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Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime review

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Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime

If you’re looking for a sub-$200 Android phone that excels in all aspects, go out and buy Xiaomi’s Redmi 4 Prime. Oops, sorry — I just gave away the conclusion.

I just can’t help but feel there’s not much competition against Xiaomi’s latest budget-friendly smartphone. Heck, we even have a list featuring some of the reasons why it beats everything else.


Still, the Redmi 4 Prime deserves a full review, so here it is.

First, here’s a short introduction.

Situated at the top of the recently launched Redmi 4 line, the Prime is the costliest of the trio, but not by a huge margin. The price is pegged at $133 in China, with international pricing hovering around $170, depending on the distributor.

That’s an insanely great deal for a phone this complete — that’s if you can find one. Like most Xiaomi devices, you’ll have to purchase it in China or from one of the many gray market channels, and make sure it actually works on your mobile network.

It’s also important to note that the Redmi 4 Prime officially shares the same name as the standard Redmi 4. The Prime moniker refers to the higher-end variant, but you shouldn’t look for it when shopping online. To differentiate the two, remember that the Prime has its LED flash to the left of the rear camera lens, while the standard version has its flash to the right.

It’s an absolute pleasure to hold, albeit slippery.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime

With a 5-inch display, the Prime has dimensions similar to Google’s 5-inch Pixel flagship. Not that the two phones are in any way comparable beyond that, but the Xiaomi has a full-metal build its credit.

It’s kind of slippery, though, and despite hours’ worth of online digging, I can’t confirm if the display has any sort of protection, like Gorilla Glass or some other anti-shatter glass. Smartphone brands are notorious for keeping this type of info under wraps to hide their cost-cutting practices.

To be safe, look for a protective case. The Redmi 4 Prime is already quite thick at 8.9mm, so it’s not like you’re ruining its figure.

All the features you need are here.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime

Other than the lack of frontal protection, you get the complete package on the outside: a bright Full HD LCD display, very accurate back-mounted fingerprint scanner, hybrid card tray (has one SIM slot and space for either another SIM or microSD card), and best of all, 4G LTE connectivity.

It would take some nitpicking to complain about the few shortcomings, such as the use of the older micro-USB standard instead of the more future-proof USB-C port, and the lack of NFC, which could have been used for quick wireless pairing with other devices. Most users won’t mind these flaws, because really, this phone is way below $200 in the first place.

This is how all affordable phones should perform.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime

What’s really surprising is how Xiaomi was able to equip a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor into this handset. In case you’re unfamiliar with chipsets, this processor is something you’d find on much more expensive midrange smartphones — and not on a phone priced this low.

Seriously, we’re talking about power greater than anything found in our best budget smartphone feature from last month. And this phone costs as little as the cheapest entry on that list.

It goes without saying that the Redmi 4 Prime performs beyond any other phone at this level. Apps open quickly, most new games run without any hiccups, and keeping tasks in check is aided by 3GB of memory and 32GB of internal storage.

MIUI is much improved.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime

Anyone who’s experienced Xiaomi’s signature interface knows how much of an Apple iOS ripoff it is. But that’s in the past; now, the eighth version of MIUI is mature enough to stand on its own.

MIUI 8 behaves like it should — an Android Marshmallow skin through and through. This isn’t to say it’s any closer to the operating system it’s built on, but it’s a lot more Android-like this time, without losing any of the deep customizations MIUI is known for.

Can’t follow? All you have to know is that the Prime’s software is user-friendly and colorful, yet still offers lots of options for adjusting the look and feel of the interface.

These are better cameras than you’d expect.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime

Normally, when you discover a phone this cheap, it’s the cameras that take the biggest hit. That isn’t the case here, however; the Redmi 4 Prime’s 5-megapixel front and 13-megapixel rear shooters are surprisingly good, and not just for entry-level standards. These are some samples:

As you can see, colors are vibrant whether HDR mode is on or not, and the sharpness is fantastic all throughout each photo. Taking pictures at night wasn’t that bad either, but you’ll have to keep your hands steady since there’s no image stabilization to assist you. If all else fails, you can make use of the dual-tone LED flash.

Same sentiments can be said for video recording, except there’s one minor caveat: Audio recording turns into a jumbled-up mess when recording heavy bass. I experienced this firsthand at a concert; standing close to the speakers while shooting was a terrible idea.

OMG, this battery!

Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime

I can’t believe I’m saving this part for last: The Prime’s battery is such a beast! While it shouldn’t be much of a surprise with it having a large 4100mAh capacity, bigger phones with similar batteries simply aren’t as efficient as this.

