Xiaomi Mi Max 2 Review: A worthy successor?



When Xiaomi first announced its Mi Max last year, we were in awe; not just because of its sheer size, but because of how inexpensive it was. It continued on with its Prime variant five months after, and now, we have its latest generation. This is our review of the Xiaomi Mi Max 2.

Before we get into details, let’s take a look at its physique first.

The Mi Max 2 is a huge smartphone…

The enormous 6.44-inch 1080p display

… with solid build quality

The power button and volume rocker on the right

Xiaomi brings USB-C to the Mi Max 2

The USB-C port flanked by the speaker and microphone grilles

The antenna lines look just like the iPhone 7’s

Antenna bands are well-hidden

Clean aluminum slab with an underrated look

One big chunk of golden metal (or black if you have that color)

It runs MIUI 8 on top of Android Nougat

MIUI 8.5 Global to be specific, since we have the international version

It’s the ideal multimedia device

With its 6.44-inch display, the Mi Max 2 is able to deliver multimedia content better than smaller smartphones. The 1080p IPS LCD panel is still sharp at 342ppi despite its stretched dimensions, so I don’t have any issues with its clarity. What concerns me is its saturation and contrast, because when I compared it to other IPS panels, the Mi Max 2 looked slightly muted. There’s a higher contrast selection in the settings, but it didn’t provide the punchy values I was hoping for.

To compliment the big display, a pair of loud speakers is onboard the device. The stereo setup is discreet; we have the main loudspeaker at the bottom while the earpiece acts as the second channel to create the two-channel effect. I do enjoy using the Mi Max 2 to watch YouTube videos and movie trailers, thanks to the combination of the large display and quality speakers.

Also great for mobile gaming!

Gaming is also a strong suit of the Mi Max 2. It’s always better to play your favorite mobile titles on a big phone, as it lets you enjoy the games without the on-screen buttons occupying most of the display area. In addition, the gaming performance of the Mi Max 2 is something to brag about.

Powered by a Snapdragon 625 processor paired with 4GB of memory, intensive titles aren’t a chore for the handset. NBA 2K17 and Asphalt Xtreme run smoothly even on high settings, but some graphics optimizations are not available in other titles.

Camera is just okay

On paper, it has a 12-megapixel rear shooter with phase detection autofocus for quicker locks and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Coming from other Xiaomi phones, we didn’t expect the Mi Max 2 to excel in mobile photography. Let’s take a look at the samples:

While daytime photography is a piece of cake for the handset, its f/2.2 aperture knocks it down when it comes to indoor and low-light environments. The slow shutter speed and noisy image processing don’t help either. The same goes for the front camera, too.

Even the flagship models of Xiaomi don’t do well in photography, if that may act as consolation.

Leave your power bank at home

The “Max” aspect of the phone is not just found in the display, but also in the battery. The Mi Max 2 has a 5300mAh battery which is 450mAh more than its predecessor without the added bulk. It takes advantage of Quick Charge 3.0 from Qualcomm for speedy charging. (Big batteries need fast charging!)

Using the bundled fast charger, I was able to get from zero to 10 percent in 15 minutes. After 30 minutes of charging, the phone gets 19% of juice; while a full charge takes a little longer at about 3 hours. For a cell this big, its charging times are pretty okay, since you’ll get more power on the road in return. With casual usage, the phone can last two to three days on average. Playing games with mobile internet would create a larger impact, but it can still last a full day.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

While the Mi Max 2 is a good smartphone overall, there are a few points that a buyer must think through before considering the handset.

First, it’s a large device that sits between the smartphone and tablet territories. One-handed use is tricky and it’s pretty cumbersome to slip into your pocket. On top of that, it has a lackluster camera, which is disappointing for its range. Lastly, it’s not a big upgrade from last year’s model. If you own the first Mi Max, there’s no need to get this newer one. The older model also has the Nougat update and more or less the same specs.

But, if you’re looking for a big smartphone (and we’re talking 6.44 inches big) that can deliver good performance without the hefty price tag, the Mi Max 2 is an excellent buy. We’ll consider its premium build as the cherry on top since most affordable devices have issues in this regard.

