When Xiaomi first introduced the original Mi MIX in 2016, it wasn’t like any other smartphone we had seen. All display, all screen. It was supposed to represent the future and, quite literally, pushed the boundaries of phones as we knew them. Not long after, others followed suit, each with a different approach to an edge-to-edge smartphone: big notch, small notch, curved edges, and pop-up cameras.
In its first three attempts, Xiaomi’s approach to the borderless concept involved moving the selfie camera to the lower-right corner of the screen. This meant that the phone’s upper half looked like the future, while its bottom half, not so much. The front camera was both awkward and impractical; it meant not being able to use Instagram Stories or video calls normally.
Four iterations later, Xiaomi fully embraces full borderless and takes bold new steps into the future with the new Mi MIX 3 by hiding the front camera completely. This setup gives the phone a 93.4 percent screen-to-body ratio and brings users closer to Xiaomi’s original vision for the phone — computing on an embellished piece of glass.
No matter which way you look at it, there’s no denying that a notch-less, all-display phone is gorgeous. While this solution solves one issue, does it create another? By tucking away the front camera system, you’ll need to slide the display down to use it. It’s similar to what we saw from OPPO earlier this year with the Find X sans the motorized mechanism.
While OPPO’s offering presented durability problems not just with its overall build quality, but also by relying on a single motorized mechanism to support all of its sensors, Xiaomi says its approach is more durable. The Mi MIX 3 employs magnets for that bit of resistance, and snap. It’s pretty satisfying actually and Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says it can double as a fidget toy replacement — and fidget with it, we did.
Xiaomi says the phone is rated for 300,000 snap cycles. That means if you plan on using the phone for three years, that leaves you with around 274 cycles a day. As of now we can’t really say if this claim is accurate, but the Mi MIX 3’s design does feel solid and durable — no wiggle room for bigger particles to get stuck in between the display and camera.
Not available during our time with the phone were sound effects and app toolbars that bring an expanded feature to the slider mechanism. Xiaomi says these will roll out another time through a software update.
For that peace of mind, Xiaomi bundles a black hard plastic case in the box that works seamlessly with the phone. There’s a cutout at the bottom that allows the display to slide down without obstruction.
Cameras that can compete
Apart from looking good, Xiaomi says they chose the sliding form factor with photography in mind. So it makes sense that the phone comes with pretty good cameras.
In all, there are four: two on each side — a first on a Xiaomi flagship. Its dual 12-megapixel rear cameras are arranged vertically on the phone’s back and not built into the slider. To our delight, Xiaomi kept the 2x telephoto lens as a secondary camera that many brands opt to omit in favor of a rather inadequate depth sensor.
These cameras are highly rated on DxOMark, a subjective but still pretty good measure of smartphone camera performance. The phone is now the third-highest-ranked smartphone camera — tied with the US$ 1,000-Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and one step above the regular Huawei P20.
Compared to last year’s model, photo quality has improved, albeit the difference is only noticeable in the most challenging scenarios like when shooting against the light.
There are new features like 960fps super slow-mo video, video bokeh, as well as night mode, which works similarly to handheld low-light exposure shots on the Huawei P20 and Mate 20 series.
Here’s how it looks against similar shots taken with the Mate 20 Pro’s night mode.
There’s still AI scene detection built in, which you can turn off with a tap. This mode usually boosts color and saturation, although we usually prefer to leave it off since there’s no option to do so after taking the shot the way you can on Honor phones and Huawei’s Nova series.
Here are more photos we took around Beijing.
Underneath the display is the front camera system: a whopping 24MP selfie camera and a secondary 2MP lens to assist with portrait blur, plus a flash for low-light selfies.
There are also some fun portrait mode features available on both the front and rear cameras that you can add after the fact like adjusting background blur, light trails, and studio lighting effects. Our favorite is light trails, which was first teased during the Mi MIX 2S’ launch in spring. You can even save them as videos!
— Chay Lazaro (@chaylazaro) October 31, 2018
In the Chinese version of the phone, there’s also feature called Magic Mirror which rates your mug on a scale of 1 to 10. There’s clearly something wrong with the software here since since we only got scores below 8. 😂 Rest assured, we didn’t let this affect our self-worth all that much.
It’s also worth mentioning that since the front cameras are no longer placed at the bottom of the phone, they now double as a face unlock system. While unlock times are quick and sliding the phone down make us look really cool, we personally prefer using the back-side fingerprint sensor in this case since it was still the more convenient option between the two.
