Category Archives: Cellphone

Qicent 3-Socket Car Cigarette Lighter Power Adapter with 2 USB Charging Port

Qicent 3-Socket Car Cigarette Lighter Power Adapter with 2 USB Charging Port

One of the problems in this day and age on a relatively old car (I’m using an Isuzu Crosswind XT 2006), are the ports or lack thereof.

Today, Dashcams have become more imperative rather than luxury and this alone takes one spot.

A charger, preferably Quick Charge, have also become a necessity due to terrible battery life of most phones.

So, one of the best cheap solution is an adapter.

vs generic

Initially, I bought three generic adapters from Lazada. But one broke within the month, and this is just unacceptable.

As I continue to window shop in Lazada, I came across this one. As the name implies this is a 3-Socket Car Cigarette Lighter Power Adapter with 2 USB Charging Port


Out of the box

You get a fuse. This is not only surprising, it’s also amazing. If ever the device won’t work, open it up and change the fuse.

This is an extremely nice addition adding to the device’s longevity

It also has a sticky thing I don’t know what it’s for

Some Manuals and the Device itself.



Taking a tour this has 3 sockets with separated on-off switches. Fantastic touch.

It also has 2 5V USB ports. 1 with 1A, another has 2.4A. These are definitely is a nice additions, I have QC 3.0 enabled car chargers so meh

Testing it out. It managed power both my Transcend DP520 and Tronsmart QC3.0 charger.

So it works. I have just recently got this so I will have to test durability out.

Initially though, the better build , on/off switch, and the fuse looks to be a respectable,  if not good, package for a P600 socket.

Hoping this will last me longer than a month as I use 2 ports every time I drive.

Will update after a month.

Edit: Upon inspection of internals, we can see that the cheap Wawawei one is made of literally just metals and jumper cables.


On the other hand, Qicent is made with much more internals including a pcb board, capacitors and a coil.


What I Liked:

Fuse Included

Good build quality (Compared to Generic)

On-Off Switch

3 Sockets

2 Extra USB Ports

What I Didn’t Like:

None so Far

Elliot Audio Active Review


Elliot Audio Active Review



As 2017 moves ahead, one of the most common New Year’s Resolution is to be fit get healthy.

Enrolling into a gym is the in thing to do, but running on a treadmill is just boring. What can help the tediousness?

Music! And what better way to listen to music than to go Wireless!

Enter Elliot Audio Active 2. As of this writing, EAA has amassed a whopping 150k+ likes. Yeah it’s sponsored but 150k is nothing short of amazing.

What made heads turn around was its insane price tag. P850. I honestly can’t argue with that so I decided to pick one up myself.


Seeing as it is only P850, I decided to look at this from that perspective.




So let’s get right to it. Out of the box you get the following:


Extra sets of ear buds

Instruction manual

A pouch

A charging cable

And the device itself




Taking physical tour it has a decent build quality

It feels solid enough to take a few bumps

It has 3 touch buttons that performs different things.

The middle is used for pairing, turning the device on and off, play or pause

It has volume buttons, which can be long pressed to act as next track (+) or previous (-)

This maybe nit-picking but the placement of the buttons feels odd.

Once you wear the headset the (-) button is nearer to your ear which I find annoying especially if you want to play the next.


A special feature of this EAA is its ear buds can also be placed together as they are magnetic. Personally this is a very neat trick and a very welcome one.


In its name, this is supposed to be an Active device.

For the past two weeks I have used this device, it only came off once.

I have taken this to my workouts and work.

My typical days consists of 15 Minutes Boxing Mitts, 15 Minutes Punching Bag, and 15 Minute Warm-up.

It’s not as intense as a normal workout, but EAA stays on your ear like a champ





Onto performance though, it’s still ok but I have to share a few notes.

Battery life is above average, expect about 3 workout sessions before charging it.

If you plan to use it as your daily, expect the need to charge overnight.

The device has amazing standby time and about 5 – 6 hours of usage

You can use this device for calls but don’t expect much.

Oftentimes I find myself disconnecting because the other line wasn’t hearing me clearly.


Sound Quality is not this device’s strong suit though.

This maybe subjective but I find the highs too, well, high.

And at max volume it is deafening. The cymbals are way too loud.

This is kind of disappointing as most of my tracks have many highs.

I also didn’t find the bass as punchy as some may think it is.


I’m by no means an audiophile but I have tried several earphones namely:


Audio Technica CKS77

Sound Magic E50

Sennheiser HD600 (Owned by my brother)

Audio Technica MSR 7 (Owned by my brother)

Awei Earphones

Sony SBH 50

Jaybird X2 (Owned by my brother)


Though it’s unfair to compare EAA to say the Jaybird X2. I just can’t say that EAA can replace my earphones at home.

Again the sound is subjective to each and everyone’s ear.

What I find bad maybe good to you.

If you manage to get yourself one try comparing your current one with Elliot Audio Active.

Try listening to Brock Lesnar’s theme. And you can see what I mean.


Overall though, sans the high highs, I can’t suggest anything else remotely as good as the EA Audio Active for the price of P850.

For those looking for a rugged durable gym buddy that will never leave your side, your ear in this case, this one is a good buy.

I have an upcoming review for Soundpeats QY7, for a few extra hundreds this is miles ahead of EA


What I Liked:

Battery Life

Magnetic Tips

Good build



What I Didn’t Like:

Highs are too high

Distortion at Max Volume


HP 7 Plus – Plus for the Build, Plus for the Price

HP 7 Plus – Plus for the Build, Plus for the Price

 Hewlett-Packard, probably the best IT Company out there. With top of the line laptops and printers and tons of innovation over the past half century, HP is a brand and name which can be trusted and relied upon. It is also home to thousands of hardworking, industrious, cheerful and kind employees any company ever has. One of those being me. Hihihihi.

HP is without a doubt a name not to be ignored especially in technology, but as technology continues to grow the fastest on Smartphones/Tablets, HP may have left the contention to the point that people, especially here in the Philippines, are unaware HP releases some tablets and smartphone here and there once every blue moon.

Today, we gander at a relatively new release from HP. HP 7 Plus. 7-Inch Tablet at a crazy affordable price of only about P4,300.  What does this tablet have in store for you? Read on, and find out!

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  1. Design and Build


HP 7 Plus is an 8.5 Inch Tablet with a 7-Inch Screen. It has no glass protection but it is enclosed in a metallic/aluminium back which makes it feel more premium albeit being heavier. The front houses the screen and the 0.3MP Camera, One side both has the volume rocker and the Power button, the top has the 3.5mm jack, USB Port and the microSD slot which is uncovered. L The back has the 2MP camera, speaker grill at the bottom and metallic aluminium enclosure which makes the device a little bit more premium.

7 Plus is quite heavy and it has LARGE BEZELS. With the trend of less is better with respect to Bezels, 7 Plus fails dramatically. Keeping in mind the ridiculously cheap price tag, it actually feels quite premium sans the bezel and heaviness, the HP Logo at the non-plastic, easy to grip back is more plus for the Plus.

  1. Display


The 7 Plus sports a measly 1024×600 display which may net conclusion of an eye-sore for a screen especially today where 720p have somewhat become a standard for tablets. Admittedly, display is average at best and could certainly have been much better. For pixel junkies out there, pixels are quite noticeable. Aside from noticeable pixelations, some images, icons, text even games, look stretched out. If you can get over the mediocre display, it actually has one of the better viewing angles for a tablet. It has right amount of brightness to make it visible even with sunlight. Not much can be said for other tablets of the same price range.


