Reviews

Which Samsung Galaxy S20 is your GadgetMatch?

Three phones, three Matchketeers

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As you may already know, the Samsung Galaxy S20 series has three phones — the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy S20 Ultra. We were fortunate enough to get a hold of all three, so three different members of our team took one each and here we’ll discuss what liked and didn’t like about these phones.

Hopefully, this can help you decide which of the three to get. That is, perhaps, after we go through this whole COVID-19 pandemic. So while you’re staying home, here’s something to read.

The first obvious difference is size. How did you feel about the one you got? 

Rodneil [Galaxy S20 Ultra]: The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is HUGE. I’m saying this as a fan of the Note series and generally large display smartphones. But this phone just really feels humongous.

For context, I have been using the iPhone 11 Pro for months which might have made the size transition more obvious than it would have been had I been using another Android flagship.

MJ [Galaxy S20]: I loved it. The Galaxy S20 fit perfectly in my tiny hands! This may be bad, but I found myself glued to my smartphone for a few days now, only because my phone’s easier to hold, carry, and use. I’m done with big smartphones!

Vincenz [Galaxy S20+]: As someone who has big hands, I like the form factor of the Galaxy S20+. I tried holding other Galaxy S20 phones but I’m gonna say the Galaxy S20+ is the perfect fit since the Galaxy S20 feels a little bit small and the Galaxy S20 Ultra is thicker, and heavier.

Did it affect your usage? How and why? 

Rodneil: I felt less inclined to take it out to get some quick snaps. It almost feels like carrying a mirrorless camera. Almost. It’s colossal and nearly impossible to use with only just one hand. It almost discourages me to use one of its highlight features which is the camera.

That said, the size and display made it pretty great for media consumption as well as editing a few quick clips. While we’re at it, I’d like to mention how the screen recording then subsequently editing and trimming on an app caused it to significantly heat up. And I didn’t even do much editing. I just trimmed and resized a clip.

The quick overheating might be because of the Exynos processor. I did the same tasks on the OPPO Find X2 Pro and it didn’t heat up as much. But that comparison is a discussion for another day.

MJ: It made me use my phone frequently and made me bring it wherever I go — even in bathroom breaks! I found it easier to navigate the screen, use my phone to take selfies or take snaps of my mundane life so I can share it with my friends.

Vincenz: The only problem that affected my daily usage is the slim profile and slippery glass back. Holding it with one hand feels light but over time, my arms got sore to the point that I’ll just place it on a flat table or on my bed. I don’t want to drop it since it’s fragile (like me when I see my crush).

Let’s jump right into what people care about. The cameras. General thoughts on the images you took? 

Rodneil: It’s pretty much everything we’ve come to know from Samsung. Take a few shots and more often than not, you’ll get an image that you can just immediately post on social media.

I tried Live Focus on good ‘ol Funko MJ and got more than decent results both under good daylight and when the subject is against the light.

Same is true for the wide angle lens. Get plenty of daylight, and you’re bound to get photos ready for your Facebook feed.

MJ: As a person who lives and breathes social media, the images produced by the Galaxy S20 is definitely social media-ready. It’s saturated and lively enough even without its scene optimizer tool.

L-R: 3x Zoom, 1x Auto, 0.5x Wide-angle

Since I post-process my photos, I find myself spending more time editing to lessen the vibrancy of the photos, since the colors pop.

Cameras are bad at night for both the front and rear cameras! Its only saving grace is its night mode and wide-angle. When used properly, you’ll get astounding results. You better learn basic photography before hitting up the cameras!

L-R: Night mode on an ultra-wide-angle mode, Night mode using a 10-sec timer

Vincenz: I’ll be straightforward about this: It doesn’t have the best cameras in a smartphone but it doesn’t mean it’s not good. Sure, the main sensor does most of the trick but problems arise when you compare it with other phones.

I enjoyed taking food shots more with the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro. For night shots, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro has a better algorithm. The ultra-wide lens is the least thing I like in this phone since the colors are desaturated and not as accurate as the main sensor.