Beauty and a beast
Just like its predecessors, the Mi MIX 3 is a handsome phone. With the right amount of curves and a ceramic finish, it looks good from any angle. Apart from the usual black, it comes in two extra colors — Sapphire Blue and Jade Green, inspired by, well, jade. Because of its ceramic finish, the phones look somewhat similar when viewed in certain angles.
There’s also a special Palace Museum Edition that comes in a different shade of blue, inspired by Chinese ceramics. This variant boasts of a 10GB+256GB configuration.
Sapphire Blue is our favorite color of the three. Its front camera module has the same blue finish as the back, unlike Jade Green, which has black.
The ceramic finish is still a fingerprint magnet, and can be slippery at times. The phone is also taller, narrower, curvier, and less boxy than the MIX 2S. This makes it easier to wrap your palms around, although it could feel too tall sometimes. Unless you have large hands, sliding the display down might be a bit of a struggle.
On the left side, there’s an extra button dedicated currently to Xiaomi’s personal assistant Xiao Ai (literally translated “little love”). For its global versions, Xiaomi says it’s working on Google Assistant functionality, although it would be nice if they also gave users the option to remap it. A dual-4G nano SIM card slot also slides out of the left side, but there’s still no expandable storage.
There’s an earpiece at the very top of the phone, and when you slide the display down, you’ll find a set of speakers underneath. The sound that comes out of it is very faint compared to the main speaker grille found at the bottom, beside the USB-C port. And nope, there is no headphone jack.
Internally, Xiaomi packed what is expected of a 2018 flagship: Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 chipset, up to 10GB of RAM, and 128GB or 256GB storage configurations. This means the Mi MIX 3 can handle virtually anything you throw at it without lag. Yes, PUBG works perfectly fine at the highest settings.
One of the MIX line’s strong suits has always been great battery life, partly due to a higher-than-average battery capacity. To say we’re disappointed to see a measly 3200mAh battery in the MIX 3 is an understatement. During our time with the phone, we barely got through the day with minimal use on a single charge. We had to plug in the phone even before we got around to playing PUBG on it.
Of course, battery capacity isn’t everything. With MIUI’s consistent updates, we’re hopeful the phone can be optimized further to handle basic tasks without sucking too much power. This being a Chinese version with side-loaded apps might also be a factor. On a more positive note, the Mi MIX 3 supports Quick Charge 4+ and is bundled with a Quick Charge 3.0 adapter. Fast charging is always welcome, and should be a standard in any flagship device launched this year.
Like the MIX 2S, the MIX 3 also supports wireless charging. In even better news, there’s a 10W wireless charger included in the box — a really nice touch. Other brands should take note: add free accessories, don’t take them away.
More than anything, this phone is all about its display, all 6.39 inches of it. After all, an all-screen experience is what Xiaomi’s most premium line of phones has always been about. For the first time in the MIX line, the Mi MIX 3 gets an AMOLED display and we can say that it does this borderless design justice.
Everything pops at you, or is it the other way around? The display draws you in. Colors are vibrant, text is crisp, and viewing angles are great.
Although, just like any phone with a taller aspect ratio, videos aren’t designed to fill the entire screen, which defeats the purpose of immersive entertainment. When you’re watching YouTube, for example, you can pinch to fill the screen, but expect some content to be cropped out unless the video was made for the taller aspect ratio.
Netflix also doesn’t fill the entire screen even when zoomed in. There’s a black bar on the right when watching in landscape mode so the phone ends up looking like it has a huge chin that fans love to hate.
Is the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 your GadgetMatch?
The MIX line is not for everyone, and the Mi MIX 3, with all its bells and whistles, is no exception.
It’s an interesting piece of tech, still with bits and pieces of the future Xiaomi envisioned this phone to represent. The sliding display is a novel idea but we’re curious to see if it will stick or if other manufacturers can find even better solutions to the all-display, no-notch dilemma.
With the headphone jack and expandable storage indefinitely absent in the MIX line, we would have loved to finally see water resistance for added protection instead. The Mi MIX 3 would have been an easy phone to recommend had it offered a bigger battery to match its larger display. Unfortunately, it’s no longer a phone made for heavy users the way its predecessors were.
