DTC GT15 Fiesta Review

The DTC GT15 Fiesta is no exclusion. It's among the biggest Androids the local smartphone industry has to offer, and it's definitely with the performers. Here's our review.

Cherry Mobile Cosmos X2 Review

One of the more wonderful smartphones Cherry Mobile released this year is the Cosmos X2. Read our review here.

Cloudfone Thrill 450q Review

Local phone company Cloudfone recently released its first flagship quad-core, the Cloudfone Thrill 450q. Read the review here.

Western Digital My Net N900 Central Review

Most people tend to look for the cheapest alternative for their home networking solutions. Want to experience serious connection? Check out the Western Digital My Net N900 Central review.

Google Chromecast Review

Tech powerhouse Google has time and again proven their worth in the consumer arena. They've not only owned the search market, they also took our hearts with their Android operating system, Google Glass, and Google Chromecast.

Chromecast - an unassuming, beautiful $35 stick that has been named 2013's number one Gadget of the Year by Time Magazine - is a gadget which allows streaming of content from your PC or smart device to an HDMI-ready television (and they say the TV is extinct!). Chromecast does this by riding on your WiFi network and streaming or mirroring the content on your device via a selection of apps. If you want to know more about this device (of course you do!), here's our Google Chromecast review.

Design

Google's Chromecast stick is one of the better-looking sticks out there (far better than the Roku), not that aesthetics are of any concern of yours at this point in time. I mean, this thing is going to sit behind or on the side of your television for long periods of time, and design isn't going to matter much, but I digress.

Google Chromecast Review Front

The first thing you'll notice on the front side is the emblazoned Chromecast logo, with 3/4's of the body like a conventional stick, with the last part rounded off to a circle, presumably to house the micro USB port, a reset button, the LED indicator, and of course for better grip.

Google Chromecast Review Back

The back side meanwhile are filled with the finer details of the device, such as the serial number, the device's origin, certifications, and the like. The HDMI connector, on the other hand, is gold-plated. Gold-plated ports and connectors have been rumored to generate superior conductivity and transmit significantly faster data transfer rates. In reality though, gold-plating offers tarnish resistance (that greenish patina forming on non gold-plated connectors/ports), which you don't want because it decreases conductivity between connections.

Google Chromecast Review Box Google Chromecast Review Contents of th box

Chromecast is made out of hard plastic and has a matte finish to it.

Performance

Google made the Chromecast installation very user friendly. At initial setup, you'll have to have the Chromecast app for smartphones (Chromecast plugin for PC users), connect the stick via the app to your WiFi network, and it's ready for use. The only real issue that will stop you from using the device upon setup is the system update that it would download, which of course, ultimately depends on your internet connection's speed.

Google Chromecast Review Setup

Being backed up by Google has its perks, and Chromecast fully benefits from it. Everywhere where the search giant serves its products, there's possibly a Chromecast compatibility. For starters, take the Google Chrome browser. After installation of the Chromecast plugin (which is free by the way), your browser will detect all the Chromecasts nearby available for pairing, pair with a few clicks and blinks of the LED indicator, and mirror the content you're viewing in your monitor to your TV set. So you could be playing a flash game, be filling up an Excel spreadsheet, or be watching an MMA livestream, the Google Chromecast would mirror the content up for you. Sadly (although just a tiny bit), that's where most of the ease ends. It's another story once you move to Chromecast connectivity with mobile devices.

As most of you know, running stuff on smartphones/tablets require apps, lots of them. And it's no different with Chromecast. To be able to cast content from your smartphones, you need to download a couple of apps and unlock their Chromecast compatibility features via a one-time in-app purchase, some of which don't come cheap. Some of the choice apps that I've used for streaming use are Avia and AllCast. Again, note that these apps are free; you just need to pay to unlock the Chromecast compatibility (which doesn't make them that free, does it?). Fortunately for you there's always the free YouTube.

Google Chromecast Review Avia

The above mentioned, pairing and streaming content from your smart device to your Chromecast is a hit-and-miss affair. One time it'll always be going smoothly (pairing with the YouTube app is like slicing butter with a red-hot burning knife), then another time you'd be pulling your hair off because it just won't pair. And at the times it would pair, there's some glitch happening in the background that would prevent you from casting your content to your HDMI-capable set. Adding to the pairing issue is the lack of codec support for the mighty stick. If the format of the, say, movie you're watching is not supported by Chromecast or the app itself, there might video playing but with no audio present, or vice versa. Most of the time however, this isn't an issue. Then again, it would be a bummer if the 2.5GB video file you've downloaded isn't compatible.