I was able to record six and a half hours of screen-on time on a single charge, which included lots of time playing games, testing the cameras, and leaving my 4G LTE connection constantly on. If I were to tone each of those down, over seven hours of active usage is quite realistic.

This leads to an endurance of two days with heavy usage — three days if you play more sparingly. We can credit these numbers to the energy-efficient processor and display panel, as well as the lighter MIUI implementation.

My only knock against it is the lack of fast charging. Using the bundled charger, it takes more or less two and a half hours to fill up the Redmi 4 Prime from zero percent. It’s a small price to pay for over a day of use, though.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

There are only a few reasons why the Redmi 4 Prime might not be for you: It lacks NFC connectivity; charging times are painstakingly slow; and you might have a difficult time finding one.

The first two may not actually matter to most consumers, but the third reason definitely does. Unless you have a reliable gray market source, securing a unit in the US or any non-Asian country can be cumbersome.

If you do manage to purchase the Redmi 4 Prime, congratulations! You’ll have a tough time finding a better deal at this price point. The only possible threat is the pending release of the slightly pricier Mi 5c, although I doubt it’ll undermine any of the Prime’s qualities.

You can also consider the similarly priced Vivo Y55, but none of its specs — from the display resolution to the processor and memory — can match the Redmi 4 Prime’s.

Reviews

Realme 5 Pro Review: An easy recommendation

Well-rounded at its price point

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Every year there are a few smartphones that’s easy to recommend to anyone. The Realme 5 Pro is one of those phones.

Three things set this phone apart: One, the quad-camera setup. Two, the processor and storage option. And three, it’s a steal considering you get so much for just PhP 11,990 or around US$232.


Already great if only for the cameras alone

We at GadgetMatch have always been pretty impressed by the image quality produced by Realme phones. Just take a look at this previous camera shootout. The Realme 5 Pro is no different.

The four cameras are as follows: A 48MP main shooter, an 8MP wide-angle lens, a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth sensor. Each one lends itself nicely to different shooting situations.

The 48MP main camera lens is just fantastic. Color reproduction is vivid without being over saturated.

Food photos are appetizing. 

 

This scene looks almost like it’s from a fantasy flick.

 

Here’s me trying to go Super Saiyan. I failed.

 

And it handles the foreground, subject, and background here REALLY well. 

The 8MP wide-angle lens offers a broader look allowing you to showcase more of the scenery.

This swing looks a little more melancholic with a wider perspective.

Zooming out, we can see that the scene is almost as breathtaking as MJ.

Get up close and personal with the macro-lens.

 

The depth sensor is a hit or miss. And we advise you use it only under good lighting conditions.

Here are a few more samples for you to scrutinize.

I recommended the phone to a reporter friend and she’s gone as far as saying it’s the best smartphone camera she’s had since she started covering the Supreme Court. As evidence, she shared this clear image of the justices from afar. Something, she says, she’s never been able to do prior to getting the phone.

Before I forget, it also has a 16MP front-facing cameras that take more than decent selfies. Again, take them under good natural light and they come out fantastic.

It does come equipped with a beauty mode with several features like skin smoothing as well as adjusting the thickness and roundedness of your face. It’s fun to play around with and each feature has a slider so the effect doesn’t come out too aggressive.

Fantastic chip, plenty of storage

The Realme 5 Pro is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 AIE and the only storage option is 128GB — which is a lot. There’s plenty of space for your photos, videos, apps, games, and even music and movies you download from Spotify and Netflix for later listening and viewing.

There are two RAM options. 4GB which is the base variant, and 8GB which costs PhP 13,990 (US$ 272). Still a pretty darn good price.

The variant we reviewed is the 8GB one. And as you can expect, it handled the usual tasks with absolutely zero problems. Your usual social media browsing and occasional answering emails, chats, and phone calls are all handled perfectly.

I assume the same is true even if you get the 4GB RAM variant. It should be more than enough for such tasks, and even some light gaming.

Yes, it can definitely game

Speaking of gaming, you should have no hiccups playing the more popular mobile games on this phone. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang doesn’t really require a lot from your phone so if that’s your kind of game, you should be alright.

Next, I tried playing Call of Duty: Mobile. At first I noticed some delay with the input, and then I realized I didn’t turn Game Space on.

Game Space is Realme’s gaming assistant. It not only boosts processing power, but it also helps allocate more of your network bandwidth to improve your gaming experience. Like other game assistants, it can also hold off notifications so you can focus on what you’re playing.