Just like its predecessors though, selfies are still not a priority for this phone despite the dual-camera upgrade in front. Unless you genuinely enjoy sliding half the phone down just to reveal the front cameras, taking selfies is still an inconvenience compared to a few quick taps on other phones. If you have small hands and are clumsy, we’d even go as far as saying this is more inconvenient than the previous generations’ awkwardly placed cameras; you will end up dropping this phone at some point sliding the mechanism down trying to take a selfie.
But at a starting price of CNY 3,299 (US$ 475), the Mi MIX 3 is easily a top contender in the best bang-for-your-buck race. It’s not perfect, but it’s closer to perfection than most smartphones in this price point. Aside from impressive cameras, the beautiful notch-less display, and overall performance, we recommend this phone for its novelty and for users who hate Thanos-like chins on smartphones.
Otherwise, the MIX 2S launched in March is a great choice and is still one of the most beautiful and capable smartphones this year. You’ll get the same performance, dual cameras, wireless and fast charging, and a much better battery life. It’s likely to get a discount, too, as soon as the MIX 3 starts rolling out to more markets outside China. Xiaomi says most of the new camera features on the MIX 3 will also come to the Mi MIX 2S.
If you live in Europe, it’s also best to wait as Xiaomi promises that 5G versions of the Mi MIX 3 will launch in the region some time in early 2019.
Huawei Vision S Series Review
Huawei’s first attempt at Smart TVs
Started from making phone switches and now we’re here. Huawei marks another expansion in their product portfolio with the Huawei Vision S Series — their first Smart TV.
This is a time when we usually see a P-Series smartphone from the company. However, we’re all familiar with their mobile struggles. So it’s wise that they’re also betting on the other devices in their portfolio to bring in the dough.
At a glance, what can you expect from the Huawei Vision S Series? Here are the works: 4K, 120Hz panel, four (4) 10w speakers, near bezel-less design, two models: one 55 inches and one 65 nches, and extra functions like MeeTime and more.
We have a lot to go through but let’s start with a closer look at the TV.
The power plug is on the left side.
On the right side you’ll find: USB-A, three (3) HDMI 2.0 ports, one eARC for soundbars, ethernet port
The Huawei logo is on the lower middle portion of the TV. Barely visible when you’re watching.
Up top and behind is the magnetic slot where the camera connects for MeeTime, video call functions.
Here’s what it looks like with the camera connected.
And the very Smart TV-style remote control.
As a TV
Extra functions aside, the Huawei Vision S Series is first and foremost a TV. So how does it perform in that department? Pretty darn good.
We put it through the paces both in binge-watching series, enjoying an Ultra HD 4K movie, and playing a bunch of video games. These are your pretty standard TV interactions and we’ll break them down for you.
A big chunk of my time with the Huawei Vision S Series was used playing on the PS5. Since the input is only HDMI 2.0, we only got 4K 60hz consistently but it was more than enough.
I clarified this with Huawei since the Vision S Series is being advertised to have a 120Hz panel. In this regard, the 120Hz didn’t kick-in because of the input method as the PS5 requires the HDMI 2.1 and a compatible game for the 4K 120Hz to kick in.
That said, the resolution and refresh rate was consistently 4K 60Hz throughout my entire gaming experience. Besides, I don’t really play games that require or give you a distinct advantage when having a faster refresh rate.
One of my most played games is NBA 2K21, that’s a pretty busy screen with plenty of movement both from the players on the court and the different elements like the scoreboard and the audience. I didn’t leave me wanting and it did away with the sort after-image effect that I get on my personal seven-year-old TV.
It also handled games like My Hero One’s Justice 2 well. This is an arena fighting game with very kinetic pacing and splash of colors. It was quite a treat landing combos and seeing Deku’s shoot style attacks in video game form on a 55-inch screen.
But what was most impressive is how it was able to deliver the truly immersive sound of Returnal. Sound design is one of the primary positives of the game and paired with the speakers of the Vision S Series, it was almost like you’re actually inside the game.
The Vision S Series uses Four 10W Speakers with 1L sound cavity to achieve this effect. Typically, you’ll want huge TVs like this to be paired with a soundbar for that optimum audio experience. But the Vision S Series is, and I cannot stress this enough, truly one of those TVs that do not at all require a soundbar for most room scenarios.
The speaker is so damn good that I would sometimes switch the TV to just a speaker function and connect my phone while I blast my K-Pop and Anime Soundtrack playlists as I work. It truly helps me focus especially with that very warm, surround sound that feels like a tight embrace.
