This week was one of many firsts. My first trip to India and my first formal introduction to smartphone brand Vivo, whose V3 and V3 Max smartphones marked their global debut here this week.
It’s by no mistake that these phones are unveiled in Mumbai, not New York, or London, or Beijing.
Packed with a pretty impressive feature set, specs to match, not-too-shabby looks, and sub-$300 and $400 price tags, respectively, the V3 and V3 Max are perfectly positioned for the price-sensitive but fiercely demanding Indian market. And for the rest of Southeast Asia where the phones are also slated to go on sale later this month.
The idea of a budget-friendly, premium smartphone isn’t necessarily a novel idea. Other manufacturers have built one before, but in the space, only a few have found success. To be fair, in a world where you get what you pay for, it isn’t easy to deliver a premium experience for less. But if that’s what these phones are intended to do, the Vivo V3 and V3 Max are solid efforts.
IN THIS CORNER
Like many high-end phones this year, both phones are fashioned from aluminum. The V3 Max is phablet-sized, 5.5 inches, and available in gold. Its little brother, the V3, is 5 inches, also available in gold. And because pink is the new black, rose gold also.
Apart from the size difference, everything else is aesthetically similar: white backside antenna bands; sides that are flat and angular; and a scratch-proof Gorilla Glass display that tapers off nicely on all corners. They’re not the best-looking phones we’ve seen this year, but they’re good enough to hold their own against the best of them.
The same can be said of their spec sheet. The V3 and V3 Max don’t come with the most high-end of specs, but you won’t feel like you’ve compromised either. The V3 Max, in particular, has the latest Snapdragon 652 processor and should have enough power to make even serious smartphone gamers happy. In the day I used it around Mumbai, it got the job done, and kept this demanding user satisfied.
Vivo claims its new phones are, “faster than faster.” And while someone should be fired over that silly slogan, the phones are indeed fast.
Camera startup time is under a second (0.7 seconds), and so is autofocus (0.2).
Battery charging times are fast, too. In our tests, it took just 80 minutes to get the V3 Max’s 3000mAh battery from 0 to 90 percent using the bundled charger.
But the most impressive speed stat is clocked by the fingerprint scanner, probably the fastest we’ve seen on a smartphone to date. You tap on the sensor on the back of the phone and the screen instantly lights up in an unlocked state.
Vivo differentiates both phones from each other by making the bigger model better. The V3 Max has a more powerful processor, more memory, a higher-resolution display, and a bigger battery. It’s a shame actually, because the 5-inch rose gold V3 Max is a beauty. But unless you have a distaste for phablets, I’d spend extra for the V3 Max.
Both phones come with only 32GB storage, but if that’s not enough, there’s also a hybrid card slot where you can pop in a microSD card for up to 128GB more storage. That storage slot also doubles as a nano SIM slot, so if you don’t need the extra memory, you can have a dual-SIM phone.
I like that the other SIM slot takes micro SIMs, that way when I’m traveling I have a little more flexibility when choosing a local prepaid SIM card.
Apart from giving the V3 and V3 Max snappy cameras, Vivo’s also made sure both phones have cameras that punch above their weight. I was pleasantly surprised with shots taken using the phone’s 13-megapixel main camera; HDR mode worked great, and if you want a little more control, there’s also full manual mode. Browse through our slideshow for sample photos.
The 8-megapixel selfie camera wasn’t overlooked either. Focal length is wide enough to fit up to 4 people in a shot, but not too wide to cause any distortion. There’s also a host of beautification modes, including a set of makeup filters. Yep! One tap blush and/or gloss.
Both phones run Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box. A bit disappointing considering the latest version of Android called Marshmallow has been available for months now.
Vivo’s custom take on Android is called FunTouch OS, a highly customizable, but toned down version of Android. The interface is clean and elegant, and in may ways closer to iOS. There is no app drawer, and like on the iPhone, you summon the tools menu (on iOS its called Command Center) by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
One tool of note is called S-Capture, that apart from screen recordings also allows you to capture extra long screenshots of web pages or chat transcripts. A similar feature is also available on the high-end Samsung Galaxy Note 5.
PRICING AND AVAILABILITY
Indian pricing for the Vivo V3 and V3 Max is Rs 17,980 (P12,500 or $270) and Rs 23,980 (P16,700 or $360), respectively.
