My affair with foldable phones has been similar to my dating life. I’m always cynical and skeptical at the premise of something promising. When you’ve lived life knowing a kind of love that only crashes and burns, you revel in the comfort of that familiar feeling.
That’s similar to how I felt when I saw the first generation of the Galaxy Z Flip. I lashed and criticized how impractical foldable phones would be — despite knowing deep down I’m attracted to it. A projection, you might say, because I haven’t faced the fact that sometimes it’s okay to like something that seems a little different from what you’ve known.
But that was a few years ago. My perspective changed when I realized how enchanting foldable phones were. And using the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G now was definitely a game-changer. And I just couldn’t let it go.
So gorgeous, it actually hurts
It was a fine evening back in February 2020 at Grand Hyatt Manila when I first saw the Galaxy Z Flip showcased together with the S20 series. It felt like ‘right phone, wrong time’. We simply weren’t aligned. What with the exorbitant price tag and my unwelcoming remark towards the foldable phone.
18 months later, the flip phone and I met again — but better versions of ourselves. With new iterations and better appreciation of the form factor, it was like a divinely orchestrated reunion. This time, I think it was right.
It’s okay to like something that seems a little different from what you’ve known.
Seeing the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G in luscious cream color, equipped with the latest specifications and sporting necessary features that I need, as it sleekly opens tugs a string in my heart; I’ve never wanted something like this in my life. Heart racing from excitement. Nervously grasping how beautiful it was. Seemingly magnetic that I want to grab it with my hands.
And yet, I wonder. Is it another love at first sight? Am I diving in headfirst without knowing what red flags might occur down the line? I couldn’t care less. That’s what it means to take a leap outside of your comfort zone, right?
And all at once, you’re all I want
The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G has certainly been getting a lot of attention when it was launched during Unpacked 2021. The lower price tag and an even more beautiful iteration of its predecessors; I was lucky to get a preview of this charmer before the whole world saw it. Quietly, intimately. And from the moment I laid eyes on it, I knew I had to make it mine.
And that’s what happened when the flip phone launched and it landed into my arms the next day. I was disheveled, seemingly jumping out of glee. It’s here. It’s right here.
I caressed it, stunned at its marvelous sight. My eyes glimmered with enthusiasm as I flipped it open for the first time. Even though I’m unsure what hiccups I might encounter while using the phone, I decided it’s going to be my daily driver.
Switching from slate to foldable wasn’t something I expected I’ll be doing soon. Sure, I did try the Galaxy Z Fold2 and it somehow became a phone that I used to do my work remotely or for tuning in at Clubhouse. But I was still using the usual slab phones as my daily driver. So switching to the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G as a daily driver was a serious jump.
Isn’t it delicate?
When I shared the flip phone on my social media platforms, friends and acquaintances alike gasped in admiration, and posed a crucial query: Isn’t it delicate?
Indeed, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G felt fragile when you constantly flip the phone close and open. I remember walking around and taking it out of my pocket. Using it bare without a case, I held it tightly even when it’s closed and compact that it rests easily in my palm. I couldn’t be sure.
That’s when I realized how important it is to dress the phone with a case for a worry-free experience. Samsung introduced a bunch of cases to match different personalities, so you can always order one in case you’re worried about the Flip.
But then again, it’s unfair to treat it like a glass cannon. The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G packs so much power without forsaking its defenses. Its frame uses armor aluminum — the same strong material used on the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G — and a Gorilla Glass Victus for the glassy portions, an added protection against scratches and accidental drops.
Its screen panels are also strengthened. Flipping it close and open constantly won’t do harm and no, the screen and hinge won’t break apart. Although over time, the hinge started to loosen up compared to when I first used it. But, that’s expected for anything tight and with a hinge — they loosen up after constant usage. 😉
More importantly, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G has an IPX8 certification now — the highest rating for waterproofing. You can submerge it up to 1.5 meters underwater, for up to 30 minutes. Although, its dust protection is questionable since it doesn’t have any rating.
Nonetheless, I wasn’t afraid to use the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G for my day-to-day chores. The IPX8 rating gave me peace of mind that I can use the phone even if my hands were sweaty from working out, or when I’m in the shower.
Have I known you 20 seconds or 20 years?