I also tried recording videos (even in 8K) but I guess the iPhone 11 series dominates both video quality and OIS (optical image stabilization).

Is the zoom really “all that”? 

Rodneil: I wouldn’t say “all that,” but it can be useful. Although the thing about the 100X zoom on the Galaxy S20 Ultra is, it’s a lot like pushing yourself to the limit — just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Here are samples wide angle, 10X, 30X, and 100X. As you can see, 30X zoom is still pretty darn good. Having the capacity to go to 100X means your 30X zoom should produce pretty darn good results.

Same is true for the 10X zoom. That allowed me to take this kind of shot.

It does struggle when there isn’t enough light and taking handheld 30X zoom photos can be challenging.

MJ: I love this phone to death because of its size, design, and overall usage, but that zoom sucks. I was spending a night at the beach during an almost full moon, and I tried zooming in at 30X but it wasn’t impressive.

L-R: 30x Zoom, 1x Auto, 0.5x Wide-angle

Don’t bother zooming in! Just get a better camera with a professional zoom lens if you want to capture the moon. Otherwise, the zoom feature is best used up to 3X. It’s perfect for capturing portraits at a distance (without using portrait mode). Where else would you use zoom? It’s creepy as hell.

Vincenz: Nights ago, there was this huge moon lighting up the sky. I tried zooming it in at 30X, but was disappointed with the quality of the output. Tried it before with a Huawei Mate 30 Pro and it gave me outstanding results.

I was expecting the same with the Galaxy S20+ since it also has the same zoom ability but it doesn’t show any detail of the craters at all. Night mode doesn’t even do justice since it also zooms up to 10X.

What about the selfies? Did you like them?

Rodneil: Not really big on selfies, but for the purposes of testing I tried one with live focus and one without. I think the smoothing is still more aggressive than I would have liked. This is with “beauty mode” turned off.

MJ: Selfies are decent enough to send to your crushes but never ever use the beauty mode. It sucks, same with its portrait mode.

The wide-angle mode helped with group photos, though. Admittedly, Xiaomi still has the best selfies to date (in my opinion, please don’t chew me out). But with proper lighting and right poses, you’ll get perfect selfies — if that’s even your thing!

Vincenz: Not a huge selfie user but when I tried it, I immediately turned off the beauty mode. I want my selfies to look as natural as possible — but turning it off still showed smeared selfies.

But when it comes to groufies, it gets the job done as it has an extra ultra-wide mode to accomodate more people inside the frame.

The display is a huge talking point too. Did it seem any different from other phones you’ve tried? 

Rodneil: The 120Hz screen refresh rate should be the default now. After using this for an extended period, any other screen just doesn’t feel as smooth.

Still not a fan of punch-hole displays but that’s mostly negligible since I use dark mode most of the time plus I don’t pinch to zoom when watching videos. This means the punch-hole stays out of sight. Overall, it’s a fantastic display — par for the course for Samsung.

MJ: I barely use phones that aren’t AMOLED displays, so I don’t have much to say in comparison. As usual, colors are vivid and lively. The Galaxy S20’s full screen display, albeit smaller compared to its siblings, is such an awesome companion for your entertainment and recreational activities.

I recently joined the craze on the 120Hz refresh rate, and I’ve been enjoying it so far. I’m not tiring my eyes whenever I scroll and swipe!

Plus, whatever you’re watching on Netflix, you’re bound to get hooked. After all, you got an immersive and impressive display, it’s difficult not to love the show you’re watching even more.

Vincenz: I’ve been fond of Samsung’s Super AMOLED as I used a Galaxy Note5 before. After moving to iPhones, I just got used to their IPS displays (including the iPhone XR I used before this).

Right when I had the Galaxy S20+, I got stunned with the Dynamic AMOLED display with deep blacks and fast 120Hz refresh rate — something iPhones and other Android smartphones can’t beat until today.