After turning Game Space on, I was surprised at how much the performance improved. There were no more input delays and you just really get lost in the gaming.

I didn’t really get the chance to play extensively enough to say if there are any heating concerns. However, in my 20 to 30 minute gaming sessions, I had no such issues.

Not top notch, but more than good enough

The 6.3-inch IPS LCD display is decent. It’s worth noting that I’m coming off using OLED and AMOLED displays which is why this felt a little underwhelming to me.

The viewing experience just isn’t as good as displays from flagship phones. But to that point, those are flagship phones. That’s not to say that the screen is bad. In fact, if you’re coming off other budget phones, you probably might not even be able to tell the difference.

Two other things I’m not a huge fan of are the design and Color OS. Granted, I have used a few phones with Color OS lately so its aesthetic is growing on me. However, it still feels slower than I would like. Oxygen OS, to me, remains the gold standard on Android phones with MIUI a close second.

Meanwhile, the shattered glass design just isn’t for me. But then again, I’m not exactly Gen Z so I’m definitely am not the design’s target market. This obviously boils down to preference. If you like it, that’s great. We all have our own tastes and that’s perfectly fine.

Is the Realme 5 Pro your GadgetMatch? 

The Realme 5 Pro almost feels unfair. You get a quad-camera setup that delivers fantastic quality images and it’s powered by a processor that’s even better than some phones that have a higher price tag.

Perhaps the only smartphone that can possibly rival it is the recently launched Redmi Note 8 Pro. But that’s a story for another day.

If you’re itching to get your hands on a phone that takes great photos and handles multitasking and gaming with ease, but you’re only working with a budget that’s less than PhP 15,000 (less than US$ 300), then the Realme 5 Pro is the easy choice.

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Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro Review: Twice the power, still affordable

But is it worth the hype?

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The year is far from over and neither are phone manufacturers from releasing smartphones. Although Mi 9T Pro isn’t the newest smartphone release from Xiaomi, it’s one of the most talked about smartphones around and is still the flagship killer to, well, kill.

If you previously read our Xiaomi Mi 9T review, you’d know by now that I’m exactly an Android user. I loved the Mi 9T Pro’s smaller sibling however because of its camera prowess and seamless experience despite its cheap price tag.


Now that I have the more powerful Mi 9T Pro on hand, I took it out on adventures the past few weeks to see whether it can actually live up to its flagship killer title.

Same design, different vibe

If you compare the Mi 9T and Mi 9T Pro side-by-side, it’ll be difficult to tell them apart. The symmetry is there. I like the Carbon Black option for its stealth while the Glacier Blue option is striking, in a good way. Although I’m not a fan of flashy design and colors, I love how there are subtle gradations flowing from both sides.

The red power button is still there, giving it a touch of contrast against its blue metallic body.

Speaker grilles, microphone, USB-C port, and SIM card slot below.

The Mi 9T Pro has a Gorilla Glass 5 back. It’s not the newest generation of Corning’s technology but it’s good enough to protect the phone from accidental scratches. The Mi 9T had none, which was a drawback for a smartphone with a glass back. I loved flaunting its back that I decided not to use the included black case. It’s still good as new and has not acquired any scratches. It feels right in my hand and doesn’t slip easily.

Same screen size, different display

Even Suzy looks confused with the differences in AMOLED and Super AMOLED

Xiaomi’s Mi 9T wowed me before because of its 6.4-inch AMOLED display. It’s an excellent panel, for such a cheap phone, with great viewing angles and contrast.

The Mi 9T Pro still packs a similar 6.4-inch display, but with a Super AMOLED display technology. Watching videos even outdoors is a great experience because it’s brighter and overall a better panel.

The Super AMOLED display is drop-dead gorgeous, so is Yoohyeon

I love its fullscreen display. Not having a notch or punch-hole camera makes a difference for me especially when watching videos. Color calibration is accurate and vibrant, making visuals pop.

Watching TWICE’s Feel Special in 4K made me miss Mina more #GetWellSoonMina

There are only a handful of smartphones with 4K resolution — and it’s not the basis of having a great display. It may not be the best display on a smartphone, but the Mi 9T Pro still delivers excellent entertainment experience even with its Full HD+ display. It’s also more power efficient than the AMOLED display found on the Mi 9T.

Flagship performance at half the price

The Mi 9T was already a great smartphone with the Snapdragon 730, but Xiaomi made the Mi 9T Pro even better. This phone is  equipped with a flagship Snapdragon 855 chipset — something you can only find on more expensive smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and OnePlus 7 Pro.

