Reviews

Xiaomi Mi A3 Review: The no-frills master

An all-rounder powered by stock Android

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It’s no secret, Xiaomi and Realme have been fighting the whole year and it’s impossible to declare a winner just yet. The two are constantly trying to undercut each other and this has been a huge boon for the end-user. We’re seeing a new phone launch every other month. Like they say, the more, the merrier!

Xiaomi and its love for the Snapdragon 625 processor is well documented, and this year the brand has a love affair with the 48-megapixel sensor. But while the Redmi series already has a few options to choose from, Xiaomi hasn’t given up on the A-lineup. With the Mi A3, the brand intends to bring its hardware expertise to a vanilla Android experience.

The Mi A2 received mixed response. Will Xiaomi be able to cover-up lost ground with the Mi A3? The Redmi Note 7 Pro is comparatively old now, can this phone take the weight of fighting-off the Realme 5 series? And most importantly, Is this your GadgetMatch?

A rare to find AMOLED display in this segment

Ultra-premium Gorilla Glass design

The rear sports a triple camera setup

USB-C port and the speaker grill on the bottom

Unmatchable design that screams premium

For the price, we’re used to seeing phones with a polycarbonate body. Brands have managed to incorporate gradient or reflective patterns, but plastic has a hollow feel that’ll always feel clumsy. Xiaomi just hit a home run with the Mi A3’s design and it screams premium. In fact, I’d go on to call this my favorite part about the phone.

The glass sandwich is surrounded by a metal railing and the construction feels sturdy. In fact, the slightly curved glass is very comfortable to hold and the reflective patterns have their own vibe. The phone is available in three colors, each suitable for every taste. We have the Not Grey unit that looks sober and a perfect fit for business meetings. The More Than White option looks very classy while the Not Just Blue is the most eye-catching.

The back consists of a triple camera array and company branding. The power button and volume rockers are located on the right while the SIM tray is on the left. A USB-C port is located on the bottom, along with two speaker grills. But, there’s just a mono speaker situated in the right grill and the left is a dummy, just like on the iPhone.

The headphone jack is making a comeback due to high demand and Xiaomi has also slapped an IR blaster on the top for added convenience. Weight is properly distributed and yes, the back is a fingerprint magnet. Smudges are easily visible and thanks to the glass, the phone is slightly slippery. I’d recommend slapping a case as soon as possible.

The front gets a 6-inch AMOLED display that houses a tiny water-drop notch on top. It’s an HD panel (720p), but before you jump to conclusions, consider the screen quality first. The color reproduction is on point with near-perfect saturation and decent sharpness. The panel sucks less power and also houses an in-display fingerprint scanner.

I won’t consider a 720p screen to be a drawback because the experience remains unhindered. Especially when it delivers top-notch quality by compromising a mere marketing tactic. Though, I wish maximum brightness was a tad bit higher.

The fingerprint scanner is a disappointment. I liked it in the beginning, but with day-to-day usage, it’s annoyingly slow. You need to press your finger onto it for quite some time and please don’t move around because reliability is poor. Phone makers should just stick to a physical sensor in these cases.

Whatever you need, it’ll get it done

The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 665 processor and comes with 4GB RAM in the base variant. Our device has 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. Obviously, storage is expandable via a microSD card, but it’s not hybrid.

Thanks to the 720p display, the processor is able to sail through everything. In the period I used the phone, there have been no lags or stutters while moving around multiple apps or sifting through multiple browser tabs. In fact, the RAM was able to accommodate Uber, Google Maps, WhatsApp, Paytm, and Spotify all at once without a glitch.

It also features UFS 2.1 memory storage, translating into a faster user experience. PUBG was ultra-smooth on the maximum selection based on specs. Frame drops are negligible and the overall experience is satisfying. The processor doesn’t heat up considerably and longer periods of gaming saw no change in performance. So, if you’re looking forward to playing a game every now and then, this phone should be your first choice.

Backing these internals is a beefier 4000mAh battery that supports 18W fast charging. The in-box charger is rated for 10W and can charge the phone completely within two hours. With super-heavy usage, the phone lasted me almost 20 hours. I’d have to charge it once in 36 hours otherwise. Improving in this department was a smart move by Xiaomi.

Star of the show: Stock Android

Lastly, the key highlight of the phone is its software — pure Android. In partnership with Google’s Android One project, the phone is promised to receive timely security and feature updates. If you’re someone like me who prefers a clean UI with no fancy shenanigans, the Mi A3 should be your GadgetMatch.

However, the no-shenanigans approach isn’t for everyone. Skins like MIUI and ColorOS offer a host of additional features like gesture support, a higher level of customization, and mini-applications. The software is a very subjective topic and you’ll be the best judge here.