I ditched watching the Netflix series Itaewon Class on my iPhone because I enjoy the vivid colors and the fullscreen display more on the Galaxy S20+.

Thoughts on ONE UI 2.0 and other Samsung perks? 

Rodneil: It looks undeniably Samsung for better or worse, but it’s definitely cleaner now than it has ever been. The gestures are all based on Android 10 (which, in effect is based on iOS lol), and I really like that.

The apps edge feature is underrated. I will completely lose any sense of the day if I didn’t have quick access to a calendar and this does it for me.

It’s also a good way to catch-up on NBA scores — although the league’s suspended at the moment. And the last game that’s on this photo are teams that have players who tested COVID-19 positive. That was depressing. I’m sorry.

MJ: I’m going to admit it: I couldn’t care less about the UI… before. One UI 2.0, just like any other UI, is difficult for me to grasp and understand. I’ve been used to EMUI and MIUI since I’ve been using a Huawei phone since 2016 and a Xiaomi phone since 2019. After using one Samsung phone after another this year, I realized One UI 2.0 is easy to learn and look at. For me, One UI 2.0 is a welcome change.

On another note, Samsung Members is one of my favorite perks from Samsung. You can have great deals from your favorite spas, resorts, cafes, and even restaurants. They even hold limited promos! Most recent was a free regular beverage from Chatime! Sadly, I missed it because I was sick.

Vincenz: One UI 2.0 is probably better than Samsung’s Touchwiz. I was impressed that Samsung finally listened to their loyal users. The bloatware and messy UI are now gone in favor of a cleaner, more minimal UI. It’s still not the best I’ve used since I enjoy using MIUI more, but it’s second in my list.

I haven’t tried using the Samsung Members app yet but I heard you get great deals and discounts if you register. Too bad the quarantine holds me back from trying those offers.

Which Galaxy S20 would you buy for yourself? Or as we say here, which do you think is your GadgetMatch? (Mention also who you think would get the most out of the phone you used) 

Rodneil:  I have recently found joy in carrying smaller phones. It just feels more practical. For anyone to want the Galaxy S20 Ultra you’d have to be a combination of someone who: has money to burn, has big hands or likes big phones, and might actually need the zoom capabilities. It’s really not for everybody.

I would say the S20+ and the S20 are probably the more regular-consumer-friendly phones. If I were to choose from the three, I would most likely get the Galaxy S20+.

MJ: I’m definitely in love with the Galaxy S20. If it wasn’t for its price, I would buy it. But then again, you’re paying for a well-rounded smartphone which can do the work for you because… it’s smart. No need to download and install apps that don’t come from the Google Play Store.

Additionally, Samsung has different layers of security so if that’s one of your considerations for a smartphone, you’ll have peace of mind. All of my girl friends enjoyed the Galaxy S20, the same way I did. If they have the money to spend, I’m pretty sure they’ll buy this one, even if there are no Cloud Pink units available. You can always plaster a beautiful case!

Vincenz: If it wasn’t because of the hefty price tag, I would definitely choose the Galaxy S20 Ultra since I’m more of a camera guy. The Galaxy S20+ lacks bigger camera sensors found on the Ultra that I need in achieving my desired shots when I take it outdoors.

If I’m being practical, I’d still pick the Galaxy S20+ — the sweet spot of the Galaxy S20 series because of the display size, price tag, and overall features. The S20+ might even suit Rodneil more than I do.

BONUS!

Launched alongside the Galaxy S20 series is the Samsung Galaxy Flip. If you’re wondering who that’s for — then it’s Michael Josh (since he’s really the only one who can afford it lol). Kidding aside, here’s a Flip vs Moto razr video you can sink your teeth into.

Reviews

Huawei Nova 7 review: 5G is the icing, the phone is the cake

And it’s a damn good cake

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The Huawei Nova 7 or Huawei Nova 7 5G as it’s being heavily marketed is undeniably a Nova phone. The purple variant screams the Nova design and the specs and features scream flagship-grade.