For the price of the V3 Max, you could get the Xiaomi Mi 5, which offers top-of-the-line specs and superior design. But that phone is only officially available in India and China via limited online channels. Also in that price range is the slightly older One Plus 2, if you can somehow manage to secure the invite needed to be eligible to purchase the phone. Crazy, I know!
When both phones hit retail stores in India and China on April 15th, and Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines Thailand, and Vietnam before the end of the month, Vivo will have a leg up over its competitors because you’ll be able to walk into a store and buy one, when you want one. If only the company adjusted pricing by $100 US, they’d make an even stronger case as one of the best mid-range phones today.
[irp posts=”12138" name=”How to take the perfect selfie”]
OPPO A9 2020 Hands-On: Massive and Playful
For every kind of junkie
OPPO recently streamlined its smartphone lineup. From Find and Reno, OPPO introduces us to the newest A series. On paper, it seems the A-series is a combination of the F-series and former A-series. Sitting in a sweet spot between an affordable price range and incredible performance, the OPPO A9 2020 is shaping up to be a contender in a sea of smartphones fighting for the crown in the midrange category.
With Xiaomi and Huawei firmly in the lead, can OPPO put up a fight just like it did with its F series? Let’s find out in this Hands-On!
Starting with looks, the OPPO A9 2020 gives in to a premium-like design
It has a dedicated fingerprint scanner and a quad-camera setup on its rear
You can find the power button here…
…While the left side houses the volume keys and sim card slot
Its top is clear, but its bottom shows-off its speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C port
It has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen with a waterdrop notch for the front camera
The OPPO A9 2020 prides itself with its new design that took inspiration from its R-series. In addition, OPPO focused on the phone’s display, reinforcing its IPS LCD screen with a Toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 3+.
Moreover, its screen has new features such as the Sunlight Screen which allows you to adjust the contrast so you can read the screen, even under strong direct light. It also has a Blue Shield which filters out blue light, relieving your eyes from fatigue and strain and protecting your eyesight.
Going big and definitely not going home
Sporting a Snapdragon 665 chipset along with an 8GB RAM, 128GB storage (which you can expand up to 256GB of external memory), the A9 2020 really joined the battle of offering power to midrange devices. OPPO decides to make everything flashy and… big.
For instance, it boasts a humongous 5000mAh battery that can last you throughout the day. Furthermore, it’s capable of reverse wireless charging (through OTG) so your friends can rely on you when their phones run out of battery.
Gamers will find delight with the A9 2020. Thanks to Game Boost 2.0, OPPO’s accelerator technology aims to resolve latency, reduce touchscreen lag, and optimizing energy consumption to avoid overheating.
OPPO decided to up their game for entertainment junkies, too! Packed with Dual Stereo Speakers and Dolby Atmos sound effects, expect a superb, immersive audio experience.
The A9 2020 runs on ColorOS 6 based on Android 9.0. Now, its interface is cleaner and smoother. Icons look cute with their subtle gradient tones.
It also comes with smart functions like Smart Assistant, Riding Mode — which lets you remain uninterrupted by notifications and incoming calls — and a Music party app which lets multiple phones connect in the same LAN through a Wi-Fi hotspot for synchronized listening.
Navigating the phone is now easier with a single hand, too. Through Gesture Navigation, you can return to the home screen, check out recent tasks, switch pages and applications by just swiping up, left, and right.
Cameras for all angles and scenarios
The OPPO A9 2020 shows off its highly versatile camera setup. It has a 48-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel portrait lens, and a 2-megapixel mono lens on its rear.
On its front is a 16-megapixel camera with AI Beautification technology which automatically identifies your skin tone, age, gender, and skin color for customized beautification, giving you a pretty yet make-up free look.
More features include artistic portrait styles, ultra night mode, and 4K video shooting. More sample photos here:
Is the OPPO A9 2020 your GadgetMatch?
If you’re into massive and chunky smartphones with a solid build, the OPPO A9 2020 might be a good match. It offers power and performance for gamers and entertainment junkies, and its smartphone has a versatile camera setup to appease your needs. While there may be Xiaomi and Huawei leading the midrange category, OPPO definitely cooked up a powerful yet affordable phone that can go toe-to-toe with its rivals.
