Hands-On

Vivo V9 Hands-on: A handsome-looking midrange phone

Definitely an upgrade to the V7

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Successors should be better than their predecessors and the Vivo V9 improves in a lot of aspects compared to the V7+. The V9 comes with a bigger display, faster processor, dual cameras, and a new body. But how much better is the V9 as a successor and as a new phone in the midrange market?

The phone looks gorgeous thanks to its 6.3-inch bezel-less display

It does look like an iPhone X

A notch is needed to make the display more immersive

No complicated setup here; just the selfie camera, sensors, and earpiece

The buttons for volume and power are on the right side

They’re pretty slim but tactile

While on the left is the triple-card tray

Two nano-SIMs and a microSD card for the win!

It still uses a micro-USB port for charging

It’s already 2018 and this is not the future. Where art thou, USB-C?

The back is glossy plastic and houses the dual cameras and fingerprint reader

Looks like glass at first until it gets smudged with prints

The display makes all the difference

The first thing you’ll notice about the V9 is its display. It looks like an iPhone X and most, if not all, upcoming Android smartphones will look like this. Anyone unfamiliar with the notched display trend will mistake the new Vivo phone as the latest iPhone. The crowning glory of the V9 is its 6.3-inch screen and improved 400ppi resolution. It’s sharper than the V7 and is on par with all midrange phones — even flagships.

Thanks to the bezel-less display, the V9 doesn’t feel as large as it looks but we’re not digging its overall design. The front is definitely a treat, although we need to talk about the back. From cold aluminum, the rear is now glossy and feels plasticky. It’s a fingerprint magnet, smudges easily, and will definitely get scratches after a week of use and abuse. Vivo threw in a soft protective case in the box but doesn’t make the phone feel any more premium.

Just a slight performance upgrade from the V7+

When the V7+ launched six months ago, people were skeptical about its processor which is a Snapdragon 450. Bashers were quick to judge about the position of the Snapdragon 450 in the chain but little did they know that it’s in the same league as the popular Snapdragon 625. With the V9, Vivo went back with the Snapdragon 600 series using the new Snapdragon 626 processor which is also found on the Moto Z2 Play.

The impact of the upgrade to the phone’s performance is pretty minimal since it’s just slightly faster. The V9 operates smoothly with no lag whatsoever during our time with the phone. With the generous 4GB of memory, there’s room for multiple apps to run at the same time which means you can switch between them easily. Browse Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram simultaneously and there’s still enough memory left for games that you can just pause and get back to whenever you want.

Thankfully, it has Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box but still skinned with Funtouch OS 4.0. Vivo’s customization is far from the usual look of Android and it’s more like iOS. This is also one of the reasons why the V9 looks very much like an iPhone X.

There are now dual rear cameras, finally

The V9 is the first model in the V series of Vivo to have dual rear cameras. There’s a main 16-megapixel sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor on board the V9. Unlike with premium dual-camera phones though, the additional sensor of the V9 is merely for depth-sensing to enable certain effects like bokeh and portrait mode — no optical zoom, no dramatic monochrome shots. Also, 4K recording is now possible.

Here are some samples:

The V9 has a 24-megapixel front camera making it another selfie-centric phone and AI is now available on the V9 as well, at least for selfies. There are different levels of beauty modes depending on your preference or you can let AI do the work for you.

AR stickers have found their way to Vivo but they’re not the same as Samsung’s AR Emoji and Apple’s Animoji. They’re more like Snapchat or Instagram Story filters. No worries, they’re still fun to use when you feel quirky.

So far, the V9’s cameras shoot great photos. The quality may not be the same as those from flagship phones, especially in low-light, but they’re above average. We’ll shoot more photos for the review.

Initial impression is good

With our few days with the V9, we can say that this could be Vivo’s best midrange offering yet. We’ll reserve our final thoughts in our full review but so far, so good.

That’s it for now. We’ll take the V9 for a full spin in the coming days to give you more insights about Vivo’s new phone. Is there anything specific you’d like to know about the V9? Hit the comments section below and we’ll include them in the review.

Hands-On

Google Pixel 4 and 4XL Unboxing and Hands-on

New features, same price

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The most leaked phone in history is now official. The new Pixel 4 and 4XL may look similar the outside but come with better cameras (yes there are now two), sport a Radar for faster face unlock, and introduce new air gestures. But is it worth upgrading?

This is our Google Pixel 4 and 4XL unboxing and hands-on.

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Hands-On

Microsoft Surface family Hands-On

And it’s dual screen

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Our Microsoft Surface Family Hands-On features the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X.

We also take a quick look at the Surface Buds, Surface Neo and Surface Duo. The latter two foldable devices are coming in time for next year’s holiday season. The Surface Duo and Android-powered Windows phone with two displays hinged together in the middle.