5G is the next frontier in terms of mobile connectivity, and companies are understandably ramping up adoption of the tech. But you shouldn’t buy the Nova 7 just because it’s 5G-ready. Will explain more as we go along.

The Nova brand

I have had quite an interesting exchange with my cousin over the last few months about Huawei phones. She’s a fan of the Nova series. Huawei has done a good job of packaging it as a phone for the youth and the barrage of marketing only amplifies that message.

The Nova 7 pretty much sticks to the same formula. It’s an overall capable phone with a flagship-grade chip that lets “the youth” express themselves and pretty much do everything you normally would on a phone.

Build is far for the course at this price range

In the Philippines it retails for PhP 23,990 (US$ 488) and makes the same compromises that other brands do at this price point.

The build, while it feels nice, doesn’t have the heft and that x-factor that you expect from the most expensive phones today. But the weight is a boon for those who don’t exactly like heavier phones but want a relatively large display.

It’s 6.53” OLED display is crispy. You get the standard 60Hz refresh rate but it makes up for it with its bright, deep, and vivid visuals. It doesn’t feel as smooth, but it’s a joy to look at.

Being a flat display, it also has a wide footprint, but manageable enough for one-hand use. I’m just guessing, but somewhere between 6.44” and 6.5” might be the sweet spot for one-hand use if you’re working with a flat display.

All the buttons — power and volume — are on the right hand side which should be the standard for any phone that’s at least 6”.

At the bottom you have the USB-C port, speaker grille, and SIM card tray. There’s no 3.5mm jack but in the box you do get wired headphones and a USB-C to 3.5mm port.

For security it also has Face Unlock, a fingerprint scanner, and your usual pin.

Alright, let’s talk 5G

Last week, against my better judgement, I stepped out equipped with a mask and a face shield with bottles of rubbing alcohol in my backpack to test some 5G areas.

This was done in partnership with a Philippine telecommunications company but I decided to do my own testing after the fact.

While it’s true that you can and will get those exorbitant 500+mbps speeds, the frequency by which you are able to access them in limited locations. Unless you live or are almost always in the areas designated with 5G, don’t buy the Nova 7 for that reason alone.

Other reasons to buy 

It’s a damn good phone.

I used Phone Clone to copy everything on my Huawei P40 Pro to the Huawei Nova 7 and I almost didn’t miss a beat. I run all the same apps and do almost all the same things without any major differences in performance.

This includes your regular social media browsing, playing music on Spotify, and for the sake of the review — a quick game of Naruto: Slugfest.

The obvious differences are of course, as I mentioned, the heft and the smoother feel of the 90Hz refresh rate. But you can certainly do without them and still feel like you got your money’s worth.

Battery life is also stellar. Since I happen to be juggling phones for review at the moment, I’ve gone an entire weekend without touching the phone.

On standby mode, for two days, the battery stayed at around 80% from a full charge. That’s impressive. That means the phone knows when it’s not in use and will regulate power accordingly.

When I did use it, I got through a regular day with about 30-40% left before bed time.

Huawei Share is also a godsend of a feature especially when you’re also using a Huawei laptop. Sharing files is fantastic but also having the access to your phone’s apps right on your laptop as you work is such an underrated feature — but it’s one that’s coming over to other Android phones via Microsoft.

Sad, No GMS 

It was the Huawei Mate 30 series that bore the brunt of the US government’s Huawei ban. This forced Google to withdraw their mobile service support from the company.

Nearly a year later, and Huawei has made significant strides. Their phones have gone from borderline unusable to pretty tolerable.

Do I miss the Google apps and the Google Mobile Services? Heck yeah. There’s no dancing around it.

Not being able to get the best mobile experience from YouTube and Google Photos suck. Not being able to use certain apps because they just won’t work also suck. But Huawei has come to the point where it’s no longer a deal breaker.

Everything else works perfectly fine. A combination of App Gallery and APKPure has mitigated the need for the Google Play Store. Plus, they have also introduced Petal Search. Essentially a search engine for apps.