There's also this issue where the Chromecast would suddenly disconnect with your WiFi network, dropping whatever you were playing in there. I've noticed this quite a few times when our home network is being fully utilized by the household. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with local network traffic or internet speed, but it does happen. Disconnecting devices from the network seems to fix the problem though.

Regarding casting YouTube, Chromecast automatically adjusts the resolution of the video you're watching to assure smooth and continuouos playing. If, say, your internet connection is wonky and is running 1Mbps, it will adjust the video quality to 360p. The content may be heavily pixelized at this point, but looking at the bright side at least you're seeing continuous streaming. There's no way to disable the automatic resolution adjustment.

Google Chromecast Review Youtube

While in use, the device becomes considerably hot. And no, this is no back-of-the-smartphone hot, it's the why-am-I-even-holding-this kind of hot. The device seems hardy though, as its performance doesn't seem affected by the heat it generates, even after hours and hours of playing. For what it's worth, I dropped it about 4-feet from the ground, and aside from there being no visibile damage, the device still works. What's concerning though is that it could damage your television, or that it could be a fire hazard, but admittedly maybe that's already fear-mongering or going too far.

Verdict

Considering all the concerns raised so far, you'd think that Google Chromecast is one tough pill to swallow. Well, let's just say that I'm personally willing to overlook all the issues brought about with this device's daily use, because in reality, they're insignificant enough that you wouldn't even pay half a mind to, plus the benefits are greater than the costs, and that says a lot. You can watch videos instantly without the help of a box top, without transferring content from your smartphone to your flashdrive, and without the hassle of pressing fast forward and rewind from your remote.

Google Chromecast Review

As early as this point in time, Chromecast has shown tremendous potential. It generated a lot of interest from both devs and end-users alike, and it looks like it will be a long-lived product (unless Google pulls a Nexus and outs a Chromecast 2). At best, it currently only allows mirroring and casting content. But what about in the future, when Google opens the gates for development? Imagine the capabilities it would have in a few months. It wasn't named Time's number 1 Gadget of the Year for 2013 for nothing.

Would I recommend it? Yes. Would I buy it again? Definitely, without having second thoughts. Do you want it? Well, I'm not sure. But for $35, it's not something you need, but it's definitely something you want.

DTC GT15 Fiesta Review

When Samsung first introduced the idea that there's no such thing as too big a phone, detractors were quick to attack, saying that this and that is a smartphone's perfect size, and going beyond that was sacrilege. Turns out there was a market for such phones, and every brand followed suit soon after.

The DTC GT15 Fiesta is no exclusion. It's among the biggest Androids the local smartphone industry has to offer, and it's definitely with the performers. With its huge display, powerful innards, and good camera capabilities, it does really stand up to its name, as you can do a fiesta right on your screen (movie party on the go, anyone?). However, one would most likely find trouble handling such a beast, as we did experience ourselves first-hand. Here's our review.

Design

Make no mistake about it: The DTC GT15 Fiesta bears heavy semblance to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. That said, its general aesthetics doesn't need much explaining, unless of course you're not familiar with the latter. It's also as thick as the Galaxy Note 2. For what it's worth though, it carries this specific "look" great.

DTC GT15 Fiesta Front

The GT15 Fiesta's front boasts a 6-inch display, soft-touch haptic buttons (including a physical home button), a front-facing camera, and a proximity sensor. What's noticeably missing here is a notification LED. It could've used one, too.


The rear side meanwhile carries its 13-megapixel camera (with the flash directly beneath it), the "Fiesta" and "DTC" logos respectively, and its loudspeaker located at the bottom. I personally found the matte feel of the plastic back very favorable, as it provides grip in certain instances, prevents too much fingerprint markings, and is nice to the touch. Don't squeeze too much though, as the shell is a little bit soft that it might creak, though admittedly is very flexible.

DTC GT15 Fiesta Back

The sides meanwhile carry the sleep/wake button, the volume rocker, a 3.5mm audio port, and a microUSB port.

The DTC GT15 Fiesta sadly doesn't feature any built-in stylus. Imagine how much creativity a stylus would add to the Fiesta's 6-inch display.

Display

The DTC GT15 Fiesta boasts a 6-inch qHD display with a 960 x 580 resolution. A combination of such a large real estate with a minimal resolution usually proves unacceptable to the smartphone bearing it, but the Fiesta was able to successfully deliver an acceptable size-to-display ratio, albeit by a small margin. That said, I haven't observed movies losing detail in the Fiesta's screen; colors looked crisp and sharp. There's some room for color accuracy though, as whites are reproduced with a pronounced tinge of blue. Lastly, viewing angles are decent and you can turn the phone around whichever way you please without the screen looking funny.