Our review unit is from Gearbest which sells the Mi Max 2 for just US$ 270.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Mi 6 Unboxing and Hands-on

Her GadgetMatch

Meitu V6 Review: A luxury selfie smartphone

The selfie machine you’ve probably never heard about



If you’re on this article, then you probably enjoy taking selfies. If not, then you’re probably just curious about this phone you’ve never heard about. If it’s still not that, then I don’t know what you want but I’m going to tell you about the Meitu V6, anyway.

What is this phone?

The V6 is a luxury smartphone by Chinese company Meitu. Remember that Sailormoon phone that went viral a little while back? Yes, the same makers.

Angled as a selfie powerhouse like the rest of their smartphones (yes, folks, this isn’t their only smartphone), the Meitu V6 is a quad-camera handset designed for those who have rich tastes. How rich? The back of the phone is covered with hand-stitched leather and it has 18K gold rivets!

Iconic because of its unique design, the Meitu V6’s shape is a nod to dedicated selfie cameras of old.

While most may find the V6’s irregularly shaped form factor to be odd in today’s sea of notched, borderless releases, this handset remains true to its origins. Its looks don’t make sense only to those who are unaware of selfie camera beginnings. Unfortunately, that means most people are clueless.

Why have I never heard about it?

Online, there isn’t a lot of material on the V6, and most of them are in Chinese. Most people have never heard of this phone because they’re only widely available in China and Taiwan. It’s fascinating how almost no one knows about this smartphone in the global tech scene save for a selfie-loving handful. Honestly, this may be the most mysterious phone I’ve reviewed to date.

If you’re an app-using makeover-loving gal though, you’ve probably heard of Meitu’s MakeUpPlus. The world-famous makeup and beauty app is a staple for those who like editing apps. With a rating of 4.6 on iTunes, this is not some small-time app.

Editing fun with Meitu’s MakeUpPlus on the V6

True enough, Meitu started with photo enhancing software. They then eventually ventured on to beauty apps (more on that later) and it’s this that they’re most famous for. Eventually, in 2013, the first Meitu selfie smartphone was born. Fast forward to today, they’re still making those phones and this particular one is extra AF.

How it feels in my hands

There’s no going around it: This is one big and clunky phone. In no way is it sleek and subtle. Its unique shape and bright color make it a definite eye-catcher. But, that’s the whole point. The Meitu V6 is designed to be seen. It’s a statement phone.

This phone says: “I am a woman, I love selfies, hear me roar!”

Similar to designer bags that demand showcasing and attention, each V6 even comes with a matching leather case that you can carry around as you anticipate compliments on your new posh device. The handset comes in four different colors: deep blue, gorgeous emerald green, pink one that (gasp) I’m not really fond of, and this one in screaming tangerine. Although I wasn’t such a big fan of this color to begin with, I must say it definitely grew on me.

I also learned that beige and gold matches bright orange pretty well

Admittedly, the V6 isn’t as comfortable to hold — it’s a little too big and heavy for one of my tiny Asian hands. It does have that one-hand feature which makes the display smaller for easier reach with one hand, but who really uses that?

Me pretending I can actually use this phone with just one hand

This trendsetter phone did not shy away from bezels (notched phones, take note!). Although side bezels are tiny, the top and bottom bezels are obviously there — and there’s nothing wrong with that. The top bezel houses cameras, and the bottom bezel contains capacitive buttons: the home button with a fingerprint scanner, back button, and recent apps button.

The phone’s highlight

Of course, this phone’s highlight comes in the form of four cameras, two up front and two on the back. Both sides feature 12-megapixel primary shooters with 5-megapixel secondary shooters.

But, enough with the phone specs. All that really means is that it can take photos like these:

But, aside from that bokeh goodness brought about by the wide aperture (f/1.8) on this phone’s camera, it has a mode that allows for solid depth effects, which you can adjust from zero to 100 percent. The following samples were taken at 60 percent depth effect.

And, if that creamy bokeh isn’t enough for you, you can always adjust the blur, or even change the photos focus after taking the photo.

Just me deciding that I should be the center of attention in this photo

There’s also another built-in camera setting called Movie Mode. What can it do? Guess.

Used this mode for more dramatic selfies

All they need now are subtitles and they could be in a movie 😂

This mode makes everything oh-so-cinematic by changing the format of your photos. It comes out as wider with those movie-like black bars on the top and bottom (a.k.a. “letterboxing” in film). Depth effect is also automatically activated on this mode, and so is the post-process focusing feature.

