In a surprise announcement at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Sony said goodbye to its top of the line Xperia Z smartphone, unveiling in its place a trio of new smartphones collectively referred to as Xperia X.
Specs-wise the new Xperia X line isn’t going to be the most high end smartphone release of 2016 but Sony’s left just enough for the phones to be desirable.
On the X Sony is ditching its glass for metal. All 3 phones sport the familiar boxy Xperia frame, although these phones feel curvier and rounder and better in the hands.
Micro SD card and sim card slots still go on the left while the camera button, volume rocker, and power button are still on the right hand side of the device.
Instead of adding more features that you’ll hardly ever use, Sony says it added intelligence and improvements to key functions like battery and camera.
The Xperia X lineup boasts of Qnovo technology which promises reduced charging times increased battery lifespan, and smarter battery management.
It’s worth pointing out that Sony has put smaller capacity batteries onto its Xperia X line: the Xperia X Performance gets 2700 mAh, Xperia X 2620 mAh, and Xperia XA 2300 mAh. This resulted in thinner phones without sacrificing its promise of 2 days battery life. Although that’s not something we can test at the moment as the phones will not be officially released until some time between July to September.
[irp posts=”4430″ name=”IFA 2016: Sony Xperia X Compact hands-on”]
Just like the Z5, the Xperia X and Xperia X Performance get a 23MP main camera, while the entry level Xperia XA gets a 13MP main shooter.
Sony also added a new camera feature called Predictive Hybrid Autofocus to the Xperia X and Xperia X Performance. It tracks a moving subject, locking focus even while it moves in and out of frame.
The new camera is also one of the fastest in the market today – launching and capturing moments straight from standby mode.
Front-facing cameras are also much improved now with 8MP on the XA, and 13MP on the X and X Performance. They take selfies just as good as the Samsung Galaxy S7 can, if not even better.
While specs-wise the Xperia XA is not as impressive as its big brothers, on the outside it’s actually the one that stands out with a display that’s flushed against its sides. It also looks like the leanest of the bunch because it doesn’t come with a fingerprint scanner.
The X and X Performance have fingerprint scanners built into their power buttons just like the Z5. You unlock by pressing your thumb against the button, which Sony says is the most natural way to unlock a smartphone.
The X and X Performance also have higher resolution displays, more RAM and better processors. The XA is powered by Mediatek Helio P10, while the X is powered by last year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 and the X Performance the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820.
The X Performance being the most premium variant is sadly the only one that retains the signature feature of the Xperia Z line: waterproofing. The phone has an IP68 rating meaning it will last up to 30 minutes underwater up to depths of 1.5 meters.
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!
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!
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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