Reviews

Vivo V7+ Review: More than just a full-screen display

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Welcome to the era of the borderless smartphones. When we first saw the Sharp Crystal and Xiaomi Mi Mix, we wondered when cheaper phones would get the amazing edge-to-edge panels. Well, it started with the LG Q6, and now this.

Here’s our review of the Vivo V7+.

Say goodbye to thick bezels with a 6-inch Full View display

Resolution is pretty low at 1440 x 720 pixels only

Unlike the Mi Mix 2, the selfie camera is still up top

No upside down “Perfect Selfies”

We have the volume rocker and power button on the right…

Easily reachable even with smallish fingers

And the dual nano-SIM and microSD card tray on the left

Vivo brings back expandable storage to its higher-tier phones and… triple-card slots!

The bottom has an audio port, microphone, micro-USB port, and speaker grilles

It’s quite busy down here

The fingerprint reader has been moved to the back

Conveniently positioned for either index fingers

Borderless display is a must nowadays to lure users

The key feature of the V7+ is its borderless display, which Vivo calls Full View. The screen has a 5.99-inch panel with a resolution of 1440 x 720 pixels. This gives the display a pixel density of only 269ppi, which is pretty low for a phone this size. I guess it’s part of the tradeoff to get a borderless display in this price range. While it may not be as crisp as we’d want it to be, the overall quality (e.g., color, contrast, brightness) is good.

But the Vivo V7+ is not the cheapest borderless phone in the market. Just last month, we reviewed the LG Q6 which retails for PhP 12,990 in the Philippines or around US$ 255. The Q6 may have a smaller display size, but it has a sharper panel — twice the number of pixels the V7+ has, in fact.

The display presents Vivo’s own FunTouch OS skin on top of Android 7.1 Nougat nicely. The support for full-screen apps is there, and it resembles Apple’s iOS. This means there’s no app drawer and you get similar app icons to an iPhone. New features include an improved Smart Split app, Screen Recording with audio, and App Clone, which lets you run two instances of certain apps.

The new processor is actually faster than we thought

Aside from the display, one of the first things we noticed about the V7+ is its new processor. From the mid-tier Snapdragon 625 processor of its predecessor, the new phone now has a Snapdragon 450. The shift from a Snapdragon 600-series to a 400-series processor is shocking at first, but before we jump to conclusions, let us explain that this is not a downgrade.

The new Snapdragon 450 is pretty much based on the Snapdragon 625. Both have the same 14nm technology for longer battery life and a newer Adreno 506 GPU for better gaming performance. On the downside, the clock speed is slightly slower (1.8GHz vs 2.0GHz) and it doesn’t support 4K video recording. No worries though, since the V7+ performs better or on par with benchmark tests, and the overall performance is super smooth and lag-free.

Multitasking is handled by the 4GB memory, and you get an internal storage of 64GB for apps, pictures, and more. Let’s not forget that the V7+ also supports a microSD card of up to 256GB with the dedicated slot. And, Vivo continues to give its devices a built-in Hi-Fi chip for excellent audio quality with lossless music files.

From Perfect to Clearer Selfies

Vivo phones normally prioritize selfie cameras over the rear shooter. The Vivo V7+ is no different with its 24-megapixel front camera. It now has a single sensor — not two. However, you still get the artificial bokeh effect through some software tricks. Oh, and the rear has a 16-megapixel shooter — let’s not forget about that.

The rear camera, like most midrange phones, captures pleasing images and with great quality even when viewed on a laptop. We did notice that the white balance leans on the warm side. The front camera is where the phone shines (that’s one of its main selling points), with detailed selfies in both bright and dim environments. As mentioned earlier, the bokeh effect is still here, although it’s a hit or miss due to the lack of a secondary camera.

Facial recognition complements the fingerprint reader

Since we just talked about the cameras, let’s have a look at the facial recognition feature of the V7+. Unlike with the iPhone X, built-in facial recognition is not new to the world of Android. In fact, we still remember playing around with the old Samsung Galaxy Nexus from 2011 (that’s almost six years ago); however, it was faulty and buggy. The result? It didn’t fly. Instead, Android phones have been relying on fingerprints.