Selfies, editing, and more!

The thing about the Meitu V6, aside from having identical shooters on both sides, is that the camera features on each side are basically the same. This is unlike other phones which dedicate certain functions to only one set of cameras on one side of the phone.

That being said, the beauty mode can be activated from either side of the phone. It can do this:

Good, better, best?

The good old beauty mode does a fine job at airbrushing, but it has the tendency to go overboard. Selfies also come out brighter — sometimes even too bright despite normal lighting. As a rule of thumb, I only go for beauty level one on this phone. But, if you want more airbrushing, you’re welcome to go up until level seven.

If that’s still not enough editing for you, a host of Meitu editing apps are pre-installed on the phone.

All the beauty edit options brought to you by Meitu 💁🏽✨

Aside from the number of cool things these apps can do (one turns your photos into postcards; another app, Meipai, is a short video platform), it can also perform this:

Of course, you don’t have end up a bubble gum-haired makeup diva (as shown) everytime you edit photos, but it sure is fun to know you can do fun things like this. For practical purposes, you can also tone down your makeup editing and come up with looks you’ll actually wear in real life.

As if those aren’t enough selfie features, the phone also comes with a Bluetooth shutter button. The Meitu Remote app, that’s also pre-installed on the phone, pairs the remote almost instantly and allows you to take photos or videos.

To help you find your light, the V6 has intelligent fill lights in front and two sets of flash on its rear — though who really uses a flash these days? Another plus: The beauty mode is also available for real-time video shooting.

Other things that matter

At the very basic, this phone has 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage and is powered by a MediaTek X30 processor, which may not mean anything to you (or me) but that just tells us that it’s equipped with a flagship processor and high-end specifications. This means that this phone can handle your everyday social media usage and mobile gaming. Say hello to my Sim:

My Sim looks just like me!

The device runs on Meitu’s MEIOS 4.1 interface and runs on Android 7.0 Nougat. Unfortunately, some apps may not be compatible with the phone, probably owing to the fact that it’s not optimized for apps that are not available in China. Case in point: Snapchat crashes every time I try to use Bitmoji AR functions, which is a definite downer for my Snap game.

Despite this, the phone is snappy and responsive. MEIOS isn’t really so different from any other Android phone OS. The V6 also has a dual SIM card slot and a USB-C port for charging. Plus, It has an audio jack! Speaker grilles are at the bottom, despite the speaker-grille-like design on the front of the phone. Battery capacity is at 3100mAh which lasts me almost a day of use.

Is the Meitu V6 your GadgetMatch?

The Meitu V6 is the ultimate luxury selfie smartphone — if you can get your hands on it. This phone was created for a specific market in mind and Meitu did not hold back.

Without a doubt, this has the most detailed beauty modes and selfie-specific functions I’ve ever seen on a phone, and I love it. Looks-wise, it’s one of those devices which demand attention, it becomes more than a utility and more of an accessory, especially because you’re not assured all its functions will work outside of its native China.

This phone isn’t for everyone. And, at a price of CNY 5,099 or US$ 800, it really isn’t a device that everyone will be able to afford, even when you actually want to get it. But, if you prioritize selfies above all other things and you’re the type to make a statement with devices you own, the Meitu V6 could be a perfect fit.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9 guide for the selfie lover

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Xiaomi Redmi 5A Review: Best smartphone below $100?

Missing only a couple of features



When it comes to gadgets, a common piece of advice is to spend more for a better package. That’s the case for most brands, but Xiaomi has different plans.

If you’re not yet familiar with Xiaomi’s Redmi series, you’re missing out. This line of smartphones always offers incredible bang for one’s buck without skimping on the features most consumers need.

The other great thing about Redmi handsets is the price range; you can purchase one anywhere from US$ 70 to US$ 300, and they’re guaranteed to perform well. For this review, we’re looking at a phone at the bottom of that barrel.

For INR 4,999 in India or PhP 4,590 in the Philippines, you can get yourself a Redmi 5A and call it a day. It’s priced like an affordable feature phone but has all the features of a typical smartphone — well, almost all.

Let’s take closer look at the Redmi 5A.

Does it look and feel good?

