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 Flip Hands-on

Samsung isn’t giving up just yet

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It’s been a year since the first foldable of Samsung was released. Fast forward today, we have another foldable on the track.

Say hello to the Galaxy Z Flip! Unlike the Galaxy Fold that turns into a tablet, this one is so compact, it can even fit inside your coin purse.

Head on to the video above to know more or click the link here.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy S20 Hands-On

Unpacked features just for you

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2020 is a year where Samsung is taking a leap of faith by getting out of its comfort zone. The Galaxy S20 may look like last year’s Galaxy S10, but it offers double the power and features than its predecessor.

But does that mean the prices also doubled? Find out more by watching the video above or through this link if you can’t access it.

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Accessories

PH3 wireless headphones is a wearable Filipino pride

A limited-edition offering that gives back

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Electronics manufacturer H-Audio has been providing quality products to its market when it comes to audio solutions. While they have a select lineup of offerings, it caters to different types of users.

What we have here is the PH3 that screams Filipino pride as soon as you put it on. Read on and find out if it performs as good as it looks.

It has a straightforward design

Red and blue stripes signify colors from the Philippine flag

Three stars and a sun on each earcup

Can’t get any more Filipino than this

Solid build quality

Headband has a good flex to it

Clasps comfortably on the head

Doesn’t come off easily

Comfortable ear cups

Earmuffs are made of memory foam

What I personally like about the PH3 when it comes to design is how it has a minimalistic kind of approach with just the three stars, sun, and stripes of red and blue. Apart from these Philippine flag-inspired colors, everything else is white. Sure, it might require extra effort to keep it clean, but it’s just something that works aesthetically.

Build quality feels durable and not flimsy which is what I look for next to sound quality. This is made possible by using stainless steel for the headband support and hard plastic for the rest — making it light, but tough.

It has a nice fit around the ears and wearing it for extended periods of time was still comfortable thanks to its memory foam earmuffs. I’ve used it a couple of times while running on the treadmill and the earcups remained snug and in place.

All-around performer

When it comes to sound quality, let’s get to the point — the PH3 delivers. It’s got warm and distinct mids, decent highs, and impressive lows. The overall sound is what you’d expect of closed-back headphones and leans on the muffled side of the sound spectrum.

Active Noise Cancellation option

One thing I noticed, though, is that sound leaks a little to the outside world so you might want to keep that in mind when you’re in an elevator with other people or something.

Connection via Bluetooth was easy and automatically pairs to the phone each time the headphones is turned on. That alone is a big check for me.

Micro-USB port for charging

The company says it has up to 20 hours of battery life. While I was not able to continuously use it, the headphones lasted me about five days with ANC off and mainly using it for music at the gym, walking around the neighborhood, or even just at home.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

H-Audio’s PH3 is a reliable pair of cans with minimal drawbacks. It might require extra care to keep it clean and sound leak at full volume might be an issue for a select few. Looking past those, however, you have a good set of headphones that not only performs well but also looks attractive with its touch of a local theme.

Additionally, its features like wireless connectivity and Active Noise Cancellation make operations easier and add to the overall music-listening experience.

Priced at PhP 7,480, proceeds will go to platforms to raise funds and help the underprivileged Filipino youth. The PH3 is available in select The Loop by Power Mac Center branches, Urban Gadgets, and The Listening Room. For more list of stores carrying their products, visit their Facebook page.

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