Philippines

Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro Review: Twice the power, still affordable

But is it worth the hype?

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The year is far from over and neither are phone manufacturers from releasing smartphones. Although Mi 9T Pro isn’t the newest smartphone release from Xiaomi, it’s one of the most talked about smartphones around and is still the flagship killer to, well, kill.

If you previously read our Xiaomi Mi 9T review, you’d know by now that I’m exactly an Android user. I loved the Mi 9T Pro’s smaller sibling however because of its camera prowess and seamless experience despite its cheap price tag.

Now that I have the more powerful Mi 9T Pro on hand, I took it out on adventures the past few weeks to see whether it can actually live up to its flagship killer title.

Same design, different vibe

If you compare the Mi 9T and Mi 9T Pro side-by-side, it’ll be difficult to tell them apart. The symmetry is there. I like the Carbon Black option for its stealth while the Glacier Blue option is striking, in a good way. Although I’m not a fan of flashy design and colors, I love how there are subtle gradations flowing from both sides.

The red power button is still there, giving it a touch of contrast against its blue metallic body.

Speaker grilles, microphone, USB-C port, and SIM card slot below.

The Mi 9T Pro has a Gorilla Glass 5 back. It’s not the newest generation of Corning’s technology but it’s good enough to protect the phone from accidental scratches. The Mi 9T had none, which was a drawback for a smartphone with a glass back. I loved flaunting its back that I decided not to use the included black case. It’s still good as new and has not acquired any scratches. It feels right in my hand and doesn’t slip easily.

Same screen size, different display

Even Suzy looks confused with the differences in AMOLED and Super AMOLED

Xiaomi’s Mi 9T wowed me before because of its 6.4-inch AMOLED display. It’s an excellent panel, for such a cheap phone, with great viewing angles and contrast.

The Mi 9T Pro still packs a similar 6.4-inch display, but with a Super AMOLED display technology. Watching videos even outdoors is a great experience because it’s brighter and overall a better panel.

The Super AMOLED display is drop-dead gorgeous, so is Yoohyeon

I love its fullscreen display. Not having a notch or punch-hole camera makes a difference for me especially when watching videos. Color calibration is accurate and vibrant, making visuals pop.

Watching TWICE’s Feel Special in 4K made me miss Mina more #GetWellSoonMina

There are only a handful of smartphones with 4K resolution — and it’s not the basis of having a great display. It may not be the best display on a smartphone, but the Mi 9T Pro still delivers excellent entertainment experience even with its Full HD+ display. It’s also more power efficient than the AMOLED display found on the Mi 9T.

Flagship performance at half the price

The Mi 9T was already a great smartphone with the Snapdragon 730, but Xiaomi made the Mi 9T Pro even better. This phone is  equipped with a flagship Snapdragon 855 chipset — something you can only find on more expensive smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and OnePlus 7 Pro.

The Mi 9T Pro feels snappier than the Mi 9T — something I noticed immediately. Opening apps, the animation — they all feel faster. The experience is oh-so fluid and smooth. I can now play my favorite Asphalt 9 game at the highest settings that I couldn’t do (or even install) on the Mi 9T before.

Just like the Mi 9T, it also has 6GB of memory, so switching between apps is seamless.

Having a 3.5mm audio jack feels special (pun intended)

A lot of “Pro” products don’t seem like they meet expectations of actual pro users. If you’re the type of person who prefers the traditional way of listening to music, this phone has a 3.5mm jack — something you don’t see in many smartphones these days.

While I can always connect a wireless pair of headphones, the good ol’ audio jack is still very handy in a lot of scenarios. I find it useful when playing music in parties that don’t have wireless speakers. Some people still use wired microphones for audio recording as it’s more reliable. Some monopods require wired cables for you to control shutter releases.

Battery life is outstanding

I’m not proud of it but I’m *that* power user. I fiddle around with my phone and browse my social media feed every five to ten minutes. When I’m bored, I watch videos on YouTube or at least two episodes of a series I’m following on Netflix at around 75% brightness. I also play graphics-intensive games every now and then. Despite all of this, the Mi 9T Pro’s battery lasts me my entire day.

