Whether the OPPO Find X2 Pro is for you is not an easy question to answer. I’m not gonna mince words — the Find X2 Pro is expensive. In some markets, its starting price is higher than that of the Samsung Galaxy S20+.

Can it command a high price tag? Yes, and no.

The Find X2 Pro delivered in every aspect, especially in those that are most important to us. Just by holding the phone, you can tell that OPPO spent a lot of time refining the product. The Find X2 Pro has one of the best spec sheets found on smartphones this year as well.

With its expensive price tag, what OPPO is saying is that the Find X2 Pro deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as the latest iPhone or Galaxy. But those willing to spend a lot of money for an iPhone or a Galaxy are paying to own an Apple or Samsung phone. That’s a level of brand prestige that OPPO is aiming to one day achieve.

Bluntly put, a better strategy would be to undercut its competitors with slightly lower pricing. This way users have a compelling incentive to try the brand because if you ask me, the Find X2 Pro is a phone that deserves to be in this league.

WATCH: OPPO Find X2 Pro Unboxing and Review

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Which Samsung Galaxy S20 is your GadgetMatch?

Three phones, three Matchketeers

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As you may already know, the Samsung Galaxy S20 series has three phones — the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy S20 Ultra. We were fortunate enough to get a hold of all three, so three different members of our team took one each and here we’ll discuss what liked and didn’t like about these phones.

Hopefully, this can help you decide which of the three to get. That is, perhaps, after we go through this whole COVID-19 pandemic. So while you’re staying home, here’s something to read.

The first obvious difference is size. How did you feel about the one you got? 

Rodneil [Galaxy S20 Ultra]: The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is HUGE. I’m saying this as a fan of the Note series and generally large display smartphones. But this phone just really feels humongous.

For context, I have been using the iPhone 11 Pro for months which might have made the size transition more obvious than it would have been had I been using another Android flagship.

MJ [Galaxy S20]: I loved it. The Galaxy S20 fit perfectly in my tiny hands! This may be bad, but I found myself glued to my smartphone for a few days now, only because my phone’s easier to hold, carry, and use. I’m done with big smartphones!

Vincenz [Galaxy S20+]: As someone who has big hands, I like the form factor of the Galaxy S20+. I tried holding other Galaxy S20 phones but I’m gonna say the Galaxy S20+ is the perfect fit since the Galaxy S20 feels a little bit small and the Galaxy S20 Ultra is thicker, and heavier.

Did it affect your usage? How and why? 

Rodneil: I felt less inclined to take it out to get some quick snaps. It almost feels like carrying a mirrorless camera. Almost. It’s colossal and nearly impossible to use with only just one hand. It almost discourages me to use one of its highlight features which is the camera.

That said, the size and display made it pretty great for media consumption as well as editing a few quick clips. While we’re at it, I’d like to mention how the screen recording then subsequently editing and trimming on an app caused it to significantly heat up. And I didn’t even do much editing. I just trimmed and resized a clip.

The quick overheating might be because of the Exynos processor. I did the same tasks on the OPPO Find X2 Pro and it didn’t heat up as much. But that comparison is a discussion for another day.

MJ: It made me use my phone frequently and made me bring it wherever I go — even in bathroom breaks! I found it easier to navigate the screen, use my phone to take selfies or take snaps of my mundane life so I can share it with my friends.

Vincenz: The only problem that affected my daily usage is the slim profile and slippery glass back. Holding it with one hand feels light but over time, my arms got sore to the point that I’ll just place it on a flat table or on my bed. I don’t want to drop it since it’s fragile (like me when I see my crush).

Let’s jump right into what people care about. The cameras. General thoughts on the images you took? 

Rodneil: It’s pretty much everything we’ve come to know from Samsung. Take a few shots and more often than not, you’ll get an image that you can just immediately post on social media.

I tried Live Focus on good ‘ol Funko MJ and got more than decent results both under good daylight and when the subject is against the light.

Same is true for the wide angle lens. Get plenty of daylight, and you’re bound to get photos ready for your Facebook feed.

MJ: As a person who lives and breathes social media, the images produced by the Galaxy S20 is definitely social media-ready. It’s saturated and lively enough even without its scene optimizer tool.