Triple camera setup for the third iteration

The rear gets a 48-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Obviously, a standard picture is shot at 12-megapixel and a dedicated mode will trigger the full capabilities of the primary lens. Addition of a wide-angle lens is extremely important because you’re able to leverage a new perspective, without compromising on primary abilities.

The first thing you’ll notice about the output is, the colors don’t look natural. But, its enjoyable and a few colors are emphasized to look different. I’ve got no qualms against the AI-driven approach because it was able to properly reproduce vivid pictures every single time. The primary lens gets the job done perfectly and in well-lit areas, it often outperforms phones with double the price tag.

Focusing on a nearby object does tend to get a little over-exposed, you’d have to manually tone it down. On the flip side, autofocus is super fast and always gets it right. Switching to Night Mode, the results are a mixed bag. Sometimes, the camera gets a perfect shot. Otherwise, it lacks sharpness. But, considering the price, I’d give some leeway. Same goes for the portrait mode because it often fails to detect object borders.

Videos can be shot at 4K with 30fps and I’ve found the electronic stabilization to be above average. Gentle movement will be easily covered up while running will get a little shaky. Overall, the video sharpness is sufficient and the camera can quickly change exposure when moving from a well-lit area to a low-light zone.

For selfies, the notch houses a 32-megapixel sensor and it’s just how’d you expect it to be. Images are pretty sharp, color production is programmed to match the skin, and additional features like a beauty mode are always handy.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I call this a no-frills master because Xiaomi focused on improving the end experience and ignored non-essential waggery. The design is premium, the display is vibrant, performance is snappy, cameras are average, and the battery is huge. Quite a lot of high-end features like an IR blaster, wide-angle lens, and in-display fingerprint scanner make it a lucrative deal.

Nokia-branded phones are your only other option and they pale in comparison. With the same software, hardware becomes the only differentiating factor. The Samsung Galaxy M30 can be a worthy competitor, but will you be fine with OneUI?

The phone is just a notch lower than the Redmi Note 7 Pro and with a starting price of INR 12,999 (US$ 180, PhP 11,990), I’d say it’s on par now. For a straightforward hassle-free experience and peace of mind, this should be your GadgetMatch.

Reviews

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Review: Pro Enough?

How does it set itself apart from the rest of the line?

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While the similarities between Apple’s iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are less distinct than ever, the iPhone 12 Pro sets itself apart enough. Other than that, consumers got more confused with the iPhone 12 mini and 12 Pro Max on the line.

Are you curious to know if the iPhone 12 Pro is your GadgetMatch this 2020?

You can find out more in our iPhone 12 Pro review by clicking this link.

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Reviews

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Superstar Shoes Review

Walk in Miles’ shoes

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For those of you that might have bought the Spider-Man: Miles Morales game you may have noticed that it appears that Miles has switched allegiance.

From the sweet Air Jordan 1 Highs that he famously rocked on the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse animated film to this — a new pair of black and red Adidas Superstars that he wears in the game.

This has been super controversial, both in the sneaker community and the comic book community as well to an extent. Like many others, I agree that the Jordans were a part of Miles and the story line of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

But here’s a thing — this is the 2020 game. It’s a completely different story line to the 2018 animated movie.

So as much as it might be painful to see Miles sporting something other than his Jordans, think of this as Miles from another universe — because that’s really what he is. A universe where he just so happens to be a huge three-stripe fan.

The Spider-Man Miles Morales Superstars dropped this November 19th for US$ 75 in the US.

Unspectacular box

Starting with the box — it’s disappointing to see that Adidas keeps slacking off when it comes to the unboxing experience. They had a chance to create a really cool box for this collab, but nope, we have the usual blue Superstar box.

Opening it up, you have the usual Superstar wrapping paper, and the shoes, with the usual Superstar size tag and this Marvel Gamer verse tag.

Coming to the shoe itself and starting with the toe box, you have the usual Superstar Shell Toe, that’s in a black color here instead of the usual white color.

Moving along the upper of the shoe, it’s in a red leather material with the Adidas Three Stripes on the side in a black color.

This black and red design is supposed to be a nod to the Spidey suit that Miles Morales wears in the game.

Above the black three stripes on the mid-panel you’ll see the word “SUPERSTAR” in black to the side of it.

Coming to the top of the shoe you’ll see the usual Superstar regular lacing system with these flat black laces. Unfortunately, no extra pair of laces here.

You’ll also notice a tiny black lace tag here with the PlayStation symbol. Since this awesome game is only available on PS4 and PS5.

Miles Morales Superstar

Moving on, underneath the laces you have this black leather tongue which seems to have a bit more padding than usual. This is to make them feel even more comfortable on feet, compared to a usual superstar.

At the top of the tongue is the usual branding tag with the Adidas trefoil branding. It’s in this red black on the back leather, keeping in theme with Miles’ Spider-Man suit.

