The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G is here. It’s cheaper, more durable, and now supports the S Pen.
If there’s one big takeaway from the launch of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, it’s that its price has gone down. From last year’s Galaxy Z Fold2 launch price of US$ 2000, the new Galaxy Z Fold3 starts at $1800.
I know, it’s still a lot of money to pay for a smartphone. But it’s a good indication that this bleeding edge tech will one day find its way to more affordable price points.
Where’s the camera?
Of course there’s more to the story. From a tech innovation standpoint you’ll most enjoy two things: One, when opened up, at first glance the Z Fold3 doesn’t seem to have a punch hole for its selfie camera. But if you look closely there’s one hidden underneath the display. This is the first time we’re seeing an under display camera on a Samsung device ever.
How this works is basically there are a few missing pixels that are covered by the display’s pixels and AI fills in those missing pixels for you to create a complete image.
On paper, the specs of this camera are inferior to last year’s model. But given that there’s still a selfie camera up front. It shouldn’t be much of an issue. Unless you video call a lot.
I don’t know for sure how much better or worse this camera is. But I’m glad it’s there. And can’t think of a better device to implement this technology on.
That way when you use a Fold 3 in tablet mode. you get a fully uninterrupted experience which really is the dream regardless of what device you’re using.
More on what you can do with the Fold 3’s big display later. But first the other big feature is one that we all knew was inevitable. This device now supports the S-Pen.
Samsung is announcing two new pen models alongside the Z Fold3. Both are designed with a self retracting nib so that no matter how hard you press — a sharp tip is not gonna drill into the flexible display.
The first one called the S Pen Fold Edition is made specifically for and will only work with the Z Fold 3. Just like the S Pen that debuted with the Galaxy 21 Series, it doesn’t have a battery and Bluetooth. But does all the basic stuff like taking notes, which to be honest, is all you really need. You can buy the S Pen Fold Edition separately for US$ 49.99 or with a case that has a little slot to store the S-Pen Fold Edition. That’s US$ 79.99.
Then there’s the S-Pen Pro which retails for US$ 99.99. It’s backwards compatible with all Samsung devices that support the S Pen. But also with Bluetooth, so all those wand-like air gestures are supported too. And it’s got on board memory, so you can copy from one Samsung device. And paste it to another.
Both S Pens will deliver 9ms of latency which is the fastest in the industry. At par with the Note 20 Ultra and the iPad Pro. This just means that there’s going to be hardly any visible delay from drawing a stroke and that stroke appearing on screen.
Z Fold2 vs Z Fold3
At first glance, there’s nothing intrinsically different between the Z Fold2 and Z Fold3. Of course, the Z Fold3 comes in three new colors: Phantom Green, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black. Definitely eyeing the green one.
The black one is cool too! An improvement over last year offering a matter back vs the black Z Fold2’s glossy finish which I immediately covered up with a leather case. Its’ Gorilla Glass Victus on both sides by the way.
The Z Fold3 is also roughly the same size as the Z Fold2, but in the hands it feels thinner and lighter. When folded shut, you’ll notice the gap between both displays isn’t as big as last year. But it’s still not as small as the Mate X2.
Samsung says the hinge mechanism is the same, but they’ve reduced its size so it doesn’t protrude from the phone so much. Hence the smaller gap and its slimmer appearance.
It’s also made from a new material. Samsung is calling Armor Aluminum that is 10 percent more durable than on the Z Fold2. Durable in terms of picking up bumps and scratches.
By the way, if you’re wondering if Samsung is also going to offer a special built-to-order custom colored hinge — like my blue hinged fold 2 — the answer is no.
And while we’re on the topic of durability, for the first time ever on a foldable device– the Galaxy Z Fold3 is IPX8 Water and Dust Resistant. Samsung says water can still get into the device, but they’ve made sure to give its insides a water resistant layer.