Netflix, chillin, and YouTubin’
Gaming is fun and all but sometimes you just want to kick-back, relax, and chill to one of your favorite movies. For me that’s Spider-Man 2. It’s a comfort movie for me. Sometimes, I’m not always on the hunt for new content and watching something familiar helps you relax.
It’s even better when you’re able to experience the movie in its full Ultra HD 4K glory. The sequence below is one of most iconic fight scenes in superhero movie history and it was just such a delight to see and hear it on the Vision S Series.
While most other people were buzzing about the K-Drama Vincenzo, I instead started watching Sisyphus: The Myth. It’s just my kind of show with it being Sci-Fi and of course my main reason for watching: Park. Shin. Hye.
The TV just elevates the way the series is shot and presented. The action scenes look great, the background music is exhilarating, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record — watching on the Vision S Series TV is truly an enjoyable experience.
Naturally, I had to enjoy some music videos on it too. I’m almost embarrassed to reveal how many times I watched “Kura Kura” by TWICE on this thing. This is one of TWICE’s most well-shot and well-composed music videos and seeing my bias Momo on such a big screen like this almost feels like I’m in the same room with her. One can dream.
Meanwhile, “마.피.아. In the morning” by ITZY with its beat-heavy, hard-hitting sound just makes you feel bad-ass as it blasts from the TV.
If you’re curious how I was able to access Netflix and YouTube, it wasn’t directly on TV. These were all through the PlayStation 5. This presents one of the challenges of the Vision S Series.
The TV is running Huawei’s own HarmonyOS. It’s the same OS that we will eventually find on their other devices especially for the upcoming Huawei P50 Series. This means it still doesn’t have access to Google Mobile Services and by extension, the Android TV play store.
So what do you get? There are still plenty of native apps at your disposal. Naturally, there’s the Gallery, Huawei Video, Huawei App Gallery, and MeeTime which will discuss more later.
Here’s a look at all the native apps installed when you first fire-up the TV.
Huawei Video is the default video service
It has a fair amount of content that you can browse through. One of the ones highlighted is What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim which is a fine K-Drama to binge-watch. There are plenty of other titles as wall ranging from more K-Drama, some Philippine TV series from ABS-CBN, and more selections of Thai and Chinese series.
For some reason though, the titles don’t play in Full HD by default. You’ll have to adjust it but it appears it’s something you only have to do once as it learns your settings and sticks with it when you jump to other series.
As you can see, the interface is also pretty clean. It occupies only the bottom half of the screen with very clear text and highlight prompts.
Playing the part of YouTube natively on the Vision S Series is Daily Motion. When you search for content on Huawei Video, it’ll pull up results from Daily Motion which has a fair selection of content as well.
K-Pop performances videos from M-Net are uploaded here. The exact same ones you’ll find on YouTube.
AppGallery, more apps
The AppGallery is still a little limited in terms of apps for the TV. But that’s to be expected. This is, after all, Huawei’s first foray into this kind of device.
So how do you play other content? Personally, I own a Google Chromecast. It connects to TV through one of the HDMI ports and the USB-A port. With it, I can stream content from my phone to the TV.
An NBA addict, I am subscribed to NBA League Pass and most mornings I just have games on as white noise. I fire up the app on my phone and cast it on the TV via the Chromecast.
The drawback? My Chromecast only supports 1080p at 50Hz. It’s not the smoothest viewing experiences out there, but it’ll do.
The good news is that Huawei, in the Philippines at least, is bundling the Vision S Series with an OTT box. What is that? It’s essentially a Smart TV box that also connects via HDMI which gives you access to all the Android TV apps you’ll want and need. So you get the best of both worlds: Harmony OS and Android TV.
One thing that Huawei needs to address though is the hand-off from HDMI inputs. On most smart TVs, it’s pretty seamless to switch from one input to another. That’s not the case with the current layout.
Also, it doesn’t always automatically detect freshly turned on input sources. For instance, if I have the TV on and fire up the PS5, it doesn’t always switch right away to that input source. It’s a hit or miss. This isn’t my experience with most other Smart TVs that just kind of knows which input source I want.
It’s a minor inconvenience at most and one that can be addressed easily through a software update.
Beyond TV functions
One of the things truly unique about the Huawei Vision S series is that it comes with a magnetic 13MP video camera. This unlocks video calling capabilities. Specifically, MeeTime.
