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In our Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 hands-on review, we explore its novel slider design, promising cameras, and whether it’s a phone you should get this year.

When Xiaomi first introduced the Mi Mix in 2016, it wasn’t like any other smartphone we had seen — all display, all screen.

The Mi Mix was supposed to represent the future and quite literally, it pushed the boundaries of phones as we knew them. In 2018, Xiaomi takes bold new steps into the future with the Mi Mix 3.

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Accessories

Kovol 65W 4-port charging station Hands-On

Small in size, big on power

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Kovol 4-port

Nearly everyone I know carries around two to three devices. It’s some combination of a laptop, smartphone/s, and tablet/s. Imagine having to lug around these devices along with their power bricks. That’s a significant weight added to your bag. Enter the Kovol 65W 4-port charging station. This thing, as the company says, is small in size but big on power. 

Personally, I’m a member of this multi-device tribe. I almost always carry with me a laptop and two smartphones. That’s excluding any other smartphones or laptops I may be reviewing at the time. 

This is part of the reason why I’m in the ‘USB-C Everything’ camp. It would make our lives as tech reviewers just that much better. But since that reality may not be happening anytime soon, multiport GaN chargers like this are the next best thing. 

Regulated power 

Just because it has 65W written on it, doesn’t mean that it’s the only power output available. It can smartly allocate power to each device based on its needs. The 65W ranges from 65W, 45W, 30W, 25W, 20W, and 18W. So, whichever fast charging output your device supports, that’s what it’s getting. 

There’s also a 120W version of the charger and it can output at 87W aside from others that have already been mentioned. 

Kovol also claims it has low-heat and safe-charging. This means there will be no risk of overheating and overcharging your device. During my time using the charger, I can say I never felt any sort of unusual heating from it. 

How fast is it, really? 

But of course, the real question is how fast it actually is in real world use. Fret not, I have you covered. I’ll list the charging times of the three devices I primarily use. 

Before we start though, I would like to describe my normal usage. I’m totally not the type who lets the devices reach red levels of the battery indicator. Small beads of sweat immediately form around my head as soon as my devices’ battery indicator shows anywhere between 40% to 50%. 

Go ahead. Laugh all you want. But I’ve been in waaaay too many situations when I forgot to juice up only to need to charge but without any power outlet nearby. It’s a sticky situation I would like to avoid as much as I can. 

With that said, here are the charging numbers I recorded. Duration in minutes (mins) is how long it took to reach 100%.  

iPhone 11 Pro 

  • At 30% – 40 mins 
  • At 40% – 32 mins 
  • At 50% – 23 mins 
  • At 65% – 16 mins 

OPPO Find X3 Pro

  • At 10% – 59 mins
  • At 30% – 46 mins 
  • At 40% – 37 mins 
  • At 50% – 25 mins 
  • At 65% – 18 mins 

13” M1 MacBook Pro 

  • At 35% – 1 hour, 41 mins
  • At 40% – 1 hour, 26 mins
  • At 50% – 1 hour, 10 mins
  • At 65% – 40 mins

Naturally, these numbers will vary depending on your devices and the kind of wired fast charging they support. But what’s evident is that these are more than decent charging speeds. These are especially useful if you only have a limited time access to a power outlet when you’re out and about. 

Small for its power

 

The charging speeds are impressive but what really takes the cake is how small the Kovol 65W 4-port charging station is. It’s a little chunky, but it’s short enough that it’ll easily slide into your bag without taking up much space. 

Personally, I carried it in this tiny-gadgets-and-cables pouch I normally bring around whenever I step out. 

Its small size is also helpful when you have limited table space. It can sit just right next to your devices without taking away any wiggle room you might need. 

Price and availability

Some manufacturers are following Apple’s lead in taking away the power bricks from brand new devices. It’s a good reason to invest in a multiport GaN charger other than the ones already mentioned. 

The Kovol 4-port charging station comes in two variants. Pricing are as follows: 

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Hands-On

Vacuum Wars: Shark AI VacMop vs Self-Empty XL!

Which vacuum is your GadgetMatch?

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Like it or not, dusts and other particles accumulate on our floors over time. When you barely got time to mop and vacuum, why not invest on a smart home device that can do both for you?

Shark, known for their home cleaning devices, offers not just one but two of their latest smart vacuum cleaners. But which is the most suitable for your living space?

Hop on to our two-way Shark vacuum hands-on video to know which smart vacuum is your GadgetMatch!

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Hands-On

Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G: Fiber-like speeds within reach

The solution to Fiber-less homes

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When the world we live in requires us to stay connected and do our work through our preferred machines at the comfort of our homes, having a stable connection isn’t merely a desire anymore.

Sadly, not all homes are granted a fast Internet connection or fiber connectivity. Even I struggled to deal with intermittent connection from a certain Internet Service Provider (ISP). I remember using an extra 5G-capable smartphone as a mobile hotspot as my backup, especially when I was attending virtual conferences, team meetings, and client briefings.

It was costly, severely damaging my wallet in the process of staying connected. More importantly, not everyone is as privileged as I am. I get access to the latest technology and gadgets in the market.

