Hands-On

Vivo V15 Pro hands-on: A mini NEX?

Did Vivo overdo it?

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Remember the Vivo NEX? It blew us away last year with features that were once unheard of in smartphones. Fast forward to 2019, and we’re gradually seeing its tech trickle down to midrange phones.

The V15 Pro we have here is a perfect example of that. Not only does it inherit the pop-up camera of its older flagship sibling, it retains the large AMOLED display and under-display fingerprint scanner.

To sustain Vivo’s midrange pricing for the V-series, the V15 Pro comes with a slower Snapdragon 675 chipset (compared to the NEX’s high-end Snapdragon 845) and mostly plastic body.

However, Vivo added a few things, like an ultra-wide 8-megapixel camera on the rear and massive 32-megapixel sensor for the motorized selfie shooter.

So, how again is this midrange? That’s a good question. It certainly dips its virtual fingers into the upper-midrange segment, which we touch on in this video:

Since publishing this video, a few developments have happened. For one, a more affordable non-Pro V15 launched. In addition, Vivo’s closest rival, OPPO, released the F11 Pro with a similar design and feature set.

Truly, we have more questions than answers now, beginning with…

Does it have the most refined UD scanner and pop-up camera?

Well, yes and no. Despite Vivo having the most experience with both features, the V15 Pro doesn’t have the fastest under-display fingerprint in the business. Having used the Galaxy S10+ and OnePlus 6T recently, Vivo’s implementation feels a bit slow in comparison. Not to say it’s bad, but I’d rather use the front camera for logging in.

Like the OPPO Find X I used before, the V15 Pro’s pop-up-to-log-in time in unreal. The moment you wake the phone up, the camera will take one quick look at you and unlock the device. It’s so discreet and seamless that you eventually forget there’s any moving part. The same applies to selfies and video calls; once the app activates the mechanism, it’s like there’s nothing there.

Does its plastic body feel too cheap for the price?

For a smartphone that costs this much, you’d expect more glass than plastic here. For the V15 Pro, that’s not the case. Not that I’m against the use of plastic for the rear — in fact, it keeps the unit lighter for its big size — but I imagine the gorgeous color options looking better with the shimmer provided by glass.

Fortunately, the bundled case the V15 Pro comes with is one of the best I’ve seen in a retail box. The sides have extra resistance to them against bumps and drops, while the rest of the clear plastic doesn’t hide the radiant blue coating. This is one of the few instances wherein I wouldn’t replace the included case.

Can it handle games like a champ?

The phone’s Snapdragon 675 isn’t known to be a gaming-centric chip, but games these days aren’t demanding enough to require anything beyond a 600-series processor to enjoy smooth graphics. I’ve tried PUBG, Ragnarok M, and Asphalt 9 on the V15 Pro without a hitch. It helps that the unit I used has 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage, which are plenty by today’s standards.

It does get warm, however. Playing for 30 minutes straight made the phone warm near the camera area, but to be fair, this was while the bundled case was on and without cool air blowing by. I would definitely avoid charging with a powerbank while gaming.

How well do the cameras perform?

My teammates and I have always appreciated how Vivo could punch above its weight when it comes to camera performance. Even though Vivo rarely comes to mind when talking about mobile photography, its phones have a knack for producing impressive photos.

It helps that there’s an ultra-wide 8-megapixel camera to complement the 48-megapixel (woah!) main shooter and 5-megapixel depth sensor. As seen above, that extra coverage helps greatly with landscape shots. It noticeably lowers the image quality though, and I still prefer the downscaled 12MP output from the 48MP camera.

In general, both the rear and front cameras create straight-to-Instagram pictures in not-too-difficult lighting conditions. When it doubt, there’s a built-in night mode to improve exposure at night. The only complaint I’ve heard from those who’ve seen my V15 Pro photos is that the subject’s skin is too smooth even on the lowest setting, but that’s a Vivo thing that isn’t going away any time soon.

Can it last longer than a day?

A 3700mAh battery isn’t that hefty for a phone this size, providing a little less than six hours of screen-on time in a span of 1.5 days. Nothing fantastic, but when topped up with the included 18W fast charger, it takes only about two hours and 20 minutes to get to a hundred percent.

One way to conserve battery power is to turn the always-on info off while the phone’s on standby. I’m a fan of seeing the time and battery percentage at all times, so gaining an additional 20 minutes of screen-on time doesn’t justify the inconvenience for me.

What else is there to know?

