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To Vietnam and Back With The MyPhone My31

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As promised from my last unboxing and first impressions, here is the review of the brand new MyPhone MY31. I took the device with me to my recent 3-day trip to Vietnam. There, I tested out the phone’s features, especially the battery and camera, plus other features I discovered by accident.

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To recap, here’s a rundown of its specifications:

  • 1.4GHz Mediatek Octa Core Processor
  • Mali 450 Graphics
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 8GB Internal Storage, expandable up to 64GB via Micro-SD
  • 5″ HD IPS display (1280 x 720 resolution, 294ppi)
  • 8.0 Megapixel Main Camera with Autofocus and 2 LED
  • 2.0 Megapixel Front Camera with Autofocus
  • Dual SIM / Dual Standby
  • 3G/HSPA+, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth
  • GPS, A-GPS
  • Android 4.4 Kitkat OS
  • 2,500mAh Battery
  • 4,999.00 Official Price (P3,999 sale price until the end of September 2015)

Related article – MyPhone My31 Unboxing and First Impressions

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BATTERY

I left home for the airport at around 3 in the morning. I charged the phone beforehand so I had 100% by then. Of course, since I’m going out of the country, I didn’t plug a SIM card into it. When I got to the airport, I immediately had to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Slow as it was, the airport Wi-Fi pushed the phone to work harder, thus consuming more power. I did a little browsing before boarding the plane at 6 in the morning with 85% left.

As most of us do, I took photos and some videos while on the plane. I arrived in Vietnam with 83% left.

Since the entire trip was jam-packed and I didn’t bring my power bank with me, my only chance to recharge the device was at night when we go back to our hotel. I would usually leave the hotel in the morning with 95% to 100%, and go back about 12 hours later with at least 30% to 40% left. I would use the phone take photos and videos, connect to the Wi-Fi if available, and browse Facebook and Instagram.

Given the less demands from the phone in Vietnam, the 2,500mAh battery held up really well.

When I got back here in the Philippines, I immediately plugged in my Smart LTE SIM to test out how much data connectivity strains the battery. As the phone is not LTE-capable, HSPA+ was a more battery-friendly feature for this device. With the data connectivity on here in the Philippines, I would usually end the day at about 20%. This is still enough to let me watch a few videos on Wi-Fi before I plugged it in to recharge.

CAMERA

I was mostly excited to test-out the camera of the MY31. I had a lot of venues to do this. One of the places we visited was the tunnels in the Cu Chi district, 2 hours away from Ho Chi Minh. It is a network of underground tunnels built by hand used by the Vietnamese Communists to fight the Americans during the Vietnam War. It was dark, of course, so I saw this as an opportunity to try the camera and its LED flash. On the surface, I tested out how the camera handles greens and natural scenes. Here are samples of the photos I took there:

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A pair of mannequins on display. Taken with flash on.
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The lush greens of the Cu Chi forests. No flash.

The camera renders the photo too sharp, giving the photos definition but sacrificing quality at the same time. However, this is beneficial in scenes where you need to capture details of a scene to create texture. An example is an arch of a building near our hotel or the Notre Dame Cathedral at the center of Ho Chi Minh, both with rich textures and details.

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For people who love taking photos of food, the 8MP camera of the MY31 will also do a great job in capturing the details of your meal. Here’s our grilled scallops platter. Yum!

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In natural light, the photos tend to look warmer than normal. This may be good for some, but some will prefer cooler colors and more balanced whites.

The HDR feature of the camera works well, too, as seen in this comparison from a local Rice Wine maker’s house. It adds more details to the photo without creating much noise and reduction in quality.

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HDR off
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HDR on

CONNECTIVITY

As I mentioned, I was only able to test the phone’s connectivity when I got back in the Philippines. In certain areas, especially in Ortigas, speeds would range from 2Mbps to an impressive 6Mbps on Smart’s network. I often used the phone as a hotspot for my laptop, and it didn’t fail in delivering a high-speed Wi-Fi connection.

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Call quality was okay. Taking calls through the earpiece wasn’t as loud as I am used to but calls were audible enough to understand. I didn’t experience any dropped calls or signal interference.

HIDDEN FEATURES

Okay. So here’s the exciting part about the device. I discovered two hidden features that are not indicated in the box or in the manuals.

irst, the MY31 has a Quick Launch feature. Basically, what it allows you to do is to access certain apps just by drawing a specific letter or shape on the screen while the phone is locked. Aside from that, it allows you to wake up your phone through double tapping the screen, similar to other higher-end Android phones and tablets.

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At first, there were times when I would pull out the phone from my pocket and the camera would be on, or the Contacts or Messages app was opened. Little did I know that I was already drawing patterns on the screen to access this feature. You can, of course, turn this feature off or change the dedicated patterns for each supported app.

Second, the phone has ClearMotion™. It allows the phone to play videos at fake refresh rates, making your videos smoother and less choppier. You can find it in Settings under Display and it’s a simple toggle that you just need to tap to turn on or off.

Watching the television in Vietnam wasn’t an option as almost all channels are in Vietnamese, so I used the MY31 to stream videos instead. I tested it on a movie I downloaded on the phone itself, and the difference was really noticeable. It made a 30fps movie look like it was 60fps. This feature also is also applied to online videos, such as those from YouTube and videos taken from the MY31’s camera.

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MUSIC PLAYBACK

I installed Spotify on the MY31 and tested it out with the in-ear earphones that came with the package. The earphones sound loud and adequate enough to play your favorite tunes. However, as a person who’s particular about sound quality, I would have wished the earphones sounded less tinny. Who am I to complain, though? At least MyPhone was thoughtful enough to throw in a free pair of earphones in the package.

As with the loudspeaker, it was loud enough to play music, but it was too inaudible for video playback. I found it best to use the earphones when watching instead.

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VERDICT

Overall, the MyPhone MY31 is a well-built phone with features that in today’s standards are starting to become the baseline for budget smartphones. The octa core processor plus the 1GB of RAM handles multitasking without any issues. I didn’t even experience any app crashes during the time I was using the phone. The camera takes good enough photos and videos, the battery lasts all day, the display nice enough to entertain, and with a few extra features, the phone is a great buy for its price. Speaking of which, the phone is on sale until the end of September, so if you’re looking to buy a budget phone without much of the sacrifice, this one phone you should consider.