Review: Xiaomi Redmi 2

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

A year after the sale of the Redmi 1S, Chinese hardware and software company Xiaomi has released another supposed value-for-money smartphone in the Redmi 2 exclusively through Lazada Philippines. Right now, you can still get it for a mere P5,999 unlocked.

In our review of the Redmi 1S on Yahoo, we noted that it’s among the fastest and most capable budget handsets around, though we wouldn’t happily recommend it over discount octa-core Androids that cost the same. It didn’t help that the Redmi incumbent suffered from software-related problems that left us stumped and concerned. And while it has received generally positive reviews in the Philippines, the phone wasn’t the local smash hit Xiaomi hoped it would be.

But that’s behind us now. Fast-forward to 2015, and we’re looking at Xiaomi’s second attempt at wrestling some market share from homegrown brands and gaining traction in the low-end segment. Boasting a smaller and thinner design, improved internals that can take advantage of faster mobile-data speeds (albeit with a huge asterisk, which we’ll discuss shortly), and an updated user interface based on Android KitKat, the Redmi 2 improves on the original in every way imaginable.

But has it improved enough to appeal to a more critical local audience that is seeing an unprecedented surge in low-cost, high-value offerings? Find out in our review of the Xiaomi Redmi 2.

Specs of the Xiaomi Redmi 2 (Price in the Philippines: P5,999):
* Dual SIM
* LTE
* 1.2GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 CPU
* Adreno 306 GPU
* 1GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
* 4.7-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 2 (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 2-megapixel front camera
* 2,200mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4.4

RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: The Redmi 2 takes a lot of inspiration from its predecessor, as is usually the case with smartphone sequels. But there are slight improvements to the all-plastic body that make it easier to handle and hold. The bezels surrounding the screen have been reduced, and the left and right sides of the phone are thinner and feel more tapered toward the front panel. Speaking of the front, it’s less angular than it used to be, giving the phone just enough of a modern slant without taking a new approach to design.

Buttons still lack backlighting. The omission is particularly jarring because there are cheaper handsets out there that come standard with backlit keys.

The button placement remains ideal, with the volume rocker and power button located in easy-to-reach places on the right-hand side. Xiaomi’s familiar trifecta of navigation keys in red can be found below the display, except this time, the Chinese tech startup has swapped out the menu shortcut for the multitask button by default, which we very much appreciate (no more long-pressing the menu button to switch between apps!).

Alas, the keys still lack backlighting, making them difficult to use in the dark. The omission is particularly jarring because there are cheaper handsets out there that come standard with backlit keys. On a more positive note, the Redmi 2 has a multi-color LED notification light beneath the home button that lets you know when you’ve missed a call, text message, or email. It can light up in different colors depending on the type of notification it wants you to see.

At 4.7 inches, the IPS panel narrowly misses our sweet spot in terms of display size. Sure, it’s neither too big to operate single-handedly nor too small for typing accurately, but there isn’t enough screen real estate here for enjoying lengthy YouTube videos and games with onscreen controls. Then again, we probably shouldn’t be surprised; for all its merits, the Redmi 2 is an entry-level product, after all.

Screen resolution maxes out at 720p, resulting in a decent pixel density of 312 dots per inch. The display is every bit as crisp and vibrant as the ones on competing models. Its brightness levels and viewing angles are par for the course for the category. It’s also as durable on paper, thanks to a protective layer of second-gen Corning Gorilla Glass.

The screen puts on a good show, but it’s nothing special in the smartphone landscape where more is usually, well, more.

Overall, the screen on the Redmi 2 puts on a good show, but it’s nothing special in the smartphone landscape where more is usually, well, more more real estate translates to quicker, more precise typing and more pixels mean less squinting when watching movies or reading emails. And despite our lack of enthusiasm about it, display quality is a marked improvement over what preceded it.