  1. Entertainment


The main function of a tablet should be as a multimedia driver. Period. Functioning as such, 7 Plus, in terms of school grading, would have to be a C+.

Loudspeaker is actually quite loud. Headsets attached, it offers clean audio output. Even at maximum volumes there are no noticeable distortions. Play Music, Google’s stock music player, plays FLAC files out of the box just fine. It is not that loud but is sufficient especially if you are alone at home.

If you are a heavy series watcher, you will be glad to know that Plus 7 can play 480p files and below just fine. Trouble starts to brew when you watch HD videos both 720p and 1080p. Stuttering is Plus 7’s friend. Again MX Player Pro will solve your codec needs.

As for Gaming, stick to the lower tier mainstream games as even games like Minion Rush show significant loading times and lags. Its accelerometer is something 7 Plus left a lot be desired. I always die at the slide L . Moving into HD Games causes a lot more headaches as even Dead Trigger is playable at best.

Web Browsing and YouTube streaming is fine on the 7 Plus. Even if it only sports a 600 display, it was able to play up to 720p videos.

  1. Camera


Plus 7’s worst aspect would have to be the camera. Sporting a 2MP rear cam and a 0.3MP Front cam just screams absolutely terrible and it is. Partner it with 4.2.2’s stock camera and the result is just awful. The interface itself is laggy and slow and the pictures come out noisy and washed out even at good lighting condition. The front cam looks out of focus. IMHO, this could have been a better tablet if the time spent on the camera was spent on something else, maybe porting it to 4.4.4?

IMG_20141105_101436 IMG_20141105_101441

  1. Software


7 Plus is powered by Quad-core 1 GHz Cortex-A7 Allwinner A31 Processor with 1GB Ram. It has 8GB Internal memory and 5GB useable. Which I think is quite generous with an additional expandable storage slot. Under the hood is Android 4.2.2 which is relatively outdated especially noting that this device was released on last May 2014 where Kitkat mayhem has reached so many devices.


As far as performance go, 7 Plus functions fine but you have to take note that it does slowdown especially if you are multitasking. It goes from responsive to laggy after a few apps. Personally, I think this problem can easily be solved by KitKat (Solved My Motorola Xoom Problem), but seeing as relatively no one knows this tablet and it has no dev support, an update is only a normal person’s dream.


  1. Battery


7 Plus sports a 2800mah battery life. For a tablet, a sub 3000mah battery sounds bad and it is. It has great standby time, but its screen on-time is a measly 1.5-– 2.5 Hours only. As good as its standby time is, a tablet is supposed to function as your multimedia player and netting you below average usage is just unacceptable. I also have to point out that continuous use heats up your battery relatively quickly. The device itself heats up and the battery drop gets much worse. Very disappointing.

Some practical advice, as mentioned earlier, this device is not made to handle HD Videos and games. Sticking to music playing and series watching (20-40 minute episode shows) will net you decent battery life.


Executive Summary



  • ENORMOUS Bezels
  • Mediocre 1024×600 Display
  • Quite Heavy for a 7 Inch Tablet
  • Game stuttering, long loading times – Not meant for gaming
  • 720p and 1080p video playback stutter
  • Terrible Camera Performance
  • Disappointing battery life
  • No Glass Protection
  • Android 4.2.2 without Dev Support


  • Good Build with Premium Feel
  • Expandable Storage
  • Great Audio Headset Output
  • Web Browsing and YouTube Streaming is Good


At P4, 300 HP 7 Plus is kind of a mixed bag. Personally, I would suggest this for those who is tight on a budget who need to get the basics done without much else. And by basic I mean listening to music, light streaming/browsing and watching series.

You can’t expect maximum performance from a minimal price standpoint. For the price and from a trusted well-known brand, HP 7 Plus offers decent performance at best. In hindsight, this phone would have been a lot better if the camera was scrapped and the effort for the camera was shifted to a better display or 4.4 KitKat out-of-the box.

For more news and updates head on also to

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Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe – Windows Rebrander Alpha

Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe – Windows Rebrander Alpha

 Cherry Mobile. Probably the most famous, well-received, hated brand out there in the Philippine Market. They have released TONS of smartphones including Cherry Mobile Titan, Omega line up, Cosmos line-up, and probably the one that started their domination the Flare line-up. What do they have that other rebranders don’t? Great Marketing, cheap price for a ‘great’ phone, at least on paper.

Every time Cherry Mobile will release a new device, most, if not all fans, gets excited that even haters line-up to purchase their product. I have been part of two major events, Fusion Bolt and Flare. As unorganized as it is, it catered to the hundreds who waited. A major ehem to ZTE.

With tons of releases of Cherry Mobile to the point of almost monthly basis, CM may have had saturated the Philippine market the same way Samsung has saturated itself to decline [1]. I’m not sure what is happening there at CM but they, again, took a giant leap where no other rebranders had ever taken. Release a Windows Phone. I don’t know if this is the first rebranded windows phone, but I can say it’s the most famous one. This is what propels Cherry to the top, their great publicity. Personally, I have never had a Windows Phone due to its relatively high price for a flagship. I may have stayed away from Rebranders but this one is not one to pass up.

Packing so-so specs, HD Display and a new OS, at least for me, at a very affordable price, does Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe solidify Cherry Mobile’s Rebrander King Status, or is it just a Jump the Shark move from Cherry Mobile? Read on and find out!

DISCLAIMER: This is the first Windows Phone I have had. I have always been an Android Enthusiast. I will try to be as neutral as possible even if I come from another OS.

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  1. Design and Build


Alpha Luxe is 5 Inch phone protected by Dragontrail Glass enclosed in Plastic. The device painstakingly looks similar to most, if not all, Cherry Mobile phone out there on the market. It looks like Cosmos Z, last year’s flagship. The front houses the front cam, and Windows’ usual Back-Windows-Search button. The sides offer the volume rocker and the power button, the back has the protruding camera which makes it wobbly when you put it on a flat surface. It is also covered in glossy plastic which attracts fingerprints like Daniel Matsunaga attracts girls.


Alpha Luxe is a phone you have seen hundreds of times, it is also quite bulky for a 5 Inch phone. The generic looks is something Alpha Luxe left a lot to be desired. Cherry Mobile has released quite a few phones that look much better than this at the same price. Definitely something to think about for those concerned about looks.

  1. Display


Alpha Luxe sports a 5 Inch HD 720p Display. The display feels just about right for the Luxe as its deep black technology makes the colors much more vibrant. Icons look sharp and texts look crisp. Another thing to give point to is the viewing angles. Viewing angles are quite good as tilting the device shows little to no annoying changes and it is still pretty visible even in sunlight. It may only have 3 modes of brightness but it’s highest is just right. Not too bright, not to dim.


  1. Entertainment

Functioning as your daily multimedia driver, Alpha Luxe is average at best.


Loudspeaker is fine. Plug in your headsets, Alpha Luxe is definitely one of the LOUDEST performers out there. I’m not kidding you. It’s DEAFENINGLY LOUD. It has ok sound quality, but distortions come up the louder you play your music. Avoid playing at max volumes as it has extremely high headset volume with noticeable distortion. Alpha Luxe’s loudness is something to check out for those who want their music extremely loud. I do have to point out that the stock music player has bad codec as it can’t play FLAC files. Also, when you plug in your earphone/bud you will hear some crackling and buzzing sound.


