Reviews

Xiaomi Mi Mix (Exclusive Edition) review

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I could just post a bunch of beauty shots of Xiaomi’s near-bezel-free Mi Mix (the Exclusive Edition!) and get away without writing an actual review — it’s that stunning. But this is GadgetMatch, and I have to describe my experience with it, as well.

Just look at it!

6.4 inches of IPS LCD with nothing but a tiny chin

It’s gorgeous indoors…

… and outdoors!

The ceramic back is a smudge magnet

And highly reflective

But it comes with a leather case

I can’t verify if it’s genuine leather; only time will tell

This Exclusive Edition has 18K gold rims on the back

Only for the rear camera and fingerprint scanner

Here’s where the front-facing camera is located

You must rotate the phone before taking a selfie or video calling

And yes, there’s an audio port

Despite being really thin at only 7.9mm

There’s no earpiece, so vibrations are used instead

A piezoelectric driver creates vibrations, producing audio through the glass. Wow!

This is how it compares to the Galaxy S8+ and LG G6

Aspect ratios from left to right: 18.5:9, 17:9, and 18:9 — all unlike the usual 16:9 ratio

But how well does it perform?

This being the Exclusive Edition with shiny gold rims, it has two advantages over the regular Mi Mix: 6GB of memory instead of the standard 4GB, and 256GB of internal storage instead of 128GB. Other than those, everything else is identical, including the Snapdragon 821 processor, elongated 1080p display resolution, and dual nano-SIM card slots (no microSD expansion).

All this equates to excellent performance, even compared to the more powerful smartphones that have launched since then, such as Galaxy S8 and Xperia XZ Premium. The Mi Mix’s closest comparison is the OnePlus 3T, and that was regarded as the fastest phone of 2016. Xiaomi’s bezel-less handset is no different, providing so much multitasking horsepower that I can’t ask for any more.

It’s worth noting that the Mi Mix’s Android skin, MIUI 8 (based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow), is the most refined version yet. It takes the best of Marshmallow and integrates many more customization options. The only downside to this is the investment needed to adjust settings to your liking when first setting up. For example, lock screen notifications for the apps you install don’t automatically turn on, so you must activate each one individually since there’s no “yes to all” option.

Can it last more than a day?

With a screen this huge and so much silicon muscle, the Mi Mix must last only a couple of hours, right? Absolutely not! Battery life is comparable to the much smaller Redmi 4 Prime we fell in love with a few months ago, meaning we get over six fantastic hours of screen-on time over a span of two days on a single charge. I can’t think of a better device right now for watching movies while on long trips.

My only concern is the time it takes to achieve a full charge. Even though it supports Quick Charge 3.0, the bundled fast charger takes a little over two hours to get to full, and it’s not as fast as, say, an OPPO or Huawei in getting to at least a 50 percent charge. But really, I shouldn’t be complaining; it’s a small sacrifice for the battery endurance I’m blessed with.

Does it take great photos?

I’m making it sound like the Mi Mix is the perfect Android, but that’s because I haven’t talked about the cameras yet. In short: They’re terrible. With overbearing dimensions and no optical image stabilization, producing sharp shots can be a challenge even in daylight. Obviously, it gets much tougher at night, when you’ll need the steadiest of hands to earn something remotely acceptable. And even if you do, photos turn out grainy and mushy most of the time.

The difficulties carry over to the front-facing camera. The results aren’t what you’d call Instagram-worthy, and it’s bad enough having to rotate the entire phone to avoid covering the bottom-mounted selfie shooter. I’m hoping a future software update will remedy this, so that we can pit it against other smartphones in a camera shootout.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Every time I pick up the Mi Mix and gaze at its enormous display and shimmering ceramic back, I feel like I’m part of an exclusive club. That says a lot, because I don’t get that same feeling with the Galaxy S8 or iPhone 7 Plus, which are surprisingly more expensive in most regions.

It’s also not as awkwardly narrow as the similarly borderless S8 and G6, making the typing and navigation experience a lot more pleasant. Xiaomi’s MIUI interface can be a chore to set up at first, but it gets better the more you invest your time in personalizing it.

Minus the lousy cameras, i highly recommend the Mi Mix. Don’t be turned off by the unwieldy-looking proportions; in fact, it’s practically the same size as the OPPO F3 Plus, which has a smaller 6-inch display.

The only possible obstacle is actually finding a unit. We acquired ours through GearBest.com and had it shipped internationally. For $689, it’s a great purchase, especially when compared to other premium devices. Alternatively, you could opt for the regular Mi Mix, costing $100 less without sacrificing too much.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi’s white Mi Mix is still stunning, but there’s a catch

Her GadgetMatch

OPPO R15 Pro review: The same old thing in a notched package

Is it worth upgrading to?

