Reviews

Xiaomi Mi 9T Review: An iPhone user’s take

Flagship-like performance for less than half the price

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Three years had passed since I last used an Android phone as my daily driver. It was a Samsung Galaxy Note 5. It performed so well that I got upset the moment it stopped functioning. I had since been using an iPhone — the 6 Plus and the XR. Before the Note 5 I had used the iPhone 3Gs and the iPhone 4S.

I’m no stranger to using non iPhones though. The phones I’ve used has been mostly a mixed bag: Nokia 6070, Motorola SLVR L6, Motorola RAZR V3i, Sony Ericsson F305, and Samsung Wave. So when I was given the chance to use the Xiaomi Mi 9T, I welcomed the experience with open arms.

Unlike the OnePlus 6T which is the more advanced version of the OnePlus 6, do not confuse yourself as the this is not the “Pro” version of the Xiaomi Mi 9, not even the Redmi K20 Pro.

The design is oddly attractive

Unlike most Xiaomi phones, the rear cameras were placed in the middle. I don’t have OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) but I would choose the symmetrical design over anything else.

Although the Carbon Black color does not have any striking effect as the Flame Red or the icy effect of the Glacier Blue, it looks stealthy with those lines that blend well with the design as a whole.

The metal frame blends with the phone’s color when not heavily lit

Both the power button and volume buttons are found at the right side of the phone. I like how they distinguished the power button with a red accent.

The audio jack is something you can’t find on most smartphones nowadays

The top part houses the headphone jack, microphone, and the pop-up camera module. Unlike its Mi 9 and Mi 9 SE siblings, the Mi 9T doesn’t have an IR blaster.

The bottom part shows the speaker grilles, dual nano-SIM card slot, microphone, and (finally) a USB-C port — which other manufacturers refuse to include on their midrange phones 👀.

It may not have any dual speakers but it’s loud enough when you play music, videos, or games.

I like it BIG

Those bezels are thinner than my trust issues combined

Having large hands, I prefer using big phones (owning a Note 5 and 6 Plus made all sense). It’s just surprising how Xiaomi kept the bezels thin enough to accommodate this massive display in such a form factor.

The AMOLED display makes visuals pop-up (pun intended)

I can appreciate music videos (and Yeji) better with this display

One thing I miss about the Galaxy Note 5 is its Super AMOLED display. Xiaomi Mi 9T has a 6.39″ Full HD+ fullscreen display with the same AMOLED technology that showcases deeper blacks and whiter whites in comparison to other phone screens. My iPhone XR with an IPS-LCD display can’t relate to this display superiority.

The HDR display is a nice addition

I was able to enjoy watching El and the Gang with Mi 9T’s Netflix HDR compatibility

Not all phones are created equal — but the Mi 9T boasts HDR compatibility, specifically for Netflix. It may not matter to most people but personally, it made my entertainment experience a lot better.

In-display fingerprint scanners are not perfect but they work fine

With this display tech, it’s expected for this phone to have an in-display fingerprint scanner. Although it’s nowhere near the accuracy of phones with physical fingerprint scanners, it still does the trick.

Ambient display is underappreciated

Ambient displays or the Always-On Display (AOD) is an Android feature I (desperately) want iOS to have. It has kept me updated with my social media updates by just glancing without ever unlocking the phone.

The pop-up camera solves the notch dilemma

Pop-up cameras are not really my cup of tea as I don’t take selfies that much, but I would still choose them over bothersome notches and punch hole displays.

No one can really tell how long it will last because of its motorized parts, but I would keep this feature for the sake of keeping the fullscreen display (not until companies make in-display cameras a thing).

Face Unlock doesn’t make sense

Honestly speaking, the pop-up camera takes a while to appear. The added facial recognition doubles the unlocking time, making this feature senseless. I guess I was just used to the speed, accuracy, and reliability of Apple’s FaceID.

Surprising performance for less than half the price

This Mi 9T is equipped with Snapdragon 730, 6GB RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. I don’t wanna focus on the specifics but in my experience, it performs well as I was able to play graphics-intensive games like SimCity: Build It for several hours.

Some minor issues I noticed are the casual lags while playing, specifically when I simultaneously build and upgrade buildings. Also, games like  Asphalt 9 can’t be downloaded from the Play Store due to compatibility issues with the display. APK files might work although I don’t recommend that as it might ruin the device. Another I noticed is that the phone is prone to accidental touches when in landscape mode. This can be frustrating especially since most games include small elements found at the edge of the screen.

Overall, I would say performance is on par and can keep up with the competition.

