Reviews

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite review: Feels like a space frontier

Lite in price, definitely heavy in features

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It’s been a while since I last tested a Xiaomi phone. I previously reviewed the Xiaomi Mi 9T and its Pro sibling, which both received outstanding marks. After almost a year, I finally have another chance to play with a Xiaomi device — this time it’s the Mi Note 10 Lite.

Don’t be confused. This isn’t the 108-megapixel-touting Xiaomi Mi Note 10. Instead, it has a lower but still respectable 64-megapixel Sony IMX686 sensor.

However, at less than the price of its big brother, you get the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chipset with the option to get more RAM. But is it a smarter purchase? Just keep following the star trails to find out more.

A design that reminds me of the cosmos

The Mi Note 10 Lite (obviously) got its design cues from the Mi Note 10. The left-justified camera placement plus the gradient, flashy back are both familiar to other Android smartphones out there — but this phone still stands out on its own.

Upon seeing the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite for the first time, it reminded me of a nebula that can be seen from a distant galaxy like ours. Cool enough, Xiaomi named this as the Nebula Purple colorway.

Those shimmering streaks that blend well with its dominantly purple gradient body are little details that remind me of my astronomical fascination since I was a kid. If this isn’t your cup of tea, you can get a more basic Midnight Black or a cleaner Glacier White option.

How come people love curved displays but not people with curves?

The inclusion of a 3D curved edge display is a nice design highlight for a smartphone that’s priced lower than most of its flat-display midrange competitors. Most might think of a waterfall when you see that “overflowing” display but for me, it’s more of a continuous flow of space — just like the universe.

Unlike the motorized pop-up cameras and newer punch-hole cameras, you get the old Dot Drop notch found on the Mi Note 10 and older Mi smartphones. It’s honestly not the best thing in the universe but that single piece of front camera for your selfies still gets the work done (more on that later).

Also, you can find another “old” feature which is the IR port that’s responsible for making this phone a universal remote.

They now use the new Xiaomi logo instead of the old “Mi” logo

It’s not the lightest phone you can hold as it’s literally hefty. In fact it felt heavier than my iPhone XR. Over time, I just got used to it as the “thicc” body serves its purpose. Overall, the Mi Note 10 Lite’s design is cohesive — a perfect balance between aesthetics and ergonomics.

The illusion of an ever-expanding display just like the universe

What a perfect time to watch Cosmic Girls’ new music video

Just like the Mi Note 10, it has the same 6.47-inch 3D Curved AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution. Other than that, you also get an Always-On Display feature for better information and notification support.

What trims down the display quality is the level of brightness nits. The Mi Note 10 has a maximum brightness of 600 nits while the younger sibling only has 430 nits — which is enough for indoor usage but looks washed out when you’re outside with direct exposure to sunlight.

For display nerds, this isn’t equipped with a buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate. The standard refresh rate may look normal to most consumers though. But, it’s still disappointing as the Poco X2 is equipped with a high refresh rate display even if it’s a lot cheaper.

When a dialogue in Hospital Playlist is more relevant than my whole existence

Anyhow, watching on its big display still delivers vibrant colors with whiter whites and deeper blacks — as dark as the center of the black hole.

Other than enjoying the colorful and visually-stunning music video of Cosmic Girls’ “Butterfly” on YouTube, there’s also a certain level of viewing pleasure when you watch Netflix series, especially that this phone supports HDR10 for most titles.

As someone who has big hands, there’s a palm rejection feature which is flawless as it doesn’t touch screen items even when I grip the edges of the display.

Performance as fast as a rocket launch

As fast as falling in love with the wrong person

The moment I heard that the Mi Note 10 Lite packs the Snapdragon 730G chipset coupled with 6GB of RAM (which is the same as the Mi Note 10), I immediately tested its processing power.

Surprisingly, it’s decent enough for graphically demanding games. In my case, I tried playing my favorite racing game, Asphalt 9. I experienced no lags while playing it. For sure, most of your mobile game favorites will run on this phone.

