Hands-On

Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G: Fiber-like speeds within reach

The solution to Fiber-less homes

Published

on

When the world we live in requires us to stay connected and do our work through our preferred machines at the comfort of our homes, having a stable connection isn’t merely a desire anymore.

Sadly, not all homes are granted a fast Internet connection or fiber connectivity. Even I struggled to deal with intermittent connection from a certain Internet Service Provider (ISP). I remember using an extra 5G-capable smartphone as a mobile hotspot as my backup, especially when I was attending virtual conferences, team meetings, and client briefings.

It was costly, severely damaging my wallet in the process of staying connected. More importantly, not everyone is as privileged as I am. I get access to the latest technology and gadgets in the market.

Hope seems lost for most people, but there’s a new solution: the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G.

Design and capabilities

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is designed like the routers you see in the market today. Its build is similar to the Huawei WiFi AX3, especially when the device dons a plain, white colorway across its body.

I got the limited edition unit plastered with a cover design, drawn by award-winning Illustrator Stephanie Bravo-Semilla. The artwork playfully depicts how high-speed connectivity can link families together as they pursue their passions.

The router uses WiFi 6 technology — which guarantees speeds three times faster than the commonly used WiFi 5. It’s also equipped with a 5G NR SA/NSA connection, allowing it to connect to two wireless access technologies. Further, it has a 5G PLUS 2NR Carrier Aggregation, which expands the coverage indoors as well as maintains the connection’s stability.

Right off the bat, you can see how the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is built with six distinct external antennas as well, picking up better signals. It also have 9dBi high-gain antennas that extend the reach and support Gigabyte Ethernet Ports, WPA3 WiFi Security, and WiFi 22 MIMO.

Indicators, ports, buttons

You can find the LED indicators on top, displaying the status of your WiFi, 5G/4G signal, SIM, and System. There’s a pre-installed Smart SIM card that comes with 20GB of open-access data.

When you plug the router into a socket, it will boot up and the 4G signal will flash first unless it recognizes 5G connectivity in your area.

I used it inside my room, which is found in the innermost part of the house. At first, it didn’t pick up a 5G signal. The LED indicator for the 4G signal was on while the router was trying to find 5G.

That’s when I knew I had to place it outside my door. A few seconds later, the indicator for 5G connectivity lit up.

To confirm it, I turned on my mobile data using my 5G-capable smartphone and connected another one to the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G. Happy to report that I live in a place where there’s 5G — both my smartphones and the WiFi device are picking up the 5G signal.

At the back, you can find the power port, Ethernet ports, reset button, and WPS button.

GigaLife

When the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G was already up and running, I continued the setup by following the manual — which instructs you to access the web management page. I turned on my laptop, connected to the WiFi, and changed the network settings.

But that’s a grueling process — continuously going back to the web management page — just to check how your account is performing.

Luckily, you can use Smart’s GigaLife app. I like how it instantly reads the mobile number upon using the app. Even if I’m just connected to the WiFi. There was a prompt asking me if I was using a prepaid WiFi SIM.

Frankly, I dislike the hassle of adding and configuring accounts. I find it really convenient that the app easily recognized the account I’m using.

Through GigaLife, you can check your remaining balance, reload, and even monitor your subscriptions. Everything’s just easy when you have things sorted in one place.

Internet Speed for 5G-capable smartphones

I first tested the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G through 5G smartphones that I have. Using the Honor 50 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, I was able to do my everyday activities. Basically, the same stuff I would do had I been connected to my existing WiFi.

I played games without any delays, watched Netflix and other video content without buffering, and scrolled non-stop on social media.

I’ve connected two of my smartphones, my Nintendo Switch Lite, and my laptop. The router can supposedly handle 10 devices all at once. And even with four gadgets connected, not once did I feel any stutter in the Internet connection.

But then again, it really depends on the signal picked up in your area.

For laptops

Nevertheless, the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G gets speeds from 20 to 100Mbps. You can actually do your everyday tasks, including work and school.

My signal gave speeds between 60-70Mbps consistently, more than enough to let me upload and download creative assets for the projects I’m working on.

I’m privileged to have access to PLDT’s Fibr plans with an actual Fiber cable instead of copper lines. When I wasn’t using the 5G network, I get the same speed as I do when connected through the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G, albeit higher.

The experience is quite the same — in terms of speed, latency, and maintaining the stability of the connection.

For non-5G smartphones

Over the holidays, my cousin who was studying in the province visited our family for a month. Like most people, she hasn’t switched to a 5G-capable smartphone since 5G connectivity isn’t as prevalent in the province as compared to when you’re in Metro Manila and living in key cities.

There’s a preconceived notion that 5G connectivity can’t be enjoyed by non-5G smartphones, but we beg to differ. While you can’t reach sky-high speeds when you do a speed test, the experience is the same as when you’re connected to a WiFi with Fiber connectivity.

My cousin played Call of Duty: Mobile for hours while connected to the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G, and she expressed interest in taking it home. Especially with how stable the connection was even if there were my other four gadgets connected to the router.

Should you get one?

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is the perfect solution for fiber-less homes wanting to have wireless fiber-like connectivity. You just have to remember that it uses a mobile network. The quality and speed of the connection will always depend on your area. Somehow, it’s a  worthy investment for the everyday consumer living in the Philippines.

Students and budget-conscious consumers can monitor their data usage and spending since it’s prepaid WiFi. If you have spare money, it can be a backup plan just in case your Internet connection is interrupted. You won’t have to worry when you’re in the middle of a meeting, a conference, or an online class.

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G retails for PhP 15,995. It will be available at the Smart Online Store. For the same price, you can get the Smart Bro 5G Rocket WiFi. It’s perfect for anyone who needs to stay connected while on the go.

Hands-On

realme 9i Hands-On

Solid as usual
g

Published

on

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: 

Performance

  • 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

Cameras

  • 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.

General usage

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.

Battery life

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

realme 9i

 

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.

Continue Reading

Hands-On

ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED Unboxing and Hands-on

The dual-screen laptop of your dreams!

Published

on

The pinnacle of ASUS’ Zenbook is here!

Meet the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED, the third iteration of the popular Zenbook Pro Duo from 2019 and the follow-up to last year’s non-OLED-touting Zenbook Duo.

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.

Can’t wait to know more, head over to our Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED unboxing and hands-on in 4K!

Continue Reading

Features

What I love about the realme Pad Mini

A good companion gadget

Published

on

realme Pad Mini

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

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 

realme Pad Mini

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.

realme Pad Mini

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 

realme Pad Mini

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

realme Pad Mini

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. 

Watching (G)-IDLE Miyeon’s fancams were a bit of a pain because of YouTube

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. 

realme Pad Mini

Caught up with Soundtrack #1 because I love looking at Han So Hee’s face.

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. 

Quickfire Q&A 

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?

realme Pad Mini

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? 

realme Pad Mini

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. 

Pen/Stylus support

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?

realme Pad Mini

 

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.

  • 3GB+32GB – PhP 8,490 (PhP 1,500 off) | Buy here
  • 4GB+64GB – PhP 9,990 (PhP 2,00 off) | Buy here 

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? 

realme Pad Mini

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. 

Continue Reading

Trending