Sporting a 720p Display, Alpha Luxe might net you the conclusion that it can smoothly play all your videos. While it can play HD to Full HD videos, you have to know that the codec out of the box is extremely disappointing as it cannot detect AVI files. It can play mp4 files, though it had trouble playing Full HD 1080p of higher file sizes. I have not tried using a 3rd party app as I am yet to find a Reliable and Free video player.

As for Gaming, let’s just say at the price point, its ok. Angry Birds Epic plays fine but Metal Slug’s control is sluggish, pun intended and Asphalt 8: Airborne is playable at best albeit the long loading times and lags.

Everyone who is not a company hates Internet Explorer. Alpha Luxe, being a windows phone, carries IE, so that maybe an indication of what is in store for you out of the box. For those looking for Chrome or Mozilla, look elsewhere. There is also no YouTube app so IE, again, is your haven OUT-OF-THE-BOX. As far as YouTube and Streaming on IE, it can get your tasks done but it can be a lot better with installation of another browser.

  1. Camera


Camera and compromise are partners in crime to Cherry Mobile. Fortunately, for the Alpha Luxe, images are decent on good lighting conditions. It saturates images, but not too much. Low-light is not that good but still ok. Camera Settings are not gimmicky and is just basic. The front has a 2MP Camera and the back has an 8MP Shooter. Check out the pics below.

WP_20141102_003 WP_20141101_008 WP_20141102_001 WP_20141102_002 wp1 (3) WP_20141101_004

  1. Software


Alpha Luxe is packed with 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 (MSM8212) processor and Adreno 302 GPU and 1GB Ram. It has 8GB Internal Storage expandable up to 32GB. For the Operating System, it runs Windows 8.1 OS. This is probably the biggest factor to consider when buying the Luxe. I will make a more detailed review for the OS, but for now here are my thoughts of the OS on Luxe.

This is my first Windows phone and I can say I am very impressed with its responsiveness and simplicity. It has a no-gimmick, no shit approach. After unlocking the screen you get your Tile Screen which is customizable to your heart’s content. You can remove, add, replace, and resize tiles however you please. Swiping down from the top gets you to the notification and quick settings. Holding back gives you recent app list. And swiping to the right from the home screen takes you to an alphabetical list of all your apps. It’s very simple and easy to use.


One of the best features of Windows Phone is Cortana. Cortana is an assistant which you can use offline swatting Siri and Google Now out of the competition. Cortana may not be as extensive as Siri but at least it’s far better than Google Now offline or online. The only advantage Google Now has would be the hot word detection. Voice assistants are horrendous for Filipino-accented people like me but Cortana does way better than Google Now does.


One of worst things about Windows Phone would probably be the Store. With the problems I had earlier, I thought hey, this will be solved easily by third party apps, let me go to the Store. To my surprise, it terribly lags behind Android and iOS and its search function is beyond crap. I searched for YouTube and there were a lot of apps which are questionable. I searched the net for reliable audio players and video players but all of them COSTS MONEY. Contradictory to what Alpha Luxe, hopefully, aims to do. Provide quality Windows experience on a budget.


Using it as a phone is fine as call quality is ok both as a receiver and transmitter, though as a receiver, I did notice that when the one on the other line is speaking louder, there are some noticeable buzzes. Not much of a big deal, it’s just something I noticed (Maybe caused by the other phone). The keyboard is ok as it learns your words provided you register it 1 by 1. I would also like to point out that Microsoft 8.1 has easier integration to Microsoft Office like Lync and Outlook.

As far as actual performance go, despite carrying a relatively old hardware, Alpha Luxe is buttery smooth, seamless, responsive and fluid.


  1. Battery


Android and Cherry is probably the worst possible combination for battery life. Period. As for Windows, Alpha Luxe sports a 2000mah battery and it can pretty much last you through the day. As for me, it was able to last me one and a half day before reaching 10%. This may be due to my relatively low usage. Quite, good honestly.


Executive Summary



  • Bad build Quality, looks cheap
  • Bad Audio and Video Codec
  • Limited Apps (OS Problem)
  • Good Apps costs MONEY $$$
  • No Free Solution to codec problems
  • Distortions at Max Volume
  • Lags and stutter on HD Games and Videos


  • Great for those who want to check out Windows Phone
  • Simplistic and Minimalistic UI
  • Extremely Loud
  • Expandable Storage
  • Good Camera
  • Good Viewing Angles
  • 720p HD Display
  • Windows is Fast and Responsive
  • Dragontrail Glass
  • Good Battery Life

At an SRP of almost P5, 000. Alpha Luxe kinds of feel like a mixed bag. On one hand, this is probably the best Windows Phone out there in the market at this price, on the other, there may be better options for you out there. For those who have been with the same OS for too long, a leap into Windows Phone maybe one of the most frustrating thing to do, especially if what you do on the other OS on a daily basis is missing in the phone. In contrast, it breathes a new life and opens your door to a new ecosystem with tons of other choices.

When is Alpha Luxe a good choice? Hmmm. I would say Alpha Luxe is a good buy for those who:

  • Want to try Windows Phone at a cheap price
  • Wants fast no-gimmick approach OS at a cheap price
  • Deafeningly loud music
  • Is ok with getting the basics done without much else.
  • Need Microsoft Office Integration (Outlook, Lync)

When is it a bad choice? For those who:

  • Needs various FREE third-party apps to get shit done
  • Are Heavy iOS/Android users (As the change maybe drastic)
  • Are YouTube streamers
  • Web Browsers
  • Heavy Gamers

Straight up, Alpha Luxe is not something to buy impulsively unless you have tons of cash to spend. I actually did not enjoy it on my first two days but I began to do some reading and found out that I may not be one of those who Microsoft targets as their audience. Cherry Mobile has done a great job in leaping into the Windows Market, I’m not sure if this is the first rebranded one but it is the only one I know. Alpha Luxe breathes a new leash of life to Cherry as continuous release of android smartphone indubitably saturates the market. It may also nab Cherry the Innovators of the year award in the first ever Norman3000 2014 Awards.

If you are looking for a good start for Windows Phone, be sure to check out Luxe’s faults before jumping the wagon, if the bad passes, it is one of the fastest, loudest phone out there!

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Xiaomi Redmi – Are you Ready for Redmi?

Xiaomi Redmi – Are you Ready for Redmi?

 Xiaomi has been making a big name for itself during the past months. After the flash sale of Mi 3, which was a huge success, they released power banks which were said to sell out in seconds. Now, they gander at the cheaper market and released, what is looking out to be another star for budget consumers, Xiaomi Redmi.

Going under the wing of its older, very successful brother Mi3, does Xiaomi Redmi have enough to make it on its own, or will it forever be seen as a failed Xiaomi attempt on more budget-strict consumers? Read on and Find out!

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  1. Design and Build


Xiaomi Redmi is probably one of the biggest 4.7 Inch phone out there as it is as big as a Nexus 5. Compact is not a word to be associated with it. The front is protected by Dragontrail Glass. It houses the legacy Menu-Home-Back capacitive touch layout, the front camera and the 4.7 Inch screen that has noticeably large bezels. One side both has the power button and volume rocker. The back has plastic matte cover and it houses the 8MP Camera and flash.

Overall, the device does not look expensive and fancy, but within its price range, Redmi, in terms of looks, has done a nice job. It is simple but solidly built and maybe the icing on the cake here is even though it is not a head turner, this is definitely not a cheap- generic looking phone.


