Smartphones

Spotlight: Asus Zenfone Selfie

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Looking to upgrade your selfies? Why not a phone that’s built just for the job. This is the Asus Zenfone Selfie. In the spotlight.

Asus created the Zenfone Selfie – the camera on its front is as good as the camera on its back. Both sport 13 megapixel shooters with f/2.2 lenses and come with dual-tone LED flash. So you’re guaranteed to get a good selfie each time. Even when the lights are off. For those really serious about “seeing the perfect you,” there’s beautification mode that lets you apply Skin Softening, Skin Brightening, Eye Enhancement, Cheek Thinning and several shades of blush!

The rear camera is no slouch either as it’s also 13 megapixel and is equipped with fast autofocus – something the Zenfone 2 doesn’t even have.

The Zenfone selfie comes in Teal, Pink, and White.

Hands-On

vivo X50 Hands-On: Underrated, overshadowed

It deserves some spotlight

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We’ve all felt inadequate. This is especially when we’re surrounded by people we believe are better than us. This is the feeling I remember after having used the vivo X50 for a few days.

To start with, the vivo X50 is the more affordable sibling in the X50 series. It lacks the features that sets the X50 Pro apart: the Gimbal camera system, a flagship-grade chipset, and 5G connectivity.

But do we even need all the features that the X50 Pro has? For everyday users, the X50 is more than enough, and it deserves to be given a chance.

Like a dapper gentleman

First and foremost, the X50 is gleamingly handsome. If I were to draw a character, the X50 would look like a high-maintenance, dapper gentleman, whose hair and beard were trimmed and sculpted in a barberdashery (a barber and haberdashery in one) like Felipe & Sons.

It exudes a classic appearance that makes you want to hold it. But before you do that, you’d have to choose between the matte Frost Blue and the fingerprint-magnet glass in Glaze Black.

Personally, I prefer the Glaze Black due to my habit of leaving memories behind, like a smudge on a glass. Kidding aside, I love the reflective mirror-like design.

But its design doesn’t matter as much since I tend to slap a case on any phone I use. If I won’t, there’s a ninety-six percent chance of glass phones slipping from my regularly moisturized hands.

Comfortable and entertaining

Surprisingly, the X50 is lightweight and slim enough to sit comfortably in my tiny hands. It can reach the in-display fingerprint scanner easily.

On the front, the vivo X50 prides itself on the same 6.56-inch AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ technology like the X50 Pro. Watching videos and playing games is a treat with its vibrant colors, high contrast, and bright screen.

There’s also an Ultra Game Mode — an exclusive feature found on Funtouch OS 10.5 (based on Android 10). Mobile games like PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legend: Bang Bang are supported by vivo’s gaming feature.

In case you didn’t know, this feature helps you stay focused on your game, whether you’re playing for fun or competitively. Notifications are definitely turned off and your system’s resources are managed well, especially when you opt for Esports mode. There will be no accidental touches, annoying calls, and it moderates your phone’s temperature for smoother gameplay. Moreover, it saves battery.

Serving more than enough of what you really need

Frankly, the vivo X50 packs enough power to fuel your entertainment needs. Whether it’s intensive gaming or seamless performance. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 730 and sports an 8GB RAM and 128GB built-in storage.

This handset is also equipped with a 4200mAh battery and supports vivo FlashCharge 2.0, reaching 33W of fast charging. Of course, it uses a Type-C port and cable, just like any normal 2020 phone.

With a bigger juice and near-flagship grade chipset, you can ensure a long-lasting experience. You can play to your heart’s content and binge-watch all 16 episodes of the latest K-drama people are talking about.

In my case, I watched the visual spectacle that is Fire Force — an animé based on the manga of the same name filled with brilliant animation sequences and blazingly hot character designs.

The downside in having this exquisite display while playing games or watching shows is the intrusive punch-hole cutout, which houses its 32-megapixel selfie camera.

Getting that glass skin

Moving to its selfies, the front camera struggles to take clear and decent selfies at low light but performs exceptionally with sufficient daylight.

Even under harsh sunlight, the vivo X50 snaps portrait-oriented selfies perfectly… for the ‘gram. I uploaded my selfies on Instagram Story’s Close Friends feature, handpicking people that are attracted to me so I can receive comments and validation.

Most of them complimented how I looked fresh, striking a close resemblance to South Korean actors’ glass skin apparent in K-dramas. On the other hand, some people were hesitant to compliment me because they’re too afraid to flirt and possibly fall for me. (Just kidding.)

Choosing the real you

But the truth is I’m not pore-less, and I refused to use vivo’s beauty mode since I thought it was too intense. Despite having beauty mode tailored for men, I was still averse since a beautified version of myself is far from how I actually look. And definitely not how I want to be seen.

What seems to be the common case in my selfies is how vivo pads beautification in its post-processing, even if you’re not actively using its beauty mode.

The thing is, vivo’s front camera uses an f/2.45 aperture, which results in backlit photos and brightened selfies. For reference, you can look at the well-lit busy background and cerulean-like sky on the middle photo above. Meanwhile, the photo on the right looks overexposed, even though I’m just basking under the sunlight inside a car.

However, this nitpicking can be handled easily if you know some tips and tricks in taking better selfies. Overall, the quality looks decent, and any selfie-taker or young professional who’d love to look good for a self-esteem boost will be satisfied with the results.

Putting Portrait Mode on a pedestal

It’s been years, but smartphone companies are still far from perfect in terms of their cameras’ portrait modes. Evident in the X50 is vivo’s attempt to produce cleaner bokeh albeit still unrefined.