It’s as generic as it gets for an entry-level phone with a 5-inch display. There are thick bezels on the top and bottom to accommodate the earpiece, selfie camera, and the navigation buttons. The back has a single camera with an LED flash, as well as a rear-facing loudspeaker.

Go to the very top, and you’ll find an audio port and IR blaster for controlling other compatible devices. Beneath all this is the micro-USB port for charging (but not of the fast kind). To the right we have all the buttons: a volume rocker and power button.

Nothing special for sure, but it’s when you open up the card trays on the left side that you’ll appreciate the phone. It can house two SIM cards and one microSD card for storage expansion. This instantly makes the Redmi 5A an excellent choice for those who must have two mobile networks at once without sacrificing the extra storage.

All these are encased in a plastic body that doesn’t feel slippery, yet doesn’t feel that safe from accidental drops either. There’s some flexing when putting too much pressure on it, so sitting while it’s in your back pocket isn’t a smart move.


The only major omission is a fingerprint sensor. Without it, your choices for unlocking the phone are traditional means: inputting a secret code or pattern. Don’t worry — it’s still as quick as before fingerprint scanning became a thing.

Is it enough for multimedia and gaming?

Generic design aside, what you’re really after here is the internals. This is something Xiaomi nails each time with the Redmi line, and the Redmi 5A is no exception.

It comes equipped with a Snapdragon 425 processor, which is a pleasant surprise for a phone this affordable. You see, a phone easily gets judged at first glance by how well its chipset performs, and most — if not all — devices at this price point settle for unreliable, laggy chips. That’s not an issue here.

This is a decent lower-midrange Qualcomm SoC (system on a chip) that can handle everyday tasks with ease. It’s only when you overload the measly 2GB of memory that the phone begins to slow down. I noticed this while downloading multiple apps and surfing the web or watching videos at once. The phone’s system also regularly closes apps in the background to make room for newly opened ones, so jumping from one app to another is often delayed.

Speaking of overloading, the integrated storage has the same issue. With only 16GB of storage and 10.5GB of it being usable from a fresh start, it’ll get filled up fast. After setting up the phone, I was left with a little under 3GB, and I didn’t even start taking photos or videos yet. Fortunately, the triple-card slot enables microSD expansion without hesitation.

Once you get past all that and have a ready phone, the experience is so-so. Although the screen’s size feels just right at five inches, the resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels translates to somewhat dull visuals. The good news is that the panel gets bright when you max it out, and reading text under direct sunlight is doable.

Your gaming experience highly depends on the titles themselves. Games like Castle Crush and Asphalt Xtreme ran just fine with minimal stutters, but I had trouble running Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition even on the lowest graphics settings. What I appreciated, however, was that the speaker is placed at the back so I didn’t cover it accidentally while playing in the horizontal orientation.

How well does its cameras perform?

With a single 13-megapixel f/2.2 main camera and 5-megapixel f/2 selfie shooter, you can’t expect much from the Redmi 5A. This has been the case for the majority of Redmi phones, actually.

Here are some samples:

Poor lighting is the worst enemy of its cameras. Even a slight dip in the amount of daylight is enough to make the photos mushy from foreground to background. There’s an optional HDR mode you could turn on to improve the quality a bit, but you must keep both your hands and subject really steady, or else it’s a blur-fest.

The built-in camera app is decent and offers enough options to keep shooting simple yet feature-filled. For selfie lovers, a smart beautification mode is available to remove blemishes and produce smoother skin.

Can it last more than a day?

Digging a little deeper, it’s nice to know that Xiaomi was able to fit a large 3000mAh battery into this phone. That’s something you’d find inside larger, higher-end phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9.

But capacity isn’t everything; the way the phone utilizes the battery is what matters most. In this case, the Redmi 5A easily lasts over a day of moderate usage with enough juice to spare for breakfast the next morning. I can get as many as five hours of screen time on a single charge.

Lots of credit can be given to the efficiency of MIUI 9.2, which is the user interface this gadget comes with out of the box. Despite being based on the aging Android 7.1 Nougat version, it offers a lot of customization for notifications and app settings that help optimize the system to keep it snappy and efficient.