Initially, this function really just felt gimmicky. I mean, why would anyone do a video call using a huge ass screen. It wasn’t until I tried it myself that I realized the benefit, especially in a world riddled with a pandemic that is still forcing most of us to stay indoors.
You see, I haven’t seen my family and most of my friends for over a year now. I live alone and technology is really the only way for me to stay connected with them (which, to be frank, I am not doing a good job of). But the combination of the huge and good screen as well as the superb audio on the Vision S Series made it seem like I was in the same room as the person I was speaking to. It’s a truly remarkable experience and one that I find invaluable given our current situation.
Vision App, One Hop
It’s not a smart device if it doesn’t come with an app. So, true enough, this TV comes with an accompanying Huawei Vision App. It unlocks several other functions that you normally wouldn’t have with most other TVs.
Other than being a substitute for the remote, there’s also Input Source that’s truly helpful when you find yourself needing to type something on the TV. With it you can also tweak the settings, view the photos on your gallery, and mirror the content on your phone.
The content mirroring works even more seamlessly for gaming. If you want to play mobile games on the bigger screen, you can do so with One Hop projection.
All in all, these are all very nice-to-have functions that you may not need all the time, but it’s good to know that they’re there. It’s never a bad thing to have plenty of tricks up your sleeve.
Is the Huawei Vision S Series your GadgetMatch?
A TV is a big purchase for anyone, for any home. It’s not a decision that one takes lightly. Naturally, one of the biggest considerations is pricing. Here’s the deal with the Huawei Vision S Series:
Pre-order period is from May 7-21. Every purchase is up for free home delivery until May 31, 2021. Pricing are as follows:
Huawei Vision S 55”
Retail Price: PhP 36,999
Pre-order Price (Cash Straight): PhP 32,999
Includes: FREE Smart Box and Microphone (Worth PhP 6,998)
Huawei Vision S 55”
Retail Price: PhP 56,999
Pre-order Price (Cash Straight): PhP 49,999
Includes: FREE Smart Box and Two (2) Microphones (Worth PhP 9,997)
It’s worth noting that the FREE Smartbox will be available until September 30, 2021. This is key information as you’ll want to make sure you grab the TV with this freebie.
For the price, along with everything you’re getting in their bundle, the Huawei Vision S 55” is a steal. The whole combination of everything discussed above for that price is pretty darn good value for the centerpiece of your home entertainment system.
Granted, you’ll have to deal with using two remotes: the one for the Vision S Series and the other for the Smart box. But overall, that’s a small inconvenience for the overall audiovisual quality as well as extended smart functions that you’re getting.
It’s by no means a perfect TV. Personally, since I do a lot of gaming on the PlayStation 5, I’d want one that has HDMI 2.1. But those TVs all cost north of PhP 50,000. And if you’re spending that much for a large screen, you’re better off with other brands. But for something like the 55-inch bundle, it’s already a pretty darn good purchase.
Huawei FreeBuds 4i review: “The” audio daily driver
An audio experience you simply can’t miss
A great set of earphones becomes as integral to your everyday life as your preferred devices. Whether you like it wired or wireless, it’s simply something you can’t live without these days. From the early morning commutes to playing games with the squad, a daily driver like this comes in handy for all of those.
For the past few years, Huawei ventured into the wireless sound space much like their contemporaries. From the earphones and headsets to speakers, each iteration brings something new to the table. This is, what I felt, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i shapes itself up to be: something different, something more.
So, how much more does this new pair of TWS earphones bring to the table? For starters:
It comes in an oval-shaped charging case w/ an optional cover
Inside the box are a fast-charging USB-C cable and different earbud tip sizes
You have three colorways to choose from: Ceramic White, Carbon Black, or Red
Breaking down the full audio experience
As I was writing this, I went ahead and looked back at everything I said about the Huawei FreeBuds 4i the very instance I got my hands on it. I briefly touched on the audio experience, and even went out of my way to call it a great first impression — all things considered. After some more time using these wireless earphones, I have some more things to call out.
Enjoying the music every tone of the way
From my first impressions, I could already tell that these earphones were designed for you to listen to your music better. This isn’t just hearing the songs without any noise in the background, but rather for you to truly appreciate the songs you’re listening to. See, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i comes with two major audio enhancements: a dynamic 10mm audio driver and Active Noise Cancellation.
With the dynamic audio driver, I’m assuming that the music you’re listening to has some more explicit bass to it. Well, I wasn’t wrong but it was actually more than that the longer I listened to my playlist. When I was listening to most of the “pop” songs in my playlist, I could hear some level of depth to the tones and vocals. It’s those little intricacies that you only get to hear from a great set of headphones, to be honest.