When opened, it’s just like your average smartphone like the Galaxy S21. It makes so much more sense than using the Fold since the Flip still gives that familiar vertical slate when opened. Some curious cats asked, “How about the crease?”
I’d say, you won’t feel it if you’re scrolling from the bottom half of the phone. But if your finger scrolls in the middle, you’d definitely feel the crease and get annoyed with that uneven part.
The power button slash fingerprint scanner along with the volume rockers are placed a little bit higher than usual, though. So you might need to adjust to it.
But for the most part, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G lets you experience the best of both worlds: keeping that familiar slate affair without shying away from a new form factor.
High above the whole scene
What makes the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G interesting is the flexibility and versatility it offers. And how it makes everything convenient. When closed, I can adjust my music playback on the cover screen. And it comes with different widgets that you can customize, most of which are tools you’d normally use on your smartphone.
But being able to check the notifications as you would on your smartwatch, that felt really convenient. I can see from a glance who messaged me, and I can decide quickly if the person involved — or their concern which they sent as a message — is important enough for me to respond as soon as possible.
This helps me manage my time and prevent unnecessary scrolling on my phone. When you have a phone that’s too lovely to hold, it’s easy to get addicted and use it for hours.
Setting off, but not without my muse
The best part, for me, is utilizing Flex Mode. I had a marvelous time playing around with it and realized how it’s the little things that set this foldable apart.
For one, it’s easier taking calls with my colleagues or catching up with my partner — without the need for a phone stand since the Flip itself can prop as a tripod. I also had a wondrous time scrolling and checking updates from my favorite artists. And it kind of looks good when you play your music or watch videos while on Flex Mode.
Even my best friend had a wonderful time using the Flip and used it as a compact mirror when she needed to reapply her lipstick. She even likened how easy it is to carry and put inside her pocket and purse.
Above all, I could call the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G my muse especially for taking inspiration for my art and for helping me with my photographs. Its versatility adapts in any situation, helping me in capturing sceneries and even mastering the art of selfies. Whether it’s by Flex Mode or using it as your familiar slate.
Undoubtedly, it’s equipped with a flagship-level camera because, surprise, it’s still a flagship phone. Its cameras may not be as excellent as the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but it’s still enough to take Pinterest- and Instagram-worthy photos that you’d love to print some time.
Use my best colors for your portrait
Now that we’re on the topic: there are several ways you can maximize the Flip’s cameras. And that all depends on your shooting style and scenarios.
Most of the time, I use it like a regular smartphone. It captures nicely — perfect for my Instagram Stories and snaps to update my partner about my day.
It has the same functionalities as the S21 series, so you get to experience near-quality cameras, too.
Shooting in Flex Mode doesn’t have to be used for selfies alone. I use it to take low-angle shots for worm-eye views to make the subjects appear big and long — which can be useful for your travel photos if you’re a shorty who wants to look tall.
But Flex Mode has been perfect for recording my training which I send to my coach while we’re still not allowed to go back to the gym. And for what it’s worth, the Flip’s cameras can work for anyone — even if you’re going to use it for your TikTok jams.
Onto its Cover Display, you can shoot photos and videos even with its compact size — making it apt for those who want to shoot their vlogs and record videos while they walk. The only caveat, which Michael Josh has pointed out in his review, is how the output is limited to a square aspect ratio.
Nonetheless, it still solidifies the truth that anyone can use this foldable — only if your mind, heart, body, soul, and wallet are open for the experience.
I don’t want to look at anything else now that I saw you
Just when smartphones are getting unexciting, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G flipped things around. I’m no longer hesitant in trying new form factors, but more importantly, I’m in love with this foldable. I never want to let go.
Do I regret switching from slate to foldable? Not even a little bit, not even at all. Is it my GadgetMatch? Looks like it. Frankly, ’tis an experience I welcome in 2021 — and a moment to try something new. Sometimes, it’s okay to like what’s odd, eccentric, and unfamiliar.
You might have to sail through unchartered waters not knowing what awaits when you switch to a foldable, but the experience will be oh so worth it.
In any case, like the Galaxy Z Fold lineup, there’ll be a certain allure that you can only experience when you get your hands on a foldable phone. And if you spend time using it for quite a while. That je ne sais quoi is probably what made me fall in love.
realme 9i Hands-On
Solid as usual
The realme 9i is the “little brother” in the realme 9 series. And while it doesn’t pack the same punch as its pro siblings – the realme 9 Pro and realme 9 pro+ – there’s enough here for anyone who just needs a reliable daily smartphone.