The OPPO A9 2020 is available in two colors: Space Purple and Marine Green. Its retail price is PhP 15,990 and will be available for pre-order starting September 20 until September 27 in Lazada, and through OPPO stores, authorized dealers, and e-commerce partner sites like Shopee, Akulaku, and Argomall on September 28.
For those who want to avail through Home Credit, customers can pre-order the A9 2020 starting September 20 with flexible payment terms of six and nine months with a guaranteed zero percent interest.
Nokia 3.2 Hands-On: Basic but classy
Nothing fancy but really speedy
Nokia has been stepping up its lineup of budget smartphones. Early in 2019, the brand launched a plethora of budget smartphones that are under the Android One program. One of the budget-friendly smartphones introduced was Nokia 3.2. Eager to have that Nokia experience, I took the phone out for a spin.
It’s cheap… but classy
I had high hopes when I first got the Nokia 3.2 in its box. Seeing it earlier in MWC 2019 made me appreciate its look and vibe. Compared to other budget smartphones, it’s classier and sexier. However, the phone feels a little bit downgraded when compared to its predecessor.
Nokia the 3.1 with an aluminum frame, a plastic back, and corning gorilla glass while the 3.2 used only a polycarbonate unibody design. Its plastic back is smudgy and slippery, but the phone has a tighter grip, thanks to its subtle curved edges towards the front.
Even its buttons are subtly protruding on its sides. On the left is a dedicated Google Assistant button, and on the right are its power buttons and volume keys.
Found on its back are the 13-megapixel main camera, LED Flash, and fingerprint scanner. On the other hand, its top side features a headphone jack, while the micro USB port and speaker grilles are found on the bottom.
It also features a 6.2 inches LCD panel on its front display, with a tall 19:9 ratio. It might be disrupting, but the Nokia 3.2 still sports a small notch, housing its 5-megapixel selfie camera capable of AI face unlock. Even though it might be bigger and taller this time, the Nokia 3.2 is definitely a joy to hold.
Stock Android on a budget
The saving grace for Nokia’s disappointing build (at least for me) is its clean version of Android One. That means there’s no bloatware to take up your limited memory and storage.
Additionally, the Nokia 3.2 comes with Android 9 Pie out of the box. This makes it feel faster than its competitors in the budget segment despite having a 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Fortunately, it provides a microSD card slot up to up to 400GB of storage.
An entry-level performance
Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 429 processor, the Nokia 3.2 performs better compared to its predecessor which carried a MediaTek chipset. In addition, its GPU runs on Adreno 504.
This made the Nokia 3.2 handle graphic-intensive games like Mobile Legends even if it was set on the highest graphics setting possible. There were no delay and lag spikes, ensuring smooth gameplay all throughout.
Decent cameras for your everyday needs
Featuring a 13-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera with an f/2.0 aperture, the Nokia 3.2 takes decent photos. Depending on the lighting, both of its cameras can either take a vibrant, lively reproduced color during daylight or a slightly desaturated photo on indoor and low-light conditions.
Of course, we can’t really expect budget smartphones to have flagship-like cameras. It won’t have quick auto-focus or any fancy features like blurring your background, but it’s the compromise we’re getting when we follow our tight budget. At the very least, make use of natural light and other camera tricks to improve your photos.
Lasts longer than your partner
If there’s one thing I enjoyed with this smartphone, it’s the humongous battery. Packing a 4000mAh battery, the Nokia 3.2 can definitely last a day on a single charge. It can handle your multimedia use and everyday tasks throughout the day, yet it will still have enough juice left to carry you through the night.
However, for a phone carrying a huge battery, it charges slowly at 10W. This phone might just be good for those who love to charge their phones overnight.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
The Nokia 3.2 is a contender in the budget segment. It might have a disappointing build and design, but the phone packs with power, performance, and speed, thanks to Google’s Android One program.
With a starting price of PhP 7,990 (US$ 154) for the 3GB/32GB model, Nokia loyalists will find this a real treat. For people looking for a secondary phone, or a primary phone with no frills and just functions to handle your everyday needs, the Nokia 3.2 could be your GadgetMatch.
However, there are still far better options in the budget category, like the Redmi Note 7 and Realme 3. If Nokia wants to come back in its former glory and capture people looking for an affordable powerhouse, they need to join the battle and beat Realme and Redmi in their game, just like Samsung bending over to compete in the tough budget battlefield.
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