  1. Display


HD Displays have somewhat become a standard. As it has been going cheaper and cheaper as displays go further and further. Redmi has a 4.7 Inch HD 1280x720p display a plus one for this feat. Images, texts, icons, notifications look great as the smaller 4.7 screen helps to make it better. One thing I did notice is it fits more into the screen than other phones. As with its Mi 3 sibling, Redmi also has a highly reflective screen, it can also be used as a faux mirror, which translates into bad viewing angles and sunlight contrast. Its brightness is also an issue as it is on the low side. I always have it at maximum brightness to ensure I can see just fine.  I want to straighten it out that the Display is NOT BAD, I just think it could have been a bit better.


  1. Entertainment


Functioning as a multimedia driver, Redmi is the one to beat. Loudspeaker maybe a bit weak considering the single line speaker at the back. Headphones attached, Redmi performs very well, clean audio output, good loudness and no noticeable distortion even at maximum volume.

For video playback, Redmi is an amazing performer. The highest I tested was a 2.5GB 1080p file and it played fine, though you will notice some stuttering. Stick to smaller 720p videos and you will be fine. Immediately install a 3rd party video player to remove any doubts of Redmi’s power. (MX Player)

For Gaming, what you pay is what you get, non-HD games play fine and smoothly, but push the hardware to further, and noticeable stutter, long loading times and lags are noticeable. Dead Trigger plays fine but go a little further, like NBA 2k14 and above, the aforementioned becomes more and more apparent.

Fortunately, Web Browsing and Streaming is an ok experience the Redmi

  1. Camera


Being a smartphone Camera enthusiast, I am a bit sceptical of the Redmi. The camera has basic features like panorama and filters, the interface kind of feels laggy as moving the camera shows noticeable lags and delay. Focusing also takes time. As for the quality, Surprise surprise! Redmi is an amazing performer! Colours are a bit truer unlike other phones which tend to saturate. Normal lighting conditions are great. And the front cam is quite respectable, I say a bit better than Mi 3. As with any other smartphone in the market, do not expect anything from low-light to no-light. Flash photography is fine on some situation, but for low to no light, picture quality is average at best.

IMG_20141026_063955 IMG_20141026_064033 IMG_20141026_064110 IMG_20141026_064205

  1. Software


Redmi is powered by a Quad-Core 1.6 GHz Qualcomm MSM8228 Snapdragon Processor, an Adreno 305 GPU with 1GB Ram. It also comes with 8GB Internal Memory with 5GB useable and a memory card slot for expansion. For the price range, this is one hell of a deal. And with MIUI as its skin, you can be sure that it is very responsive. For those wondering what is MIUI, it is kind of a mock of Apple’s iOS. Personally, I’m not a fan of either but at least it’s not as laggy as former iterations of TouchWiz. The 1GB Ram is enough but if you are a heavy multi-tasker, this can fill up instantly, then you will notice some slowdowns.

Newcomers for MIUI will take about a minute or two to figure out what’s what. On startup, I did like that Redmi offers Swiftkey out of the box. Call quality is fine. Contacts and Stock SMS is also from Xiaomi so it maybe personal preference if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Data connection is good connecting up to H+, albeit this is location dependent.


Redmi runs 4.3 Jellybean, no idea if it will receive KitKat but for those who like to tinker, Redmi has a page on xda forums which gives life to Redmi for the foreseeable future. Beat that Cherry and/or MyPhone!


  1. Battery


Battery life is a big deal breaker for anyone. Fortunately, Redmi delivers good to great battery life. With 2000mah Battery Life, Standby time is amazing and screen on-time will probably net you 2.5 Hours to 3 Hours. That is actually great considering its display and its price point Kudos to Xiaomi for going 2 for 2 with respect to battery life.


Executive Summary



  • Big Phone for a 4.7Inch Display
  • Big Bezels
  • No LTE Connectivity
  • Soft Loudspeakers
  • Bad Sunlight Contrast and viewing Angles
  • 1080p video playback stutter
  • HD Game stutter
  • Limited availability
  • 1GB Ram does not feel enough


  • Good Build
  • Expandable Storage
  • Great Audio Headset Output
  • Good Camera
  • HD 720p Display
  • MIUI Feels fast
  • Web Browsing and YouTube Streaming is Good
  • Dragontrail Glass
  • Good Battery Life


At an SRP of P5, 599. Xiaomi is poised to take home another chunk of Glory and take a good kick out of Philippine Rebranders. Functioning as a great daily driver with good battery life overrides looks and bezels every day of the week. The cons of unattractiveness may also be a pro due to this snatcher infested country.

Redmi, like its brother Mi 3, offers great performance especially looking at the price point. As budget-minded consumers look for the better value, Redmi is one to give it to them. There is only one other phone I can think of which can be compared to Xiaomi Redmi and it is none other than the Zenfone 5. A breakdown review is in the works so stay tuned for more!

For more news and updates head on also to Norman3000 on Facebook

Xiaomi Mi 3 – The Better in the Lesser

Xiaomi Mi 3 – The Better in the Lesser

 Xiaomi, a brand new and relatively unknown especially here in the Philippines, but as they released the monster Mi 3, they have taken over by storm, and amidst being a Chinese Company, some of our patriots continue to push boycotting china products, it has grown critical acclaim and their products are having great clamour.

Xiaomi Mi3 was sold out shortly after it became available and the Xiaomi Powerbank sale sold out in seconds! As much as we want to hate China, there is no denying that they are here to stay and here to challenge Rebranders, which, to the best of my knowledge are also Chinese made branded as a Philippine Product.

Today, we take a late look at the Xiaomi that started it all. Xiaomi Mi 3. Packed with Quad-Core 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800, an Ardeno 330 GPU, 2GB of Ram and a surprising 5 Inch Full HD 1920×1080 Display, Xiaomi Mi3 is still an absolute beast 1 year upon its announcement and subsequent release.

With Monster Specs and a surprising price, does Xiaomi Mi 3 live up to the tremendous hype? Or is it another China Phone to avoid? Read on and Find out!

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  1. Design and Build



Xiaomi Mi 3 is a 5 Inch phone protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and Polycarbonate body. The choice of material used makes it feel premium to hold and unlike some plastic and/or glass enclosures, you can be sure that this phone will not get any fingerprints, keeping its premium feel intact even after continuous use. The phone looks rectangular but its top and bottom sides are curvy. Along with the 5 Inch Screen, the front houses the front camera, capacitive Menu-Home-Back buttons and the Mi Logo. One side both has the volume rocker and power button. The top has the 3.5mm jack, sim tray, a mini-speaker. The bottom has the speaker and the USB port. The back houses the 13MP camera and another Mi logo.

Xiaomi Mi 3 feels comfortable to hold, and, unlike its same priced rebranded competitors, it does not look cheap. Its look can even pass up for a higher tier device.

  1. Display


Sporting a 5 Inch Full HD 1920×1080 display, Xiaomi Mi 3 pushes its boundary further. Icons and text look vivid, crisp, vibrant and sharp. Viewing images, zooming in and out, watching Full HD movies will definitely be a pleasurable experience. One thing I did notice is the viewing angles. Tilt the device a little, even at maximum brightness, you will see deterioration of the screen. Sunlight contrast is also an issue as, again, even on maximum brightness, your screen will be hard to look at. This may be due to its highly reflective screen. It’s so reflective, you can use this as a faux mirror.