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Last February, OPPO released the R15 Pro and I flew to China for some hands-on time with the Chinese version of the device. Finally, the international version has rolled out and I finally got to take this baby out for a full ride.

Notch exactly looking new

The latest R-series device from OPPO jumps on the 2018 bandwagon with a gradient back and a notch — things we’ve seen on at least two other smartphone releases this year.

Of course, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the gradient on this thing looks good. Admittedly, it’s a pretty phone. It feels solid, and the glass back is definitely more premium compared to its predecessors that sport aluminum backs.

The phone has a tiny chin, and of course, a notch. Unfortunately, there’s no option to hide the notch. Fortunately, so many phones have come out with notches that I’ve gotten used to them and it doesn’t even bother me that much anymore.

A fingerprint scanner is still found on the back of the device, and the phone’s facial unlock is pretty precise.

Performance

Heavy social media use and my daily dose of playing Pocket Morty was no problem for this phone. I cruised through my day with this in hand and had no problems whatsoever. It does have the same processor as the OPPO R11s’ so anything that it can do, this device can most probably do, too.

Though this phone takes the top 2018 trends in terms of looks, in some ways, it’s still stuck in the past: It sports a micro-USB port and there’s no wireless charging. It’s equipped with OPPO’s VOOC charging, which gives you zero to 91 percent in an hour. This isn’t bad as the phone’s 3400mAh battery lasts me a whole day of use.

This year, Google decided to let phones other than the Pixel get in on the Android fun by allowing certain devices to take part in the Android P Beta program. The OPPO R15 Pro is one of those phones so if this is any indication, Android P will probably be available on this device soon, too.

Instagram Challenge

Another 2018 tech obsession is AI which promises to make your smartphones even smarter. Of course, the OPPO R15 Pro wanted in on that, too. The phone’s rear cameras are equipped with tech that can recognize different scenes, though it’s not the quickest to do so. In my experience, AI scene detection usually takes a little bit of time and while I do see a little automatic adjustment to the photos when it comes food shots, there’s barely any difference in other scenarios. That’s if and when the camera even recognizes the scene.

Nonetheless, the dual-camera setup on the back featuring the same shooters found on the R11s are pretty capable cameras. Images are good to go straight to your Instagram feed.

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Trust me, this phone is a pretty capable IG tool. I was pretty happy just shooting with this for quick on-location #OOTDs. Exhibit A:

There’s also a Portrait Lighting feature on this device — yes, it’s almost exactly the same as the iPhone’s portrait lighting feature.

It’s a nice add-on, but honestly, I don’t know anyone who uses this feature on their iPhone so I’m not about to start doing so either.

Selfie time

Yet again, the AI beauty mode did not disappoint. OPPO’s beauty filter still remains to be one of my favorites and with good reason: It gives me fresh selfies without looking too fake.

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Of course, OPPO added fun AR stickers to the selfie camera because, why not? There’s also the video beauty mode that I love using and it’s available on both front and back cameras.

Verdict

The R15 Pro is more or less the R11s in an updated package. Aside from a few new features, it packs the same cameras and processor on a more premium-feeling body.

It’s a capable device and a great selfie machine, but I can’t help but feel that this phone missed the wow factor. In the sea of 2018 smartphones, it feels like it’s just another notched device.

Is it worth upgrading to? If you’re on the R11s, you might want to consider holding out for the next release. If you’re craving for OPPO R-series features and that 2018 notched form factor, however, this might be the phone for you. The OPPO R15 retails for CNY 3,299 (US$ 525).

SEE ALSO: OPPO R15 Pro hands-on review: The screen is notch the same

SEE ALSO: OPPO R11s review: Midrange selfie powerhouse

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Sony Xperia XZ2 Review

Currently the best at slowing things down

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Sony continues to build on what they’ve established as their own niche when it comes to mobile videography. With the Xperia XZ2, they push the envelope by offering 4K HDR video and super slow-mo recording at Full HD resolution. This is our Sony Xperia XZ2 review.

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Honor 10 Review: Feels the same, but still different

A Huawei P20 in disguise

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A lot of people are now familiar with Huawei, but have they heard of Honor? It’s Huawei’s sub-brand that’s starting to make a name of its own. Their latest device is the Honor 10 and it’s a pretty big release for the company. The phone first launched in China then made its way internationally with the London launch.

Is the Honor 10 the cheaper flagship phone people should buy? Here’s my review.

A repackaged Huawei P20

I can’t stress this enough: The Honor 10 is basically a Huawei P20 in disguise. You’ve probably heard that before because it’s very true. If you place an Honor 10 and a Huawei P20 side by side, there’s not much difference. Both have similarly sized 5.8-inch Full HD+ displays with a small notch to house the front camera, sensors, and earpiece and a chin at the bottom.