L-R: 3x Zoom, 1x Auto, 0.5x Wide-angle

Since I post-process my photos, I find myself spending more time editing to lessen the vibrancy of the photos, since the colors pop.

Cameras are bad at night for both the front and rear cameras! Its only saving grace is its night mode and wide-angle. When used properly, you’ll get astounding results. You better learn basic photography before hitting up the cameras!

L-R: Night mode on an ultra-wide-angle mode, Night mode using a 10-sec timer

Vincenz: I’ll be straightforward about this: It doesn’t have the best cameras in a smartphone but it doesn’t mean it’s not good. Sure, the main sensor does most of the trick but problems arise when you compare it with other phones.

I enjoyed taking food shots more with the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro. For night shots, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro has a better algorithm. The ultra-wide lens is the least thing I like in this phone since the colors are desaturated and not as accurate as the main sensor.

I also tried recording videos (even in 8K) but I guess the iPhone 11 series dominates both video quality and OIS (optical image stabilization).

Is the zoom really “all that”? 

Rodneil: I wouldn’t say “all that,” but it can be useful. Although the thing about the 100X zoom on the Galaxy S20 Ultra is, it’s a lot like pushing yourself to the limit — just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Here are samples wide angle, 10X, 30X, and 100X. As you can see, 30X zoom is still pretty darn good. Having the capacity to go to 100X means your 30X zoom should produce pretty darn good results.

Same is true for the 10X zoom. That allowed me to take this kind of shot.

It does struggle when there isn’t enough light and taking handheld 30X zoom photos can be challenging.

MJ: I love this phone to death because of its size, design, and overall usage, but that zoom sucks. I was spending a night at the beach during an almost full moon, and I tried zooming in at 30X but it wasn’t impressive.

L-R: 30x Zoom, 1x Auto, 0.5x Wide-angle

Don’t bother zooming in! Just get a better camera with a professional zoom lens if you want to capture the moon. Otherwise, the zoom feature is best used up to 3X. It’s perfect for capturing portraits at a distance (without using portrait mode). Where else would you use zoom? It’s creepy as hell.

Vincenz: Nights ago, there was this huge moon lighting up the sky. I tried zooming it in at 30X, but was disappointed with the quality of the output. Tried it before with a Huawei Mate 30 Pro and it gave me outstanding results.

I was expecting the same with the Galaxy S20+ since it also has the same zoom ability but it doesn’t show any detail of the craters at all. Night mode doesn’t even do justice since it also zooms up to 10X.

What about the selfies? Did you like them?

Rodneil: Not really big on selfies, but for the purposes of testing I tried one with live focus and one without. I think the smoothing is still more aggressive than I would have liked. This is with “beauty mode” turned off.

MJ: Selfies are decent enough to send to your crushes but never ever use the beauty mode. It sucks, same with its portrait mode.

The wide-angle mode helped with group photos, though. Admittedly, Xiaomi still has the best selfies to date (in my opinion, please don’t chew me out). But with proper lighting and right poses, you’ll get perfect selfies — if that’s even your thing!

Vincenz: Not a huge selfie user but when I tried it, I immediately turned off the beauty mode. I want my selfies to look as natural as possible — but turning it off still showed smeared selfies.

But when it comes to groufies, it gets the job done as it has an extra ultra-wide mode to accomodate more people inside the frame.

The display is a huge talking point too. Did it seem any different from other phones you’ve tried? 

Rodneil: The 120Hz screen refresh rate should be the default now. After using this for an extended period, any other screen just doesn’t feel as smooth.

Still not a fan of punch-hole displays but that’s mostly negligible since I use dark mode most of the time plus I don’t pinch to zoom when watching videos. This means the punch-hole stays out of sight. Overall, it’s a fantastic display — par for the course for Samsung.

MJ: I barely use phones that aren’t AMOLED displays, so I don’t have much to say in comparison. As usual, colors are vivid and lively. The Galaxy S20’s full screen display, albeit smaller compared to its siblings, is such an awesome companion for your entertainment and recreational activities.

I recently joined the craze on the 120Hz refresh rate, and I’ve been enjoying it so far. I’m not tiring my eyes whenever I scroll and swipe!