Coming to the inside of the shoe, you’ll notice the Marvel branding on the inside of the tongue, along with a black leather sockliner that feels pretty good against your feet.

There’s the usual Adidas superstar outsole, this time in a black synthetic leather with the Adidas branding in a red color towards the heel.

And then lastly, coming to the back of the shoe you have the usual Superstar heel tab but this has the Spider-Man logo in black and red occupying the heel tab.

Miles Morales Superstar

I know Adidas did this to give it some Spider-Man feel… 

because as you probably noticed there’s not a lot of it on the rest of the shoe, apart from the Miles Morales suit colors used.

Below that you have the same red synthetic leather material as the rest of the upper.

Moving on, that entire upper sits on the usual Superstar rubber midsole. But this time instead of the usual white rubber midsole and outsole, we get this black rubber midsole with this lining of the red outsole below it.

And then, coming to the bottom of the shoe, you have this red rubber outsole in the usual superstar thread pattern.

That’s about it in terms of design.

Fit and sizing

Coming to fit and sizing, the Adidas Superstars tend to fit true to size but Adidas sizing is pretty unpredictable.

I feel like these fit just like any other pair of superstars, true to size but if you have wide feet like I do, I definitely recommend going up half a size.

For example I’m a size UK 11 so I wanted to go up to a UK 11.5. Unfortunately, there were no half sizes available so I went up to a size UK 12. It fits okay but I have a bit more room in the toe box area than I’d like.

In terms of comfort, honestly it kinda feels like every other pair of Adidas Superstars but slightly more comfortable because of that well padded tongue. When it comes to cushioning, it’s a rather stiff, flat kind of feeling underfoot since there’s really not too much going on there..

But, to its credit, it is a very stable shoe and it’s pretty durable. So if you want a really stylish pair of everyday sneakers, and you’re okay with how the Superstars feel underfoot, this is a pretty solid option to check out.

Is this your SneakerMatch?

As much as I know that these are supposed to look exactly like the shoes Miles wears in the game, I have to admit, I’m kind of a little disappointed.

I just feel like there’s more they could have done, with the color blocking and the PlayStation and Spider-Man logos. They could have also, at least, made the box in the Miles Morales Black and Red colors.

Miles Morales Superstar

I feel like these are shoes made for kids, who would love to wear what Miles Morales is wearing in the game, which is totally okay. Granted, Miles was actually wearing mid-top Superstars in some suits, but it looks like the physical versions are only available in low-tops.

But these are not really for the same crowd of comic book nerds like me who would have copped the Jordan 1 Origin Story, which I feel was much nicer put together.

But then again, maybe this is the best that Adidas’ designers would come up with after talking to Marvel, Sony, and Insomniac Games who had to produce the same shoe in the game as well.

Miles Morales Superstar

At the end of the day, if you want to wear the same shoes as the coolest Spider-Man, here ya go. They’re comfortable, they stand out, and if you’re a Spider-Man Miles Morales fan, you’re going to love these.

Plus how cool is it to wear the same shoes as the in-game Miles, right?

SEE ALSO: Spider-Man: Miles Morales PS4 Review

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Lifestyle

MOK & MOK Mini review: Smoking just got smoke-free!

The future of tobacco?!

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MOK Mini

Government warning: Cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.
The following is intended for readers 18+

Over the past decade, we’ve seen various changes in the smoking and tobacco industry. Technology played a key role in developing new ways of smoking that, surprisingly, people are adopting. From traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other vaping devices emerged.

The revolution doesn’t stop, seeing how Heat-not-Burn (HnB) devices arrived. This innovation is setting the stage for a smoke-free smoking experience. Such an example is MOK — which is now conquering Asia and Europe.

A bit of history, MOK arrived last 2019 in the Philippines. With a disturbing issue in second-hand smoking, the arrival of this HnB device was promising for the archipelago. I’ve always wanted to test it, but it was only a year later when I got my hands on MOK’s revolutionary devices: MOK and MOK Mini.

MOK

The first HnB device MOK offers… is named MOK. It’s a split device comprised of a holder (which I call a heating stick for sticks) and a pocket-sized charger where you can insert the holder for charging and safekeeping.

MOK Mini

The unit I have came in Navy Blue with gold accents. However, its shade of Navy Blue looks like Onyx in most circumstances. Nonetheless, it came in a matte finish for an easy grip.

The combination of gold accents and matte finish made it look fancy, allowing MOK to evoke a classy and luxurious appeal. It complemented my accessories and didn’t look out-of-place when placed together with my Playboy Clutch bag.

Using MOK is pretty straightforward. Simply insert its specially-designed COO sticks in the holder, then press the button for two seconds to turn it on. The light will turn blue and blink to tell you it’s turned on.

Once the blue light stopped blinking, it will start the heating process. Afterward, the light indicator will turn from blue to red to signify that it’s safe for you to start using the device. MOK makes it easy for you by vibrating every time the mode changes, so you don’t have to count or wonder when it’s ready to use.