Now, let’s talk about the Redmi 2’s 2-megapixel front-facing camera and the slightly protruding 8-megapixel rear-facer around the back of the device: Both sensors do a better job of taking pictures than their megapixel count suggests. And to get the most out of them, Xiaomi has included several effects and shooting options such as HDR, manual, and panorama modes in the stock camera app. The company even goes the extra mile, offering a beauty mode that uses facial-recognition algorithms to detect your gender and age before “beautifying” your mug using predetermined settings.

The Redmi 2, with its wide aperture of f/2.2, gets the job done — even as the light is fading.

It’s hard enough to find a phone in the bargain basement that can deliver quality shots outdoors and in good lighting conditions, let alone a decent shooter when lighting isn’t the best. But the Redmi 2, with its wide aperture of f/2.2, gets the job done — even as the light is fading. It also automatically scans QR codes on the viewfinder and shoots serviceable videos of up to 1080p.

[minigallery id=”598″ prettyphoto=”true”]

Photos taken with the Xiaomi Redmi 2. Click on and expand each picture for the high-res version.

Powering the phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor that runs Android KitKat 4.4.4 as fluidly as any budget device on the market. It comes with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, expandable up to an additional 32GB via a microSD card. LTE connectivity is also part of the package, though in the Philippines, the Redmi 2 only works on Globe Telecom’s 4G network, leaving out the better part of the country’s smartphone-owning public that are Smart subscribers. It’s unfortunate that Xiaomi didn’t include more bands on such a mass-market product.

Our review sample can handle graphically-intensive games like Real Racing 3 and Shadow Fight 2 without any issues. Regrettably, the same can’t be said of more demanding titles like Mortal Kombat X, which it struggles to run at a decent frame rate.

There are rare times when going back to the homescreen takes longer than usual, which probably has something to do with the heavily skinned MIUI interface Xiaomi built on top of Android.

Our real-world testing mirrors benchmark numbers, and on the latest version of AnTuTu Benchmark and Geekbench 3, the Redmi 2 managed respectable scores of 19,995 and 1,424 (multi-core test), respectively. The 2,200mAh removable battery inside our unit typically lasts a day and a half on a single charge with reasonably constant use that includes texting and Web browsing on Globe’s LTE network. In our anecdotal battery test, which entails putting an HD video on loop while WiFi is switched on and brightness is set to 50 percent, the Redmi 2 held on for 8 hours and 5 minutes.

What we’ve found unusual so far is there are rare times when going back to the homescreen takes longer than usual, which probably has something to do with the heavily skinned MIUI (pronounced “mee-you-eye”) interface Xiaomi built on top of Android. But hey, at least MIUI on the Redmi 2 is nowhere near as buggy as on its predecessor.

Is the Redmi successor enough of an improvement to succeed where many others have failed? Sure, though support for more LTE bands would have made it an easier sell.

All told, the Redmi 2 is a great handset at a great price. For P5,999, you’re looking at a solid hardware designed for one-handed use and a pair of cameras that perform above the industry average. This is exactly the sort of device Xiaomi needs to impress a budget-conscious crowd. This is exactly what we hoped the Redmi 1S would be.

So back to our original question: Is the Redmi successor enough of an improvement to succeed where many others have failed? Sure. However, our opinions may not reflect the fickle whims of bargain hunters in the Philippines. Support for more LTE bands would have made the phone an easier sell. It’s also worth noting that there are other slightly more expensive options out there that come with larger displays and beefier specs. The Meizu M1 Note and Firefly Mobile Intense 64 LTE sell for a couple of thousand pesos more and offer a better smartphone experience.

Ludicrous Apple Watch prices spotted in Hong Kong

In Wearables by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

The Apple Watch, the introductory product from the company’s first new hardware category since Steve Jobs passed away, sold out almost immediately after the pre-orders went online on April 10. Apple Stores around the world won’t be stocking the timepiece until June, so if you want to get your hands (or wrist) on one, your best bet is to hit the streets. The streets of Hong Kong, that is.