Joining me in this video is my She Said, He Said Co-Host Nicole Scott.

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Hands-On

Realme 5 Hands-On: A phone that you can rely on

Power in a budget

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When Realme unveiled the Realme 5 and Realme 5 Pro, one can’t just walk away and not look at this beautiful duo. However, the Realme 5 stands out compared to its pro version, with its shiny and bigger build.

Even though I dislike tall and bigger smartphones, I gave the Realme 5 a try. Let’s see what this phone has to offer.

The Realme 5 has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen…

… and a dewdrop notch

On its bottom are its speaker grilles, a micro USB port, and a headphone jack

Found on the right side is its power button…

… while the left side contains the volume keys and the card tray

It has a plastic build designed with diamond cuts…

… and a quad-camera setup along with a dedicated fingerprint scanner

Premium-looking for its price

Realme follows the recent approach of every smartphone makers: Design an affordable phone to something premium-looking. Thanks to its well-thought design, the Realme 5 doesn’t look like a cheap, budget phone.

While its body is made of plastic, Realme made this affordable smartphone premium through its Gorilla Glass 3 at the front and adding splash resistance all over its body. Additionally, it comes in two cool gradient colors (like any other smartphones in 2019): Crystal Blue and Crystal Purple.

Its front has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen with a 20:9 ratio and 720p resolution. For a massive smartphone, its resolution is a little bit low, causing icons to blur a little.

Enjoy longer playtime

The Realme 5 didn’t disappoint in terms of power and performance. For me, this is where this phone shines apart from its shiny design. Sporting a Snapdragon 665 processor and carrying a 4GB RAM and 128GB storage, this phone lets you play your favorite mobile games decently, such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

Don’t worry about running out of juice, though! Packed with 5000mAh battery, this phone can last throughout the day, even if you’re a power user or a non-stop gamer.

Recently, I went on a hike and while there are occasional photo-taking sessions, the Realme 5 didn’t suck up a lot of its battery throughout the day. It even lasted the next day, and can definitely last longer if it’s just on standby.

Light, clean, and easy to look at

Realme 5 runs Color OS 6 based on Android 9 Pie, and is planning to upgrade it to Android 10. Similar to Realme X, its icons looks cleaner and lighter, making it pretty easy to look at. However, it isn’t that speedy when it comes to navigating, scrolling, and switching between apps.

But thanks to its user interface with a lighter feel, you won’t even notice the speed difference compared to your previous phones. It will just make you feel it’s fast enough to get the job done.

Easier and prettier selfies

Sitting inside the notch is a 13-megapixel camera with f/2.0 lens. Other options include a portrait mode, a panorama mode, and a time-lapse mode. For those who want to add an extra flair, there are built-in filters to choose from. If beauty is your concern, say no more. The camera has a lot of enhancement options like smoothing, nose trimming, face thinning, and eye enlargement.

Additionally, taking a selfie is pretty easy. You can opt between using the regular capture button, through the volume keys, through timer, fingerprint, touch, or even hand gesture.

Picture-perfect memories

On the flip side, its rear cameras are equipped with a 12-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide lens, a 2-megapixel dedicated macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.

For a budget smartphone, my eyes and heart are happy with the photos. It’s not that detailed, but it’s rich in colors and highly vibrant despite a gloomy weather. It’s even better when there’s a substantial amount of natural light.

Its ultra-wide angle photos are suitable for online consumption. It lets you create dramatic shots and add perspective on your photos.

Through AI scene recognition, the Realme 5’s cameras automatically detect the settings for a certain scene. If it’s dim or during at night, it automatically activates HDR and brightens up the processed photo. Noise levels are pretty low, and it’s a big improvement for Realme.

There are more camera modes available apart from photo, portrait, video, and ultrawide, such as nightscape, panorama, expert, time-lapse, slo-mo, and ultra macro. Overall, the Realme 5 has decent cameras that are suitable for sharing on social media. Its ability to capture true colors and vivid scenes guarantees you don’t need a lot of editing apps to enhance and process your photos, you can now share it as is.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Realme provides excellent value on its smartphones, especially in the Realme 5. What it lacks in display, screen resolution, and user interface, it compensates in power, performance, and cameras. With this kind of offering, it’s hard not to consider and give this phone a try.

For its price, the Realme 5 is a real treat for people looking for a budget smartphone that provides more than what they need. Its 3GB RAM/64GB storage variant costs PhP 7,990 (US$ 154) while its 4GB RAM/128GB storage variant is priced at PhP 9,990 (US$ 192).

Additionally, there’s a cheaper, Lazada Exclusive Model with a 3GB RAM/32GB storage for only PhP 6,990 (US$ 134). The Realme 5 is available nationwide starting October 4.

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