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.

Gaming

Kena: Bridge of Spirits isn’t for everybody

And, that’s fine

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Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an action-adventure third-person video game. The game is developed and produced by Ember Lab. In the game, you play as Kena. She’s a young spirit guide who uses her magical abilities to help people pass on into the spirit world.

The game is stunning and deep dives into spiritual aspects like emotional entanglement with the physical word after passing away.

In case you don’t have a working pair of eyes

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a gorgeous game. Stunning yet scuffed at times, this game is nothing short of eye-candy. The background details and character design is just *chef’s kiss*. But, big butt (Editor’s Note: Not sure if this is a typo but we’ve decided to keep it as is), by the way, this aesthetic might not be to some people’s liking. Hear me out: this game looks and feels like you’re playing through a Disney Pixar movie. And, honestly, that might not be for everyone.

On the scuffed end of things, you’ll find that some things glitch through objects and terrain. But, to that, I think it adds to its charm. The silliness is often welcome and strangely expected in the whole gaming sense. This isn’t the first scuffed game to come across a gamer’s life and it won’t be the last. I think each game has its improvements and patches to develop and incorporate and the glitches make the whole experience memorable and meme-able.

The crutch everyone won’t shut up about

This game is weirdly forgettable for people who’ve played a lot of third-person action adventures. Why? Well, this isn’t the first of its kind. Kena: Bridge of Spirits takes from many games before it and blends its inspirations together pretty nicely without overcomplicating its mechanics.

I would say though, that this can be what I personally found to be endearing with Kena. It unapologetically makes for a good entry-level action-adventure game for people who might not normally gravitate to games like it. With its beautiful visuals and memorable take on grievances, Kena pulls at sentimental heartstrings without the stupidly complicated skill building of most other action adventures out there.

Don’t hate the game

Nor, the player. The game is simple. That can be refreshing for some players or just boring to some. Which, I’ll say now, to each their own. Most games under the same category are far more convoluted and complex. So, if that’s something you like, this isn’t for you. And that’s totally fine.

Most of the game plays on collecting cute Rot along the way. And, on top of the usual skill building, most rewards you’ll find in hidden spots are either more Rot or hats for them. It doesn’t really require that much mental gymnastics to play this game. You can play to relax and just enjoy the journey. Which, for me, is great! Kena: Bridge of Spirits is the perfect game for when you want to play with family watching. I’m sure it’ll feel like a movie to them.

Is this your GAME Match?

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a game worth trying no matter how familiar you are with video games in the same category. The barrier of entry is super friendly and simplistic so, you won’t need that much video game experience to immerse in the story. Plus, you can customize the game for when you want more of a challenge.

I do have to say though, that this game might fight to keep your interest at times but, it sure can lure you back in. As for me, I was happy to play this game. It was challenging at times and, it might not be the best one on my list. But, it gets honorary points for being simple, gorgeous, and family-friendly.

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Reviews

Apple Watch Series 7: In-Depth Fitness Review

For fitness buffs and starters alike

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In our previous video, Michael Josh did an unboxing of the new Apple Watch Series 7 in Starlight. He even became NY’s next top model as the Apple Watch can also be your next best fashion piece.

This time around, we go all-out to show you the fitness benefits of using the latest Apple Watch.

While an incremental update and lack of new sensors mean little, the longer battery life, faster charging, and larger display of the Apple Watch Series 7 mean it’s even better than before.

Here’s our in-depth fitness review of the new Apple Watch Series 7.

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Laptops

realme Book review: Done right the first time around

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realme Book

The pandemic has brought about major changes on how we depend on our gadgets. We stay glued to our smartphones for hours to stay connected. Most of us also continue with our work from home setup, causing the demand for laptops to continue to rise and opening the market to new players. 

realme tries to steal the scene as they make their laptop debut with the realme Book, aimed at competing at the midrange level where many brands have already made their mark. 

Let’s check out if the realme Book can be a great contender in the laptop arena. 

Familiar yet better  

realme Book

Having a first look at the realme Book, the similarity of its design is undeniable with the MacBook though I don’t really think it’s a bad thing. Its sleek and stylish minimalist design actually makes me feel like I’m using a premium laptop. 

Compared to its smartphones that have those flashy labels, realme veered away from that with their first laptop as they kept the label subtle and you can barely see the “Dare to Leap” mark on one of its rubber feet. 

Its 14-inch sleek aluminum alloy body with matte finish really feels solid and has little or no flex on its slim chassis.

If you’re someone who likes to work in different corners of your home or at al fresco shops, the realme book can easily fit in your bag with its 14.9mm width and 1.38kg weight. When working on a flat surface, the rubber feet on the back actually help the laptop stay stable. 