On a recent trip to Asia’s world city, we saw several hawkers outside of Sin Tat Plaza (aka Sincere Podium) in Mong Kok selling the 38cm Apple Watch Sport edition for as much as HK$5,500 (roughly P32,000), inflating the price to twice of its retail value. “Kinder” merchants inside the building offered it at a huge discount: as low as HK$4,500 (P26,000) for the white variant. The middle-of-the-pack, stainless-steel Apple Watch with a black sport band was priced between HK$5,700 and HK$5,900 (P33,000 and P34,000). Slightly more palatable yet still ludicrous, we know. So much for being sincere, Sincere Podium.

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You can buy the Apple Watch on the streets of Hong Kong, but it will cost you at least P26,000. 

It goes without saying that it’s probably in your best interest to wait until Apple ramps up production for its smartwatch. Unless, of course, money is no object to you, and you don’t mind digging deep in your pockets for something in very, very short supply.

RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: Do I want an Apple Watch? Yes! Do I want to pony up the equivalent of two Apple Watches for one watch with a rubber strap in dirt-magnet white? Um, no.

People taking advantage of Apple’s supply-chain problems is a given. We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again later this year when Apple releases the next iPhone.

But seriously, I don’t think I need to elaborate further. People taking advantage of Apple’s supply-chain problems is pretty much a given. We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again later this year when Apple releases the next iPhone. But hey, at least now you have a good a reason as any to skip the Apple Watch at launch.

LG takes the wraps off the G4

In Phones by Revu TeamLeave a Comment

(UPDATE, May 28: The LG G4 is now official in PH. Price starts at P31,990; ships beginning June 3.)

After weeks of teasing and countless leaks leading to its launch, it’s finally official: The LG G4, the company’s new deluxe smartphone for 2015, has been announced today here in Singapore and in other parts of the world.

Earlier leaks have suggested a big-screen phone that has more in common with the G Flex 2 than the G3, but we didn’t expect to see a slightly curved display, which LG claims improves one-handed usage and screen durability. The rear-facing buttons, as well as the choice between plastic and leather back covers didn’t surprise us, either, though we couldn’t have predicted how much effort it takes to make the high-quality leather found on the G4’s reverse side. (In case you were wondering, a laborious, 12-week process is involved in manufacturing the leather cover.)

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TvoQRnpzu4″ width=”560″ height=”315″]

LG G4 preview (raw video), taken during the phone’s launch in Singapore

Just like its predecessor, one thing that really pops off of the screen — almost literally and figuratively — is the LG G4’s 5.5-inch Quad HD LCD panel, which has four times the resolution of 720p displays. The resulting pixel density is 534 dots per inch — more than the naked eye can handle. If you find that ludicrous, that’s because it is. Yet LG found ways to make the panel even more ludicrous this year, featuring the same quantum-dot tech found in its TVs for enhanced color reproduction and contrast without compromising on battery life.

In terms of processing power and multitasking capabilities, the G4 shouldn’t disappoint. It comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB of expandable storage. And though it remains a mystery to us why the Korean electronics maker skipped the top-shelf Snapdragon 810 (throttling and thermal issues, we think) — the same chip inside the second G Flex — our gut tells us that the upcoming G flagship should be able to handle any processor-intensive application we throw at it.

Finally, let’s talk about the G4’s much-talked-about imaging prowess. The phone packs 16- and 8-megapixel main and secondary cameras, with wide apertures of f/1.8 and f/2.0, respectively. The former is stuffed with all the tech necessary for decent shots, such as optical image stabilization, laser autofocus, plus a color-spectrum sensor next to the flash module that adjusts white balance and flash, allowing for more accurate colors. The latter sees a major spec bump from last year’s 2.1-megapixel front-facer. The native camera app uses a new interface that includes manual controls and a RAW shooting mode.