That said — I still wouldn’t recommend submerging the phone in water or taking it swimming. Or doing underwater photography.
Both the cover display and the inner display on the Z Fold 3 are still the same size as on the Fold 2. So, outside you get a 6.2-inch Cover Display. And when unfolded to tablet mode, a 7.6” Main Display
Two important changes though: Both screens now have a 120Hz panel. So you get buttery smooth scrolling no matter how you choose to use your phone.
More importantly, and this will address a pain point of early adopters, the plastic top layer of the display that sits above the UTG display panel is made of a completely different kind of plastic that is more stretchable. Samsung says it’s 80 percent more durable.
They’re promising 200,000 folds or about over 100 folds a day for five years. This, of course, is not something that one can verify over a short review but make sure you follow me on Instagram and Twitter so you get update as I periodically will update my reviews with real world notes there.
One of my problems with folding devices is that Android isn’t optimized for these unconventional form factors. Thankfully Samsung has taken things into their own hands.
They amde tweaks to the user experience and working with third party app developers so that more apps take advantage of the extra screen real estate. Apps like Netflix and Spotify, Google’s roster of apps like YouTube, Gmail and Chrome, and work apps like Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Word just to name a few.
For example if you’re on YouTube. You can prop your phone and have a video play on one half of the display and have the flex mode panel appear on the bottom that gives you easy access to brightness and volume controls. As well as an easy screenshot button.
When you’re using the camera — which we’ll talk about in a bit. Dual Preview lets the person you’re taking photos off see a preview of the shot while you’re taking it. And now this applies to all the other camera modes too. So, for example, its easier for them to interact with an AR Doodle.
Capture View mode lets you compose and take shots. While also previewing shots you’ve already taken at the same time — over here on the left side. Just better use of the screen real estate.
Remember Edge Panel — that contains shortcuts to frequently used apps and app pairs? You can now pin it to the side of your screen and have it work like a Windows Dock.
There’s also a more intuitive way to drag and drop between open apps in split screen view. And if all else fails you can turn on the Labs Feature that lets you Optimize almost any app. Settings > Advanced Features > Labs.
Galaxy Z Fold3 Cameras
On the camera front nothing has changed from last year. On paper, the Z Fold3 has the same camera system. But thanks to software improvements, photos theoretically should be better. Basically all the camera improvements that came to the S21 Series make it here.
On its back side there’s a 12MP Ultra Wide Camera (12MP / 1.12um / F2.2), a 12 MP Wide Camera (12MP / 1.8um / F1.8 OIS, Dual Pixel), and a 12MP Telephoto Camera with 2x Zoom. (12MP / 1.0um / F.2.4 / OIS 2x Zoom)
Aesthetically the camera bump isn’t as big either.
I know you’ll want to see samples so make sure you’re subscribed to this YouTube Channel and have Notifications turned on so you get to see our upcoming review video first.
Inside there’s a 4MP Under Display Camera (4MP 2.0um F/1.8), and up front a 10MP Cover Camera.
Z Fold3 Specs
As to be expected the, Galaxy Z Fold3 is powered by Qualcomm’s top of the line Snapdragon Processor SD888 here in the US. And Exynos elsewhere in the world. It comes with only one RAM offering — 12GB. Here in the US you can get it with either 256GB or 512GB storage options.
One area where you’ll notice a discrepancy of last year looking better than this year is in terms of battery capacity. This year’s model has a 4400mAh battery which is 100 less than last year. Samsung says this was to accommodate the slightly smaller profile And that with the 5nm chip, they expect battery life to be the same.
Speaking of, like all of Samsung’s top of the line phones this year, there will be no charge in the box. The phone supports Samsung’s 25W USB-C Charger. There’s also one eSIM and one Nano SIM and a fingerprint sensor still on side of device.
Price and availability
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
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If you’ve been a fan of this type of Zenbook, chances are you would love the new version more with its host of significant improvements over the past.
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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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