Here’s a quick look at the specs before we dive in deeper:
- 6.6-inch IPS LCD display with 90Hz refresh rate
- Qualcomm SM6225 Snapdragon 680 4G processor
- 6GB RAM with Dynamic RAM expansion feature up to 5GB
- 128GB Internal Storage
- 5,000mAh battery
- 33W Dart Charge tech
- 50MP main camera
- 2MP macro lens
- 2MP depth lens
- 16MP selfie shooter
Here are some samples for your appreciation.
Neat, simple, and elegant
The realme 9i is pretty understated in the looks department. The variant we got comes in blue and depending on how the light hits, you’ll see some lines to accentuate its back.
As for button and port placements, at the bottom you’ll find the usuas: speaker grille, USB-C port, and 3.5mm jack.
On the right side is the power button/fingerprint scanner.
And on the left hand side are the two, tiny volume buttons.
Overall, the realme 9i looks neat. Simple yet elegant. The camera stands out, obviously. But you can say that for most phones these days. It’s light for its size and appearance. It’s already easy to hold as is, but it’s even easier if you’re the phone-case-and-pop-up socket type of person.
Switching from one app to the other, or going back to the home screen for that matter is seamless and fast. There’s no trouble opening or loading apps so far.
The apps load from where I last left it, provided I haven’t closed all apps, cleared RAM, or optimized phone usage.
Media consumption and gaming
We enjoyed more than our fair share of watching sports highlights on the realme 9i. It pays to have a great-performing phone to not miss any action. We didn’t have any problems watching on YouTube at the highest resolution settings and at 60 fps.
Same is true for other types of content. The viewing experience was likewise seamless.
The speaker is really loud and complements the video. You don’t have to put it on max volume although it’s still of the best quality when put to max. It doesn’t break.
Playing Mobile Legends with friends and relatives on this phone is perfect even if it’s “only” a mid-level phone. The game’s graphics settings were set on default when opening from the phone. I tinkered it to HD mode with a high refresh rate and “Ultra” graphics, and it didn’t have problems throughout the game like lagging when I played.
On full standby in power saving mode without having to connect it to Wi-Fi or turn on mobile data, the phone consumes just about 5 to 10 percent of its battery power in one whole day.
When charging, it takes less than an hour to charge from 30 percent to full with its 33W fast charging.
Solid as usual
The “i” variants in realme’s numbered series phones have consistently been steady performers and the realme 9i is no different. It’s not gonna wow you with raw specs, but the overall package and performance makes it worthwhile.
The realme 9i retails for PhP 11,990. Buy it here.
ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED Unboxing and Hands-on
The dual-screen laptop of your dreams!
The pinnacle of ASUS’ Zenbook is here!
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What I love about the realme Pad Mini
A good companion gadget
I have been looking for a tablet that’s around 7” to 8” to compliment my already full stacked suite of gadgets. My primary intention is to make it a full-time media consumption device and a Zoom event partner. All the recent tablets of late came in 10” or over. Then realme reached out with an opportunity to try out the realme Pad Mini. So I jumped at it.
But why do I need an extra device? Need is a stretch for me. At this point it’s a luxury for me to add to my normal rotation of gadgets. That being a MacBook Pro, whatever Windows laptop I’m reviewing/working on, an iPhone 11 Pro, an OPPO Find X3 Pro, and whatever smartphone I’m reviewing. Regardless, I wanted to see if I can fit a tablet into my life all while checking on the current state of Android tablets in 2022.
Before we dive into my take on the realme Pad Mini, here’s a quick rundown of its specs.
realme Pad Mini
- Display – 8.7-inches, 1340×800
- Processor – Unisoc T616
- Battery – 6400mAh, 18W
- RAM+Storage – 3GB+32GB, 4GB+64GB, expandable up to 1TB via microSD slot
- Cameras – 8MP rear, 5MP front
As mentioned in the teaser article, the versions coming out at launch are both LTE-capable. A 3GB+32GB Wi-Fi variant will be released soon after.
Aluminum alloy body design
Perhaps my favorite thing about the realme Pad Mini is its aluminum alloy body design. It looks pretty sleek, especially this blue colorway. It’s got a nice heft to it too. Nothing too heavy but enough to make it seem higher end than it actually is.