As big as it is, the Fiesta only features a 5-point multitouch capability. We tested the multitouch via the phone's debugging menu and it displays up to 5 only. Then again, how are you going to utilize 10-point multitouches? It's not like you're going to put all ten fingers and play games, right?

DTC GT15 Fiesta Display

The DTC GT15 Fiesta sports a stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean display, with little to no modifications both on the home screen and the drawer. It also comes with stock Android widgets. The only portion that's different in the Fiesta is its wallpapers; they've missed a branding opportunity here by leaving the default wallpaper a mountain instead of their logo. I'm not complaining though as it's nice as it is.

Touch sensitivity is a little lacking: You need to give the smartphone a tap or two for touch to register. There's also some delay in gaming control, though it's more attributable to the hardware.

Sunlight resistance is okay. We haven't removed the plastic guard it came with and that definitely contributed to the glare we got from accessing it under the sun. The phone's maximum brightness eased that, and made the content on the display readable again.

Lastly, there's a built-in keyboard input that's similar to Swype, which is a nice addition seeing that it's quite difficult to maneuver the Fiesta with one hand.

Performance

A 1.2GHz quad-core MT6589 processor, 1GB of RAM, and a PowerVR SGX544MP GPU are what powers the DTC GT15 Fiesta. The hardware are already commonfare, so there's no reason the device won't be able to not perform what we expect from it.

On the storage side, the phone has an onboard 4GB internal storage which is divided to two: the Interal SD Card and the Phone Storage. There's also a microSD card slot where you can add an up to 32GB memory card to. Good thing to have if you're going to use this phone as a multimedia device.

Here's the benchmarks.

DTC GT15 Fiesta Benchmark

DTC GT15 Fiesta AnTuTu DTC GT15 Fiesta Quadrant Standard DTC GT15 Fiesta Vellamo HTML5 Metal DTC GT15 Fiesta 3D Mark

DTC GT15 Fiesta NenaMark 2

The main takeaway here is that, even though it boasts good hardware, it performed somewhat lower than expectations, as most phones with similar specifications scored a tad higher in the benchmarks. When you factor in that there's littler display stress on the hardware (due to the phone sporting a qHD resolution), you'll have to wonder where did the power go. Then again, benchmarks are just benchmarks - that is, numbers that don't relate to real world usage.

One thing smartphone enthusiasts would love is the device's USB OTG function. For the uninitiated, this enables the device to, among others, directly read contents of a flash drive (as long as the format of the contents are supported) without you having to course it through a computer. So say you have a ton of movies loaded on your flash drive. Just get a micro USB to USB OTG cable, plug everything together, and watch a movie. This also saves precious storage.

Sadly, the unit we had looked like it has issues. Whenever we would plug the smartphone to a computer via USB, the phone's system would go haywire, announcing repeating errors such as "Charger linked", followed shortly by "Charger unlinked", then followed again by the former. There's also times that gigs of games that we downloaded would suddenly get corrupted and/or disappear when it was working great upon installation. We honestly don't have an idea why, because every aspect of the smartphone was working well and it didn't seem like there were any problems. If it was just the unit we tested, good. At least the issue is containted with our unit. But if it's not an isolated issue, then I think we have a problem.

GPS lock was also an issue; we never got the device to lock in anything. And that was after waiting for minutes on end.

On the SIM side, the phone sports a dual SIM feature: 1 micro-SIM slot for 3G connectivity, and 1 mini SIM (by mini I mean regular) for 2G. Network signals are strong on both channels. It's also dual-SIM dual-standby, not dual-active.

Audio and Video

Videos with resolutions lower than 720p look at times blurry and pixelated when being reproduced, especially on a lower resolution display. Fortunately that's not a problem with the GT15 Fiesta. Nowadays I always try to run a standard high definition NASA rocket launch video on devices just to see who gets the smoke effect on the video correctly; the Fiesta reproduced the video with acceptable accuracy and very barely noticeable distortions. I'm a little bit surprised, because a 6-incher on qHD is a stretch regarding video quality, but as I've mentioned earlier, the DTC GT15 Fiesta was able to deliver.

DTC GT15 Fiesta Audio Video

On the sound side, the GT15 Fiesta sounds acceptable. The audible variables you need for an okay experience are there, such as okay highs, mids, and lows, though everything has room for improvement. Then again, I haven't heard any smartphone play good sound aside from the HTC One, not that there's much competition anyway. And to date, almost all smartphones still have their speakers positioned towards the back, which makes the soundwaves travel against you. Lay them flat on a table or at a cushion while watching and they will definitely sound muffled, as the sound get degraded and absorbed. But I digress.