  1. Entertainment


After having an amazing body and display, one flaw Mi 3 has would be its speaker. They are not bad but they definitely do not perform as well as higher tier phones he hopes to challenge. Put it head to head with Rebranders, Xiaomi Mi 3 most definitely perform much better. Mi 3 offers ok loudspeakers, headsets attached, it has decent sound, though it is not as clean as its higher tiered competitors. It is not that noticeable but on max volume, there are some distortion. Again, they are rarely noticeable.

Sporting that beastly Full HD 1080p display, Xiaomi Mi 3 proves to be a very reliable video player. Partner it with Mx Player Pro and there is nothing that it can fit that it can’t play. Yes even 3GB 1080p Files will play smoothly. Your eyes are in for a treat!

Gaming is another strong suit of this Mammoth, NBA 2k14, Dead Trigger and Injustice are just some of the games which play smoothly. NBA 2k14’s multiplayer mode also plays smoothly. A truly amazing feat. Obviously, for non-HD Games, Xiaomi Mi 3 will breeze through them.

Web Browsing and Streaming is also a good experience on Mi 3 as its powerful specs makes the former and the latter an experience to be proud of on Mi 3.

  1. Camera


I may have finally found a flaw with Mi 3! It’s Camera! The Camera’s interface feels slow and laggy and focusing takes some time. Image quality on normal lighting conditions are ok, but throw in a little darkness and/or a little low light, images will result with some noise. Front camera also looks noisy and washed out. That’s not to say Mi 3’s camera is completely useless, it can be used on normal lighting and some selfies here and there, just don’t expect Super Brand (Sony, Samsung, Apple) Camera performance. The extras also feels like a toned down version from various camera apps.

IMG_20141016_181447 IMG_20141016_181451 IMG_20141016_181436 IMG_20141016_181500

  1. Software


As mentioned earlier, Mi3 comes packed with Quad-Core 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800, an Ardeno 330 GPU, and 2GB of Ram. It runs Xiaomi’s custom Launcher MIUI is a mock of Apple’s OS. Unlike other custom skins, ehem TouchWiz, MIUI feels fast, smooth and very responsive, it’s a great feel to almost Apple. If you are an iOS launcher fan, MIUI will certainly appease to your taste. Even notifications feel vastly different from Android.


Even if Xiaomi feels like a hybrid of iOS and Android, it is still easy to use and very user-friendly. Functioning as a phone, call quality is ok. The SMS app runs fine but its keyboard is stock, which maybe good or bad depending on your preference. It has NFC Chip but no LTE. I don’t mind the lack of LTE as you wouldn’t enjoy it anyway here in Philippines.

As for software support, I hope Xiaomi continuous to give life to it by giving it the latest for as long as possible. A good sign maybe the increasing dev support as it finally has a page on xda forums!


  1. Battery

 A big question for power users. How is the battery life? Actually, I am very impressed as I expected bad battery life. Standby time is very long and on an average use it CAN PROBABLY last you two full days. As for heavy users, lasting through a typical 100% from house to after work to back to your house with a little battery life left is attainable on some occasions. A truly good, if not great, feat! Take note that continuous heavy use will result in heating up of your device.


Executive Summary



  • So-so camera
  • Non-expandable storage
  • No LTE Connectivity
  • Soft Loudspeakers
  • Distortions at Max Volume
  • Bad Sunlight Contrast and viewing Angles
  • Limited availability
  • Heating up on continuous heavy use


  • Feels and Looks expensive
  • 5 Inch Full 1920×1080 Display
  • MIUI Feels fast
  • Web Browsing and YouTube Streaming is Good
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • A Good Gaming Phone
  • Good Battery Life


No question. At P10, 599 SRP Xiaomi Mi 3 is the BEST and the PHONE TO OWN. Hate the Chinese all you want, they did an amazing job with Xiaomi Mi 3 and they did it without breaking the banks. The cons of so-so camera and bad viewing angles seem a pretty minor trade-off for a beautifully crafted device that offers buttery smooth performance, amazing display, and a good multimedia driver. Xiaomi may not be a well-known brand but it certainly is the better choice if you are on a budget. If you are on a budget and other choices in your list consists of Cherry, MyPhone or a crap-speced Branded phone, I would recommend getting the Xiaomi Mi 3 instead.

Xiaomi Mi 3 packs a enough specs to challenge High Tier Branded phone and makes Rebrander Kings Cherry and MyPhone look cheap, unimpressive and overpriced!

I am that impressed with this phone and very excited to compare it to a Branded Phone with similar specs. Can you guess what Phone I am referring it to? Well, Stay tuned to find out! 😛

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Motorola Xoom – Throwback to the First True Tablet

Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi – Throwback to the First True Tablet



Motorola, a company that temporarily died but is now at a revival stage and propelling itself back to the top. With hits like Moto X 2013, Moto G, Moto X 2014 and the recently announced Nexus 6, Motorola is doing it right by targeting budget consumer looking for the best and cheapest Android Experience.

Tablets are one of those device you probably don’t need but you have one anyways. Back in 2011, only the tablet most of us knew was iPad. Little did we know, me included, that Motorola released a competitor. Probably one of its downfall was the steep price, as admittedly back then iOS was far better.

During that time Motorola Xoom was hailed the first true tablet as it was the one who bore the first tablet oriented Android OS Honeycomb.

I recently got a hold of this device and, with respect to today, it is painstakingly slow, luckily, 3 years and counting, Xoom continues to get dev support and I bravely charged into the unknown to root my device and install a custom OS. After a few failures and more reading, I have successfully installed an Unofficial CyanogenMod 4.4.4 KitKat. So, with respect to 2014, and what can the Motorola Xoom actually offer you? Read on and find out!

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Xoom is a 10.1 Inch Giant with a resolution of 12800×800 this is probably one of the first tablet to sport an HD display. Even though its sports an HD Display the 10.1 inch screen is just too big, sometimes, it doesn’t look like its HD. Kind of like an 800×480 on a 5 inch screen.

Consumers generally buy tablet for one purpose. Their multimedia driver, for music, on loudspeaker and headsets attached, it’s surprisingly good, and the two speakers at the back is an ok choice for a big tablet. Today, front speakers should be the norm but back then, when tablets were just starting, the back was the obvious way to go. Headsets attached, Xoom offers great audio output with loudness reaching high levels.

Video playback takes a hit on large videos, it can play some 720p ok but 1080p is a big no-no. Again, use MX Player Pro for maximum satisfaction and be sure to enable Software Decoding. Otherwise, other videos will play fine.

For Gaming, Xoom understandably has lags, but I asked some of my colleagues to play with it, Contra and Dead Trigger and most of them seem to give a positive feedback.

If you have been with Android since time immemorial, you would know that Web Browsing feels slow and half-baked, certainly was the case in Honeycomb. KitKat showed improvements, but given the hardware’s age, you will notice some delays opening and loading pages.

YouTube streaming has been significantly improved by KitKat in Xoom, I actually use it more than I expected.




Xoom also features a 5MP Rear Camera, 2MP Front Camera, and a micro-HDMI port. Nothing can be expected from the camera, it has a relatively small Field-of-View and pictures are easily blurred front or rear. The micro-HDMI port still works with the KitKat update but it seems to stretch the picture more on a bigger screen.