There are two speaker grilles on the top and bottom (if you’re in portrait mode) or one on either side (if you’re in landscape mode). That’s a key design decision since I imagine anyone getting a tablet has media consumption in mind.
The button placements felt a little off to me, though. Maybe it’s just me getting used to phone layouts but normally when you have the power button and the volume rockers on the same side, the volume rockers are placed higher.
That’s not the case here since, in portrait mode, your fingers will grace the rockers first before the power button. And in landscape mode, you’ll more often have to use your left hand and grace the power button first before you get to the volume rockers. It’s a little disorienting at first and I’m personally still getting used to it.
All things considered, it looks good, feels great, and doesn’t put a strain on your hand even after a binge-watching session. Granted, you switch hand placements every now and then.
Perfect Zoom partner
Over the past couple of years, the only events we’ve attended were held online. Most of which via the video conferencing platform Zoom. During these events, I like to get other tasks out of the way too. So while tuning in to an event, I’m either writing, copy editing, or what have you. However, multitasking can be tough in my setup where I only use a laptop. Having the sound come out of the laptop with a minimized Zoom window isn’t ideal.
Enter the realme Pad Mini. I’ve done this with other tablets I reviewed previously. Having the Zom event come from a device, other than my laptop, helps ease the mental burden of having to intently listen to something while doing a different task.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it’s a type of setup I recommend especially for those who don’t have the space for full blown desktops with multiple monitors.
Media consumption companion
This is what most people would likely do on their tablets. At least, I think so. Binge-watching series, watching movies, and cycling through a YouTube or TikTok blackhole. For the most part, the realme Pad Mini does this pretty well.
The display isn’t outstanding but it gets the job done. I normally get 720p and 1080p depending on which platform I’m watching on.
One downside is it doesn’t work well for YouTube which prioritizes continuous streaming thus giving you as low as 360p sometimes when you first start a video. I can’t count the number of times I had to go into the settings and force the highest quality when I’m on YouTube.
But that’s just one pain point. Every other platform delivers good, steady quality of streaming. I’ve been using it to catch-up on a few series on Netflix, HBO Go, and Chrome (if you catch my drift). The visuals aren’t mindblowing but they’re more than good enough and the speakers are just the right amount of loud without distorting the audio.
It checks all the boxes for what I’m currently looking for in a tablet. It also helps that it’s relatively inexpensive. The 4GB+64GB LTE variant, which is the one I reviewed, retails for 11,990 and I think it’s just right. More pricing details later on.
Naturally, some of you might be looking to do more on your tablet and have a few questions. Turn’s out, there are a ton of questions on our teaser post so I’ll try to answer some of them.
Is it good for gaming?
Specifically, someone asked if the Unisoc T616 is good for gaming. I didn’t do a lot of gaming on the realme Pad Mini, only a few matches on Call of Duty: Mobile. And well, it’s… okay. There’s a bit of lag and the screen isn’t as responsive so it might not be the best for gaming.
If you really want to play on something around the same price range, you’re probably better off using the Redmi Note 11 or vivo Y21T.
Call and text functions?
Texting and chatting are the two things I personally didn’t want to do on a tablet. I wanted it to specifically be a media device. But if you’re looking for call and text functions, make sure you grab the LTE versions. There are two available.
Nope, it doesn’t come with a stylus. As for stylus support, that’s something we weren’t able to test, but it’s safe to assume this doesn’t have it given its set of specs.
Price and availability?
As mentioned earlier, two LTE variants will be available at launch. They are priced as follows:
- 3GB+32GB – PhP 9,990
- 4GB+64GB – PhP 11,990
But realme being realme, naturally there are early bird promos. Discounts will ber offered exclusively on realme’s official Lazada store.
The realme Pad Mini will also be available at all realme official stores and partner dealers nationwide. Those who purchase from April 4-30 will get a FREE realme Mobile Game Finger Sleeves.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
As a budget tablet, the realme Pad Mini is okay. I don’t think it falls in the category of realme’s usual devices that punch up in terms of specs and price. Its overall performance is steady and really, that’s all you need for something at its price point.
The realme Pad Mini is a great media device, good for binge watching sessions, taking a few notes, and being an extra device in your arsenal. If that’s what you’re looking for, then it’s definitely a match.
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