Just how much better is the facial recognition on the V7+? After setting up, it was disappointing that we couldn’t train the phone for multiple facial registers. In well-lit places, the phone unlocks quickly upon turning on the display. But, in dim spots? Not so much. You’re better off using the fingerprint reader, which even works a bit faster. It’s nice that you can use both biometric security features, so you get the best of two sides.

Watch all you want on the go

With a slightly bigger body than its predecessor, the V7+ has a somewhat larger battery at 3225mAh over the previous 3160mAh. For a 6-inch phone, we find the battery to be a bit small, but it was able to last us a full day of average usage. Fast charging is supported by the phone with a fuel-up time of just over two hours.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

As we wrap up our review, we’ve grown fond of the Vivo V7+. We don’t find the phone to be the perfect midrange full-screen phone in the market right now, but the V7+ is a solid offering. With its borderless display and high-quality selfies, it can be an easy sell for those looking for a new phone that looks different for once.

With that, we’re giving the Vivo V7+ our GadgetMatch Seal of Approval. It’s currently available in India for INR 21,990. It should be rolling out to other Southeast Asian markets soon.

SEE ALSO: Vivo V5 Plus Hands-On Review

[irp posts=”9707″ name=”Vivo V5 Plus Hands-On Review”]

Reviews

Samsung Galaxy A71 review: Worth giving a try

A well-rounded phone who can do the job

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When you’re accustomed to familiarity, it’s difficult to try something new. Such is the case when the Samsung Galaxy A71 landed on my hands.

There was hesitation, as I’ve been using Huawei as my daily driver since 2016, and it became my comfort zone since then.

But this year, I promised myself to do things that make me uncomfortable. Being proactive, I took a risk and tried a Samsung smartphone, not because it’s my job to review a device, but because I want to see if it’s actually worth a try.

Totally crushing on it

Samsung offers the Galaxy A71 in three different colors: Prism Crush Blue, Prism Crush Black, and Prism Crush Silver. This particular model we’re reviewing comes in Prism Crush Blue, and I’m totally crushing on it.

This may not pair well with most of my clothes, but it certainly matches my pastel-colored face masks from Leaders Cosmetics — a South Korean brand just like Samsung — which you can buy from Watsons and CNA.

This makes me happy, seeing how I want my stuff to follow a certain palette. I may be a neutral guy when it comes to fashion, but I’m all in for pastel products. If you’re obsessed with K-Culture, a pair of Korean brands can make your heart happy.

Inducing a love-at-first-sight feeling

The Samsung Galaxy A71 comes in a refreshing design, following Samsung’s new design language this 2020. It has a rectangular camera module, with its camera lenses forming an L-shape position.

Its back comes with subtle diagonal cutouts and varying opacity, embellished with subtle stripe patterns. It’s adorned by prism shining in certain angles, which has been a staple in the Galaxy A series.

This phone looks polished and premium, thanks to its “glasstic” design. Anyone can be fooled by how stunning the Galaxy A71 is, seeing how it looks marvelous — both from a distance and up close. It might spark a “love at first sight” feeling to consumers currently looking for a smartphone.

Subtlety is attractive

What makes the Galaxy A71 look upscale isn’t its refined back design. It’s the combination of tiny details — something we can’t figure out when we like someone. When you thoroughly look into the little things, you realize that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and that attractive piece keeps you hung up.

In Galaxy A71’s case, it’s the combination of glass and glasstic design, and thoughtful curves and frames. The phone shines and reflects like a premium smartphone. Even the buttons are subtle, blending well with the frame.

On the left side, you can find the sim tray which can fit up to two SIMs and a memory card. Found on its right side are the volume and power keys, which you can also use for taking screenshots.

Meanwhile, the bottom has the mouthpiece, speaker grilles, USB-C port, and audio jack — an important feature that’s becoming a luxury now.

Something you might want to hold

The Galaxy A71 is massive, especially for my standards. Having tiny hands made me hate how most phones have been getting bigger throughout the years, and the Galaxy A71 is still on that trend. Fortunately, Samsung kept a slim and lightweight profile for this smartphone.

It’s easy to grip and hold, unlike other massive smartphones. Removing the discomfort in my experience made this phone look and feel top-end, and that’s what we need from most smartphones now.