The Mi 9T Pro feels snappier than the Mi 9T — something I noticed immediately. Opening apps, the animation — they all feel faster. The experience is oh-so fluid and smooth. I can now play my favorite Asphalt 9 game at the highest settings that I couldn’t do (or even install) on the Mi 9T before.

Just like the Mi 9T, it also has 6GB of memory, so switching between apps is seamless.

Having a 3.5mm audio jack feels special (pun intended)

A lot of “Pro” products don’t seem like they meet expectations of actual pro users. If you’re the type of person who prefers the traditional way of listening to music, this phone has a 3.5mm jack — something you don’t see in many smartphones these days.

While I can always connect a wireless pair of headphones, the good ol’ audio jack is still very handy in a lot of scenarios. I find it useful when playing music in parties that don’t have wireless speakers. Some people still use wired microphones for audio recording as it’s more reliable. Some monopods require wired cables for you to control shutter releases.

Battery life is outstanding

I’m not proud of it but I’m *that* power user. I fiddle around with my phone and browse my social media feed every five to ten minutes. When I’m bored, I watch videos on YouTube or at least two episodes of a series I’m following on Netflix at around 75% brightness. I also play graphics-intensive games every now and then. Despite all of this, the Mi 9T Pro’s battery lasts me my entire day.

Fast charging just got faster

The Mi 9T already has a USB-C port and an 18W fast charger right out of the box — but the Mi 9T Pro ships with a faster 27W charger with Quick Charge 4+ technology.

It takes around 35 minutes to charge the phone from 0% to 50%. It reached 100% after around an hour and 30 minutes. That’s fast for a smartphone with a 4000 mAh battery.

Modern problems require modern solutions, except for these two

The Mi 9T Pro still features an in-display fingerprint scanner and it works most of the time. Not that I’m complaining, but it will never be as fast as a traditional scanner. A side-mounted scanner is always my alternative pick over this type of reader.

I thought there will be at least a difference when it comes to Face Unlock but it still performs sluggish. I would rather use the fingerprint scanner instead of the inconvenience of swiping and waiting for the camera to pop-up. Face unlock isn’t even as secure as it just relies on camera recognition.

The pop-up camera itself performs well

Don’t get me wrong, the pop-up camera is not bad, well at least in taking selfies. It captures decent selfies even when beauty mode is completely turned off.

I like how the selfies don’t look as saturated as other selfie shooters, which gives it a nice touch in persuading your crush to give you a chance to date you.

People who have shorter arms wouldn’t have a problem as the selfie camera is wide enough to accommodate four (or more) people in the frame — just like how a lot of you accommodate people that will never be a part of your life.

Same triple camera setup, but now snappier

You get the same triple camera setup as the Mi 9T that I loved: 48MP f/1.8 wide, 8MP f/2.4 telephoto, and 13MP f/2.4 ultrawide.

There’s a small difference though: the Mi 9T Pro has laser autofocus. This might not sound like much but taking photos with the Mi 9T Pro felt snappier and photos turn out sharper. It’s an understated but very important improvement.

Unlike with the Mi 9T, I didn’t experience errors while using the Mi 9T Pro’s camera

The camera does well with food subjects

But it’s honestly even better with the telephoto lens

Night Mode works really well

But sometimes, it doesn’t do photos justice

The highlights in the neon signs were dimmed after turning on the Night Mode, which made the shots worse.

Using Night Mode on the telephoto lens is great, too

I really love how it captured the filament in these two light bulbs and produced the right amount of shadows and blur in the background.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The maxed-out 128GB/6GB configuration of the Mi 9T Pro is priced at PhP 20,490, while the 64GB/6GB configuration currently retails at PhP 18,990 — which is just a PhP 1,500 difference from Mi 9T’s 128GB/6GB.

A lot of people have been calling the Mi 9T Pro as 2019’s true flagship killer, not just because of its top of the line specs but also because of its affordable price tag.

If you want to have a powerful smartphone with a bright display, snappy cameras, and unparalleled software experience without spending that much, the Mi 9T Pro is for you. If you don’t need the faster chipset and just want an overall great device, then go for the Mi 9T.

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Vivo NEX 3 Unboxing and Review

Vivo continues to innovate

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This is our Vivo NEX 3 Unboxing and Review.

Last year, just in time for the World Cup, the Vivo NEX was born. A play on the word NEXT, it was a showcase of their innovative chops and a taste of what was yet to come in a phone that you could already buy.


In the span of just over a year we’ve seen its iterations and this month, Vivo launched a new NEX. What new innovations does it have up its sleeves?

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