Reviews

Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime review

Published

on

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

Apple Watch Series 7: In-Depth Fitness Review

For fitness buffs and starters alike

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Laptops

realme Book review: Done right the first time around

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Reviews

vivo X70 review: Sexy, camera beast

It has the makings of a high-end smartphone!

Published

on

Over the years, vivo set out to take its brand to greater heights. Like OPPO, the Chinese company aims to be in the same league as Huawei — rivaling Samsung and worthy enough to take on Apple.

We thought it would be the NEX series that will elevate vivo’s standing, but the line didn’t fly. Instead, we get the X series which seems to refresh every six months or so.

Early this year, we got a hold on the vivo X60 series, which we’ve praised tremendously as the camera smartphone to beat. With the X70 series, vivo really took it up a notch.

In our vivo X70 Pro+ review, the Android flagship rivals Samsung’s best. So, can the base vivo X70 deliver on what its series promises — a premium flagship with cameras to beat?

Unboxing

The vivo X70 comes in a sleek, black box with its letters carved in a shiny silver colorway.

Details are on point with the way the box is crafted. It really excites you to see what’s in store for you.

Of course, the phone is wrapped in plastic — which will be the main point later.

Underneath is a set of accessories essential for your smartphone experience: warranty card, SIM ejector tool, USB-C cable, a 44W FlashCharge power brick, a clear case, a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle, and wired earphones.

Bringing sexy black

Seeing the vivo X70 for the first time charmed me. The Cosmic Black variant gave a sexy appeal, dressed in a black finish that’s soft but not slippery.

When hit by the sun, or any light, it explodes with shimmery glitter. I like how Vivo has taken what could otherwise be a black phone and not make it boring.

It has fine details, too. On its top, you can find a text written as “professional photography” that shines depending on the light.

Found on its right side are the power button and volume rockers.

The bottom side houses the sim tray, a USB-C port, and speaker grilles. There’s no headphone jack, which is why vivo included a dongle in the box.

It’s a bit sad, but you can only use two NanoSIM cards on its SIM card tray.

A sexier camera module

The vivo X70 series deviates from the familiar form of its predecessor, both for the X70 and X70 Pro. The X70 Pro+ has a larger camera bump added with curves around the module to soften the offensiveness of the large bump.

And it has a mirror-like piece called Ceramic Window, which doesn’t serve any practical purpose but it’s a nice design touch that helps balance the big bump.

Meanwhile, the X70 and X70 Pro doesn’t have the Ceramic Window. Instead, both phones have a slimmer, rectangular camera module that blends more with the design. Camera lenses are arranged vertically, and the LED flash is situated in the middle part.

Story-ready cameras

Onto most people’s favorite part: camera performance!

The vivo X70 has a triple rear camera setup: a 40-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel telephoto, and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens. It doesn’t have the beastly lenses its siblings sport, but it doesn’t mean the vivo X70 can’t pack a punch in the camera department.

Regular, wide-angle, and 2x zoom

On a cloudy day, the power of Zeiss T* coating began to shine through. There were no exploding highlights whether you take a regular snap, a zoomed-in shot, or even if you use its wide-angle lens.

What I like about the vivo X70 is that the Zeiss T* coating isn’t its only strong suit. In whatever mode and lighting conditions, the vivo X70 showed its prowess.

Here’s a regular photo of a Salted Caramel Latte from Elephant Grounds Manila. Notice how the background took on a creamy blur, or bokeh since that’s a term most people are familiar with. I didn’t even use Portrait Mode to create the background blur.

The output reminded me of high-end phones that I’ve played around with over the past two years. This is some next-level sh*t from vivo!

Indoors, the X70 captures enough details and depicts an incandescent tone due to the lighting condition. However, the camera struggles in balancing the temperature as seen on the cool-hued highlights and warm shadows.

It’s definitely a rocker when it comes to photos taken with a lot of natural light. Some shots I’ve taken with the vivo X70 had a moment in my Instagram Stories.

With balanced colors and vibrant processing, I didn’t think of editing and plastering some filters like I would with my usual content.

The power of Zeiss T* coating can also be seen during dusk and lowlight. The neon and night lights looked crisper and sharper, removing unnecessary flares from blown highlights.