It won’t be massive if it wasn’t for its 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display. Thankfully, it’s adorned with round corners and almost symmetrical bezels making it seem soft and pleasant to look at. Additionally, the earpiece grille is subtly situated between the frame and screen.

Thoughtfully crafted

Coupled with a flattened Gorilla Glass 3, there are no sharp edges. Samsung thoughtfully crafted the front design and its display, allowing users to focus on the experience.

For instance, the ambient light sensor is placed behind the screen, and there are no LED indicators for your notifications. However, the Galaxy A71 supports an Always-On Display.

The only downside is its punch-hole housing the 32-megapixel selfie shooter. I mostly use bright wallpapers, and I can’t help but look at the punch-hole. It’s highly disturbing since it’s actually bigger than the pimples I get in my face whenever I pull an all-nighter at work. But that might just be me nit-picking.

Keeps you entertained

Combining the Galaxy A71’s awesome screen and lightweight profile, you can expect a breezy experience when it comes to entertainment.

I spent my weekends catching up with Crash Landing On You on Netflix, and my arms never felt strained and numbed. It’s definitely a treat to watch using this phone and enjoy an immersive, vivid experience.

Its audio is loud but gets cranky. If you can’t live without music, it’s best to use the wired earphones that come in the box, or even better, a Galaxy Buds which pair easily. I barely used its speakers, and I only do when I’m dancing to BLACKPINK in the bathroom.

Speaking of which, the Galaxy A71 doesn’t have any ingress protection (or IP rating) so keep it out of the water — unless you have a safe space for your phone. Until then, don’t risk it.

Keeps you safe and secure

One of the biggest concerns right now is privacy and security. In this age, the one who prioritizes its users’ safety is the winner in the long run. Thankfully, Samsung is doing its best to keep everyone secure.

For starters, you can unlock the Galaxy A71 through different screen locks such as pattern, pin, and password. You can also access it through biometrics like an optical under-screen fingerprint sensor — which is slow and far from perfect.

A lot of times, I have to tap my on the screen thrice before I can unlock it, which is why I opted for face recognition. It’s a hundred times faster, and you have the option to require open eyes during facial recognition for added security.

Moreover, any Samsung phone has the ability to protect you from apps, viruses, and malware. It regularly updates its security and policies, thanks to its exclusive Samsung Knox.

A phone you can rely on

The Galaxy A71 runs on Android 10 and One UI 2.0. Navigating between apps is seamless and buttery smooth. Every time I glide my fingers, it feels like I’m caressing a harp or a piano.

Additionally, it runs on Snapdragon 730, offering near-flagship power. I barely encountered any hiccups throughout my usage, but some apps are quite heavy which creates a bit of delay. However, I temper my expectations when it comes to midrange smartphones.

The Galaxy A71 allowed me to multitask. Seamlessly switching from Slack to Google’s suite of apps to a multitude of social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — all while playing Spotify on the background. What else can I ask for?

I was able to play Black Desert Online, too. This South Korean MMORPG requires intensive graphics and power to run, and I was able to play it even in the highest settings possible — with no lags and delays experienced. Honestly, the Galaxy A71 has the right amount of power needed for most consumers like me.

It’s here for the long run

These days, we need something that won’t give up on us. The Galaxy A71 packs a 4,500mAh battery — which can last for a whole day (or night), with enough juice to keep you going. On one occasion, I went out of the office at 6PM with 100 percent battery.

Throughout the night, I sipped my favorite Starbucks cold brew, went to a Korean grill restaurant, took selfies, went on an upload spree on social media, drank beer, and caught up with my friends all while keeping my mobile data on.

Afterward, I arrived home at 2 AM with a whopping 60 percent battery. How great is that? It also comes with a 25W Fast Charging adapter and a USB-C to USB-C cable, and it only took an hour and a few to fully charge my phone when I reached 10 percent the next day.

Captures every moment

The Galaxy A71 has a promising quad-camera setup: a 64-megapixel main camera, 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 5-megapixel depth, and 5-megapixel macro. It comes with every smartphone’s camera staples like portrait mode (or live focus), night mode, panorama, macro, pro, super slow-mo, slow motion, hyperlapse, and food.

