Features

Where GadgetMatch has been in 2018

A look back at what we covered this year

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2018 has been a very busy year for the GadgetMatch team. We’ve been to Asia, Europe, and America to deliver fresh news and quality content to everyone.

With all the places we’ve been to this year, listing them down would make a really long list. So, here are our top picks for this year:

CES 2018

As always, we kicked off the year by flying to Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show, one of the biggest trade shows of consumer-oriented devices in the world.

This year, we saw Dell’s 2018 variant for its well-received XPS 13 notebook, Samsung’s modular 146-inch TV, the thinnest laptop from Acer, Lenovo’s sleek line of ThinkPads, and Sony’s midrange smartphone offerings.

MWC 2018

Just a month after CES, we flew to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress. MWC was primarily focused on mobile, so most of the announcements were for phones and other related devices.

This year’s MWC was pretty jampacked. Big names took advantage of the conference including Samsung with the Galaxy S9 series, Nokia with a plethora of Android One devices and retro-inspired phones, Sony with their latest Xperia flagship, and ASUS with the ZenFone 5 series.

Apart from phones, new laptops from Huawei and Lenovo, plus tablets from TCL were on the showroom floor as well.

It was also during MWC when Vivo first showcased the APEX concept phone with its pop-up camera, which eventually became the Vivo NEX.

LG InnoFest 2018

We didn’t miss LG’s annual showcase on their home turf. With the growing popularity of AI, LG made sure that they were ready for it. We’re not just talking about phones here; the company’s wide range of home appliances were also part of the picture.

Everything LG showed us in Korea were connected devices. From TVs to refrigerators and washing machines to vacuum cleaners, they had it all.

Google I/O

Google I/O is another yearly event we always go to because this is where Google announces their latest software innovations. Undeniably, the most important announcement this year was the official introduction of Android P Beta. Google Assistant also got six new voices and a questionable new skill.

A lot happened at Google I/O, as always, so we have a recap of the significant announcements here.

Computex 2018

Like CES and MWC, Computex is also a grand convention of big tech brands, primarily those based in Asia. Taipei is one of our favorite cities to visit, and we sure had fun while roaming around scouting for the best devices.

During this year’s Computex, we witnessed the birth of the ROG Phone. ASUS didn’t stop there, as they also unveiled their latest gaming and multimedia laptops. After that, we saw Qualcomm’s chipset for PCs, Intel’s limited edition Core i7 processor, and AMD’s powerful 32-core Threadripper 2.

There were a lot of amazing gizmos during Computex 2018 and we awarded the best of them.

WWDC 2018

While Computex was happening in Taiwan, Apple was keeping us busy in the USA. WWDC 2018, Apple’s major developer show, impressed us with the developments the company was working on. Our favorite was the new set of Animoji and the introduction of Memoji to iOS 12.

If you enjoy Apple’s ecosystem, you should read our WWDC 2018 list to know more about what’s new in the Apple-verse.

Vivo x FIFA World Cup 2018

It was during 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia when Vivo unveiled the first NEX phone. Vivo’s first ultra-borderless phone is one of the most unique devices to come out this year.

Apart from the NEX, Vivo’s participation during the World Cup was highlighted by the release of the X21 World Cup Edition. Like most limited edition phones, this X21 variant came with all the special customizations and exclusive themes.

OPPO Find X Launch

Shortly after the NEX’s entry into the market, OPPO held a grand event in Paris to unveil the Find X. Not only that, but they also announced their partnership with Lamborghini for a special edition Find X that has crazy fast charging speeds.

OPPO’s take on the borderless phone design was sexier and sleeker than Vivo’s, but it was met with durability criticisms. Still, the Find X is one of the best-looking phones of the year.

Since Vivo and OPPO have been battling neck-and-neck, we took both of their best smartphones for a comparison.

Samsung Unpacked 2018

Every year, Samsung announces a new Galaxy Note. Also every year, GadgetMatch flies to the global announcement. The Galaxy Note 9 is the latest, and is still a big smartphone made for productivity.

Aside from our own insights about the new Note, you can also consider other YouTubers’ opinions. Our full hands-on with the Note 9 is available for your pleasure, as well.

IFA 2018

Yet another annual grand convention took place, this time in Berlin. Like with CES, MWC, and Computex, IFA was a hotbed of innovation.

Here’s what went down at IFA 2018: ASUS announced their new ZenBooks, LG revealed the world’s first 8K OLED TV, Lenovo introduced the thinnest and lightest dual-display laptop, Huawei unveiled the world’s first commercial 7nm chipset, and Sony announced the Xperia XZ3.

Again, we honored the best devices on display. GadgetMatch’s Best of IFA 2018 awards are listed here.

Made by Google 2018

While Google I/O is for software, Made by Google is for hardware. This year’s Google hardware event focused on new Pixel phones and Home speakers with gigantic displays.

The new Pixel 3 phones were leaked a lot before the official announcement, but Google still managed to keep the excitement thanks to the devices’ amazing cameras. Check out our unboxing video above and gander at the Not Pink variant here.

Huawei Mate 20 Series Launch

Huawei usually announces its new Mate series during IFA, but this year, the company decided to hold a separate event. They sure went all out by announcing four phones: Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS, and Mate 20 X.