The battery life has also been improved by KitKat and it actually performs as well as other tablets today with typical 3-4 hours of screen on time and crazy standby-time. It can last you a week when you don’t use it. I’m not kidding.



By today, Motorola Xoom is way past its prime, even KitKat could not save it and I believed it has reached its full potential. Still, with the prices of 10 inch tablets relatively steep, Xoom may still be a good choice if you need basic tasks to be done. It functions fine as a YouTube streamer, Music Player, non-HD video player and a so-so browser. Ultimately, it rests on you, the consumer if you want to pick this up.

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LG NEXUS 5 – A Year of Pure Stock



Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Android L. Android’s future is coming up to be a pretty exciting one. Rumours have spread out that these three next gen stuvves are coming this October 2014.

As Google’s next flagship arrive, their Nexus 5’s, current flagship, prices have been going down. With the trend of the Smartphone’s lifespan of only about 6 months, should this 1 year old product even still be in your list if you want an upgrade? Read on and Find out!

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  1. Design and Build


For the past year or two, Q4 of the year always seem to be the time for Bigger phone, Note 3, Note 2, One Max, etc. Last year, Google launched Nexus 5 with a 5 Inch screen, considerably smaller than its competitors. The front of Nexus 5 sports an all touch interface, no hardware buttons can be found here, as well as the front Camera, earpiece and a sensor with the screen with relatively thin bezel. The sides offer the volume rocker and the power button. The top and bottom houses the 3.5mm jack and speakers, respectively, both with mic. The back has the kind-of protruding camera with the Nexus and LG logo in a plastic covering.

Nexus 5 feels light and comfortable to hold, due to its matte-ish back, it doesn’t feel it will slip when you hold it.

Overall, the Phone feels ok but it does not exude an aura of appeal. I would often get asked, what phone is that? Is that China-phone? Also, Nexus 5 is not widely available in the Philippine Market, it can be bought on Grey Market, but I am still to find a store like Abensons to sell it. #TrueStory

  1. Display


Nexus 5 sports a 5-inch 1920×1080 Full HD Display. This is the first Nexus Smartphone to come in Full HD and Nexus did it right. Texts look sharp, zooming in and out of webpage is crisp, and watching movies is amazing. With regards to sunlight contrast, it takes a huge hit in direct sunlight. I can’t remember the number of times I had to maximize brightness under the sun just so I can read a text message. I live in a tropical country so, yeah, that is a lot of times. On ok lighting conditions, it has ok viewing angles too. My tip? In a snatcher infested country, thank God I work in Taguig, where most, if not all people, are richer than me, DO NOT WHIP OUT YOUR PHONE in Sunlight/Public.

  1. Entertainment


Functioning as a daily driver, Nexus 5 is still one of the best out there. Loudspeaker, understandably, suffers due to the poor speaker positioning, but nobody should use a smartphone for loudspeaker anyway. Plug in your headsets, LG Nexus 5 offers clean output, your music and sound stay faithful, no added bass, trebles or low. It has the right amount of loudness but compared to its competitors Note 3, S5, G3, etc. it is not as loud.

Being the Stock Harbinger, you can expect Nexus to slack on something, and I found 2! First one is the undying, never resolved, stock video codec. The codec included is extremely limited, it can play some of your files with the question mark of it playing fine, lagging, muting and worst of all, it transforms your 2GB movie file into Mp3. Nice work, Google! Fortunately, a quick download of MX Player Pro keeps you up to speed.

For Gaming, Nexus 5 does amazingly well! All non-HD Games opens and runs smoothly. Go into higher end games like NOVA 3, Real Steel, Dark Knight, and Captain America, it plays them smoothly, this is an amazing feat. If a 2013 phone can perform and play these games on such a high level, just imagine how well its competitor’s and its own successor will be able to play them!

Web Browsing has seen a continuous improvement from past iterations of Android, and coupled with powerful specs, Web Browsing on Nexus 5 is mighty fine. Video Streaming, is also a joy, as videos load fast and can now play Full 1080p! These two maybe internet dependent, but Nexus 5’s KitKat has certainly helped improving it.

  1. Camera


Remember when I said Nexus 5 has 2 super flaws? Here is the second one! Nexus 5 has an 8MP rear camera. As with any other phone in its price range, it performs ok, take note, ok not great, but throw in a little darkness, use flash, and results come in as disappointing. As for its front camera, it performs ok too at good lighting condition. Finally, the camera experience is bare, you don’t get any gimmicky stuff here compared to HTC and Samsung. Lesson of the day? Don’t expect super camera performance from stock.

IMG_20141015_081120 IMG_20141014_072238 IMG_20141014_072228 IMG_20141015_081221 IMG_20141015_081230

  1. Software


Nexus 5 is powered by Quad-Core 2.3GHZ Snapdragon 800 Processor with Ardeno 330 GPU with 2GB of Ram. Throw in the stock vanilla android and you have yourself, even up to today, yes today (October 2014), it performs at buttery smoothness, rare to none lags, and a powerful multitasker.

If you love stock, Nexus is obviously the one for you. The straight up no gimik approach with little to no bloatwares help aids its quick performance. Google Now is now shaping up to be a very respectable launcher. Sadly, this is Philippines so you can’t fully maximize its functions unless you are on an unlimited plan. Actually even if you are on UnliData plan, you will either get cut-off with cap or get garbage reception amidst telecommunication companies’ insistence that they have 5G or 100% 3G reception.


Being a SmartPhone, Nexus 5 has shown that it can be Smart. Can it be a phone? Of course yes! Call quality, both as a receiver and a transmitter is ok, clear but sometimes, I can come up as soft. Dialer and Contacts are stock, and Hangouts is slowly shaping up to be the SMS app of choice. GoSMS is debatable as the best.

Another feature which catapults Nexus 5 with the best of today is the amazing number of custom roms and dev support.

Software-wise Nexus 5 offers top-of-the-line performance despite being a year old, and being a Nexus line, you can be sure it can be updated to the next 2 iterations of Android. Android L will definitely available and I have high hopes it will get Android M.

  1. Battery

 There is no doubt Nexus 5 is amazing but I did mention it has 2 super flaws. Well this is a major flaw. Battery life. Before Nexus 5, I was using Galaxy Note 2 as my daily driver, and I also tinker with it and sometimes, it was able to last me 2 days with 4-5 hours screen on time. With the Nexus 5, overnight charging is a must and before the day ends, my battery struggles. I average about 2.5 Hours of screen on time. Sadness.


Executive Summary



  • Disappointing Camera especially on low-light and flash photography without extra features
  • Non-expandable storage
  • Crappy out of the box video codec
  • Soft Loudspeakers
  • Some Bloatwares
  • Horrendous Battery Life
  • Does not look like a premium device (Applicable on in PH)
  • Bad Sunlight Contrast


  • 5 Inch Full 1920×1080 Display
  • Great headset audio output
  • Stock Android
  • LTE Connectivity
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • Tons of Developer Support and Customization available


I feel like I may have strayed from the original point of this article which is to answer if this phone is still a good choice with the upcoming of a successor. For me, Nexus 5 is still one of the best out there and its price drop is definitely something to consider. Branded phone is ALWAYS, ALWAYS better than rebranded phones. At most, I will probably still use it for the next 6 months unless Nexus 6 will be that good. The Nexus line is a line of premium Google device which does its best to give you the BEST value for money for the LONGEST amount of time. Other flagships releases twice a year, but Nexus releases once. This is a nice strategy to give consumers peace of mind and actually have something to look at least in terms of specs when looking to upgrade Z2 to Z3 anyone? Nexus also looks to have almost infinite dev support. Google may have stopped support on earlier Nexus like Galaxy Nexus Prime and below but all of them has gotten KitKat. Even my Nexus One runs KitKat, albeit laggy. Nexus 5, at least for the foreseeable 6 months, imho, will continue to breathe life support with Google, and if Google decides to pull the plug, Devs will be there to support. Just be sure to take note of the major cons before buying, otherwise, for those looking for a cheap bang for the buck, Nexus 5 is a safe and great choice.