The implementation of the fingerprint scanner is a bit different with the Honor 10’s sensor flushed behind the front glass and surrounded by tiny dots. It’s a neat design choice and also pretty unique. But, that’s not the only design or feature that makes the Honor 10 different.

Lo and behold, the Honor 10 has a headphone jack! That’s right, a 3.5mm audio port is located at the bottom edge of the phone along with the reversible USB-C port and loudspeaker. Speaking of, the sides of the device (or basically the whole chassis) is made of aluminum and it screams premium quality. It has a few antenna bands to keep your signal bar as full as possible and tactile metal buttons for power and volume.

It’s worth noting that the Honor 10 doesn’t have expandable storage, but the 128GB space inside the phone is already enough for most users. Your microSD is useless here and cloud storage is your best friend to store or back up files.

The main highlight of the Honor 10’s body is its back. Again, just like the Huawei P20, the Honor 10 sports a striking rear glass body. The model I have is the Phantom Green, but there’s also Phantom Blue, Glacier Gray, and Midnight Black. If you like bold colors, I personally suggest the Phantom Green or Blue. It can become the center of attention thanks to its shifting colors. I get confused at times when people ask me what color my phone is since it sometimes looks blue or violet.

Before I forget, there are two cameras at the back and a single LED flash. Honor is way too proud about the phone’s AI features, they even printed “AI Camera” at the back to tell you they’re not just ordinary cameras.

The unit is lighter than I first thought, considering that it has a large 3400mAh battery inside which is able to last me the whole day and supports fast charging. It’s well-built, feels sturdy, and easy to use with one hand, as well, thanks to the display’s tall aspect ratio. Overall, the Honor 10 is one of the prettiest (if not the prettiest) phones around.

Performs like new every time

Another similarity of the Honor 10 and Huawei P20 is their processing power. In the helm is the Kirin 970 processor coupled with a dedicated neural chip for AI and 4GB of memory. This processor is also found on the Mate 10 Pro from last year making it a tried and tested chipset directly from Huawei’s own factory. The result is a smooth-performing handset with no hiccups whatsoever.

Unlike Snapdragon processors which have their own Adreno graphics, Kirin processors are paired with a third-party graphics unit. With the Kirin 970, it’s the Mali-G71 which is also the same as the one in the Exynos variant of the Samsung Galaxy S9, but with fewer cores: 12 versus 18. Gaming-wise, there are no major issues aside from a few frame drops with intensive titles like NBA 2K18.

This is probably due to the lack of optimization of apps and games for Kirin chips, but it’s not a major drawback — at least in my opinion — since Kirin processors are known for smooth day-to-day performance. Also, since the introduction of the Huawei P10, I’ve learned to appreciate Kirin’s feature to adapt to everyday usage.

AI-powered camera is a thing

AI or artificial intelligence is a big part of the Honor 10, especially in the cameras. With a 16-megapixel f/1.8 main color sensor and a 24-megapixel secondary monochrome sensor, the Honor 10 is more than capable of taking breathtaking images. I am not exaggerating; the Honor 10 can shoot amazing photos — sometimes so much so that it doesn’t look natural anymore.

Here are a few samples using the rear cameras of the phone with AI turned on:

You can also check out our photo comparison using the Honor 10 here to see more samples with and without AI switched on.

Then there’s the front camera for selfies: a high-resolution 24-megapixel f/2.0 sensor hiding in the notch of the phone. The Honor 10 is pretty much on board the selfie game with beautification features and 3D lighting effects similar to the likes of the iPhone X.

Should you get the Honor 10 if you want crisp and vibrant photos? The results speak for themselves. You can always turn off AI to take natural-looking photos, and there’s always the option to revert the AI photo to “normal” in the gallery.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Honor 10 is an easy pick if you want a phone that practically has everything except for a steep price tag and maybe water resistance. If you find the Huawei P20 to be expensive (even though it’s already well priced in some markets), the Honor 10 should be your next choice. It’s basically the Huawei P20 with slight differences, anyway.

The Honor 10 is priced at EUR 399 for the 64GB variant and EUR 449 for the 128GB variant in Europe. It’s a lot cheaper in Asia, though. Here are the prices for Asian countries:

China: CNY 2,599 (6GB/64GB), CNY 2,999 (6GB/128GB)
India: INR 32,999 (6GB/128GB)
Malaysia: MYR 1,699 (4GB/128GB)
Philippines: PhP 23,990 (4GB/128GB)
Singapore: SG$ 579 (4GB/128GB)
Thailand: THB 13,990 (4GB/128GB)
Vietnam: VND 9,990,000 (4GB/128GB)

Please take note of the configuration as they vary per country.

SEE ALSO: Huawei P20 vs P20 Lite: Camera Shootout

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