Sadly, charging this thing takes a while. Having been spoiled by the 1.5 hour full charges of other phones, waiting for the Redmi 5A to fully load up in 2.5 hours feels like an eternity. This is the price you pay for a large battery with no fast-charging tech.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Redmi 5A proves that sub-US$ 100 phones don’t have to suck. It’s such a decent overall performer that I sometimes forget how affordable it really is. Reliability is top-notch, and I appreciate the no-compromise approach to the triple-card tray and capable Snapdragon chipset.

If you can deal with slow charging and live without the fingerprint sensor, it doesn’t get much better than this for the price you pay. It’s a fantastic option for first-time smartphone users like young kids or those needing a spare, easy-to-use handset.

But, hold on. If you’re willing to shell out more cash, it may be wiser to go for a Redmi 5 or Redmi 5 Plus instead, depending on your region. They don’t cost that much more and offer extra features, such as a larger screen, better cameras, and fingerprint sensor.

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OPPO A71 (2018) Hands-on: Same design, faster processor

Sacrifices were made to put in a Snapdragon processor



You might ask why we are writing about the same phone we already wrote about six months ago. I assure you, this is not the same device. There are more similarities than differences though, so that’s what we’ll talk about in this hands-on review of the new OPPO A71 (2018).

First impression: It’s practically the same phone

If you have the old A71 and you place it beside the new A71 (2018), there’s virtually no physical differences. The position of the ports are the same, the placement of buttons are the same, the dimensions are the same — everything is the same. Is that a good or a bad thing? For me, it’s good because there are benefits to having the same body of an older phone. Besides, last year’s A71 is just a few months old.

One of the advantages of the A71 (2018) having the same body is the chance of having more cases available for it. You can just buy or use a case for the old A71 and it’ll fit the new one perfectly. (Like how the iPhone 6 accessories work for iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7 with the iPhone 8.) Also, there’s no reason for OPPO to add a little premium for a new design, making the phone cheaper than it could be.

Being labeled as a 2018 phone might disappoint some since the phone doesn’t sport an 18:9 aspect ratio; it still has a 5.2-inch HD display with a 16:9 ratio. It’s a budget phone, so I won’t take this against OPPO. Good news is, the display is pretty sharp and can get really bright. This makes it usable even when under direct sunlight.

One of the advantages of getting an OPPO phone is the triple-card slot which is ideal for users who have two SIM cards and their very own microSD card. You can put all three at the same time, unlike with hybrid solutions of other manufacturers. The Android version on board is still Nougat but it’s now topped with ColorOS 3.2 versus 3.1 from the older model.

What are the differences between the 2017 and 2018 variants?

Both A71s look the same on the outside, but the specifications are quite different from each other. The main difference between the two is their processors. The older model has a MediaTek MT6750 which was the go-to processor of OPPO last year before they shifted to the Helio P23, the latest from MediaTek that’s found on the F5 series. As an upgrade, the 2018 variant gets a Snapdragon 450 processor which is really efficient and practically replaces the popular Snapdragon 625 on more expensive phones.

The 2018 model has a better processor but, unfortunately, has lower memory — 2GB versus 3GB. The storage remains the same at 16GB and the dedicated microSD card slot, again, is available when the user needs additional space.

Does the lower memory affect the overall performance of the phone? Not really. I reviewed the old A71 last year and using the new A71 doesn’t feel significantly better. In terms of speed, the A71 (2018) loads apps faster and doesn’t lag at all. When multiple apps are open though, switching between them takes a couple of seconds. That’s probably where the bottleneck is due to lower memory, but it’s nothing to worry about unless you’re a power user who has a lot of apps running at the same time.

Does it take better photos?

Not much has changed in the camera department. A 13-megapixel sensor still acts as the primary shooter at the back along with an LED flash, while a 5-megapixel front-facing camera takes care of selfies. What’s new is the AI selfie feature which we first saw on the F5. According to OPPO, their AI for selfies takes the most suitable beautification effect for the subject.

Here are some samples using the rear and front cameras:

Both the rear and front cameras take decent pictures. They’re not bad, but also not too great. At least I can say that for its price range, it’s one of those with better cameras. I’m just not convinced about AI selfies, but they work well with women more often.

Is it worth the upgrade?

If you have the old OPPO A71, there’s no need to get the new version since it’s an incremental update. I see the OPPO A71 (2018) to be more suited for those looking to have a new phone that takes good selfies and just works well for everyday use.

It even has a more affordable price of only PhP 7,990 (US$ 155) at launch in the Philippines.

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