There’s no exact release date to share at the moment, but LG says the G4 will be available globally beginning June. Sources say it may be in the Philippines after a little over a month as well. Prices start at $649 — but can go as high as $699 for the luxury edition with a leather back. (RL)

Specs of the LG G4 (Price: starts at $649 or roughly P29,000):
* LTE
* Hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 CPU
* Adreno 418 GPU
* 3GB RAM
* 32GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
* 5.5-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (1,440 x 2,560 resolution)
* 16-megapixel rear camera with laser autofocus, color-spectrum sensor, and F/1.8 aperture, LED flash
* 8-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh removable battery
* Android Lollipop 5.1

If the photos we took with LG G4 are any indication, Samsung may just have found the phone that can beat its Galaxy S6 in the imaging department.

ALORA UY GUERRERO’S TAKE: It looks elegant. Check. The screen’s superb. Check. It’s a fast performer. Check. But what really grabs us by our imaginary balls is the LG G4’s imaging prowess. If the photos we took with the Korean giant’s latest flagship are any indication, Samsung may just have found the phone that can beat its Galaxy S6 camera-wise. And that’s saying a lot, considering that we gave the latter high marks in this article.

Anyhow, stand by for a comparison of images taken with the LG G4, the Samsung Galaxy S6, and the Apple iPhone 6. We’d like to know if your opinion will be the same as ours. (Unfortunately, we accidentally deleted the sample pictures we took with the LG G4, but suffice to say, they were better than ones we took with the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6.)

LG is looking to steal the thunder from a certain Korean neighbor, and the G4 may be the device to pull it off.

RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: LG is looking to steal the thunder from a certain Korean neighbor, and the G4 may be the device to pull it off. The version wrapped in leather certainly looks premium enough. If it can outperform the Samsung Galaxy S6 (and S6 Edge) in the imaging department, even slightly, without falling short in other metrics, we might have to reconsider our pick for 2015’s best smartphone.

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL now official in PH

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Microsoft today launched its latest smartphone for the Philippine market — the Lumia 640 XL — a real handful of a device that toes the line between phone and tablet, flaunting a 5.7-inch, 720p IPS screen fronted by Gorilla Glass 3. It’s the company’s most recent attempt at bringing a deluxe smartphone experience to the mid-range market, something we’ve been hearing a lot from phone makers these days.

To do that, the Lumia 640 XL relies on a quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor running at 1.2GHz, coupled with 1GB of RAM and 13- and 5-megapixel main and secondary cameras. The operating system of choice is Windows 8.1 — though Microsoft is quick to point out that an upgrade to Windows 10 will be available later this year. The phone supports two SIM cards as well, which should come in handy for those with more than one mobile number.

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Microsoft’s Lumia 640 XL lands in the Philippines next month for P11,990. Not as cheap as we’d like it to be, to be honest. An LTE version is set to arrive some time in June at a still-undisclosed price.

Specs of the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL (Price in the Philippines: P11,990):
* Dual SIM
* Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 CPU
* Adreno 305 GPU
* 1GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
* 5.7-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh removable battery
* Windows 8.1 Denim

RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: Pricing aside, I like the Lumia 640 XL. It earns additional brownie points for including the Glance screen functionality and double-tap to wake.

For all the time and resources Microsoft has spent trying to build a worthy alternative to iOS and Android, Windows still feels like a product in its infancy — years away from true contention.

But I have a contrasting opinion about the software that defines it: For all the time and resources Microsoft has spent trying to build a worthy alternative to iOS and Android, Windows for mobile devices still feels like a product in its infancy, in 2015 — years away from true contention.

Majority of the apps I rely on daily are still MIA on Microsoft’s platform. The settings menu remains a collective mess of sorts. Microsoft’s Office suite isn’t compelling enough to make me want to opt out of using Google services altogether.

But that may all change once Microsoft begins rolling out Windows 10. The concept of “One Microsoft” — a universal software and app store for all Windows-based machines — sounds like the stuff of dreams. Here’s hoping Windows reveals its true potential sooner rather than later.