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THL T6S Review



 Today, there are a lot of China Smartphone makers in the country. From MyPhone and Cherry as Dual King of Rebranded Smartphones comes creeping other companies like SKK, Torque, Kata, THL etc. The craze for sub-10k phones is amazing. Whenever a company releases one, you can be sure that it will have a group on Facebook with fan base reaching thousands before the actual release!

Today, I decided to get back on the sub-10k range and try one from a well-known company in China which is trying to creep into Philippine Market. The one I bought is none other than the spec heavy, light priced THL T6S. Priced relatively cheaply at about Php 4,000. T6s packs 5 Inches of 854×480 JDI TFT Screen, Quad core MT6582M Chipset, 1GB Ram, and Kitkat out of the box. Does the China Made China released ‘Technology Happy Life (THL)’ phone pack a significant punch, or does it perform similar to pseudo rebranders king Cherry Mobile? Read on and find out!

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Contents other than the standard is present on T6S.  It contains the Manuals, USB Cable, charger and a headset. Nothing special.

  1. Design and Build


THL T6S sets itself apart by not going with curved edges. Instead it takes an Xperia-ish square edge, which, in my opinion, is a better choice with respect to looks. The button layout is pretty much the same, with Capacitive touch buttons below, volume rockers on the left side and power button on the right. Depending on your preference, the ‘Menu, Home, Back’ capacitive layout maybe good or bad. The back consist of a protruding camera, speakers and THL logos. It’s made with plastic Matte back which may or may not make you cringe when you scratch it.

Overall, the Phone feels and looks ok but it does not stand out. You won’t have any friends asking you ‘Wow, ang ganda! Ano to?’ (Wow this looks great! What is it?)

  1. Display


T6S sports a 5-inch JDI 854×480 screen. At this point in time, anything below 720p will probably get an eye-lash bat, but considering its price point and competitor (Flare 3 has 960×540 qHD display), this one is just about right.

The screen boasts good viewing angles and adequate brightness. Though if you are tight about display, you would undoubtedly notice some pixels here and there.

  1. Entertainment


Performing as your Multimedia Driver, THL performs ok with some great hits and so-so miss.

On loudspeaker, T6S performs ok especially for bedroom use, it gets bad outdoors, well why would you use a phone loudspeaker on public. Attach your head/earset/bud/phone (I use JVC FX3X), it has good performance, great amount of loudness, but not too much bass considering I use a bassy in-ear plugs.

As expected from a China made generic android, the codec for videos is extremely bad. Luckily, MX Player Pro will easily solve this problem. Speaking of media playing, it runs 1080p videos but it does not seem to run perfectly as it shows stutters. Small sized 720p videos will work fine.

For Gaming, THL holds itself well, playing non-HD mainstream games with relative smoothness. For HD games, I expected it to perform badly but it surprised me! Don’t get me wrong, this thing is not made for such as there is presence of extremely long loading times but it did play Vice City, Asphalt 8, Gangster 4. It played them but expect long loading times and lags. Again, I know this is not made for such games, I’m actually praising THL for the fact that it opens the aforementioned games.


Web Browsing and YouTube streaming is not that of a strong suit. Don’t use for heavy browsing. And take note of the fact that it only plays up to 480p on YouTube. Yes, I am aware of the phone’s resolution at 480p.

Also note that, unlike high end phones today, this phone does not default to MTP, it uses USB Mass Storage Mode, which I think is less efficient than the former.

  1. Camera


For the camera, the box says it has 5MP, surprisingly you can capture pictures at 13MP! Amazing? No not really. As most of you may know, quality does not depend on Pixels. This is certainly true for T6S. Pictures look washed out especially indoors and low light. If you are looking for a camera phone with a cheap price tag, better stay clear of this one.

  1. Software


T6S is powered by a quadcore MT6582M processor partnered with 1GB Ram. Initially, it seems to be a very snappy phone, but open a few apps, it shows slowdowns. I don’t know if this is unit dependent but I sometimes encounter random reboot of the phone. Sometimes it becomes painstakingly slow, what I must do is reboot it and it runs fine again. It is also powered by Kitkat for those who have ‘latest always’ syndrome.

T6S’ interface is named Launcher3, which just looks and feels like a gimmicked version of Stock. I would have preferred the latter as I see no advantages on using this Launcher3.


Functioning as a phone, T6S does well, call quality is okay at best and SMS/Keyboard/Phonebook is all stock.

Being a China phone, expect some Bloatwares, you can easily uninstall them, though.

  1. Battery


Same as with every other P4, 000 phone, and battery takes a huge hit. I don’t think you should expect great battery life from this phone, as it is average at best. It CAN last you through your work, but overnight charging is a definite must. Expect standby time of 12 hours and on screen time of about 2 and a half hours.

Executive Summary



  • Crappy out of the box video codec
  • Unimpressive Camera
  • Lags and stuttering on HD Games
  • Some Bloatwares
  • Disappointing Battery Life
  • Random reboots
  • Lags


  • Ok headset audio output
  • Ok loudspeaker output
  • Ok Display for a 480p phone
  • Ok looking phone


Honestly, I am not impressed with this phone. For a P4, 000 phone, I know I should not expect much. I can’t pinpoint it exactly but I feel there is something missing here. It has been a very long time since I reviewed a phone on this area so I can’t exactly tell you how it performs with others of the same price range. But if you are going to ask me if I can recommend this? I guess I can say it’s ok just be aware of the cons listed. With the way Asus Zenfone hit the market, other phones will have a hard time competing, Asus Zenfone 4 review will come up soon so stay tuned 😉

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Asus Zenfone 5 – The Rebrander Killer




Most, if not all Filipinos, are easily impressed by specs. Barring build quality and other factors, as soon as we see high-end specs on paper on any rebranded phone, most will drool and marvel at it and some end up impulsively buying it. I would not blame my fellow countrymen as I too am a sucker for such phones and with the steep price of high-end phones, this addiction is understandable.

As Samsung and Apple continue to dominate the high-end smartphone battleground, one international brand has slowly but surely been making its way up by going down. Let’s face it, anyone who dares to compete with monotonous looking Samsung and size growing Apple would probably end up losing in the long run.

So instead of taking a dip in the high-end wars, Asus is taking its talent through the budget-phone arena. Announced last January 2014 and released a few weeks ago in the Philippine Market. Asus Zenfone 5 has become a phenomenal hit that its Philippine Facebook pages has grown to a full thousand and more in a short span of time.

Priced at a very competitive P6, 495, Asus Zenfone 5 Sports a 5-Inch HD Display protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and encased beautifully. Will the Zenfone 5 punch a hole big enough to scar the rebranded market? Does it live up to the tremendous hype? Read on and find out! 

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Asus Zenfone 5’s box looks like any other you have seen.  It contains the standard package consisting of Manuals, USB Cable, charger and a relatively good headset. Nothing special.

