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Surface Pro 4 Hands-On

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Microsoft calls Surface Pro 4 the thinnest, lightest, and most powerful PC ever made. It also comes with an improved type-cover keyboard that now features a fingerprint scanner. The Surface Pro 4 also comes with a pen that actually has an eraser… *cough* Apple Pencil *cough*

It’s been more than 2 years since Microsoft unveiled the original Surface Pro.

A device category that was unique to Windows until late this in 2015 when Apple and Google entered the fray with the iPad Pro and the Pixel C. The entry of its closest rivals further validates Microsoft’s gamble on a class on a new kind of computing that’s in between tablets and laptops. And with the updates to this year’s Surface Pro 4, Microsoft hopes to maintain its supremacy.

What’s new about the Surface Pro 4? It’s thinner, lighter, and more powerful.  While the footprint remains the same…the screen is actually larger. Up from 12 to 12.3 inches. Inside there’s a more powerful processor and up to 16GB of RAM and 1 TB of space. Not the kind of specs you’d find on your average tablet. In some cases better than what you’d find on your average laptop.

Microsoft says its 30% faster than last year’s model and 50% faster than the MacBook Air. There’s also an innovative liquid cooling system – that guarantees the laptop stays cooler and quieter. Even with heavy use.

[irp posts=”8643″ name=”Microsoft is bringing the feature we’ve always wanted to Windows”]

One of the key features of the Surface Pro is using it with the Surface Pen which this time around is better than ever.

If Apple has the Pencil, the Surface Pen does one better with an eraser, that works like a normal pencil eraser would. It’s also a button. Click it to bring up One Note.

Sensitivity and latency has improved giving you an experience like writing on paper.  And if you’re serious, you can purchase nibs of different sizes or pens of different colors.Microsoft has done away with the pen loop. Now the pen just sticks magnetically to the tablet.

The Surface Pro 4 has 8MP and 5MP cameras. The front facing camera supports Windows Hello allowing you to log-on to the device using facial recognition.

The keyboard flip case has also receives a major upgrade. It now feels like a full laptop keyboard. Keys are crunchier. Travel distance is better. And the keys are now backlit. The glass trackpad is also 40% larger and supports multitouch gestures.

Hands-On

Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus hands-on: A step-up

The company’s greatest contender

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Cherry Mobile recently launched their new Flare S7 series, which is essentially their main smartphone lineup for the year. The greatest offering among the bunch is the Flare S7 Plus, a device with all the specifications and features you’d expect from a 2018 phone.

Since it’s from Cherry Mobile, you’d expect the phone to be cheap, right? Price-wise, it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s just another affordable phone.

Here’s what I got to say about the Flare S7 Plus.

Cherry Mobile has officially joined the notch wagon with a borderless 6.18-inch display. It’s a Full HD+ panel with a 19:9 aspect ratio, and it’s Cherry Mobile’s best display yet.

It’s vibrant and produces vivid colors, but the user interface kind of ruins the beauty of the display. It’s best to download your preferred third-party launcher and customize to your heart’s content.

Unlike with other midrange phones, the Flare S7 Plus’ notch is pretty wide and there’s a reason for it. The phone is equipped with more advanced facial recognition hardware including an IR camera. This ensures higher accuracy, faster unlocking, and even better face detection in low-light.

If you’re not a fan of face unlock, you can always resort to the fingerprint sensor placed on the back of the phone. Based on my usage, the fingerprint reader is faster most of the time than the face unlock. Good thing you have the best of both worlds.

Now that we’re on the back of the phone, let’s talk about another special feature of the Flare S7 Plus. Finally, Cherry Mobile embraces a more elegant design using a glass back and metal frame. I was told that they used Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides, so it won’t scratch easily in your pocket or on the table.

Since we we have a glass back, it’s possible to put in wireless charging and the company did just that. Simply place the phone on any Qi standard wireless charger, and let the magic happen.

It’s not exactly magic per se, but it’s amazing to have your phone charge by placing it on a table. This phone costs less than half of most flagships that don’t even support wireless charging.

Of course, you can always charge this phone’s 3050mAh battery through the reversible USB-C port, which also doubles as the audio port because, sadly, the Flare S7 Plus doesn’t have a 3.5 headphone jack. Cherry Mobile bundles a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter inside the box, so you can still use your legacy headphones as you please.

Powering the Flare S7 Plus is a MediaTek Helio P60 processor. We have already tried the capabilities of this chipset with the OPPO F9, and it definitely delivers great performance. If you’re into benchmarking, you’ll be glad to know the Helio P60 scores higher than its competitors.

The phone also comes with 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage which is pretty standard nowadays. It boots Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but there’s no word when Android 9 Pie is coming.

The gaming performance of the Flare S7 Plus is above average, which is what you can expect from the Helio P60. The Mali-G72 MP3 GPU works well with intensive games, but you must reduce the graphics quality a bit to get consistently high frame rates.

As for the cameras, the Flare S7 Plus has capable shooters that are probably the fruit of Cherry Mobile’s investment in improving their R&D when it comes to picture quality. The phone has dual rear shooters using a main 16-megapixel RGB sensor and a secondary 5-megapixel depth sensor. In the front, there’s another 16-megapixel selfie camera that’s paired with the IR sensor when needed. Check out the samples below:

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An additional feature of the front sensors is FlareMoji. Using the IR sensor and facial recognition, you can animate cutesy characters. Check this out:

It’s essentially like Apple’s Animoji, but the tracking is nowhere near as smooth as with the iPhone. Anyhow, it’s still enjoyable to use.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For just PhP 11,999 (US$ 225), the Flare S7 Plus offers a lot. You get a great premium phone with midrange power, beautiful display, and a plethora of extra features like wireless charging and an IR face scanner. The software UI is quite a letdown, but you can always download a launcher from the Play Store.

If you’re wondering what the Flare S7 Plus is in other markets, it’s also called the BLU VIVO XI+ and they share similar specifications and design.

SEE ALSO: Cherry Mobile announces Flare S7 series with three new smartphones

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Huawei Mate 20 Pro Hands-on: Best phone of 2018?

Huawei outdoes itself again

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In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.

In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.

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Razer Phone 2 Hands-on

A pocketable gaming rig with flagship features

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Razer has improved last year’s model, and from the looks of it, we might just have a phone that not only gamers would want to use. This is our Razer Phone 2 hands-on.

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