Hands-On

Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro: A pricey gimmick

It looks good though

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Don’t get me wrong: I am absolutely in love with the Xiaomi Mi 8. The GadgetMatch peeps can even tell you how much I didn’t want to let that phone go. It’s literally the phone I would buy for myself.

With the Mi 8 Pro, you’re pretty much getting the same top-shelf specs albeit in a different package.

That different package is this — the Transparent Titanium “color design” as Xiaomi noted on the phone’s global page. It will make you think you’re looking at the phone’s actual internals. I have to say, it is appealing but as is the case with the Mi 8 Explorer Edition, it’s all for show.

If you can get over (and maybe even appreciate) that the transparent look is all aesthetics, then you can move on to the good stuff. And the good stuff are plenty.

You’re looking at a phone equipped with the Snapdragon 845 SoC along with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. It only has a 3000mAh battery but it does support quick charge.

This means you’ll have no trouble running games like PUBG, Asphalt 9, Ragnarok Mobile, and basically whatever game you feel like playing. This also means the Mi 8 Pro is a lean, mean multitasking machine.

You can shuffle through all your social media apps, email, notes, as well as three dating apps so you can keep swiping away even though the person you really want to talk to is already reachable through other messaging apps. I digress. (Editor’s note: Sad.)

Unlocking can be a pain

The other main addition is the in-screen fingerprint sensor. On paper, it looks promising and I really appreciate that I don’t have to lift the phone to unlock when it’s lying flat on the table. However, “pressing lightly” as Xiaomi suggests just doesn’t do the trick.

I can’t count how many times I pressed the fingerprint sensor with it asking me to “press a bit harder.” I’d like to think I was already pressing hard. For comparison’s sake, I did use the Vivo V11 quite a bit too and didn’t encounter the same problems using its in-display fingerprint scanner.

It’s pretty fast when I apply the right amount of pressure, but the thing is I don’t always do so. To save myself from being asked to press harder all the damn time, I resorted to mostly using face unlock. It’s an option I wouldn’t have considered had I not used the iPhone XR a while back, but that’s a story for another time.

The phone warns you that it’s not as secure as the fingerprint sensor and that it can be unlocked using faces and objects that look like you. I tried putting a steamed bun in front of the phone and thankfully it stayed locked. I’m gonna mark that down as a win.

Kidding aside, my personal experience with the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro’s in-screen fingerprint sensor leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, this phone is pretty darn solid.

The other good stuff

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro sports the same cameras as the Xiaomi Mi 8 — that’s two 12MP rear cameras that capture images more than good enough for sharing on your social media feed.

Here are some samples taken in Singapore:

One of my personal favorites to try on any phone is the portrait mode. Again, I think the Mi 8 Pro does it pretty well. The image does get grainy if you try it in low-light conditions so I suggest sticking to normal shots and not use portrait mode when lighting in your area is less than ideal.

The front camera is a 20MP shooter that also has portrait mode and captures a fair amount of detail when you have a bright background.

I’m also a huge fan of MIUI. It’s just a thoughtful and clean user interface. I especially love the fullscreen gestures which I admittedly took time getting used to when I first tried them on the Mi 8. But they’re great once you get the hang of it.

Swiping on either side of the screen functions as the back button. Hold it long enough and you’ll be taken to the last app you used. That’s such a great feature especially when I’m darting between social media apps during event coverage.

Should you buy it over the Xiaomi Mi 8?

The easy answer is no. Most of the good stuff that you’ll find on the Mi 8 Pro are already on the Mi 8. One of the Mi 8’s main attractions, other than everything I’ve already mentioned thus far, is its pricing.

The Mi 8 is a solid flagship phone that’s an easy recommendation for anyone who wants those specs but doesn’t have the budget for the big hitters like the iPhone XS, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

With the Mi 8 Pro, you’ll shell out roughly around US$ 200 more and for what? An ice-breaking design that doesn’t really do much other than catch someone’s attention and an in-screen fingerprint sensor that’s still in its early stages. It’s simply not worth it.

If you’re hell bent on spending close to or around US$ 700 on a smartphone, there are better choices out there. But if you love what Xiaomi has to offer, you can drop the Pro and just grab the Mi 8.

Hands-On

Snapdragon 865 Hands-on: Top 5 Features

5G for all, 200MP, 8K, and more.

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As we lean towards the second decade of the millennium, Qualcomm is ready to ship out their next flagship chipset.

Snapdragon has been running most devices people use today. Snapdragon 865 (together with the midrange 765) are two of Qualcomm’s chipset offerings for 2020. They offer more than incremental performance boosts.

Watch more to know the top 5 promising features of the new chipset.

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Hands-On

Realme X2 Pro Master Edition hands-on: Tough looks, solid performance

It’s made of a soft-frosted glass but feels like cement

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The Realme X2 Pro has gotten fans really excited. Touted as the new flagship killer, it has quad cameras, Snapdragon 855+, and other flagship-level features at an affordable price tag.