When the light indicator is gone, that’s when you know the holder needs to recharge. The holder can last up to four minutes. This is where the pocketable charger comes in handy — to allow you to consume up to 20 sticks if it’s at 100% capacity, which can last for one hour and 40 minutes. That is if you’re a heavy smoker.

From my own and my smoker friends’ experience, we got lazy to charge the holder every time we need to consume a new stick. The laziness that comes can make or break the smoker’s experience: either we learn how to reduce consuming more than one stick, or we go back to using traditional cigarettes.

What’s in the box?

MOK comes in a fancy box. Inside is a pocket charger, a holder, 10 cleaning sticks, a cleaning brush, a micro USB charging cable, an instruction manual, and a quick how-to guide.

MOK Mini

MOK Mini is the smaller version of MOK, which makes it more pocketable than its sibling. It can easily slide to pretty much anything, which makes it perfect for my girl friend who doesn’t like carrying anything that won’t fit in her compact sling bag.

MOK Mini

It’s currently the smallest HnB device available, working smartly to deliver the same satisfying flavorful experience. It preheats faster at just 12 seconds while allowing you to consume up to 12 sticks at 100 percent battery capacity. Every stick can be experienced for at least 4 minutes, so you can do the math.

Just kidding, we don’t like to do the math. The MOK Mini lasts for less than an hour in continuous usage. It doesn’t come with a separate charger so its battery life can be easily depleted. Although, it charges fairly quickly for an hour and a half using its USB-C cable.

What’s in the box?

MOK Mini comes in a smaller box. Inside, you can find MOK Mini, a MOK cleaning brush, a USB-C charging cable, and a quick how-to guide.

Heat, not burn! What’s the process like?

MOK Mini

Both devices use MOK’s proprietary Heatmaster system — a cutting-edge technology designed to heat specially-designed tobacco, instead of burning it. It’s a flavorful experience similar to traditional cigarette smoking, only without the smoke produced.

When there’s no smoke, you get to puff the nicotine to yourself without inhaling harmful chemicals passing toxins (created by smoke) into an innocent individual near you. In essence, the non-combustible process made MOK’s promise true: a smoke-free, enjoyable experience.

The future of tobacco?

MOK is exclusively enjoyed with COO — specially-designed Heat-Not-Burn sticks that offer the same tobacco experience. It uses real tobacco leaves and comes in three variants: Golden Hue for a balanced, classic tobacco taste; Blue Hue for a refreshing hit of menthol; and New Wave Capsule, mint with a bit of lime.

If you’re wondering if you can use existing cigarettes in the market, no, they won’t fit. I tried it first-hand out of curiosity. Although, having MOK and using exclusive sticks made it feel like I’m part of an exclusive community — of casual and heavy smokers switching to an alternative with lesser risks.

In some countries, HnB devices are being used to swing heavy smokers into consuming less. For MOK, they aim to capture the existing smokers as their market, to help make the world smoke-free, one smoker at a time. They don’t even sell to consumers who aren’t smokers.

The goal is simple: reduce smoke and then hopefully quit someday. Slowly, but surely. If this is the future of tobacco, then it’s a future worth considering.

Maybe one day, second-hand smoke will be a thing of the past and all we have are battered lungs of smokers who really don’t have it in them to quit. Just kidding. Or maybe not.

Is the Mok Mini your GadgetMatch?

MOK and MOK Mini offers an alternative to smokers wanting to reduce their tobacco consumption and hopefully quit one day. For others, these HnB devices allow them to enjoy a guilt-free tobacco experience: no more second-hand smoke for other people. Yay?

For the right reason, MOK and MOK Mini makes for a revolutionizing accessory. The two HnB devices’ differences in size, battery capacity, and design can surely fit any smoker’s lifestyle. Here’s to hoping it can pave the way to a better future.

MOK Mini

MOK and MOK Mini is available in Japan, Korea, Maldives, and European Countries.

In the Philippines, MOK and MOK Mini retails for PhP 3,490 and PhP 2,490 respectively. Its COO HnB sticks are priced at PhP 120 for a pack and PhP 1,200 for a ream. It is currently available at MOK specialty kiosks in Eastwood Mall, MetL!ve, SM North EDSA, SM Manila, and SM Sta Mesa.

You can get it online through MOK’s official stores in LazMall and Shopee Mall, as well as from 60 major vape shops within Metro Manila. Nearly 500 branches of 7-11, Family Mart, and Lawson offers MOK’s HnB devices, too.

It’s also conveniently available in selected GrabMart hubs. Delivery of orders is guaranteed within 90 minutes or less, that is if the hub is near you. Purchasing from official retail partners promises a twelve-month warranty.

SEE ALSO: 9 gift ideas for the man of your life

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