Great companion for food trips

In case you didn’t know the trick, I use 2x zoom to capture my food shots — be it a flat lay or a zoomed-in crop of the food I’m delighting on.

The X70 comes with AI processing that identifies food easily, resulting in a shot with popping colors. Although, even without the AI processing, the X70 captures vibrant photos of food whatever the lighting condition is.

See those strawberry doughnuts that were taken inside my bedroom in the middle of the night. The photo is kinda noisy, but they’re still vibrant and crispy.

Stronger, cleaner bokeh

Time and time again, we’ve preached on shying away from Portrait Mode since smartphone makers haven’t perfected the feature. And we looked like cutouts from a magazine whenever we use Portrait Mode.

But vivo has made significant progress in that area. Look at my dog’s photo and notice how it created that soft blur on its edges as if it was taken by a mirrorless camera.

Left: Selfie taken using default mode | Right: Selfie using Portrait Mode f/1.0

I’ve tried the Portrait Mode while taking a selfie and set the aperture to f/1.0 to create that strong background blur. And hopefully, add depth to an otherwise flat photo. If you’re unfamiliar with photography terminologies, the aperture is listed as bokeh on the camera interface.

The cutout looks awesome for the upper half, especially in my hair. It’s clean and precise — vivo certainly has come so far. However, it didn’t blur the railings of my chair and everything else on the bottom half.

This is precisely why I personally don’t like Portrait Mode. It looks unrealistic from a photographer’s perspective. And it still needs to be perfected. Moreover, strong blurs are often used on product shots and zoomed-in crops, not when you’re a little bit far from the camera.

Beautified, anytime of the day

Regardless of the lighting condition, the vivo X70 takes selfies that make you feel good about yourself. I have complained about unnecessary beautification even in regular shots taken using the vivo X50, but the selfie I took for the X70 is surprisingly better.

It retained the details — scars, pimple marks, wrinkles, and the texture of my face — but still made it soft and appealing. There’s still a pad of beautification, but it’s barely noticeable. The selfies are reminiscent of photos I took using Xiaomi’s high-end smartphones. Which, for me, is still the selfie king of smartphone brands.

The beauty mode, on the other hand, still gives an unreal output. But the effect gives you more flexibility and freedom to alter what’s only necessary, and hopefully tone it down. Do note that beauty mode is only accessible when you use Portrait Mode.

In my case, I put the aperture back to f/16 to remove the unnecessary background blur. And so we can focus on how the beauty mode lit my face as if it was glowing. Eyes are also sparkly, and my skin looked more alive. Except, it’s still far from reality.

I got good use of the beauty mode when I worked out at night. I wanted to take a selfie but I look so worn out. Using the beauty mode and a bit of background blur put more attention to my face — which has been looking lively and fresh even with all the sweat.

The only caveat is that I look like a Ken Doll (yes, Barbie Doll’s boyfriend) due to excessive smoothening. Even if I toned down the smoothening, the effect has been more visible due to direct light hitting my skin.

Nonetheless, vivo’s cameras for both front and rear are amazingly good. I actually took some photos that I uploaded to my Instagram feed — and I only upload photos from smartphones that I really like.

This photo is an example of a post-processed photo taken using the vivo X70. And yes, it’s up on my Instagram for anyone to enjoy.

Eye-candy display

Moving to its front, the vivo X70 sports a 6.56-inch AMOLED display. It didn’t have a curved screen like the vivo X70 Pro+ but the vanilla X70 still looked like a beaut.

Colors pop like any other AMOLED display, but are more evident in the wallpaper I illustrated back in 2020. Anyhoo, the vivo X70 offered a multimedia experience that lets you want to skip work. It didn’t have a stereo speaker, but the loudspeaker made up for it especially when you’re watching your favorite shows on Netflix.

It’s also perfect for gaming, allowing you to play titles that you enjoy even when they’re graphics-intensive. But for the record, MOBAs do well when playing on this phone such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Pokémon Unite. The X70 is lightweight so you don’t have to worry about straining your fingers from long gameplays.