Surprisingly, and I don’t understand why this is still happening, Vivo equipped the V15 Pro with a micro-USB port. Sure, the 3.5mm audio port is still there, but I’ve moved on to the far superior USB-C for every single one of my gadgets already. This is simply inconsiderate to consumers at this point.

I also find Vivo’s Funtouch OS (based on Android 9 Pie) becoming more cumbersome to use through time. It’s not getting worse in itself, but having come from the comforts of OnePlus’ OxygenOS and Samsung’s One UI, the confusing setting menus and gesture control feel like a step back.

With all this in mind, it’s important to remember that the V15 Pro is the most expensive V-series phone to date, retailing for INR 28,990 or roughly US$ 410 in India. That’s upper-midrange territory by most standards, edging closer to the likes of Xiaomi’s flagship Mi series and Honor’s assortment of high-performance handsets.

My recommendation is to consider the regular V15 before committing to the Pro variant. It offers the same pop-up camera goodness and an increased screen and battery size, but gives up a few features (the under-display sensor, AMOLED display, and Snapdragon 675 chip, to be specific) to lower the price to about US$ 345.

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 Hands-on: What’s New?

Any differences from last year’s Galaxy Z Fold3?

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Samsung paved the way for foldable smartphones that transform into tablets.

That engineering marvel made the Galaxy Fold possible.

After three years, the Galaxy Z Fold continues to evolve.

The Galaxy Z Fold4, while it may look almost the same as the Z Fold3, offers upgrades that one should consider.

What are those changes?

You should definitely watch our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 hands-on for you to find out.


Pre-order the Galaxy Z Fold4: howl.me/1782498420013699516

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 Hands-on: Flip That!

Watch Before You Buy

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Of all the foldables that have been around for the last few 3-4 years, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip has been the most fun.

Today, Samsung unveiled the new Galaxy Z Flip4.

While it looks exactly like last year’s Galaxy Z Flip3, it comes with some nifty improvements.

But should you rush out and pre-order though?

Head over to our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 hands-on video to know more.


Pre-order the Galaxy Z Flip4: howl.me/1782498419600267258

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The marriage of engineering, technology, and design

The Mate Xs 2 reminded us of what we used to love about Huawei

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Thin. Light. Flat.

These words got me ecstatic, knowing that it’s been years since the first foldable devices came out and these aren’t the words we used to describe them.

Huawei certainly has come a long way, fighting head-to-head with Samsung back in 2019 in bringing a taste of the future.

The company, pressing on after the US-Google-Huawei fiasco, strives to refine its portfolio of foldable smartphones.

Now, in case you’re confused, the first foldable — the Huawei Mate X — was launched in 2019. Huawei introduced the Mate Xs in 2020, and then the Mate X2 in 2021. Later that year, Huawei also brought the P50 Pocket, the direct rival of the Galaxy Z Flip 3.

In 2022, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 undoubtedly succeeds the Mate Xs, continuing its prominent outward-folding design. Let’s take a look at the world’s thinnest and lightest foldable yet.

Elegantly refined in a design that’s imperfectly perfect

One thing I like about Huawei’s smartphones is how they all look classy and elegant. The formula they’ve used to win many hearts over — as seen on the Huawei P and Mate line from a few years ago — is carried vehemently to its foldable lineup.

Up front, when folded, the Mate Xs 2 looks like your regular slate. Tall, boxy yet somehow curvy, and looks and feels sturdy. It has a 6.5-inch OLED display, much like the same slab you see today.

Behind that sleek glass is the folded, extended screen. It makes the device look thick when you check its bottom. But somehow, the cuts and edges fit perfectly, housing the speaker grilles, the SIM Card slot, and the USB-C port.

Flipping the device, you’ll find the extension of the screen. It snugs tightly, locking beside the camera strip together with a button that unfolds the Mate Xs 2.

When you press the button, it releases the lock and the screen rises.

Releasing the lock allows the device to stay in the same position. Yes, it’s still up to you to force it to get that large, square-like screen you expect out of a foldable device.

But let’s forget about that for a moment. Underneath, you can find a diagonal plaid pattern in a leather-like texture. While I loved anything and everything white, Huawei refined the way black smartphones should be. J’adore!

This one has more personality, looks sophisticated, and — beyond the marvelous appearance — has a sense of functionality, too. The texture aids the phone in keeping it durable and scratch-resistant.

A friendly reminder that style without substance is nothing. Don’t be fooled by grand showcases if it only exhibits lavishness without addressing the more important stuff.

Thin but not like ice

Upclose to its back, you can find the hinge gluing the screen together. Huawei attributes its precise and fluid movement to its new-generation Double-rotating Falcon Wing Hinge design.