When taking photos against a busy background, Portrait Mode should help you produce cleaner outputs while keeping the focus on the subject. But it’s still unpolished, as seen through the cutouts around my hair and shoulders. Additionally, vivo smartly applied HDR which lit my background causing haze around my face and hair.

Forgive me for slapping a clear case meant for the X50 Pro, I just really needed to put a case on.

Using its rear camera, the Portrait Mode had troubles dealing with depth of field (DoF), blurring my arms together with the background in the mirror. If you struggle with Portrait Mode, I mentioned in one of my camera hacks a trick on how to use mirrors to create better depth.

This way, you don’t have to be dependent on a maxing out Portrait Mode, which results in ugly cutouts where you’d look like a pasted magazine cutout in a gaussian blurred image.

For every moment you can capture

The vivo X50 uses a quad-camera system similar to the X50 Pro, only with a smaller camera bump and narrower module. It uses Sony’s IMX598 sensor, comprised of a 48-megapixel primary shooter, a 13-megapixel portrait camera (with 50mm prime lens), an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens, and a 5-megapixel macro camera.

When compared to phones in a similar price range, the X50 is a mild contender in the camera department. It certainly packs useful features in shooting any type of photos. There’s a 120-degree super wide-angle, a clear 2X optical zoom, and 20X digital zoom.

Shot in auto mode on a 1:1 format (Square)

 

Backlit shot in auto mode on a 1:1 format (Square)

 

Flat lay produced through 2X optical zoom

 

20X digital zoom on a hive in my home’s window

 

Horizontal macro shot taken by placing the cameras close to the flowers

 

Vertical macro shot taken by placing the cameras close to the flowers

While vivo boasts of sharp and crystal clear night shots, I wasn’t able to test it due to curfew restrictions in my neighborhood.

The way our heart beats with strong connections

Casual users like me spend most of our time watching videos and listening to music. Of course, audio is as important as the display and other features. To audiophiles, vivo isn’t worth considering despite starting its humble story with peerless audio tuning.

Regardless, the vivo X50 fills a room loud enough like a night club booming with party speakers. It doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack, but Type-C wired earphones will still work well.

If you’re down with vivo’s ecosystem, it’s better to get the vivo TWS Neo since it pairs easily with the X50. Just like any other smartphone brand, vivo is focused in creating a seamless connection between its devices. With an R&D focused in audio, you get the same rich sound in both the X50 and TWS Neo.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

On paper, tech junkies might say a lot about its internals, yet vivo is more than the specs it offers. For years, vivo has been delivering an experience that is relevant to casual consumers.

The X50 is a testament to vivo’s history — offering the right power that everyday users need. While there are similar upper midrange phones with better specs and features, the vivo X50 still promises an all-around experience.

It may not have the X50 Pro’s flagship-grade power and extra features, the X50 serves that nearly similar flagship experience, at a reduced price. Undisturbed gaming, near-flagship efficient performance, better selfies and balanced cameras, and seamless ecosystem — what’s there to ask for?

Undoubtedly, it’s similar to the Samsung Galaxy A71. Both handsets are well-rounded, yet the X50 has a better build and design.

The vivo X50 retails for PhP 25,999 (US$ 536) in vivo’s official stores and authorized retail partners. Select outlets will also add in an exclusively X50 fit silicone Comfy case.

SEE ALSO: In having healthy connections through the vivo TWS Neo

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OPPO Find X2 Pro now comes in Green Vegan Leather

OPPO’s finest in a new skin

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OPPO Find X2 Pro Green Leather

OPPO’s finest is back but in a new skin. The OPPO Find X2 Pro Green Vegan Leather Edition is now official and it’s coming to Singapore.

That isn’t just any kind of leather. With an IP68-rating, it’s splash, dust, and waterproof. OPPO says the new color variant takes inspiration from the concept of “healing.” The company believes it is a soothing and refreshing color that exudes comfort.

The complete the look, the phone also includes a custom-made vegan leather built-in middle frame. It uses environmentally-friendly materials along with a unique three-layer leather stitching technology.

OPPO’s finest

The OPPO Find X2 Pro is the culmination of OPPO’s innovations over the years. Here’s an excerpt from our review:

“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.”

Pricing and availability

The OPPO Find X2 Pro 5G Green Vegan Leather Edition is priced at SG$ 1,699 (US$ 1237), and will be available from this Saturday, September 26, 2020, at Singtel, Starhub and M1 stores, OPPO’s Shopee and Lazada Flagship Store, and at all OPPO Concept Stores.

Watch the Unboxing and Review:

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The OPPO A53 launches in Singapore

A new budget phone?

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OPPO A53

OPPO is strengthening its lower-midrange/near-budget lineup with the addition of the OPPO A53. The phone which first launched in India is now coming to Singapore.

The OPPO A53 features a 6.5-inch HD+ Neo Display with 90Hz screen refresh rate and up to 120Hz touch sampling rate.

Powering the device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 SoC with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. It’s expandable up to 256GB via a MicoSD. The MicroSD card slot sits right next to the dual-sim card slots. It has a 5000mAh battery with support for 18W fast charge.

Coming to the cameras, up front situated inside a punch hole is the 16MP front-facing camera. It has all the AI Beautification features we’ve come to expect from OPPO smartphones.

On the rear is a triple camera setup. There’s 13MP main camera, a 2MP depth sensor, and another 2MP camera for macro photography. Again, it’s peppered with the usual AI and camera features found on OPPO units.

Pricing and availability

The OPPO A53 will retail in Singapore for SG$ 329 (US$ 240) and will come in Electric Black and Fancy Blue. It will be available beginning Saturday, September 26 on OPPO’s Shopee and Lazada stores, OPPO Concept Store, and authorized retailers in Singapore.

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