Updates from apps downloaded from APKPure do not download and install automatically. While this may be inconvenient, it’s a stretch to say that it doesn’t work.

Pleasant performing cameras

The Huawei Nova 7 has a 32MP front-facing camera capable of taking beautiful selfies even at night.

On the rear, it has four cameras: A 64MP main camera, an 8MP Ultra Wide-angle lens, an 8MP telephoto lens, and a practically useless 2MP macro camera.

The 64MP main camera is *chef’s kiss. The detail on the photo below is fantastic. Turning AI on also produced this generally color accurate and very pleasing photo of the plants.

Here’s the usual photo of a flower to further illustrate that point.

It captures urban concrete pretty well too.

Here’s an indoor low light shot. Typically, these never come out well, but the Nova 7 still manages to capture good detail even while there is some grain on the image.

Also a fan of the wide angle lens — just not a fan of not being able to travel so we can actually use it on a nice scenery.

The zoom is… okay. It maxes out to 20x and produces this kind of shot.

Halfway at 10x is fairly decent. Again, color is accurate, but there’s some noticeable detail loss which is understandable. Also reminder to not be creepy with your zoom.

Huawei’s portrait mode is also pretty good. Here’s a shot of Acrylic Stand, “What is Love” Chaeyoung that’s against the light. The background separation is good and it still managed to capture enough light so Chaeyoung doesn’t end up looking like just a silhouette.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The very first few minutes that I used the Huawei Nova 7, I already had an inkling as to how much it will be and how it will perform. The build and the overall snapiness of the performance were almost dead giveaways.

I have zero complaints over its performance and cameras. And for the most part, these two are what people primarily consider when buying a phone. Battery life is above average, the display is pleasant to the eyes, and app access is annoying but tolerable.

The future-proofing that is 5G that comes with this phone is icing. The cake that is the rest of the phone, that’s what you should really be looking at.

SEE ALSO: The Huawei Nova 7 and Freebuds 3i is the perfect match

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Computers

LG UltraGear 25” Gaming Monitor review: Enough to get you started

Comes with key features for your first gaming PC build

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I’ve seen a ton of people purchase full gaming PC setups since the pandemic took center stage in our lives. I’m pretty sure a lot of these people spent the past few months saving every peso they could for it. Of course, I also did it with all the money I saved up and planned every purchase very carefully.

In getting your gaming PC build, one of the more important peripherals to consider is your monitor. Most people will tell you that any monitor is okay, but experts will say that you shouldn’t just get any monitor. Apart from color accurate and bright displays, your monitor should have a high enough refresh rate to keep up.

It’s exactly what the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor brings to the table, at least on paper. But is this worth checking out, especially for first time PC setup builders? Here’s a rundown of the specs:

It has a 23.6-inch TN FHD panel, with a 144Hz refresh rate

It comes with two HDMI ports and one DisplayPort

The design, on its own, is nothing spectacular

The LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor comes in a package you normally expect from most lightweight gaming monitors. A hardened-plastic enclosure covers the display, and the monitor even comes with a metal stand in gray and red accents. Upon unboxing, I found it relatively easy to set up and position alongside my PC setup.

Immediately, the first and only thing I noticed was the thick bezel surrounding the display. To be honest, it’s a relatively minor issue for me ever since other brands started reducing theirs. Although I would have appreciated a little more screen space, especially while playing games.

A display that meets expectations for the most part

Most gaming monitors come with high refresh rates to keep up during pressure situations. Fortunately, the LG UltraGear Gaming Monitor comes with a 144Hz panel which is more than enough. Also, it even sports a 1ms response rate so you’re able to stay at the top of your game. 

Most games I tried with this monitor performed with relative ease and no visible sign of image tearing. FPS games like CS:GO and Valorant, in my opinion, work best with this setup given that you can run these games on low-end setups.