MIUI 10 felt familiar

I’m aware that there are differences among Android phones when it comes to the User Interface (UI): Samsung’s One UI, Huawei’s EMUI, ASUS’ ZenUI, Oppo’s ColorOS, Vivo’s Funtouch OS, you name them. I was also able to use the Xiaomi Mi A2 before but instead of MIUI, it runs Google’s Android One.

Using the MIUI 10 felt familiar to me though. There are a lot of bells and whistles when it comes to features — but in a good way. UI is ever-responsive and multitasking is a breeze. There were some hiccups especially when I use the iOS-like fullscreen gestures, but it’s still more tolerable than my iPhone 6 Plus’ terrible performance.

Battery life is outstanding

4% left after more than a day of normal usage

The combination of its 4000mAh battery and Snapdragon’s 8nm processor made this phone last for more than a day with normal usage. It’s even ideal for multimedia consumption. The phone was able to keep some 28 percent of spare juice after binge-watching all eight episodes of Stranger Things 3 for more than six hours straight. I watched every episode in 1080p HDR with 75 percent display brightness.

Games are obviously battery hogs, but battery performance is not as terrible as most smartphones out there. It can still last you almost a day after several hours of continuous gameplay. It honestly deserves the “Battery Champ” title among low-midrange smartphones.

Quick charge and USB-C: Two things that work together

It’s 2019, there’s no place for micro USBs anymore. Xiaomi is doing it right with using USB-C as the standard for ports — even for midrangers like the Mi 9T.

Those reversible cables and the existence of 18W Quick Charge make everything less of a hassle. With the charging brick and cable that came out of the box, I was able to observe that it can fill up from one percent to 100 percent in just one hour and 30~45 minutes.

Highlight of the show: triple-treat cameras

Triple cameras are nothing new anymore —  but being able to pack three camera sensors at such an affordable price felt like a smart bargain.

Auto Mode works most of the time

Going into the specifics, it has a 48MP f/1.8 main camera, 8MP f/2.4 telephoto zoom camera, and one of my favorites, 13MP f/2.4 ultra-wide camera.

It even works great under dark lighting conditions

Using Auto Mode under such lighting condition, I was still able to capture great-looking shots.

Night Mode is stunning

What I don’t like about iPhones is the lack of Night Mode. I even downloaded a third-party app just to acquire the same functionality. Well, that feature already comes in this phone — and it’s impressive.

Portrait Mode, HDR, and AI are doing their work properly

But sometimes, I don’t like the camera’s post-processing

A lot of people brag about their #NoFilter shots but everyone should take note that post-processing already takes place once a photo gets captured. Applying the principles of photography, not everything that is vibrant turns out to be the best photograph. The camera software’s post-processing technique in one of my shots was an eyesore.

Selfies look decent enough

If you are a selfie addict, it performs well in great lightning conditions. But according to the judgments of MJ (who’s a selfie expert), he would still prefer the Mi 9 SE over this.

Another minor error I experienced while using it is when it stops working and displays “Can’t connect to camera”. It happened not just ONCE or TWICE, but several times. Even updating MIUI 10 does not fix the issue. I hope Xiaomi would resolve this in the future.

As someone who has used an iPhone for several years, there is always the skepticism about the camera quality of midrange phones. Despite the inconsistencies in software performance, Mi 9T has proven that the quality of the cameras should not be compromised regardless of its price.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Unlike iPhones, getting this will not cost you your two kidneys. The Xiaomi Mi 9T with the 6GB/64GB configuration retails for PHP 15,490. They are also selling a 6GB/128GB configuration for PHP 17,490.

For people who are looking for a smartphone that performs well in all aspects, this is one of the best picks. If you care about the fullscreen display, faster internals, and bigger battery, it’s no-brainer to choose this over the Mi 9 SE as they both have the same price. If you prefer a smaller form factor, choose the latter.

I also recommend this for people who are looking for newer phones to replace their old-generation iPhones. If you are the type of person who uses a phone regardless of the Operating System (Android vs iOS), this is a great choice.

Gaming

ROG Zephyrus G15: Lean, mean, gaming machine

And it’s a looker too

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Zephyrus G15

One of my favorite things about getting to try many new gadgets is that I learn more about myself and my preferences. The ROG Zephyrus G15 (2022) GA503 – which henceforth will just be referred to as just Zephyrus G15 – did just that for me and what I want in gaming laptops. 

For context, I have been sparingly using my ROG Flow X13 for most of my general Windows and PC gaming needs. It’s a great device, don’t get me wrong. But having to prop up the laptop itself along with the XG Mobile to reach its full potential can be quite cumbersome.