It runs the latest Android 10 with Xiaomi’s heavily-skinned MIUI 12. This version gives you most of the security and performance patches you need for the phone.

Best of all? It has Google Mobile Services (GMS), specifically Google Play for most of your app needs.

The optical in-display fingerprint scanner is fast too. Though it has a face unlock feature, using your fingerprint for biometrics is more secure rather than a 2D image scan that can quickly unlock your phone even when you’re asleep.

Don’t get your hopes up though for an expandable storage as it doesn’t have a microSD card slot.

Battery life that’s light years ahead

This phone lasted longer than the the conversation you’ve had with your ghost 👻

The heading might be an exaggeration but this is truly one of its superior features. If you’re the type of user who consumes a lot of media, plays hardcore games, and even scrolls through social media feed or does online shopping for hours, the Mi Note 10 Lite can withstand all of that for a day or so.

Just like its older sibling, it has a 5,260mAh battery paired with an efficient processor, which are both ideal for long-term power and blazingly fast performance — like an ice-cooled comet.

Large battery and turbo charging should be mutually inclusive

Check the label first 🥴

Large battery capacity in future smartphones should be equipped with fast charging technology — just like how the gravitational force between the Earth and the moon are correlated to each other (or how LOONA and Orbits are connected to one another).

Luckily, the Mi Note 10 Lite supports Turbo Charge with a 30W USB-C charger right out of the box. True to its words, it was able to fill up the phone from zero to 100 percent in just a little over an hour. That’s fast considering its gigantic battery.

If you’re into wireless charging, it doesn’t support that by any means.

Audio jack is still in orbit

I miss the pleasure of plugging

Unlike most of today’s gizmos, Xiaomi still decided to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack in the Mi Note 10 Lite. Although I personally don’t use wired earphones anymore as I’ve transitioned into a more wireless lifestyle, it’s still surprising to see a rounded port in 2020 smartphones.

Day6’s Zombie is my current anthem. The lyrics best describe my life right now.

Although it may not have the Quad DAC support from the LG V60 ThinQ, I was still able to enjoy the sound delivered by my old pair of earphones with its extra heavy bass.

This reminds me of my college years where I used to listen to music even with the hassle of tangled wires. A lot of audiophiles will surely love this smartphone.

Odd placement for speaker grilles

Going Nonstop (for Arin)

Just like Uranus’ weird axis, the Mi Note 10 Lite has a weird speaker placement. As I tried playing some music videos, I noticed that my hands cover and muffle the speaker grilles. It’s unfortunate that this phone only has one speaker (I mean having two speakers is TWICE the fun, right?).

It’s hard to avoid blocking the speaker grilles especially when you hold your phone like this while trying to consume media in loudspeaker.

When I hold a phone in the usual portrait orientation, I use my pinky as support. If you do the same thing, you’re gonna block the left speaker placement, too. This may not be a big deal for left-handed or ambidextrous people, though.

Telescope-like camera quality

Don’t be silly! I’m not talking about the Hubble Space Telescope. It’s more like the generic telescope. It’s not that bad as it still gets the job done of seeing objects from afar. But still, it’s not the best viewing experience either, considering you bought a telescope with less fancy glass elements within.

Ultra-wide | Wide | Telephoto

As stated earlier, it packs a 64MP f/1.9 main camera. Other than that, you’ll get an additional 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens with a 120-degree Field of View (FoV). Moreover, there’s a 5MP depth sensor and 2MP macro sensor, both in f/2.4 aperture.

Three of those lenses are downgrades from Mi Note 10’s setup: 108MP f/1.7 main, 20MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, and 8MP f/2.0 telephoto with 7x optical zoom. The Mi Note 10 Lite can only zoom up to 2x.

It doesn’t have a telephoto lens but zoom is still clear

Wide | Telephoto

For most part, HDR and AI produce quality photos

…but large megapixel count doesn’t mean better photos

Although the Galaxy S20+ and Mi Note 10 Lite aren’t totally similar in terms of price range and hardware, I still tried to test how both of their 64-megapixel sensors perform.