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Be Productive While Working on the Road

In News by Alora Uy Guerrero

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Sed quid sentiat, non videtis. Satis est tibi in te, satis in legibus, satis in mediocribus amicitiis praesidii. Dici enim nihil potest verius. Non quam nostram quidem, inquit Pomponius iocans; Etenim semper illud extra est, quod arte comprehenditur. Facit igitur Lucius noster prudenter, qui audire de summo bono potissimum velit; Bonum patria: miserum exilium. Si qua in iis corrigere voluit, deteriora fecit. Nunc haec primum fortasse audientis servire debemus.

Globe offers free WhatsApp access to subscribers

In Business by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

(UPDATE: According to Globe Telecom, the duration of its WhatsApp promo, which doesn’t require a maintaining balance to use, is yet to be determined.)

Globe subscribers, take note: Starting April 30, those who are on its myLifestyle postpaid plans, as well as prepaid-SIM owners who subscribe to any text, call, or data package, are now entitled to free access to WhatsApp without taking a hit on their data allowance and incurring additional charges. GoSakto, GoUnli25, GoUnli20, and GoSurf are just a few examples of packages included in the promo.

For eligible Globe subscribers, that means free messages and voice calls between WhatsApp users over the Internet (WiFi and mobile data connections), in addition to being able to send photos and videos from within the application. Conspicuously missing from WhatsApp’s repertoire is video calling, though rumors suggest it may arrive next month.

Acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014, the cross-platform (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, Symbian, PC/Mac) messaging app is growing at a tremendous pace and now has more than 800 million active users worldwide, more than enough to make it the undisputed champ among online messengers. By contrast, Viber and Line have around 209 and 170 million active users, respectively.

RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: Good guy Globe. Always looking out for its subscribers. Expect a similar offer from Smart Communications in 3… 2…

P4,999 Cherry Mobile S3 Octa now available, but…

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

(UPDATE: We just received a text from Cherry Mobile indicating the correct price of the Flare S3 Octa. It should retail for P4,499, as originally intended. The company has since taken down its erroneous Facebook post.)

Cherry Mobile today announced on its Facebook page that its latest octa-core device, the imaginatively named Flare S3 Octa, is already available nationwide for P4,999 P4,499. What the local tech company failed to communicate to us is that the 5-inch Android KitKat phone has already been listed on Lazada Philippines for P500 less than its suggested retail price — with free shipping to boot.

As for the hardware itself, the Cherry Mobile Flare S3 Octa attempts to up the ante in the bargain-basement segment, sporting a gold trim and a fake-leather back cover, with stitching around the edges (think Samsung Galaxy Note 3).

That’s likely a good thing for potential Cherry Mobile owners, as this model looks decidedly better than what we’ve come to expect from local brands. Inside, you’ll find a MediaTek MT6592m processor clocked at 1.4GHz and paired with Mali-450 graphics and 1GB of RAM.

Specs of the Cherry Mobile Flare S3 Octa (Price in the Philippines: P4,999 P4,499):
* Dual SIM
* 1.4GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6592m processor
* Mali-450 GPU
* 1GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card slot
* 5-inch IPS display (540 x 960 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 1,800mAh removable battery
* Android KitKat

RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: A case of miscommunication, perhaps? While online retailers typically sell their goods at lower prices, in large part because they don’t incur costs from operating physical stores (there’s a lot to consider when running a retail outlet besides wages, believe me), I don’t think Cherry Mobile is deliberately trying to mislead or deceive anyone. Certainly not its offline customers. Certainly not while majority of its distribution network is comprised of offline resellers that have yet to get their feet wet on the e-commerce market.

If you’ve decided on this particular Cherry Mobile, getting it from Lazada Philippines nets you a decent discount plus free shipping and one year of warranty coverage.

However, online shopping does have its perks, and scoring goods at cheaper-than-retail prices is one of them. My advice: If you’ve decided on this particular Cherry Mobile, getting it from Lazada Philippines nets you a decent discount plus free shipping and one year of warranty coverage — a rarity among Lazada-sold consumer electronics, unfortunately.