The earpiece on calls also sound okay, though for me personally the maximum volume can go higher.

Gaming

It's a given that huge screens give the best gaming experience when playing, and this principle applies universally: PlayStation, Xbox, PC—you name it, it's better to play on a big screen. And it's also absolutely true in the GT15 Fiesta. Playing hack and slash games like Dungeon Hunter 4 or Eternity Warriors 3 on a 4.7-inch phone makes you squint on the display, pulling your device closer to see the details (even if you have 20/20 vision). On the other hand, playing such on the Fiesta gives you the ability to see all the details with little to no squinting.

DTC GT15 Fiesta Gaming

Heavier games such as Asphalt 8 and N.O.V.A. 3 ran fine on medium settings, with the tilt sensors working properly and the FPS touch controls as well, though I have to say that there's very mild choking at some points. You won't notice it unless you intently look for it. The device gets warm after a few minutes of gaming.

At this point, there's nothing not to like with the GT15 Fiesta: The display's huge, there's an OTG function, and it can play most games you throw at it too.

Camera

The DTC GT15 Fiesta sports a 13-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash. At first glance, I like it because it doesn't spout the 18-megapixel nonsense other brands do (mainly because most of them are interpolated, though admittedly there's nothing wrong with that, unless you're a purist).

DTC GT15 Fiesta Camera

If you love taking photos and selfies, you'll appreciate both the Fiesta's front and rear cameras. The 13-megapixel camera captures fairly beautiful images, even at night, as evidenced by the sample images below. The camera is also capable of up to 4x digital zoom: there's still some level of detail present, but the images you capture will definitely be moderately blurred.

Shutter speed is a bit slow, and is made slower by the ever autofocusing camera before capturing; you better have pretty steady hands to hold the phone for a few quick seconds more before the shutter closes or else you'll have a blurred image. You can enable the Zero Shutter Speed Delay option on the camera though.



4x digital zoom


There's some softness on the images captured under strong late morning/afternoon sunlight. But as far as the image quality goes, colors are accurate and noise is minimal. You can also mask your images with the stock filters built into the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean camera dash. Be warned: The flash itself is a little weak.

The 2-megapixel front camera meanwhile makes for a good selfie since it captures images in dim and indoor lighting fairly well. The noise level is also acceptable, and it's nothing a few image filters won't fix.

Battery

The GT15 Fiesta has a removable 2700mAh Li-ion battery under its hood. At this size, it needs more juice in my opinion (at least 400mAh more, as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has 3100mAh), but the current battery rating gets the job done.


Bouts of gaming, browsing the web on WiFi, and viewing videos, plus standby time on medium brightness consumed around 50% of the juice on a 7-hour usage. Based on this, and given the same conditions, the Fiesta will last another 7 hours, making the total battery life—give or take—around 14 hours.

Verdict

Ask anyone to tell you a 6-inch smartphone and they'll probably answer the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3, the Huawei Ascend Mate, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, or the Cherry Mobile Titan TV. While there's totally no surprise there (as they're the better known brands), you should inform them about the DTC GT15 Fiesta because it's definitely a contender at the 6-inch phablet category.

The DTC GT15 Fiesta falls short on some aspects: quality (as evidenced by our missing and corrupted games, GPS, and the charger linking issue), benchmark scores, and audio. Admittedly we're not sure if it's just because our unit is a lemon, but quality control should have filtered this in the first place (then again, most smartphone brands are guilty of shortchanging customers. Some give them stuck pixel phones and make it a very difficult ordeal to get it exchanged for a fixed unit).

DTC GT15 Fiesta Review

That said, these did not prevent us from enjoying what the Fiesta had to offer. It mightily runs great games, it can serve as your micro office (plug in an OTG keyboard and type away), and it can be your multimedia center all in one. It also looks gorgeous, no doubt about that, as that Samsung-esque beauty reeks throughout the handset.

For P8,888 (SRP), the DTC GT15 Fiesta is something worth considering if you're looking for a dual-SIM phablet.

DTC GT15 Fiesta Specifications

DTC GT15 Fiesta Specifications

LG G Pro 2, LG G2 Mini Launched, Available for P32,990 & P13,990

Both announced just this February 2014 at the Mobile World Congress, LG Philippines finally made the LG G Pro 2 and the LG G2 Mini locally available. These smartphones come after the great reception of consumers with the LG G2.