It’s a huge contrast to the Zephyrus G15 where I simply fire it up and it just works in a jiffy. And all the ports I normally use are right there, ready to use. I’m a big fan of convenience so I absolutely love it when gadgets just work without much friction. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Based on this introduction, I’m sure you already have some idea on what I generally think about the Zephyrus G15. But allow me to discuss it further. 

Tale of the tape

Zephyrus G15

Specs and benchmarks never tell the whole story. But specs are a good place to start. Here’s what our review unit is packing: 

  • AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS
  • 15″ WQHD (2560 x 1440) 16:9 240hz Pantone Validated 100% DCI-P
  • RTX 3070 TI 8GB GDDR6
  • 16GB DDR5 on board  + 16GB DDR5-4800 SO-DIMM
  • 1TB M.2 NVM PCIe 4.0 SSD
  • Moonlight White

Some standout stuff from the information provided above are the new processor, the Pantone Validated display as well as the RAM available. This isn’t even its highest configuration. There’s a variant that runs RTX 3080. You can upgrade your RAM up to 48GB and there’s another SSD slot so you can expand your storage. 

Zephyrus G15

That means there’s plenty of room to up the ante down the line should you choose to do so. That’s not something that you can say for every gaming laptop. 

Immaculate look and design

I love that ROG sent over the Moonlight White version for us to try. Black is great, don’t get me wrong. But it’s refreshing to see gaming laptops brimming with power come in other colorways that could appeal to people that are kind of just over with black. 

The magnesium-aluminum lid and chassis also maintain the Zephyrus look giving it a sleek and tough exterior, while keeping the ROG Zephyrus identity. And you don’t have to worry too much about it picking up dust and dirt. In the few weeks I spent with it, it stayed pristine looking despite little to no wiping maintenance. That’s thanks largely to the wear-resistant coating which works exactly as advertised. 

Zephyrus G15

Adding to the overall functional design is the ErgoLift Hinge. This is one of my favorite things about ASUS laptops. The ergolift hinge not only allows a 180° for more flexibility, it’s also just ultra satisfying to move and look at. 

It looks fresh, feels tough, and is relatively compact making it easy to carry around. It’s a looker with some bells and whistles in the right places.

Ports, keyboard, and trackpad

Zephyrus G15

Speaking of those bells and whistles, the Zephyrus G15 is packed with possibly all the ports you’ll need. Whether that’s for a remote setup or one that’s neatly tucked into a home office desk. 

Zephyrus G15

Here’s everything it has to offer: 

  • USB3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (2x)
  • USB3.2 Gen 2 Type-C(supports DP 1.4 & 100W PD Charger), (2x)
  • LAN RJ-45 jack (1x)
  • HDMI 2.0b (1x)
  • Micro SD Card Reader (UHS-II), (1x)
  • 3.5mm Audio combo jack (1x)
  • Kensington Lock (1x)

 

Zephyrus G15

The Stealth Type keyboard was a curious choice but one that I welcome. I was of the impression that the gaming demographic skews more towards the clickity clack of mechanical keyboards. But the one equipped on the Zephyrus G15 is about as quiet as they come. No complaints here though, as it didn’t distract my at-the-moment entanglement in slumber as I toiled away over late night labor. 

Zephyrus G15

One of the best trackpad experiences on a Windows Gaming laptop.

The trackpad, too, was such a pleasant surprise. Perhaps it’s also in conjunction with Windows 11 but using a trackpad on Windows now doesn’t feel as laggy as it used to. On days that I only worked using the Zephyrus G15, I never felt the need to connect a mouse. That feels like a breakthrough as I have never been able to say that for any of the Windows laptops I’ve reviewed in the past. 

Plays like a console

Yes, I paired a DualSense controller with the Zephyrus G15

Alright, before any PC gaming enthusiasts come at my throat, what I mean here is mostly the quality of life things. When I got the Zephyrus G15, I didn’t tweak it very much. Heck, I even opened Armoury Crate less than five times during my time with it. Despite this, it had no trouble running the games I attempted to play. Some of which are even very demanding AAA titles. 

Zephyrus G15

I’m a big fan of tech that just works. Especially with my current workload, the less time I have to figure something out, the better. And that’s the case with this gaming laptop. I simply fired up Steam, downloaded the games, and played to my heart’s content. 

Zephyrus G15

Teen Gohan vs Cell is a classic.

Naturally, I checked the settings on some of the first few games I tried like Control, Genshin Impact, and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Everything was consistently on the highest settings right off the bat. Lags and stutters? I don’t know them. Not with the Zephyrus G15 in tow. 