Moreover, it doesn’t heat up easily nor lags on whatever you’re doing with the phone. Performance is buttery-smooth and seamless, especially when you use its 120Hz refresh rate. Oh, scrolling and multitasking are so good. Thanks to its MediaTek Dimensity 1200 processor, 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and 128GB of UFS 3.1 internal storage.

FunTouch is now really fun to use

The vivo X70 runs Android 11 out of the box, with a skin on top called FunTouch. Apart from the Quick Settings Panel which kind of looks clunky, for the most part, it looks just like the Pixel launcher.

Google News Feed when you swipe to the right, and an App Drawer when you swipe up. It comes with a few nifty customizations. Quick Action, for example, lets you assign a shortcut to the volume down button. When you press it for two seconds, you can launch the camera or the flashlight.

Further, I think they have the best implementation of split-screen on Android. With one app open, you just need to swipe up with three fingers. The other half shows you the app drawer from which you can launch a second app.

Lovin’ that fast charge

The vivo X70 has a 4400mAh battery capacity, capable of 44W fast charging. The phone lasted me a day of social media use, horoscope browsing, and taking photos and videos for my Instagram. When my phone’s battery dropped to 14 percent, I charged it using its cable and 44W FlashCharge power brick.

Starting at 14 percent, the battery juiced up to 51 percent in just 20 minutes. Then, it filled up to 70 percent after 21 minutes. It moved to 86 percent after nine minutes, and after seven minutes, the phone’s battery level is now at 94 percent. After six more minutes, the phone successfully reached 100 percent.

Surprisingly, the vivo X70 filled its tank for nearly an hour.

Built-in apps are holding it back from being premium

With everything that we’ve tackled, the vivo X70 seems like a premium phone already. In some way, it already is. But I still don’t feel it. The problem here lies in the bloatware, especially with the unit I had here in the Philippines.

Notifications from multiple pre-installed apps pop up even during the first time I booted the phone. Most of it comes from its pre-installed Browser and the V-Appstore that comes with silent notifications. This can be really annoying if you’re the finicky type and wants your notifications cleared as much as possible.

I don’t really have a problem with notifications. Even high-end smartphones from Samsung and Huawei have those annoying ones. And you can even turn it off accordingly on the settings.

The problem is the content — a lot of which isn’t something that interests me. Most updates sliding in my notification bar are news picked up by the pre-installed Browser.

For example, stories about the break-up of local celebrities Aljur Abrenica and Kylie Padilla, as well as the new affair of Abrenica with AJ Raval. There are also stories about the dramas of Julia Barretto — none of which are stories that entice the market that vivo is trying to appeal to.

I understand that these are from partnerships that vivo has. Infinix, Tecno, and other budget smartphones have this. My business degree understands that these are revenue-driving initiatives. But it doesn’t really help with vivo’s goals to be in the same league as Samsung and Huawei.

OPPO doesn’t even have annoying content in its pricier smartphones, which is why I fell in love quickly with the Find X3 Pro. That’s one reason why OPPO was able to step into the premium category, and here’s to hoping vivo can follow its footsteps.

In the end, holding the vivo X70 with those notifications on felt like I was holding and looking at a budget smartphone like the Infinix Note 10 Pro. I’m certain that’s not what vivo is going for.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The vivo X70 is surely an excellent phone. If you want to soak up the goodness of the Zeiss partnership and the pride brought by the X70 Pro+ as a competitive Android flagship that can rival even Samsung’s best, then by all means go ahead.

Consider the vivo X70 your GadgetMatch. It’s basically a stripped-down X70 Pro+ without all the bells and whistles. A vanilla variant that you can still call a sexy beast.

Its got killer cameras, buttery-smooth performance, and a convenient user experience that lets you live the most out of a tech-oriented lifestyle. It may have its shortcomings, particularly in stuff that holds its back from being a premium phone, but there’s always a workaround.

As an Android fan, I’m certain you can tinker around with the settings on the vivo X70 — and you can customize it the way you want it to look and feel.

The vivo X70 retails for PhP 34,999. It’s available in all vivo concept stores or kiosks nationwide.

SEE ALSO: Galaxy S21 Ultra vs vivo X70 Pro+: Camera shootout | vivo X70 Pro review: Galaxy S21 Ultra Slayer?

Continue Reading

Trending