Fast charging just got faster

The Mi 9T already has a USB-C port and an 18W fast charger right out of the box — but the Mi 9T Pro ships with a faster 27W charger with Quick Charge 4+ technology.

It takes around 35 minutes to charge the phone from 0% to 50%. It reached 100% after around an hour and 30 minutes. That’s fast for a smartphone with a 4000 mAh battery.

Modern problems require modern solutions, except for these two

The Mi 9T Pro still features an in-display fingerprint scanner and it works most of the time. Not that I’m complaining, but it will never be as fast as a traditional scanner. A side-mounted scanner is always my alternative pick over this type of reader.

I thought there will be at least a difference when it comes to Face Unlock but it still performs sluggish. I would rather use the fingerprint scanner instead of the inconvenience of swiping and waiting for the camera to pop-up. Face unlock isn’t even as secure as it just relies on camera recognition.

The pop-up camera itself performs well

Don’t get me wrong, the pop-up camera is not bad, well at least in taking selfies. It captures decent selfies even when beauty mode is completely turned off.

I like how the selfies don’t look as saturated as other selfie shooters, which gives it a nice touch in persuading your crush to give you a chance to date you.

People who have shorter arms wouldn’t have a problem as the selfie camera is wide enough to accommodate four (or more) people in the frame — just like how a lot of you accommodate people that will never be a part of your life.

Same triple camera setup, but now snappier

You get the same triple camera setup as the Mi 9T that I loved: 48MP f/1.8 wide, 8MP f/2.4 telephoto, and 13MP f/2.4 ultrawide.

There’s a small difference though: the Mi 9T Pro has laser autofocus. This might not sound like much but taking photos with the Mi 9T Pro felt snappier and photos turn out sharper. It’s an understated but very important improvement.

Unlike with the Mi 9T, I didn’t experience errors while using the Mi 9T Pro’s camera

The camera does well with food subjects

But it’s honestly even better with the telephoto lens

Night Mode works really well

But sometimes, it doesn’t do photos justice

The highlights in the neon signs were dimmed after turning on the Night Mode, which made the shots worse.

Using Night Mode on the telephoto lens is great, too

I really love how it captured the filament in these two light bulbs and produced the right amount of shadows and blur in the background.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The maxed-out 128GB/6GB configuration of the Mi 9T Pro is priced at PhP 20,490, while the 64GB/6GB configuration currently retails at PhP 18,990 — which is just a PhP 1,500 difference from Mi 9T’s 128GB/6GB.

A lot of people have been calling the Mi 9T Pro as 2019’s true flagship killer, not just because of its top of the line specs but also because of its affordable price tag.

If you want to have a powerful smartphone with a bright display, snappy cameras, and unparalleled software experience without spending that much, the Mi 9T Pro is for you. If you don’t need the faster chipset and just want an overall great device, then go for the Mi 9T.

Gaming

Black Shark 2 Pro: Price and availability in the Philippines

It’s finally here!

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It’s finally here! The much anticipated Black Shark 2 and Black Shark 2 Pro are finally in the Philippines.

First announced back in July, the Black Shark 2 is a much anticipated gaming smartphone. Powering the phone is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus.

The device also comes with an AMOLED display with a 240Hz touch report rate. However, is that the display still retains a 60Hz refresh rate that lags behind its major competitor — the ASUS ROG Phone 2 — which has a display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The display’s response speed was reduced to 34.7 ms, promising faster response times during high pressure gameplay.

Price and availability

The Black Shark 2 comes in three variants: 6GB/128GB (PhP 22,990), 8GB/128GB (23,990), and 12GB/256GB (PhP 28,990).

Meanwhile, the Black Shark 2 Pro comes in two variants: 8GB/128GB (PhP 27,990), and 12GB/256GB (PhP 33,490).

The phones will be available in select Mi Stores: SM Megamall, SM North EDSA, and SM Mall of Asia starting December 13.