Galaxy S20+ (64MP) vs Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite (64MP)

Unlike Galaxy S20+’s processing technique, the Mi Note 10 Lite failed to lessen the image’s highlights in favor of a “better” dynamic range that shows lighter shadows on most dimmed objects in the photo.

Don’t be fooled! These samples obviously show that better image quality isn’t based on how large the megapixel count of a phone is. If you’re really into photography, you should know that sensor sizes matter, as well as aperture, the phone post-process techniques, so on and so forth.

Galaxy S20+ (low light) vs Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite (low light)

Mi Note 10 Lite’s sample might look fine from afar but if you closely look at the details, it failed to deliver sharper details and whiter highlights. Even shadows in low light weren’t exempted in its image processing. To make it worse, the main camera lacks optical image stabilization (OIS) which resulted in a blurry, shaky output.

Vlog mode might be handy for some of you

This only works on rear camera, though

I’m not totally a fan of vlogging but the Mi Note 10 Lite has a special camera feature called “Vlog mode” which lets you shoot videos with eight vlog templates. This can save you time and hassle from stylizing your vlog from scratch. Although there’s no sample video, I tried testing it on my sleeping cat and it worked wonders!

Selfies are just right

Beauty Mode (Off) vs Beauty Mode (On + AI)

Not a selfie fanatic either but I think selfie camera quality is preferential. I just find it odd that it still smeared some parts of my face even when Beauty Mode is completely turned off.

This feature might work for aspiring “Instagram stars” and “influencers” though. But who knows? That feature might totally entice the person you like the most.

Is the Mi Note 10 Lite your GadgetMatch?

You can get the 6GB/64GB variant at just PhP 16,990 (US$ 340). Meanwhile, there’s another 128GB/8GB option priced at PhP 18,990 (US$ 380).

By the time you reach this line, you’ve probably passed through the phone’s pros and cons. To simply put it, this is a phone meant for power users who don’t demand a flagship-grade processor and heaps of RAM.

Having the right amount of punch paired with long-lasting battery that can last you more than a day are already enough for most consumers out there.

If you’re looking for an out-of-this-world camera performance in a midrange smartphone, this isn’t your best option. Unlike the previous Xiaomi devices I’ve reviewed, I can immediately tell this lacked the outstanding camera performance that those two midrange phones possessed.

Don’t be too disappointed, it can still be a great camera companion if you’re into vlogging, selfies, or maybe for someone who’s just not into the nitty-gritty of manual photography. The camera is ideal for those who mostly rely on Auto Mode and just need to upload photos and videos on their social media accounts.

But if we’re talking about the price tag, it’s definitely a bang for your buck even if it doesn’t have the excellent camera setup of the Mi Note 10. After all, you can’t have it all (just like the person you desperately like).

Gaming

Kena: Bridge of Spirits isn’t for everybody

And, that’s fine

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Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an action-adventure third-person video game. The game is developed and produced by Ember Lab. In the game, you play as Kena. She’s a young spirit guide who uses her magical abilities to help people pass on into the spirit world.

The game is stunning and deep dives into spiritual aspects like emotional entanglement with the physical word after passing away.

In case you don’t have a working pair of eyes

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a gorgeous game. Stunning yet scuffed at times, this game is nothing short of eye-candy. The background details and character design is just *chef’s kiss*. But, big butt (Editor’s Note: Not sure if this is a typo but we’ve decided to keep it as is), by the way, this aesthetic might not be to some people’s liking. Hear me out: this game looks and feels like you’re playing through a Disney Pixar movie. And, honestly, that might not be for everyone.

On the scuffed end of things, you’ll find that some things glitch through objects and terrain. But, to that, I think it adds to its charm. The silliness is often welcome and strangely expected in the whole gaming sense. This isn’t the first scuffed game to come across a gamer’s life and it won’t be the last. I think each game has its improvements and patches to develop and incorporate and the glitches make the whole experience memorable and meme-able.