To better understand where I’m coming from, I own an ROG Flow X13. The one that comes with the ROG XG Mobile. It’s a great machine, no doubt. But to get the most out of it, I still have to hook up the XG Mobile to the Flow X13. Whereas with the Zephyrus G15, I simply have to turn the laptop on. That’s an underrated level of convenience that may or may not mean much for some of you. 

You still have Armoury Crate but I didn’t feel the need to touch it as much.

It’s seriously making me consider trading up for the Zephyrus G15. And that’s just with the raw performance of games. I haven’t even talked about how good the display and speakers are. 

Eyes and ears candy 

Zephyrus G15

Its high-level performance is of course complemented by a stellar audio-visual experience. As indicated in the specs section earlier, this laptop sports a 15” WQHD 16:9 display with a 240Hz refresh rate. It’s also Pantone Validated which is great for color accuracy if you’re working on anything that involves visual media.

But all you really need to know is that it’s an absolute treat to the eyes. The 240Hz refresh rate on the panel is great for first-person shooters. Unfortunately, I am not great at first person shooters. I’d like to take this opportunity to whoever I played Valorant with because I totally dragged the team down. 

Zephyrus G15

This is a “Tomboy” fancam but listen to her album “MY” too!

 

It is a visual treat, no doubt. But like (G)-IDLE’s Miyeon, the Zephyrus G15 isn’t just a treat for the eyes. It also sounds hella good. I spent a good chunk of time watching Miyeon’s fancams on this thing and it’s just a fantastic overall experience. 

I also watched a few episodes of Netflix’s Business Proposal at the time of writing. Really, whatever type of content you consume, it’s bound to look and sound great on this thing. 

Zephyrus G15

Kim SeJeong is just adorable

One thing we did learn is that the display struggles a bit under really bright environments. When taking photos of the device, we opted to step out for natural light. But if you’re using this to work or play remotely, I recommend you find some place that isn’t too bright. 

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Zephyrus G15

The ROG Zephyrus G15 (2022) GA503 is easily one of my personal favorite devices that I’ve reviewed so far in 2022. It’s about as close as it can get to a plug and play PC gaming experience. And that’s not something you can say for many laptops and/or PCs. 

The Zephyrus G15 (2022) brings with it a distinct look, top-notch gaming performance, and a really solid audio-visual experience. As a gaming laptop, this is about as perfect as it gets and is something I can easily recommend especially if you’re willing to splurge for it.

Official pricing will be announced soon. We’ll update this space when it’s out.

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vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review

vivo’s best smartphone just got even better!

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The vivo X70 Pro+ was launched just several months ago. However, we’re already having a follow-up!

Unlike the X50, X60, and X70 series, the X80 series only consists of two models this time around.

Namely the X80 and X80 Pro — with the latter being vivo’s latest flagship smartphone.

But what makes it different from its predecessor? And what makes the successor a lot more exciting?

Watch our vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review now to find out more!

 

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Samsung Galaxy S22+ review: Love at first touch

Can’t help but fall deeper

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Galaxy S22+

A cosmic pull. A supernatural attraction. These aren’t phrases one normally says on a smartphone review. And yet, here I am. Falling madly for the Samsung Galaxy S22+. 

However, this wasn’t the case from the get go. First, I saw it in photos and it was alright. Then, I saw the specs on paper. Yeah, that’s pretty good. It was just another flagship, I thought. 

But everything changed when it came to my doorstep and held it in my hands. 

(P.S. All of my subheadings below are taken from the song “One Touch” by Gabe Bondoc. You can play it while you read 🙂). 

One touch and I’m hooked and I am drowning

Galaxy S22+

I am completely aware how overly infatuated I’m coming off and will come off for the rest of this article. But, having been in this smartphone reviewing gig for close to seven (7) years now, I’ve become almost numb to the usual releases. 

Yes, every now and then I take a liking to a smartphone or two. But it has been a while since I really, really wanted to keep and/or buy a phone I’m reviewing. 

The Samsung Galaxy S22+ just felt perfect on my hands. The right width, the right length, and the right thickness. The heft of the device, its shiny metallic edges, and the clean premium finish of the back all scream premium. The material on its back has a smooth, matte feel and finish. It’s both smudge and scratch resistant.


I’m a fan of its button placements too. With both the power button and volume rockers flushed on the right-hand side. It’s easy to slide up and down to press what you need to press.

And the metal lining on the edges feels smooth but grippable and perfectly complements the flat display. 