Also, it’s quite bright and color accurate which is great for content creators. Although, in some cases, I felt that it didn’t handle dark color areas well. I tried to compensate by simply adjusting the brightness, but it didn’t do anything significantly different. At least it’s an anti-glare TN panel, so you don’t have to worry about the sun.

Comes with features that works depending on the other hardware

This monitor supports AMD’s FreeSync technology which further improves gameplay experience. Honestly, I felt this should be a standard for most gaming monitors — including those that support NVIDIA GSync. Also, there are other optimizations like Dynamic Action Sync (DAS) and motion blur reduction.

However, this monitor actually benefits you only if you’re currently rocking an AMD Radeon graphics card. Ideally, it would still work pretty well when you plug it to an NVIDIA card but expect some image tearing. It wasn’t a big issue for me since I could still apply the reduced motion blur and DAS.

Port selection for this monitor is more than enough for a normal PC setup. Two HDMI ports are available at your disposal, which is great if you want to use it for your consoles. The added DisplayPort provides more connectivity, especially since most graphics cards support it. Keep in mind though: if you plan to plug your console, don’t expect the 144Hz refresh rate.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For PhP 12,599 (US$ 257), the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor ticks all the necessary boxes. What you have is a high refresh rate monitor with good color accuracy, and fully optimized for gaming. Combined with a great selection of ports, this monitor is a great option for your first PC build.

However, if you have strict preferences for your monitor, this might not be what you’re looking for. If you’re not a fan of thick bezels or you’re more conservative with your money, I wouldn’t practically recommend this. Also, you wouldn’t be able to fully maximize its potential if you don’t own an AMD graphics card.

All things considered, it’s enough to get you started on your gaming PC setup. Even with cheaper alternatives out there, I still recommend you give this a shot.

SEE ALSO: This 34” LG UltraWide monitor disrupted my workflow

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India

POCO M2 Pro review: A Redmi Note 9 Pro without ads

What’s the difference?

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With a new strategy in place, POCO announced the POCO X2 in the first quarter, and now, it’s back with another offering — the POCO M2 Pro. It’s an affordable offering that’s found a comfortable spot in India’s INR sub-15,000 price bracket. But, there’s a twist.

POCO made its debut with the POCO F1. It was a legendary phone because it did the unexpected — flagship-grade performance at an affordable price. Since then, POCO as a brand has been synonymous to aggressive pricing and top-notch specifications. However, the POCO F1 was launched in 2018 and a lot has changed since then.

For starters, POCO was a dormant brand throughout 2019 and made a comeback at the beginning of 2020. We expected a successor of its infamous first phone, but everything was going to change. POCO is now an independent brand that takes autonomous business and marketing decisions. To make it clear, Mi, Redmi, and POCO are three different teams right now.

If you look closer, the POCO M2 Pro is nothing but a rebranded Redmi Note 9 Pro. Furthermore, the 4GB+64GB entry-level option of both phones has the same price of INR 13,999 (US$ 186). So, what’s different about POCO’s offering? Why should this phone be your GadgetMatch?

A proven design that fits everyone

The Redmi Note 9 Pro series has a very ergonomic design that looks premium as well as sturdy. The quad-camera setup has a significantly larger bump but it gets covered perfectly with the in-box case. The rear sports Gorilla Glass 5 and underneath it is a diagonally-lined pattern. While the phone looks stunning, using it without a case isn’t recommended since it’s prone to smudges and micro scratches.

The rear is the only thing that physically differentiates the phone from Redmi Note 9 Pro. The USB port, volume rockers, fingerprint scanner, and speaker grille are from the same Redmi mold.

I don’t mind rebranded phones as long as they’re not yet available in the same market. If POCO wants to be taken seriously as an independent brand, it needs to stand on its own and bring out original offerings. Realme has done a much better job of publicly distancing itself from OPPO, even though it leverages the same supply chain.