However, the biggest selling point here is that sweet Active Noise Cancellation technology inside. Essentially, when it’s on, only your songs exist in your ears and not much else. It does a fantastic job blocking all background noise out, so you can immerse in your songs a bit longer. Honestly, it was a joy simply listening to all my songs with ANC on — especially early in the morning.
No delays with VODs, streams, and movies all the way through
In all honesty, this was the use case I was most concerned for because of my experience with my FreeBuds Lite. For some reason, I experienced some delay in my audio when I’m watching videos whether on YouTube or Netflix. For the longest time, it wasn’t a huge bother to me until I tried out the FreeBuds 4i and knew what I was missing.
Huawei included these low latency algorithms into the audio drivers that essentially remove lag between audio and video. While I was watching music videos and a KDrama on the side, it felt smooth to just see and hear the A/V sync like that. At least now, I wouldn’t laugh so hard when the audio is lagging behind.
Playing games and engaging in team comms
Where the ANC also shines in comes from, quite possibly, my 2nd most regular use case: gaming. In particular, I decided to play team-based games like League of Legends: Wild Rift and Call of Duty Mobile with full team comms. I’ve already touched on the ANC’s capabilities for rich, deep sounds, and it’s quite evident with games as well.
However, I’d like to touch on how the ANC helped out with team comms since I was sort of playing in a noisy environment. Essentially, apart from the ANC blocking out noise you hear, it also blocks out additional noise picked up by the microphone. In theory, it should project your voice in a clearer way.
I hopped on a Discord call on my phone, and my friends could tell the difference if I switched to wired earphones. They mentioned how they could hear the strong wind and my electric fan before switching to the FreeBuds 4i mid-game. Although, there were times they couldn’t hear me through my mic when I switched, but it didn’t happen regularly.
Define “daily driver?” for me please
Apart from the Active Noise Cancellation technologies, the FreeBuds 4i boasts 10 hours of continuous audio playback. Whether it’s a Spotify playlist or random YouTube videos, that’s quite a lot of nonstop audio banging in your ear. Actually, this is more of a battery life situation more than anything but it certainly stacks up.
What I love about the longevity of this accessory is that it still lasts long even if you charge for a few minutes. Within ten minutes of charging, I managed to use the earphones for a good 3-4 hours before running out of juice. That’s honestly quite long in itself, especially with the amount of songs and videos you can squeeze in at 50% volume.
With all the time I spent charging the buds, I managed to stretch my usage to 24 hours (yes, even in my sleep). This alone already made me believe that it fits the description of what a daily driver is all about. Plus, it charges quite fast while in its oval case, and its oval case also fully charges fast too (about an hour and a half).
Why the Huawei AI Life is a must-have
Like I mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of downloading additional software to make certain hardware work well. I mean, it just takes up more space on my phone that I would have needed for more photos and games. However, for the FreeBuds 4i, I installed the Huawei AI Life app to further maximize my use for it — and thank God I did.
See, if you’re not that big of a fan of using the gestures on the earphones, the AI Life app is where you need to go. In essence, it allows you to switch the ANC on/off, and you can even customize the touch gestures. Also, it even shows you the battery percentage of the buds and charging case. Honestly, I felt this added a bit more personalization to the FreeBuds 4i, something I was dying to experience.
Initially, I thought that you couldn’t change the gestures outright. I preferred having a gesture to play/pause songs and skip some of them — something the AI Life app covers. I genuinely think this is an app you should consider downloading if you plan to pick these earphones up.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
At PhP 3,599, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i provides an audio experience that you simply cannot turn a blind eye to. Apart from the simple yet fashionable aesthetic, it comes with a pair of TWS earphones that bring deeper sound quality for any use case. With its long battery life and quick charge capabilities, it’s something worth using every single chance you get.
While there were some hiccups along the way, it doesn’t ruin the audio experience entirely. With integrations in the AI Life app, you can easily find ways around these hiccups to help ease these off. Also, the level of control it gives you makes the whole experience more personal.
It’s not something different in every sense of the word, but the Huawei FreeBuds 4i brings something more to the table. It’s simply not just great, but it poses itself as one of the best options for wireless earphones out there.