In terms of port options, you get one USB-A port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and two Type-C ports, one being a Thunderbolt 4 for the core i5 variant.

realme Book

The USB port was a bit too tight that it required me to exert effort to pull out my USB device. Also, this laptop lacks an SD card slot and HDMI port. It doesn’t bother me that much but it may be a deal-breaker for other users. 

realme Book

Top-Notch Display 

One thing that the realme Book can really boast about is its display. As full HD display is common in laptops from its competition, the realme Book takes it up a notch with its 2K Ultra-HD screen with 2160 x 1440 pixel resolution delivering stellar image quality with sharp detail. 

The realme Book also packs in 100 percent sRGB wide color gamut that enables true-to-life visuals and a peak brightness of 400 nits which maintains high quality image even under direct sunlight. 

What also sets it apart from other laptops is its 3:2 aspect ratio, giving you more vertical room compared to most laptops that are either 16:10 or 16:9. This feature is an advantage when it comes to your productivity especially if you usually work on documents, spreadsheets or social media content for work. 

However, this becomes a disadvantage when you’re watching videos since you’ll have wider black bars at the top and bottom of the screen due to movies and series being usually formatted with 16:9 ratio.  

Another impressive feature of this laptop is that realme was able to fit its web camera on its narrow bezels, unlike Huawei that had to sacrifice a good camera angle with their Matebook’s hidden camera placed on its keyboard. 

realme Book

Comfortable for work 

Speaking of the keyboard, typing on the realme Book is satisfying thanks to its 1.3mm key travel and the sound of its clicks is just right for my preference.

The keyboard also comes with a 3-mode backlit option which you can activate and adjust by pressing the F7 key. This is convenient especially when you have to work or use the laptop for a while during the night. It is also interesting since this is a feature that you barely get to experience on laptops at this price. 

realme Book

Compared to other laptops, the trackpad on the realme Book is pretty huge but doesn’t get in the way of typing. It is also very responsive to the touch and works precisely with all gestures and clicks. 

realme Book

And similar to the Huawei Matebook devices, it also has a fingerprint-sensor embedded power button to boot it up which is actually a handy feature to have in a laptop. 

Power Performance 

As for breezing through tasks, the realme Book is highly capable to give you the best experience being powered by the 11th Gen Intel Core processor. Paired with this is the Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 8GB DDR4 memory and 512GB PCIe SSD storage. 

Aside from writing and creating social media content, I sometimes do photo and basic video editing for my side hustles. With the power combo under this laptop’s hood, it didn’t come as a surprise that the realme Book actually handled my tasks smoothly. 

Even with games such as Valorant, I was able to play it at 2K resolution at high settings and it didn’t feel laggy at all. Of course, if you’d want a faster frame rate, you can always lower down your settings to improve your gaming experience. 

realme Book

I also noticed that while playing games, the laptop didn’t feel heated up at all. I checked via HWMOnitor and its temperature was just hovering a little over 60 degrees. This is actually cool for its slim body. I guess we can attribute this to its efficient cooling system with dual 8mm heat pipes and high speed, high airflow fans.

Quick juice up 

When working, I usually take short breaks in between major tasks to refresh my mind. So it’s actually enough for me that the realme Book’s 54 Wh battery can support up to 9 hours of work and leisure, keeping me powered and connected.

And once the battery already ran out, the 65W fast charger got me to a 50 percent charge in just 30 minutes so I was able to conveniently continue with whatever I’m doing.

It’s also a plus that the charger of the realme Book is small and just slightly heavier than a smartphone charger so it’s an easy carry in the bag. It also has the same USB-C cable used to charge our smartphones so you won’t have to carry another charger for your smartphone when traveling. 

Immersive speakers  

For a laptop this slim, I was quite surprised that the sound coming from its down-firing Harman speakers is considerably loud and well defined. 

When I tried listening to my playlists, I did notice that while it did not have as much bass as I would have preferred, it does sound fuller compared to others. When it comes to binging series and playing games, the speakers did a great job of simulating space that sounds pleasant and immersive. I guess I can say, it does sound better than many of the laptops I’ve tried.

Is the realme Book your GadgetMatch? 

As a new player in the laptop market, the realme Book makes a pretty great attempt at laptops and definitely challenges competing and more established brands. 

Sure this laptop may not be perfect but realme has brought their expertise in creating attractive smartphones to this laptop that definitely looks premium for its price. Also with its 2K Ultra-HD display, sleek and sturdy aluminum build, premium design, powerful performance and immersive audio, this laptop is definitely a solid deal for its price. 

The realme Book is available in Real Grey and Real Blue colors and retails at PhP 37,990 for the i3 variant and PhP 47,990 for the i5 variant.

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