Taking every bit of its camera mode entails a different story. Such is the case for 64-megapixel photos, which we’ll be publishing on a shootout. For now, let’s take a look at how the Galaxy A71 fares with regular shots in different lighting conditions.

If you swipe through the photos above, you can see how Samsung’s color balance is mainly cool. It inaccurately depicts the scenery. Food shots — even when using Food mode — still capture a cooler vibe. This makes it difficult to post on your social media since food photos have to be warmer to look tasty and appetizing. Thankfully, there are photo-editing apps like VSCO and Lightroom to help you balance and polish the look in accordance with your aesthetics.

Moreover, its macro lens doesn’t capture enough details. It’s difficult to take close-ups, and you have to put your lens too close to your food. The best thing to do is to take flat lays and angled shots by the window, for an appetizing shot.

To more travels with you

The Galaxy A71 might be a downer when it comes to color balance and taking close-ups, but it’s a contender when it comes to wide-angle photos.

For more samples, just swipe the photos below.

If you analyzed it, wide-angle photos take better details and produce richer colors. The distortion is also useful in cramped and open spaces.

Selfies that will make you smile

The Galaxy A71 houses a 32-megapixel front shooter, allowing you to capture regular and wide-angle selfies. You can also use Live Focus for DSLR-like portrait modes, which actually suck because portrait modes are half-baked up to this date. If you’re meaning to capture better-looking portraits, forget portrait mode and read this trick.

During daylight, the Galaxy A71 performs marvelously. It captures great details, and you can temper it down by turning on Beauty Mode, with a Level 1 intensity. Just don’t go high, though, since you’ll look like a painting.

In low and bad lighting conditions, the Galaxy A71 struggles in taking awesome photos, particularly when you use Beauty Mode, as seen on my selfie with two pretty ladies during Ben&Ben’s concert.

But when exposed to proper lighting, the Galaxy A71 can provide a decent selfie whether it’s an indoor or outdoor shot. The only problem you’ll encounter is the higher contrast and strong blacks.

Nonetheless, no one will care about the nitty-gritty of your selfies. People will only look at how beautiful and amazing you are, and most people just want to be able to take selfies that make them feel awesome.

Every moment can be perfect

The Galaxy A71 can record videos — from 1080p to 2160p, and even 4K. Below is a sample video of our Producer, Vincenz Lee, during his travels in Jakarta with the Galaxy A71.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for a solid smartphone, the Galaxy A71 is a good choice albeit with a higher price tag. For PhP 22,990, Samsung is sitting on a sweet spot, making itself ten times better than phones in almost similar price tags like the Vivo V17 Pro and OPPO Reno 2F. On the other hand, those who are looking for flagship power at an affordable price might consider the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro.

Still, the Galaxy A71 is a well-rounded phone. Just like how it was advertised, it really has an awesome screen, awesome camera, and long-lasting battery life. If you want an upscale-looking phone which takes awesome photos, coupled with stellar experience and a battery that’ll keep up with you, then you have your GadgetMatch.

If you’re still iffy about trying this phone out, remember that sometimes, we need to be open to new flavors and experiences. After all, we might be missing a lot if we shy away because something (or someone) isn’t entirely our type.

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Laptops

Lenovo IdeaPad S540 review: A professional’s daily driver

An essential for every career-driven millennial

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As a 20-something millennial, I always feel like time is running out. I have this inane need to accomplish so much at a young age. Friends and mentors alike remind me that life’s not a race, but I can’t help it — I’m too passionate.

I’ve always been determined to have a high-flying career before I reach 30. Years fly by so quickly, which is why there’s an urge to achieve so many in a short span of time. Not to mention, global warming is real, wars could happen any minute, and we all could be dead soon. I don’t want to die without reaching my dreams.

To achieve my goals, I ensure I’m equipped with the right gear in building my career. For starters, we all need a laptop that does its job so we can focus on our work.

Make an impression through your gear

Enter Lenovo’s IdeaPad S540. This premium ultrabook is a tad better than the IdeaPad S340. However, both laptops look similar due to Lenovo’s design language — which should be revamped if you think about it. I would’ve appreciated it better if the logo’s more subtle (and if it’s probably embossed).