A perfect display

It sports a 6.67-inch Full HD+ display with a tiny punch-hole cut-out that houses the front camera. Unlike the competing Realme 6, it doesn’t have a 90Hz panel and runs at 60Hz. However, considering the price, I wouldn’t consider this to be a con. There are barely any games that can leverage higher refresh rates and the phone is meant to be an all-rounder.

The screen has sufficient brightness and can be seen easily under direct sunlight. The colors look slightly over-saturated but it can be adjusted according to your preference. Being an LCD panel, it does a pretty good job of creating deeper blacks.

POCO Performance

The brand is known for its performance-centric phones and the legacy continues here with a Snapdragon 720G chipset. Any task you throw at it will be done without a glitch. My unit has 6GB RAM and it never slowed down or struggled to handle multiple apps at once. Being a power user, I often use Outlook, Twitter, Gmail, Microsoft Word, and WhatsApp in close proximity. Safe to say, it didn’t feel like I needed a better or more powerful chipset.

I don’t play a lot of games except for reviewing and PUBG is my first preference. The overall experience is smooth and hassle-free. Even at higher settings, the phone gets a little warm but there no visible frame drops. Although, the weight of the phone does get annoying after a while. Similarly, a heavy game like World of Tanks also gets through without any turbulence.

The phone ships with MIUI out-of-the-box and since the Redmi Note 9 Pro series also ships with the same chipset, software updates should drop-in seamlessly.

Powering the phone is a 5000mAh battery and I clocked a little more than seven hours of screen time on a full charge. It has support for 33W fast charging and takes around one hour and twenty-five minutes to fully charge.

Quad-cameras that’ll get anything done

The rear houses a quad-camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 5-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel sensor. We’ve seen this camera setup on a plethora of Xiaomi phones and it’s safe to assume the output is top-notch. Thanks to Xiaomi’s reach, the AI-assisted changes are accurate as well as satisfactory.

I mean to say, the algorithm knows where to work and how to produce pleasing pictures. Sometimes you may notice over-saturation in landscape pictures, but AI-mode can be switched off with a quick tap. The dynamic range is near-perfect while the overall tone is on the warmer side.

While daytime pictures are excellent, the primary sensor struggles in the dark. Shots can often be grainy or blurry if you’re not careful about being steady.

For the pros out there, a manual mode is available to tinker with the finer details. Portrait mode works flawlessly and works on better than expected on dogs too!

The display cut-out houses a 16-megapixel selfie camera and it’s flawless. Details are retained accurately and the focus is ultra-fast. This sensor also is tuned on the warmer side and comes with an optional beauty mode.

On the video side, it supports recording at up to 4K 30fps. Obviously, there’s no optical image stabilization. But, the electronic rendering is good enough and gets the job done.

No ads in MIUI

Yes, the phone runs on MIUI 11. No, it doesn’t have any ads.

This is the only visible change I can see between the POCO M2 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro. MIUI has a lot of customization and functionality, minus the learning curve. The phone is perfect for everyone can be used without any deep technical knowledge. Software support is stable and while there were a few bugs, the overall experience remained unhindered.

The most frequent complaint about MIUI is the ads. This phone won’t spam your notification area and this can be a relief for many. There are a few pre-installed apps, but they can be easily disabled. In a nutshell, the POCO M2 Pro offers a better user experience while retaining top-notch hardware. Lastly, instead of MIUI launcher, this phone has POCO launcher.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I’d recommend this phone without any buts. The display is immersive, performance is best-in-class, the cameras do a decent job, and the battery can easily last you a day. With MIUI, the uniform Xiaomi experience is brought back without its biggest con. Design is a personal preference and I’ve found both, the POCO M2 Pro, as well as the Redmi Note 9 Pro, be impressive.

For the consumers, this is a win-win situation. But, for the brand, it’s a mixed bag. POCO intended to move out of Xiaomi’s camp but hasn’t been able to do that efficiently this year. To become a truly independent brand, it’ll have to stop depending on the parent so much and create its own identity. Right now, the original POCO F1 fans are disappointed along with the current followers who expected a fresh offering.

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