Hope seems lost for most people, but there’s a new solution: the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G.

Design and capabilities

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is designed like the routers you see in the market today. Its build is similar to the Huawei WiFi AX3, especially when the device dons a plain, white colorway across its body.

I got the limited edition unit plastered with a cover design, drawn by award-winning Illustrator Stephanie Bravo-Semilla. The artwork playfully depicts how high-speed connectivity can link families together as they pursue their passions.

The router uses WiFi 6 technology — which guarantees speeds three times faster than the commonly used WiFi 5. It’s also equipped with a 5G NR SA/NSA connection, allowing it to connect to two wireless access technologies. Further, it has a 5G PLUS 2NR Carrier Aggregation, which expands the coverage indoors as well as maintains the connection’s stability.

Right off the bat, you can see how the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is built with six distinct external antennas as well, picking up better signals. It also have 9dBi high-gain antennas that extend the reach and support Gigabyte Ethernet Ports, WPA3 WiFi Security, and WiFi 22 MIMO.

Indicators, ports, buttons

You can find the LED indicators on top, displaying the status of your WiFi, 5G/4G signal, SIM, and System. There’s a pre-installed Smart SIM card that comes with 20GB of open-access data.

When you plug the router into a socket, it will boot up and the 4G signal will flash first unless it recognizes 5G connectivity in your area.

I used it inside my room, which is found in the innermost part of the house. At first, it didn’t pick up a 5G signal. The LED indicator for the 4G signal was on while the router was trying to find 5G.

That’s when I knew I had to place it outside my door. A few seconds later, the indicator for 5G connectivity lit up.

To confirm it, I turned on my mobile data using my 5G-capable smartphone and connected another one to the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G. Happy to report that I live in a place where there’s 5G — both my smartphones and the WiFi device are picking up the 5G signal.

At the back, you can find the power port, Ethernet ports, reset button, and WPS button.

GigaLife

When the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G was already up and running, I continued the setup by following the manual — which instructs you to access the web management page. I turned on my laptop, connected to the WiFi, and changed the network settings.

But that’s a grueling process — continuously going back to the web management page — just to check how your account is performing.

Luckily, you can use Smart’s GigaLife app. I like how it instantly reads the mobile number upon using the app. Even if I’m just connected to the WiFi. There was a prompt asking me if I was using a prepaid WiFi SIM.

Frankly, I dislike the hassle of adding and configuring accounts. I find it really convenient that the app easily recognized the account I’m using.

Through GigaLife, you can check your remaining balance, reload, and even monitor your subscriptions. Everything’s just easy when you have things sorted in one place.

Internet Speed for 5G-capable smartphones

I first tested the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G through 5G smartphones that I have. Using the Honor 50 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, I was able to do my everyday activities. Basically, the same stuff I would do had I been connected to my existing WiFi.

I played games without any delays, watched Netflix and other video content without buffering, and scrolled non-stop on social media.

I’ve connected two of my smartphones, my Nintendo Switch Lite, and my laptop. The router can supposedly handle 10 devices all at once. And even with four gadgets connected, not once did I feel any stutter in the Internet connection.

But then again, it really depends on the signal picked up in your area.

For laptops

Nevertheless, the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G gets speeds from 20 to 100Mbps. You can actually do your everyday tasks, including work and school.

My signal gave speeds between 60-70Mbps consistently, more than enough to let me upload and download creative assets for the projects I’m working on.

I’m privileged to have access to PLDT’s Fibr plans with an actual Fiber cable instead of copper lines. When I wasn’t using the 5G network, I get the same speed as I do when connected through the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G, albeit higher.

The experience is quite the same — in terms of speed, latency, and maintaining the stability of the connection.

For non-5G smartphones

Over the holidays, my cousin who was studying in the province visited our family for a month. Like most people, she hasn’t switched to a 5G-capable smartphone since 5G connectivity isn’t as prevalent in the province as compared to when you’re in Metro Manila and living in key cities.

There’s a preconceived notion that 5G connectivity can’t be enjoyed by non-5G smartphones, but we beg to differ. While you can’t reach sky-high speeds when you do a speed test, the experience is the same as when you’re connected to a WiFi with Fiber connectivity.

My cousin played Call of Duty: Mobile for hours while connected to the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G, and she expressed interest in taking it home. Especially with how stable the connection was even if there were my other four gadgets connected to the router.

Should you get one?

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is the perfect solution for fiber-less homes wanting to have wireless fiber-like connectivity. You just have to remember that it uses a mobile network. The quality and speed of the connection will always depend on your area. Somehow, it’s a  worthy investment for the everyday consumer living in the Philippines.

Students and budget-conscious consumers can monitor their data usage and spending since it’s prepaid WiFi. If you have spare money, it can be a backup plan just in case your Internet connection is interrupted. You won’t have to worry when you’re in the middle of a meeting, a conference, or an online class.

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G retails for PhP 15,995. It will be available at the Smart Online Store. For the same price, you can get the Smart Bro 5G Rocket WiFi. It’s perfect for anyone who needs to stay connected while on the go.

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