Firefly Mobile has a Zenfone 2 challenger for less

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

There’s a new low-cost, high-performance smartphone in town. Not that the Philippines is short of compelling choices in the sub-P10,000 price point. Meet the Firefly Mobile Intense 64 LTE (Ulefone Be Pro in other regions), a 5.5-inch Android KitKat phone built around MediaTek’s new MT6732 processor that supports 64-bit applications and 4G LTE connections, if your carrier allows it. A self-explanatory name if we ever saw one. (We get it, Firefly Mobile.)

The quad-core device is priced at P7,999, squaring it against the ASUS Zenfone 2 and Meizu M1 Note, though the two should easily come out on top in terms of raw power and synthetic benchmarks as a result of having a more capable CPU. However, what the Intense 64 LTE lacks in performance, it makes up for with a ton of freebies: one smart cover, two back covers, two screen protectors, plus a feature phone valued at P449.

According to Firefly Mobile’s Facebook page, the Intense 64 LTE is now available in stores nationwide.

Specs of the Firefly Mobile Intense 64 LTE (Price in the Philippines: P7,999):
* LTE
* Dual SIM
* 1.5GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6732 processor
* Mali-T760 GPU
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot
* 5.5-inch IPS display with Asahi Dragontrail glass (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 8-megapixel front camera
* 2,800mAh removable battery
* Android KitKat 4.4.4 (upgradable to Lollipop)

RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: There’s never been a better time to upgrade (or downgrade) to a mid-ranger than now. The current mobile landscape is dotted with devices that offer high-end specs but cost less than half of their deluxe counterparts. And the positive buzz is no longer confined to the ASUS Zenfone 2 — and its gazillion variants.

There’s never been a better time to upgrade (or downgrade) to a mid-ranger than now.

Which is why I don’t expect ASUS to pull the rug out from under its rivals this year. The new Zenfone, capitalizing on the success of the original, will be a top-of-mind choice for many, sure, but it’s poised to face stiff competition from Cherry Mobile, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Meizu, and heavy underdogs like Firefly Mobile.

Regardless of what happens in the coming months, one thing’s for certain: Consumers win as manufacturers continue to duke it out, churning out even better phones at better prices.

Xiaomi Mi 4i now official, will retail for P9,000

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via Android Authority

Xiaomi just unveiled the Mi 4i — a discount Mi 4, if you will — in New Delhi, India, where the Chinese tech juggernaut has recently made its products available to leading electronics retailers in an effort to reach more consumers and drive sales. And what better way to announce to the rest of the world that it has embraced the traditional (read: offline) retail model than to launch a new phone to coincide with its backpedaling.

A cheaper and watered-down version of the Mi 4, the Mi 4i will retail for 12,999 INR or about P9,000 when it goes on sale, making it the middle child of Xiaomi’s growing family of handsets. Yes, you read correctly. The company now has a mid-ranger, which is quite unexpected given its track record of taking aim at both extremes of the market. The Redmi Note, for all its appeal, is a fringe interest for consumers at large, after all.

So how did Xiaomi bring the Mi 4i’s price down to a reasonable sum?

Compromises on both its hardware and specifications. The Mi 4i doesn’t bear the premium elements that made the Mi 4 far easier on the eyes than many of its pricier rivals. Instead of metal and glass, you get a generous serving of plastic on the front, back, and sides. The processor has been downgraded from a mighty Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 silicon to a Snapdragon 615 CPU paired with an Adreno 405 GPU and 2GB of RAM.

However, the phone should still pack a solid punch if it performs anywhere near the level of the Oppo R5, to which it shares many things under the hood.