With this proprietary technology, I’m still gobsmacked by how Huawei packed all the components tightly. This feels like the ASUS Zenfone 8 which shrank its components to achieve a compact form factor, but with a trickier and more intensive process.

Nevertheless, this fusion of engineering and design allowed Huawei to create the thinnest, flattest, and lightest foldable — with no visible crease.

Regardless of the angle and lighting condition, the Mate Xs 2 really doesn’t exhibit any crease on its display.

It makes the smartphone usage pleasant to the eyes — and even your fingers, simply because the crease is barely felt. And frankly, you’re more likely to swipe and scroll on the right side of the phone instead of the part where the hinge is.

While the Mate Xs 2 is pretty thin, weighing only 255g with a thickness of 5.4mm when unfolded, it’s easy to carry and hold.

Even when folded, which comes with a thickness of 11.1mm, the Mate XS 2 is easily gripped and fits your spaces like any slab smartphone.

Gorgeous, “sturdy” display

Besides the huge leap in engineering and design, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is emblazoned with top-of-the-line display technology.

With already a creaseless screen, the unfolded device sports a 7.8-inch high-resolution OLED display. It reportedly packs a billion colors and supports P3 wide color gamut.

With an artistic rendition of Weathering With You through a 4K wallpaper, the Mate Xs 2 exhibited rich and vibrant colors.

Watching a show is quite different though, especially with its strange aspect ratio. It doesn’t provide a full-screen experience even if you rotate the screen.

But fold the phone back… and you can enjoy an immersive viewing experience. It was delightful to watch Encanto and sing along with Isabela and Mirabel Madrigal.

Aside from the beauty and grandeur of the Mate Xs 2’s display, Huawei made sure it’s durable. The Mate Xs 2 adopted a bulletproof Composite Structure screen with a protective film, support layer, and rotating shaft.

I haven’t had a chance to test its resistance to drops, crushing, or impact. I still believe foldables are fragile, even with their claims of being ‘sturdy’ and ‘reliable.’

What I worry about is the folded part of the screen, since, without a case, the surface directly touches the folded rear. While Huawei assures us with an aluminum alloy protective frame around the screen that keeps it scratch-resistant, I can’t help but feel anxious whenever I place it on any rough, hard surface.

Is there power under the hood?

Okay, let’s talk specs. Huawei, for most of its flagship devices, pushes the limits of its hardware. It runs on EMUI 12, comes with an 8GB RAM and 512GB of ROM, a 4600mAh battery capacity capable of 66W SuperCharge, and a 120Hz refresh rate.

The only drawback that got me taken aback is its processor. Sadly, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 houses a Snapdragon 888 4G. While we have the thank the US government for that, the processor is somewhat limiting especially in terms of future-proofing.

Don’t get me wrong, Snapdragon 888 is still powerful. But plenty of chipsets are going above and beyond, and this flagship foldable getting left behind.

As for the user experience and the lack of Google Mobile Services (GMS), this has been addressed multiple times — from ways to augment your experience to the improvements Huawei made, especially for HarmonyOS. But that’s a story for another time because there are plenty of features to talk about.

Are the cameras still flagship-grade?

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 houses a 50-megapixel True Chroma camera system, including a 13-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens, and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera. Upfront, it has a 10.7-megapixel selfie camera.

A few tests here and there made me think that the photos are color-accurate, detailed, and flagship-worthy. But that wouldn’t be fair to be this subjective when I hardly have any photos to showcase. Hang tight! As of this writing, we’re brewing something cool about its cameras.

Anyhoo, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 — like its previous iterations — comes with a Mirror Shooting mode where the photographer can take a photo while the subject can see how they look on the rear screen.

This is similar to most foldables nowadays. Frankly, it’s a handy feature that might come in handy when you travel or want to capture an iconic moment.

Remembering the love for Huawei

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 reminds me of everything we’ve loved about Huawei. Elegantly-designed smartphones. Sleek and vibrant display technology. Impressive hardware. Huge leaps in engineering and design. Actual innovation.

The only barriers that propel it from taking back its crown are the people who can’t adapt to a new user experience, and the geopolitical issues surrounding the company. Nevertheless, the Mate Xs 2 is Huawei’s proof that they can still be a trailblazer, and they’ll probably keep on doing so.

Price and availability

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 retails for PhP 99,999. It will be available in Shopee, Lazada, or the Huawei Store. Learn more about the flagship foldable on Huawei’s website.


Editor’s Note: The article has been updated with new information. Previously, the story indicated pre-order details.

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