Excuse me, I don’t mean to be staring

It’s no secret that Samsung consistently offers one of the best displays, especially in their flagship line. This remains true for the 6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel equipped on this beaut. The colors are rich and crisp under favorable lighting conditions. But even in broad daylight, the display is bright enough (1750 nits peak) to be comfortably operated without having to squint. 

Galaxy S22+

I had a grand time watching my favorite shows on the Samsung Galaxy S22+. I’ve had it for a while so I saw a few episodes of the Netflix K-Drama Business Proposal on it. I have also been catching up weekly on the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. For content that supports it, HDR10+ kicks in to elevate the visual experience. 

Galaxy S22+

The display looks so majestic that it prompted me to put the love of my life Momo Hirai of TWICE as my wallpaper. And then of course, there’s the dynamic refresh rate that goes up as high as 120Hz. This means the screen changes its refresh rate depending on what you’re doing. If you’re scrolling through socials and what not, it kicks into high gear to give you a smooth experience. When idle, the refresh rate lowers down to save battery. 

My heart won’t slow ’cause of you

The Galaxy S22+’s overall performance will really keep your heart racing. Normal, day-to-day interactions with your phone just feel extra sharp. The many features mentioned above coupled with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 powering this phone keeps it humming no matter what you do. 

Keeping up with the news in the morning, checking socials to see what you missed, using messaging apps to keep in touch whether for work or personal matters – all of these just feel like a breeze. And the ONE UI 4.1 skin on top of this Android 12 flavor definitely contributes to just how things flow when you use this smartphone. 

Galaxy S22+

I didn’t do a lot of gaming, though. To test it, I defaulted to my go-to which is a few hours of Call of Duty Mobile. As expected it runs without hiccups on high graphics settings. There’s a game manager of sorts here that I didn’t tinker with much. It’s not too different from the ones implemented in previous Samsung phones. Some key features include focusing the phone’s resources to gaming and limiting or completely blocking notifications. 

Battery life is also admirable. One afternoon, I used it to tune into a friend’s wedding via Zoom. The entire ceremony lasted roughly around two (2) hours. In that period, the Galaxy S22+’s battery went from 82% to 76%. 

Naturally, that isn’t the single indication of its battery performance. I generally start my days at around 9AM and end at around 8PM. On days that I’m glued to my laptop, with only occasional glimpses on the phone, I would end the day between 60% to 70%. On days that I’m out and about and rely on it a lot to get work done, my day ends with around 25% to 35% of battery left. 

You’re looking fine today, not that I only noticed now

Galaxy S22+

I have already done an entire separate article about the cameras on the Galaxy S22+. It’s one of the things that I enjoyed the most about the phone. It’s almost as if it’s impossible to take a bad photo with this on hand. 

Easily switching between lenses is great. But what’s even better is how the quality and color reproduction doesn’t vary much from lens to lens. Check these samples out.

Samsung Galaxy S22+

And you can even use 10X Zoom with barely any detail loss, especially if it’s a photo that you’re just uploading on social media. 

Samsung Galaxy S22+

That versatility is unmatched and is fantastic for quick, run and gun shoots like the one I did during the opening of the XM Studio in Singapore. 

I am thoroughly impressed and extremely satisfied with the quality of images it produces. And that’s saying a lot seeing as my regular daily phones include an iPhone 11 Pro and an OPPO Find X3 Pro. Both of which are excellent shooters in their own right.

Oh and yeah, “Nightography”. 

Samsung Galaxy S22+

You think there is a way that I can get you to stay?

You see, the thing about the Galaxy S22+ is that with just the first touch, you already know you’re in contact with something that you should hold onto for dear life. I can’t tell you how many oohs and aahs I got after letting other people hold it in their hands. It just has that effect.

Additionally, the phone is a smooth amalgamation of many other standout phones. It has the breathtaking display of Samsung phones, an overall footprint that feels like an iPhone 12/13 Pro Max, cameras that rival those that partner with notable camera brands, and much, much more. All of that comes in this package that looks and feels well-built on a phone that is easily an all-rounder performer. 

Truly, I never want to let it go. And that’s not something I always say about smartphones. So here’s to hoping that this high praise leads to the Galaxy S22+ staying with me more than a little while longer. 

The Samsung Galaxy S22+ 5G is still available today in Samsung stores near you, via online at Samsung.com, or at your preferred telecommunication service provider. Pricing information on our key markets are linked in the following: USA | Singapore | Philippines

I know it’s been a while since its release. Despite all the hype long gone, it’s still a phone you won’t regret buying.

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