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Philippines

Best Budget Smartphones in the Philippines below P10,000

December 2019 Edition

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Welcome to GadgetMatch’s list of the best smartphones priced below PhP 10,000! Each month, we update our selection with the budget-friendly phones we believe are most deserving of your hard-earned savings.

Even though the spotlight has been on high-end smartphones this entire year, there have been a few surprisingly good entry-level handsets coming out lately, as well. So good, in fact, that we had to reassess our entire list.

Here they are in no particular order:

Redmi Note 8 (PhP 9,990)

If you think a 48MP main camera on a midrange phone is amazing, Xiaomi managed to put it on the budget Redmi Note 8. As far as smartphones below PhP 10,000 go, this might easily be one of the best.

READ: Redmi Note 8

Samsung Galaxy A20s (PhP 9,990)

There was a time when we couldn’t, in good conscience, recommend a Samsung phone in the budget segment. That’s now a thing of the past with Samsung’s Galaxy A series. The line is more streamlined and more competent than the J-series that once held its place.

READ: Samsung Galaxy A20s

OPPO A5s (PhP 6,990)

The OPPO A5s perhaps is best looked at as a transition device more than anything else. It does what you expect out of budget smartphones. It’s good to have “for now” but you might look elsewhere for a more reliable daily driver.

REVIEW: OPPO A5s

Realme 5 (PhP 7,990)

Realme is giving Xiaomi a run for its money on our top-of-mind easy phones to recommend. The Realme 5 is a real treat for people looking for a budget smartphone that provides more than what they need.

HANDS-ON: Realme 5

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Philippines

Best Midrange Smartphones in the Philippines from P10,000 to P20,000

December 2019 Edition

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When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best midrange smartphones retailing from PhP 10,000 to PhP 20,000.

Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our other lists for best budget, upper-midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

Samsung Galaxy A50s (PhP 18,990)

If you’re a Samsung loyalist and the flagship Galaxies feel like they’re far, far away, this is the next best thing. The Samsung Galaxy A50s brings a lot of what you expect from a Samsung Galaxy but at a friendlier price. Xiaomi has always been a part of the list and the Mi 9 SE truly deserves its spot. It’s a flagship-grade phone from its design to its specs. It’s dubbed as a “compact flagship” thanks to its smaller-than-usual form factor. If you’re looking for a phone that won’t hurt your pockets both in size and price, check out the Mi 9 SE.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A50s

Nokia 7.2 (PhP 15,990)

Nokia’s hold on its fans is amazing. But best bet that despite HMD Global now handling the brand, the products have maintained what Nokia has been known for. Tough, quality handsets. The Nokia 7.2 is no different. It’s also a good option if you want a pure Android experience..

REVIEW: Nokia 7.2

Realme XT (PhP 16,990)

The Realme XT is our choice for best smartphone with a 64MP camera. It produces flagship-level photos, looks gorgeous, and provides great value overall. We’re glad this didn’t come out with a black variant because the XT feels like a special device, especially at this price point.

REVIEW: Realme XT

Redmi Note 8 Pro (PhP 12,990)

This is the most affordable smartphone with a 64MP camera. It’s insane that it’s available at this price point. What’s also quite unbelievable is that while the phone’s focus is mobile photography, it doesn’t compromise on performance and gaming.

REVIEW: Redmi Note 8 Pro

Realme 5 Pro (PhP 11,990/PhP 13,990)

This is another smartphone that’s easy to recommend. Both variants offer 128GB of storage and are equipped with quad-cameras. The main camera is also a 48MP shooter – on par with most flagships today. Now that’s fantastic value.

REVIEW: Realme 5 Pro

Honor 9X (PhP 12,490)

If you absolutely abhor notches then this might be the best option in this bunch. You get that full-screen goodness thanks to a pop-camera module and you also get a 48MP main camera. Just make sure you get the Sapphire Blue variant with the “Dynamic X” design. It has more… personality.

READ: Honor 9X

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