While the regular Realme X2 Pro is already pretty awesome, what we got here is even more intense. We have the Reame X2 Pro Master Edition to check out, the Concrete edition to be exact.

Tough looks

The Master Edition of the Realme X2 Pro also comes in a Red Brick design. I’m not too big a fan of that look, so I got the Concrete version instead.

The Realme X2 Pro Master Edition is designed by famous Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa. It comes with a signature of the designer on the back panel.

The texture is pretty similar to the Sandstone feel of the older OnePlus devices — just less rough and more matte.

Realme says this is a soft-frosted glass although it’s hard to tell to be honest. The finish looks and feels like concrete cement even if it’s soft-to-touch.

Solid performance

Apart from the differences in design, it’s pretty much the same exact Realme X2 Pro inside. It packs 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage.

The Realme X2 Pro has a 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with a waterdrop notch, and a high 90Hz refresh rate. It boasts a 91.7 percent screen-to-body ratio and an in-display fingerprint scanner that works really fast.

Making it an even better media device is a pair of stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

There’s also a vapor chamber liquid cooling, a superconducting carbon fiber multi-layer scheme, multi-layer graphite sheet and other heat-dissipating materials so the phone can definitely game without heating issues.

This is all backed up by a massive 4000 mAh battery with 50W SuperVOOC Flash Charging technology. It can fully charge the phone from zero, in just about 35 minutes.

This super fast charging is definitely something anyone would appreciate. Imagine waking up in the morning and charging your phone while you’re in the shower. It’ll be ready and full just before you head out.

Capable cameras

The Realme X2 Pro has a quad-camera setup, with the Samsung GW1 64-MP sensor with a fast f/1.8 aperture as the main camera. There’s also a 13MP telephoto lens with support for up to 20x hybrid zoom, an 8MP ultra-wide with a 115-degree field-of-view, as well as a 2-megapixel depth sensor to help with portrait shots. Up front is a 16MP selfie camera.

In China the Realme X2 Pro is priced at CNY 3299 (US$ 469). In India, it will be going on sale around Christmas time for INR 34,999 (US$ 490).

What do you think about this version? Should phone companies make more special edition phones in a similar design? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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5 reasons to invest in a gaming laptop even if you don’t play

They can do more than just game

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If you’re a professional in need of a powerful laptop, you might find it difficult to find something that meets all of your needs and preferences. While you’d rather have something that’s sleek, sometimes what you need are on a gaming laptop that’s bulky and just screams gaming too much.

Fortunately, brands like ASUS and Lenovo have started redesigning gaming laptops with portability in mind. This attempt makes consumers consider gaming laptops once again.

While it’s easy to look for a reason to buy a gaming laptop if you’re a gamer, there are still a few good reasons to invest in a gaming laptop even if you don’t play games.

Work anywhere you want

Brands are redesigning gaming laptops by making them slimmer and more compact. Gaming laptops have started looking like real laptops and not a clunky machine that will be tough to carry around for most people. They’ve trimmed the weight and now a lot of them fit in most backpacks with a dedicated 15-inch laptop sleeve. Think of it as bringing a laptop with the power of a mobile PC wherever you go.

Stay ahead of the game (no pun intended)

A lot of laptops launched this year carry the latest processors and graphics card meant for the future. For instance, the Lenovo Legion Y540 has a 9th-gen Intel i7 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, 8GB RAM and 1TB SSD storage.

With that much power, that’s more than enough for your work and daily usage. Imagine running multiple tabs without any hiccups, or even when using power-hungry apps like Netflix, Spotify, and Google Chrome simultaneously.

Show-off a personality

Most gaming laptops nowadays are designed stylishly to reflect different personalities. The ASUS’ ROG line roars like thunder, screaming power, and strength. It’s also unafraid of coming out too loud and daring.

On the other hand, Lenovo’s Legion laptops remain true to their motto of being “stylish on the outside, savage on the inside.” A lot of their laptops look discreet and classy, but are powerful on their own right and oftentimes, they let their work  — and performance — do the talking.

Since I have a hint of narcissism and vanity, I enjoy showing-off from time to time. However, I resonate most with the Legion lineup since I prefer astounding the world with the quality of my output.

Choose when to be untethered

A lot of people prefer being mobile so they can work remotely. Gaming laptops may be humongous but they’re portable and have multiple ports for you to stay connected. It’s difficult to pass on this kind of convenience. Additionally, gaming laptops aren’t limited to USB-C ports, unlike most business laptops. Furthermore, you don’t have to be tied down with cables compared to when you opt for a desktop PC.

Get the extra features to make you more productive

While your needs for a work laptop sometimes are limited to the basics, switching to a gaming laptop lets you enjoy extra features. Case in point: near-borderless display, better visuals, a 144 Hz refresh rate allowing a smooth and seamless, immersive sound experience, antiglare screen, and unique cooling system.

With all these nitty-gritty details, gaming laptops can make your workflow easier since these machines do most of the work for you. It’s just a matter of you taking advantage of all that power.

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