The IdeaPad S540 comes in three beautiful colors — black, grey, and copper. Of course, mine would come in the beautiful copper. After all, millennials have a flair for style — we wouldn’t settle for anything that’s boring.

It comes in a sleek-looking, matte-finished, aluminum body that’s so smooth, you’d want to caress it with your fingers for an entire day. When you present with this laptop, people will know you mean business — serious, but not boring.

Finding comfort in its shortcomings

Its screen is humongous, coming in with a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display. There’s so much you can do with a screen this big, even though it has thick bezels on its top and bottom. Glare could be a problem, especially when you love working somewhere bright and open.

Typing is sweet with this beaut, especially for someone who types a lot. Its keys are evenly placed and big enough for my tiny fingers to press on.

On the other hand, its trackpad remains as Lenovo’s weak point. Just like the IdeaPad S340, the S540’s trackpad isn’t smooth enough for navigation. Gliding your fingers create a squeaky sound that would make your eardrums cringe.

Security-wise, you can finally calm the F down since Lenovo cares about it, too. We all hate spying cameras, thus, Lenovo allows you to cover your laptop’s camera with a shutter whenever you’re not using it. For even tighter security, the IdeaPad S540 has a fingerprint reader located on the keyboard’s bottom right.

Stay connected, wherever

On the left side, you can find the power input, an HDMI port for your presentation needs, and our well-loved USB 3.1 port, along with an audio jack located at the mid-bottom.

Found on the right side are two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and indicator lights.

Side note: Its hinge and design were built to handle being laid flat on a table, for presentation purposes. Do note it doesn’t do yoga. If you want a convertible, better check Lenovo’s Yoga lineup.

Get all your job done

The IdeaPad S540 is more than enough for most professionals. This particular model is equipped with an Intel Core i7-8565u at 1.80GHz processor, which can go up to 4.60GHz with Turbo Boost. Additionally, it carries 12GB of DDR4 memory, along with 512GB SSD storage and an Nvidia MX250 GPU.

This laptop can handle your habit of opening multiple tabs at the same time, with heavyweight apps like Spotify, Netflix, or even Adobe’s Creative Suite running in the background. I mostly deal with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom, with a bit of video editing on the side — and I was able to do all my creative work albeit only at a bare minimum.

Its display wasn’t made for creative professionals, and it heats up when using memory-consuming software for a prolonged time. But for most users dealing with large files, a bunch of emails, browsing, surfing, spreadsheets, and occasional entertainment like binge-watching on Netflix, the IdeaPad S540 is more than enough.

Being a humongous laptop, the IdeaPad S540 doubles as your business companion and entertainment hub. It has a Dolby Audio speaker system, producing decent sound for all your leisure needs. For those obsessed with audio, you might want to look elsewhere because this isn’t the laptop for you. Better buy a different speaker system and connect it to this laptop.

We might need more juice

If you’re looking at a laptop this big, it’s expected to have a lot of juice. Thankfully, the IdeaPad S540 delivers what’s expected from it. Lenovo boasts up to 12 hours of battery life, but most people nowadays are classified as power-hungry users, rendering the 12-hour promise to be useless since it’s going to be shorter.

For instance, I spent one afternoon in Malongo Atelier Barista enjoying a refreshing Iced Coffee while doing my work. I sat around 4 o’clock in the afternoon with a full battery, diving into a pile of articles to write.

Additionally, I’ve been jamming to my favorite playlist from The Bold Type so I can be more productive. Settings include 100% brightness and max volume, while connected to Wi-Fi. In between sipping my coffee, listening to interviews that I recorded, and social media breaks, the IdeaPad S540 drops 10 to 15 percent of its battery per hour.

Before 8 o’clock in the evening, my battery dropped below 20 percent already, prompting me to charge my machine. Almost four hours for a power-hungry is kinda meh but given my usage, I’d say it did its best. At least, I didn’t encounter any hiccups while navigating my work. It was seamless and smooth!

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re in need of a daily driver, the IdeaPad S540 is an ideal laptop to suit your professional needs. It’s perfect for those looking for a laptop powerful enough to handle multitasking for business and entertainment use.