  1. Design and Build


Asus Zenfone 5 is undoubtedly one of the best looking budget phone to date. It is so good it can even pass as a high-end smartphone. The front houses a 2MP camera, capacitive touch buttons and good, but not quite thin, bezels. The lower part of the front adds to the high end appeal as it does look like last year’s HTC One. The volume rocker and power button are silver   and gorgeous. The back is protected by a plastic matte-back with the 8MP Camera, ASUS, Intel, Zenfone logo, and speakers.

Overall, the Phone feels and looks expensive and high class. It definitely screams PREMIUM.

  1. Display


Zenfone 5 sports a 5-inch 1280×720 HD display. As far as displays goes today, 720p displays feels a bit dated but looking at its price point, and from a trusted brander, it still can be categorized as a win.

Looking at the screen, it’s actually nice to look at, it is has the right amount of brightness, the text is sharp and crisp, and it has good viewing angles. Pic browsing and movie playback will definitely be and enjoyable experience with this phone.

One complaint I have would be why is there no backlight in the capacitive touch buttons? Sure you can easily memorize 3 keys but I Zenfone 5 actually sports a different button layout. For the past 3 years I have been using Android, I have always had Menu-Home-Back format. Now I am treated into a Back-Home-Recent buttons. The former configuration has been in my heart with me too much, I constantly make the same mistake especially when I am on a dimly lit room.

  1. Entertainment

One of the most important factor for a phone today is to function as your daily multimedia driver. For Zenfone 5, it functions amazingly well in that aspect.

On loudspeaker, Zenfone 5 sits with those in the poor category as it has a very disappointing loudspeaker. As far as listening with headsets go, it jumps as one of the best performers. It has clean audio output, respectable bass and right amount of loudness. To standardize my review, and for the upcoming reviews I will be using JVC FX3X (Review coming soon).


Another minor disappointment is the device limited codec. You wouldn’t be able to play all your videos out of the box. But as soon as you download a reliable video player, MX Player (recommended), you can fully enjoy your movies with this beautiful 5-Inch 720p device. Also, Zenfone 5 can play 1080p videos (tested 2GB movies).


For Gaming, Asus was able to play all non-HD mainstream games. However playing games such as NBA 2k14, Dead Trigger, Dark Knight, it has shown some stutter and lags.



Web Browsing and YouTube streaming is another strong suit of Zenfone. I have had no problems in opening web pages and streaming videos.

  1. Camera


Asus Zenfone 5 sports an 8MP Main Camera and a 2MP front camera. As far as smartphone imaging is concerned, Asus does not have a good and strong reputation. As for this one, though, it has a good Main Camera which has TONS of features including the Famous Selfie Mode. Modes include Time Rewind, HDR, Panorama, Night etc. There is too much modes here I will make a separate review for it. So stay tuned! For Selfie addicts, the front-facing camera is not much to be excited about, it is a standard 2MP camera good enough for video calling, but it is nothing special.  See the pictures and judge for yourself.

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  1. Software

Asus Zenfone 5 is powered by a Dual Core 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 Processor. I have to admit, this is my first Intel device, I was sceptical at first seeing, as I was one of those who thought cores are everything, but when I tried it, it was actually amazingly quick and responsive. Swiping between screens showed no significant lags and partner it with a 2GB Ram, opening apps and multi-tasking feels breezy. The device has an 8GB Internal memory 5GB useable. It is good enough for all your apps and one or two HD games.

Features 2

The phone also sports ZenUI, a custom skin from Asus. Android lovers have always loved the stock Android experience and ZenUI tries to mimic the simplicity of stock while adding some niche features and Asus’ own personality. The interface feels like stock and it is snappy, unlike other brand’s skin (ehem TouchWiz). A feature which is kind of cool is when you are on your lockscreen and your finger on it, a spotlight appears. Cool but pointless. It also has a Smartcover notification screen which is a useful one.

Functioning as a phone, Zenfone 5 has a clean stock SMS and a custom Asus Keyboard which looks and feels like a lovechild of Swiftkey and Android’s stock keyboard. It functions very similarly to Android’s stock rather than Swiftkey, though. Call quality both as a receiver and transmitter, is good.


As far as being an international Brand, Zenfone 5 also has preinstalled apps, bloatware to some, these apps include:

  • Amazon Kindle Fire – EBook Reader
  • Audio Wizard – Adjusts your audio depending on what you want to use your device (Bluetooth not supported)
  • Do It Later – To do task bar
  • Mirror – Basically a front cam without shutter
  • MyASUS – Asus tech support and self-promotion app
  • Omlet Chat – Viber-ish app, stick to your preferred social messaging app
  • Party Link – Connects and shares pictures automatically to nearby devices. Security!
  • PC Link – Connects to your PC
  • Quick Memo – Kind of like Do it Later
  • Remote Link – Bluetooth remote
  • Share Link – Shares files between two Share Link enabled devices
  • Splendid – Changes the colour of your phone (actually cool)
  • Sound Recorder – Good voice recorder
  • Super Note – Like Galaxy Note’s Note minus the SPen
  • What’s Next – I don’t know

Some of the aforementioned apps are actually quite useful.

  1. Battery


Battery is probably the lowest point of Zenfone 5. I am a medium-heavy battery user and this one is just not made for a full day at the office. On a day, I average about two hours of video, 15-30 minutes of games and about 3 hours of music. I also enable Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Mobile Data all the time. By the time its 6pm (5AM-2PM Work shift), I will have only about 10-15% battery life and I would have had to turn off everything except my 2G function to avoid full discharge. Also, I have noticed that the device starts to heats up while playing after 10 minutes. If you will look at the battery life when the device starts to heat up and you keep on playing, it burns through it like a hot knife through butter. A sad fact for Gamers. Well this device is not made for gaming anyway.

Executive Summary



  • No Capacitive Touch Button Back Light
  • Crappy out of the box video codec
  • Soft Loudspeakers
  • Lags and stuttering on HD Games
  • Some Bloatwares
  • Disappointing Battery Life
  • Narrow Bezel


  • As beautiful as that hot officemate/classmate from the other class
  • 5 Inch Vivid, Crisp HD Display
  • Great headset audio output
  • Smooth and Fast response even with a custom Skin
  • Good camera with shitloads of features
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • Did I mention how beautiful this device looks?


As much cons as Zenfone 5 has, some of them can easily be fixed by third party apps. No Capacitive Touch Backlight? Install a menu bar (probably needs root). Bad codec? Download MX Player Pro. Soft loudspeakers? Why will you use a smartphone on loudspeaker? Bloatwares? Root and remove. That leaves only HD Game stutter, battery life and narrow bezel but these are things you need to compromise for the competitive price tag.

Zenfone 5 is an amazing phone to have, I would recommend this phone for those curious and for those looking at a budget phone. Asus is a far better choice than rebranders. I don’t hate rebranders, I actually had fun reviewing them some 2 years ago. But as I started to work and value money more, I don’t think it is wise to spend cash on a device you know will inevitably break and have to endure garbage after sales or inability to receive software updates. Granted that rebranders have consistently tried to make better built devices, it’s just not the same comfort you have with a branded one.

Steering into the budget-minded market, Asus has made a premium device well worth over the hype and maybe made a device which gives rebranders a run for their money. Priced at P6, 495, this is very competitively priced and brings competitive pleasure to any user who will have it.

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