LG G Pro 2

LG G Pro 2 Specs Price Philippines

The LG G Pro is a 5.9-inch phablet that sports an FHD display, a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel OIS camera, supports LTE and NFC, and runs Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box. It also comes equipped with a mighty 3200mAh removable Li-ion battery, 32GB of internal storage, and is microSD expandable up to 32GB. As big as it is, it's still maneuverable thanks to its slender 8.3mm profile.

LG G Pro 2 Specifications



LG G2 Mini

LG G2 Mini Specs Price Philippines

The LG G2 Mini, the watered-down but still more than capable brother of the G2, features a smaller 4.7-inch IPS display (albeit with a lower qHD resolution), a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM, LTE support, and an 8-megapixel camera. Coming from the original G2, it's got most of its power nerfed, but as I mentioned a few sentences ago, is still a very capable contender. It also carries with it the useful software tweaks of the G2, such as the KnockOn and the rear-camera button.

LG G2 Mini Specifications



The LG G Pro 2 and the LG G2 Mini are already available locally for P32,990 and P13,990 respectively.

Nokia X Launched, Budget Lumia-Looking Android for P5,990

Finnish smartphone manufacturer Nokia recently launched the Nokia X in the Philippines. The company's first Android, it features a modified version of the Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, making the interface look more like a Windows Phone.

The Nokia X sports a 4-inch IPS LCD, a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Play processor, a 512MB RAM, and a dual microSIM feature. Sadly, as it's a basic device, it only comes with a 3-megapixel fixed focus camera. It also features a tiled-design, much like what you would see on a Lumia, and Fastlane, a task manager that keeps a record of your most used apps and activities.

Nokia X Budget Android
The Nokia X in the Android Green color
Present in the launch were Nokia Philippines General Manager Karel Holub, Nokia executive Mike Smith, and Head of Marketing for Nokia Pan Asia Gary Chan.

“The Nokia X would be a great device for Filipinos with Fastlane, signature Nokia experiences and a number of third party apps, in addition to a sturdy and attractive build at an affordable price”, Holub said.

Nokia Philippines General Manager Karel Holub Nokia Head of Pan Asia Gary Chan
Nokia executives Mike Smith, Karel Holub, and Gary Chan
Aside from the budget price, the Nokia X also offers the HERE offline maps, free music-streaming service NokiaMix, and the OneDrive cloud storage.

Nokia X Specifications

Nokia X Specifications

The Nokia X is now available for P5,990 in major stores all around GMA in the Philippines.

HTC One M8 Launched: Specs, Pricing, and Availability

Probably among the top 3 most leaked smartphones of all time, the HTC One M8 has officially been revealed. This comes after a successful Mobile World Congress 2014 in which rival company, Samsung, also announced the Samsung Galaxy S5.

The HTC One M8, previously identified as the All New HTC One, is the successor to the award-winning HTC One of 2013 (M7). It bears strong resemblance to its predecessor design-wise, sporting an all-aluminum chassis (said to be now 90% the build of the phone), but that is where the similarities end. The device now comes with a larger, 5-inch 1080p display, with the soft-touch buttons now integrated in the screen itself. In terms of power, the HTC One sports a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU, an Adreno 330 GPU, and 2GB of RAM, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S5.

HTC One M8

Related: Samsung Galaxy S5 hands-on and initial impressions

Another major feature of the HTC One M8 is its dual "UltraPixel" rear cameras (main: 4-megapixel, secondary: 2-megapixel. The first of its kind, it's said to allow for better creative photos with more detail and integrity. The only takedown here is the lack of OIS of the One M8's new camera, which was present in the 2013 One. On the front end, the M8 sports a 5-megapixel camera that also captures high-definition photos.

The HTC One M8's battery is rated at 2600mAh (vs the SGS5'S 2800mAh and the HTC One's 2350mAh). It's a bit short, as the heavy artillery inside the device will definitely drain more battery, but the company has announced that it would last 40% longer than the original One. On one hand, they could be telling the truth, but numbers won't lie once this gets tested.

Rounding up the HTC One M8 is the 25% louder BoomSound speakers and its Sense 6 UI (runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box). The latter have been visually improved (great-looking BlinkFeed and clock widget), but we're yet to see if there have been  changes.

HTC One M8 Specifications

HTC One M8 Specifications and Price

Given the history of HTC pricing here in the Philippines, we estimate that the HTC One M8 will have an SRP in the P29,000 to P36,000 range. The smartphone may arrive some time in the 2nd quarter of this year.

(Image credit: Forbes.com)