The crutch everyone won’t shut up about

This game is weirdly forgettable for people who’ve played a lot of third-person action adventures. Why? Well, this isn’t the first of its kind. Kena: Bridge of Spirits takes from many games before it and blends its inspirations together pretty nicely without overcomplicating its mechanics.

I would say though, that this can be what I personally found to be endearing with Kena. It unapologetically makes for a good entry-level action-adventure game for people who might not normally gravitate to games like it. With its beautiful visuals and memorable take on grievances, Kena pulls at sentimental heartstrings without the stupidly complicated skill building of most other action adventures out there.

Don’t hate the game

Nor, the player. The game is simple. That can be refreshing for some players or just boring to some. Which, I’ll say now, to each their own. Most games under the same category are far more convoluted and complex. So, if that’s something you like, this isn’t for you. And that’s totally fine.

Most of the game plays on collecting cute Rot along the way. And, on top of the usual skill building, most rewards you’ll find in hidden spots are either more Rot or hats for them. It doesn’t really require that much mental gymnastics to play this game. You can play to relax and just enjoy the journey. Which, for me, is great! Kena: Bridge of Spirits is the perfect game for when you want to play with family watching. I’m sure it’ll feel like a movie to them.

Is this your GAME Match?

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a game worth trying no matter how familiar you are with video games in the same category. The barrier of entry is super friendly and simplistic so, you won’t need that much video game experience to immerse in the story. Plus, you can customize the game for when you want more of a challenge.

I do have to say though, that this game might fight to keep your interest at times but, it sure can lure you back in. As for me, I was happy to play this game. It was challenging at times and, it might not be the best one on my list. But, it gets honorary points for being simple, gorgeous, and family-friendly.

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Reviews

Apple Watch Series 7: In-Depth Fitness Review

For fitness buffs and starters alike

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In our previous video, Michael Josh did an unboxing of the new Apple Watch Series 7 in Starlight. He even became NY’s next top model as the Apple Watch can also be your next best fashion piece.

This time around, we go all-out to show you the fitness benefits of using the latest Apple Watch.

While an incremental update and lack of new sensors mean little, the longer battery life, faster charging, and larger display of the Apple Watch Series 7 mean it’s even better than before.

Here’s our in-depth fitness review of the new Apple Watch Series 7.

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Laptops

realme Book review: Done right the first time around

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realme Book

The pandemic has brought about major changes on how we depend on our gadgets. We stay glued to our smartphones for hours to stay connected. Most of us also continue with our work from home setup, causing the demand for laptops to continue to rise and opening the market to new players. 

realme tries to steal the scene as they make their laptop debut with the realme Book, aimed at competing at the midrange level where many brands have already made their mark. 

Let’s check out if the realme Book can be a great contender in the laptop arena. 

Familiar yet better  

realme Book

Having a first look at the realme Book, the similarity of its design is undeniable with the MacBook though I don’t really think it’s a bad thing. Its sleek and stylish minimalist design actually makes me feel like I’m using a premium laptop. 

Compared to its smartphones that have those flashy labels, realme veered away from that with their first laptop as they kept the label subtle and you can barely see the “Dare to Leap” mark on one of its rubber feet. 

Its 14-inch sleek aluminum alloy body with matte finish really feels solid and has little or no flex on its slim chassis.

If you’re someone who likes to work in different corners of your home or at al fresco shops, the realme book can easily fit in your bag with its 14.9mm width and 1.38kg weight. When working on a flat surface, the rubber feet on the back actually help the laptop stay stable. 

In terms of port options, you get one USB-A port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and two Type-C ports, one being a Thunderbolt 4 for the core i5 variant.

realme Book

The USB port was a bit too tight that it required me to exert effort to pull out my USB device. Also, this laptop lacks an SD card slot and HDMI port. It doesn’t bother me that much but it may be a deal-breaker for other users. 

realme Book

Top-Notch Display 

One thing that the realme Book can really boast about is its display. As full HD display is common in laptops from its competition, the realme Book takes it up a notch with its 2K Ultra-HD screen with 2160 x 1440 pixel resolution delivering stellar image quality with sharp detail. 