For PhP 65,995 (US$ 1295), the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 (S540-15IWL, version 81NE0049PH) is a good investment to propel your career. When you’re on your way up on your career ladder, you can buy and use better, higher-end, and possibly flagship laptops that definitely cost a fortune.

For now, this will do. The key to creating milestones in your career is to take baby steps, and buying a laptop to suit your professional needs is one such step you need to take.

Update as of 02/11/2020: Lenovo drops the price for the IdeaPad S540 from PhP 65,995 to PhP 59,995. Additionally, those who will purchase will be entitled to 24-months international and local onsite warranty with Premium Care. Get perks such as On-site service, 24/7 service hotline with senior technicians, priority allocation for replacement parts, annual PC health check, and more. For more information about the warranty, visit their promo page.

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Her GadgetMatch

Fitbit Versa 2 review: Your BFF in achieving work-life goals

Achieve your life goals in just a few clicks!

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For years, I have always relied on my phone apps for the most essential things: from checking time and dates to tracking my monthly period. A smartphone was my companion as I juggle work with personal and social life, to the point that I believed nothing could come as handy as this. But that was before I was introduced to the amazing invention that is a smartwatch.

As a heavy smartphone user, having a smartwatch seemed to be a luxury to me at first. I thought: I can do all these things with my phone, so why the need to buy one? I was proven wrong, however, when I started using Fitbit’s Versa 2.

Fitbit is a well-known brand in the health and fitness scene, but I was told that their Versa is a great choice for people like me who are looking for devices for personal and career life more than just for fitness purposes.

After trying it for several weeks, I finally understood what the hype’s about. It’s actually worth the investment, especially for a creative like me trying to achieve a life that blends well with my work.

It’s a compact gadget conveniently strapped on my wrist

No need to bring out my phone especially when I’m in public places — I can conveniently access essential apps like an alarm clock and music player through this thing on my wrist. Versa 2 has a built-in microphone integrated to Amazon Alexa, which is very helpful when googling questions, or replying to messages when I’m on-the-go.

It also features the Spotify app, which is one of my favorite things about it since I always listen to music and podcasts during my idle time.

The AMOLED display is clear and bright enough so it’s readable in both indoors and outdoors (even in full sunlight hours!). Plus, this smartwatch is lightweight and comfortable to wear, and it has a good battery life that lasts up to one week.

I also love the raise to wake feature since I don’t need to click the side button to view the time and date, and I liked seeing the number of steps I took for the day since I was encouraged to walk more. There’s also the Always On Display Mode, but I prefer not turning it on for longer battery life.

A smartwatch that urged me to be more health-conscious

Working in the creative industry for four years made me realize two things: (1) creative people don’t get much sleep, because (2) we’re too passionate about our work that health has become our least priority — which is sad and ironic since we tend to overuse our brain most of the time. Versa 2’s fitness and health-related features have made me become more conscious of my health, and it helped me start to form healthier habits.

For one, their Sleep Score feature is very helpful for people with a wasted body clock who wants to develop healthier sleeping habits. I simply input my sleeping time and goals, and it creates a chart that helps me understand my sleeping patterns and watch over my health. The score motivates me to sleep earlier, too!

There’s also the active heart-rate sensor, which I often check while I’m working out on weekends. I use the on-screen workouts as a guide too, since they’re easy to learn! Versa 2’s fitness tracking functions are great starting points for fitness noobs like me.

Sleek and stylish

When dressing up, wearing a watch is optional to me before since they don’t usually match with some of my outfits. Versa 2 changes the game, though. It is sleek, stylish, and easily matches any OOTD — whether I’m wearing business attire or just a casual outfit. Whatever I choose to wear, the colors are neutral enough to match any Pantone. In my case, the grey strap is a good choice. The pink one looks beautiful too!

Is this your Gadgetmatch?

Overall, the new Fitbit Versa 2 is a very useful and stylish gadget that has all my essentials to keep me going every day. For someone who is relatively new to the smartwatch game, I can say that this one is a must-have for today’s modern woman. For only PhP 12,890 (US$ 253), you get a beautiful and multi-functional device that will help you achieve your life goals in just a few clicks!

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