Huawei Band 6: Best of both worlds for the right price
Big splash in the smart band segment
The wearable market has been rapidly growing and Huawei has remained competitive by releasing a large suite of devices. However, it can be argued that the Chinese company hasn’t made its mark just yet in the smart band market.
Enter the Huawei Band 6, the company’s latest attempt at disrupting the game. With a display that’s eye-catching and a price that can only be described as tempting, can the Band 6 finally be Huawei’s big splash in the smart band segment? Can this hybrid serve as the casual athlete’s GadgetMatch?
Sized like a watch, feels like a band
On my first impressions of the Band 6, I immediately mentioned its screen as one of its highlights. Amazing software can be derailed by hardware that’s weak and Huawei didn’t fail on this end. Its bigger screen is capable of making a big difference.
The thing with most smart bands is they’re valuable not as a one-stop hub for information, but as a tracker. More often than not, you go to your phone to check your progress on certain exercises or sleep patterns.
That’s not the case with Huawei’s newest wearable. Viewing time and other important information is a delight, even when faced directly under sunlight. Screen size is incredibly important in bridging that gap between smart band and smart watch. The Band 6 does that extremely well.
Even better is how despite its size, it doesn’t feel heavy when worn. It’s named Huawei Band 6 after all, not Huawei Watch. It’s light, but sturdy. Wearing it while sleeping was far from a burden.
It’s versatile and stylish. Very few products can offer that from this price point and from the smart band segment.
Battery life is respectable
While the Band 6 didn’t live up to the two-week battery life Huawei boasted, it’s no slouch. The battery went from 100 to 10 percent in a matter of a week, which isn’t bad considering it’s housing a large screen, automatic tracking was turned on for heart rate and stress, and workout modes were used five times a week. Using the Band’s full suite of features requires power, and all things considered, its battery holds up well.
Charging was also a breeze thanks to its straightforward setup. It only took the band one hour and 30 minutes to top up to 100 percent, which was quite respectable.
Big screen, big-time features for a band
The problem with most smart bands is how it skimps on features so it’s able to maintain a cheaper price point. Improving hardware can be expensive and it wouldn’t have been surprising if Huawei cut down certain features to keep the Band 6 affordable.
In that case, it depends on which wearable segment you’re comparing. Versus other smartwatches, it cuts down on features. You can’t play music straight from the watch and you can’t reply to texts despite its larger screen size.
But smartwatches are expensive for that exact reason. The Band 6 is best compared to smart bands and against its competition; it shines. It has all the features you’d expect out of a modern smart band.
Casual athletes will be glad to find that the Band 6 houses 96 workout modes such as Strength, HIIT, Jump Rope, and Indoor Run. Having a suite of workouts that wide is extremely helpful if tracking your exercises is important to you.
Assistance over accuracy
SPO2 monitoring is also an awesome feature to have especially given the current pandemic. However, accuracy isn’t this Band’s strongest suit, and it shows with the numbers that come up during workouts and with your oxygen levels. In fact, there was one instance during a HIIT session that the heart rate the Band was showing was lower than what I was experiencing. That’s something to consider when using the device as a measuring tool.
With that being said, it’s important to note that the Huawei Band 6 is best used for guidance and assistance rather than accuracy. Nothing beats medical-grade tools such as a pulse oximeter or coaching from a trainer. However, its wide suite of features is a great jumping point for someone who wants to live a healthier and active lifestyle. Considering that’s the value Huawei wants to promote with this new device, that’s a big win for them.
Huawei Health App provides the basics and some insight
The same statement above applies to the Huawei Health App as well. The app is best used for guidance and not accuracy.
The Health App is straightforward but filled with the right amount of information. Insight regarding weight tracking, exercises, and stress is limited, but useful, nonetheless.
There is one thing the Huawei Health App is very good at: sleep tracking. While insight from its tracking can feel repetitive at times, there’s a lot of substance to the data you’ll get. Aside from the basic Deep sleep-light sleep-REM sleep, the Health App also tracks Deep sleep continuity, breathing quality, and how many times you wake up during your cycle.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
Pricing it at PhP 2,599 may be considered as a risk given the cheaper price points of other smart bands. But the price increase is warranted. The Huawei Band 6 is undoubtedly an upgrade from cheaper smart bands, and it makes the right compromises, so the price doesn’t increase dramatically.
The Band 6 can serve as the bridge between the smart band and smartwatch segments. It’s sized and featured like a smartwatch, while being priced like a smart band. That’s a big win for Huawei and for the consumer.
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