The realme Book also packs in 100 percent sRGB wide color gamut that enables true-to-life visuals and a peak brightness of 400 nits which maintains high quality image even under direct sunlight. 

What also sets it apart from other laptops is its 3:2 aspect ratio, giving you more vertical room compared to most laptops that are either 16:10 or 16:9. This feature is an advantage when it comes to your productivity especially if you usually work on documents, spreadsheets or social media content for work. 

However, this becomes a disadvantage when you’re watching videos since you’ll have wider black bars at the top and bottom of the screen due to movies and series being usually formatted with 16:9 ratio.  

Another impressive feature of this laptop is that realme was able to fit its web camera on its narrow bezels, unlike Huawei that had to sacrifice a good camera angle with their Matebook’s hidden camera placed on its keyboard. 

realme Book

Comfortable for work 

Speaking of the keyboard, typing on the realme Book is satisfying thanks to its 1.3mm key travel and the sound of its clicks is just right for my preference.

The keyboard also comes with a 3-mode backlit option which you can activate and adjust by pressing the F7 key. This is convenient especially when you have to work or use the laptop for a while during the night. It is also interesting since this is a feature that you barely get to experience on laptops at this price. 

realme Book

Compared to other laptops, the trackpad on the realme Book is pretty huge but doesn’t get in the way of typing. It is also very responsive to the touch and works precisely with all gestures and clicks. 

realme Book

And similar to the Huawei Matebook devices, it also has a fingerprint-sensor embedded power button to boot it up which is actually a handy feature to have in a laptop. 

Power Performance 

As for breezing through tasks, the realme Book is highly capable to give you the best experience being powered by the 11th Gen Intel Core processor. Paired with this is the Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 8GB DDR4 memory and 512GB PCIe SSD storage. 

Aside from writing and creating social media content, I sometimes do photo and basic video editing for my side hustles. With the power combo under this laptop’s hood, it didn’t come as a surprise that the realme Book actually handled my tasks smoothly. 

Even with games such as Valorant, I was able to play it at 2K resolution at high settings and it didn’t feel laggy at all. Of course, if you’d want a faster frame rate, you can always lower down your settings to improve your gaming experience. 

realme Book

I also noticed that while playing games, the laptop didn’t feel heated up at all. I checked via HWMOnitor and its temperature was just hovering a little over 60 degrees. This is actually cool for its slim body. I guess we can attribute this to its efficient cooling system with dual 8mm heat pipes and high speed, high airflow fans.

Quick juice up 

When working, I usually take short breaks in between major tasks to refresh my mind. So it’s actually enough for me that the realme Book’s 54 Wh battery can support up to 9 hours of work and leisure, keeping me powered and connected.

And once the battery already ran out, the 65W fast charger got me to a 50 percent charge in just 30 minutes so I was able to conveniently continue with whatever I’m doing.

It’s also a plus that the charger of the realme Book is small and just slightly heavier than a smartphone charger so it’s an easy carry in the bag. It also has the same USB-C cable used to charge our smartphones so you won’t have to carry another charger for your smartphone when traveling. 

Immersive speakers  

For a laptop this slim, I was quite surprised that the sound coming from its down-firing Harman speakers is considerably loud and well defined. 

When I tried listening to my playlists, I did notice that while it did not have as much bass as I would have preferred, it does sound fuller compared to others. When it comes to binging series and playing games, the speakers did a great job of simulating space that sounds pleasant and immersive. I guess I can say, it does sound better than many of the laptops I’ve tried.

Is the realme Book your GadgetMatch? 

As a new player in the laptop market, the realme Book makes a pretty great attempt at laptops and definitely challenges competing and more established brands. 

Sure this laptop may not be perfect but realme has brought their expertise in creating attractive smartphones to this laptop that definitely looks premium for its price. Also with its 2K Ultra-HD display, sleek and sturdy aluminum build, premium design, powerful performance and immersive audio, this laptop is definitely a solid deal for its price. 

The realme Book is available in Real Grey and Real Blue colors and retails at PhP 37,990 for the i3 variant and PhP 47,990 for the i5 variant.

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