The rest of the specs are pretty much in line with other devices in the category: 5-inch, 1080p IPS display; 13- and 5-megapixel rear and front cameras; 3,120mAh battery; and Android Lollipop 5.0. The device also accepts two SIM cards, with both slots capable of connecting to 4G LTE networks. Its limited storage capacity, which is only made worse by the lack of microSD expansion, is perhaps the biggest sticking point here.

Arriving first in India later this month, the Xiaomi Mi 4i will ship to select countries, including the Philippines.

Specs of the Xiaomi Mi 4i (Price in India: 12,999 INR or about P9,000):
* LTE
* Dual SIM
* Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor
* Adreno 405 GPU
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* 5-inch IPS display (1,080 x 1,920 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-tone LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,120mAh battery
* Android Lollipop 5.0

RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: While it’s great to see Xiaomi throwing its hat in the ring to compete with the likes of Samsung, LG, and HTC, I’m skeptical about the chances of the Mi 4i ever seeing the light of day in the Philippines sometime over the next few months. Xiaomi doesn’t even sell the Mi 4 locally — and it’s been almost a year since the outgoing flagship hit stores in its native China.

I’m skeptical about the chances of the Mi 4i ever seeing the light of day in the Philippines sometime over the next few months. Xiaomi doesn’t even sell the Mi 4 locally.

Quite simply, I don’t think the Philippines is a priority for the Chinese start-up, at least not anymore after the embarrassingly slow sales of the Mi 3 in the country. Let’s face it: Filipinos in general aren’t ready to buy stuff online yet. We’re getting there, but a lot of us are still reluctant to give up the retail-store experience and jump aboard e-commerce platforms even if the opportunity presents itself all too often.

Perhaps there’s hope yet, as Xiaomi proved by pursuing all kinds of retail opportunities in India. But it doesn’t follow that it will be as receptive to offline selling here. Adding a middle man (in this case, other cogs in the retail distribution channel) eats up profit margins that would otherwise go to the company. Which is exactly what Xiaomi wants to avoid, hence its “online only” strategy.

I hope Xiaomi proves me wrong.

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Xiaomi Mi 4i intro

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How tough is the Xiaomi Mi 4i?

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Xiaomi Mi 4i’s Sunlight Display feature

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Anti-grease coating on the Xiaomi Mi 4i

What ASUS PH told us about the Zenfone 2

In Phones by Revu TeamLeave a Comment

So earlier today, the ASUS Zenfone 2, which got a positive review from us, became official for the Southeast Asian market following a media event here in Jakarta, Indonesia.

And because we already got our hands on a unit prior to its unveiling, we spent most of the afternoon striking up conversations with company executives and Philippine-based retailers rather than taking photos and videos on the show floor. We’re glad we did, because we were able to dig up a few juicy tidbits about the Zenfone 2’s local pricing and release date after our little chat with ASUS Philippines country manager George Su.

For starters, the ASUS bigwig confirmed to us that the Zenfone 2 will have its own coming-out party in the Philippines on the week of May 15, where the price of the Android Lollipop smartphone will be revealed, as with last year’s Zenfones.

Also, four models have been confirmed for the Philippine market, which includes the top-shelf ZE551ML variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage. And if you’re hoping to score a unit from official sources before the second week of May, don’t get your hopes up too high; ASUS Philippines wants the release of the Zenfone 2 to coincide with its launch event.

Oh, and the Zenfone 2 will definitely cost less in our country than in Indonesia (IDR 2,999,000 or roughly P10,250 for the ZE551ML with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage and IDR 3,999,000 or about P13,700 for the ZE551ML with 4GB RAM and 32GB storage), according to George Su.

RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: Here’s the TL;DR version for those of you who find the (very) short article a chore to read: The local release of the Zenfone 2 is imminent, contrary to rumors that have been circulating lately. Otherwise, why would ASUS Philippines set a tentative date for revealing everything there is to know about the highly anticipated phone? And when it finally arrives on our shores, expect the Zenfone 2 to be cheaper locally than in other regions.

ALORA UY GUERRERO’S TAKE: …so wait for it.