Plus, whatever you’re watching on Netflix, you’re bound to get hooked. After all, you got an immersive and impressive display, it’s difficult not to love the show you’re watching even more.

Vincenz: I’ve been fond of Samsung’s Super AMOLED as I used a Galaxy Note5 before. After moving to iPhones, I just got used to their IPS displays (including the iPhone XR I used before this).

Right when I had the Galaxy S20+, I got stunned with the Dynamic AMOLED display with deep blacks and fast 120Hz refresh rate — something iPhones and other Android smartphones can’t beat until today.

I ditched watching the Netflix series Itaewon Class on my iPhone because I enjoy the vivid colors and the fullscreen display more on the Galaxy S20+.

Thoughts on ONE UI 2.0 and other Samsung perks? 

Rodneil: It looks undeniably Samsung for better or worse, but it’s definitely cleaner now than it has ever been. The gestures are all based on Android 10 (which, in effect is based on iOS lol), and I really like that.

The apps edge feature is underrated. I will completely lose any sense of the day if I didn’t have quick access to a calendar and this does it for me.

It’s also a good way to catch-up on NBA scores — although the league’s suspended at the moment. And the last game that’s on this photo are teams that have players who tested COVID-19 positive. That was depressing. I’m sorry.

MJ: I’m going to admit it: I couldn’t care less about the UI… before. One UI 2.0, just like any other UI, is difficult for me to grasp and understand. I’ve been used to EMUI and MIUI since I’ve been using a Huawei phone since 2016 and a Xiaomi phone since 2019. After using one Samsung phone after another this year, I realized One UI 2.0 is easy to learn and look at. For me, One UI 2.0 is a welcome change.

On another note, Samsung Members is one of my favorite perks from Samsung. You can have great deals from your favorite spas, resorts, cafes, and even restaurants. They even hold limited promos! Most recent was a free regular beverage from Chatime! Sadly, I missed it because I was sick.

Vincenz: One UI 2.0 is probably better than Samsung’s Touchwiz. I was impressed that Samsung finally listened to their loyal users. The bloatware and messy UI are now gone in favor of a cleaner, more minimal UI. It’s still not the best I’ve used since I enjoy using MIUI more, but it’s second in my list.

I haven’t tried using the Samsung Members app yet but I heard you get great deals and discounts if you register. Too bad the quarantine holds me back from trying those offers.

Which Galaxy S20 would you buy for yourself? Or as we say here, which do you think is your GadgetMatch? (Mention also who you think would get the most out of the phone you used) 

Rodneil:  I have recently found joy in carrying smaller phones. It just feels more practical. For anyone to want the Galaxy S20 Ultra you’d have to be a combination of someone who: has money to burn, has big hands or likes big phones, and might actually need the zoom capabilities. It’s really not for everybody.

I would say the S20+ and the S20 are probably the more regular-consumer-friendly phones. If I were to choose from the three, I would most likely get the Galaxy S20+.

MJ: I’m definitely in love with the Galaxy S20. If it wasn’t for its price, I would buy it. But then again, you’re paying for a well-rounded smartphone which can do the work for you because… it’s smart. No need to download and install apps that don’t come from the Google Play Store.

Additionally, Samsung has different layers of security so if that’s one of your considerations for a smartphone, you’ll have peace of mind. All of my girl friends enjoyed the Galaxy S20, the same way I did. If they have the money to spend, I’m pretty sure they’ll buy this one, even if there are no Cloud Pink units available. You can always plaster a beautiful case!

Vincenz: If it wasn’t because of the hefty price tag, I would definitely choose the Galaxy S20 Ultra since I’m more of a camera guy. The Galaxy S20+ lacks bigger camera sensors found on the Ultra that I need in achieving my desired shots when I take it outdoors.

If I’m being practical, I’d still pick the Galaxy S20+ — the sweet spot of the Galaxy S20 series because of the display size, price tag, and overall features. The S20+ might even suit Rodneil more than I do.

BONUS!

Launched alongside the Galaxy S20 series is the Samsung Galaxy Flip. If you’re wondering who that’s for — then it’s Michael Josh (since he’s really the only one who can afford it lol). Kidding aside, here’s a Flip vs Moto razr video you can sink your teeth into.

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