Among all the new Huawei phones, it was the Mate 20 X that piqued our interest. Gaming smartphones have been very popular, and the Mate 20 X made sure Huawei is on the gaming smartphone list.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 Launch

Xiaomi’s Mi Mix line of phones has always been known to have the best design available. They stayed away from the infamous notch as much as possible (thankfully), and now we have the Mi Mix 3.

The Mi Mix 3 was launched in Beijing and it’s an impressive piece of hardware. Using magnetic sliders, Xiaomi is able to hide the front cameras behind the display. Check out our video above to see the Mi Mix 3 in action.

Apple iPad Pro 2018 Launch

2018 might not be an exciting time for the iPhone, but it sure was for the iPad. Apple finally unveiled the new iPad Pro and it was the tablet we’ve been waiting to own.

With its slim bezels and Face ID security feature, the iPad Pro finally has the modern redesign it deserves. Along with the new iPad Pro was the second-generation Apple Pencil; they are made for each other.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit

Before ending the year, we flew to Hawaii for Qualcomm’s annual summit where they announced their latest processors. As expected, the company unveiled the next-generation chipset that’ll power next year’s flagship phones: the Snapdragon 855.

Aside from powerful computation, the Snapdragon 855 also promises 5G connectivity. In addition, they revealed the new Snapdragon 8cx chipset which is the first 7nm chip for PCs. This is essentially the most extreme Snapdragon processor available.

That’s a wrap for this year’s travel list. 2019 will surely be more adventurous. Where do you want us to go next?

SEE ALSO: GadgetMatch Awards: Best Products of 2018

Features

6 posh smartphones in shades of purple

Powerful smartphones painted in a powerful color

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Purple smartphones aren’t entirely new, but they’ve certainly stood out from 2021 until the present. What used to be the color of the rich, the powerful, and the high status is now dressed in smartphones to depict an air of elegance, mystique, and a little bit of fun.

Instead of using the bold, vibrant shade of purple, smartphone makers painted their products with a lighthearted and warm color — mostly in shades of lavender.

While these smartphones are looking hot and blazingly attracting so much attention across the Internet and the market, there are plenty of reasons to still wear them even if you hate being part of the trend.

Pay attention to the Purple-colored smartphones

Recently, the Spring/Summer 2022 Fashion Week listed Green and Purple as the perfect colors to wear for the season. These colors are easy on the eyes, especially the lighter and muted tones. They will surely match any outfit, particularly if you’re donning pastel dresses and accessories.

Furthermore, most smartphones coated in unique shades of purple are powerful. Like, literally. These devices are considered flagships in different categories. Even if their successors arrive, it’s a guarantee that you can trust these devices will last with you for over two years and beyond.

Lo and behold! It’s time to pick your poison, err, I mean, Purple.

Samsung Galaxy S21

2021’s earliest flagship came in a stunning Phantom Violet. Lush, playful, yet elegant. The Galaxy S21 might be a year old already, but it’s still one of the best flagship smartphones that you can buy today. In fact, it was the first smartphone we gave a GadgetMatch Seal of Approval — which means you can trust that this smartphone will be with you as long as it can.

iPhone 12

We were surprised when Apple brought out the Purple iPhone 12. Fans are hinting at a new iPhone yet Apple unleashed a new colorway instead. Nevertheless, we revel in how the Purple iPhone added delight during Spring, blooming together with nature, seemingly giving us hope despite the uncertain future.

Moreover, iPhones are guaranteed continuous software updates so you can rest easy knowing that your smartphone won’t give up on you five years later.

Samsung Galaxy A72

Samsung’s headliner for the midrange A-series might be the Galaxy A52, but most people are sleeping on the Galaxy A72, especially in its Awesome Violet colorway.

It continues the solid promise of its predecessor, packing flagship features and essentials at an affordable package that everyday consumers surely enjoy.

OPPO Find N

The OPPO Find N captured our eyes and hearts with its playful colorway and unique foldable experience. It’s compact, durable, tough, and performs well like any other flagship smartphone.

There’s nothing quite like it for now, and it’s definitely a phone you should consider if you’re hopping on the foldable trend. If you can get your hands on it, that is.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G

Though our eyes are fixated on the Cream Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, it’s irresistible to look at if it’s coated in Lavender. The color is bold, vibrant, and eye-catching. The pièce de résistance for anyone who wants to capture attention. A fine accessory for a personality meant to stand out.

And more importantly, it’s just as good as any flagship smartphone out there. It still has the same flagship Samsung experience you’d normally expect, and it certainly delivers — with continuous updates for the next three years or so.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Oops, Samsung did it again. The successor to its Fan Edition phones recently made its advent, and we found ourselves falling in love with the experience of using the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G. It’s great all around, and we’re comfortable calling it one of the best smartphones for most users for now.

It’s an absolute joy to use, and a worthy buy even with new, more advanced phones on the horizon. And more importantly, it’s a sight to behold. That Lavender surely knows how to work its way around different outfits and colors. You won’t regret parading this color.

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Hands-On

Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G: Fiber-like speeds within reach

The solution to Fiber-less homes

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When the world we live in requires us to stay connected and do our work through our preferred machines at the comfort of our homes, having a stable connection isn’t merely a desire anymore.

Sadly, not all homes are granted a fast Internet connection or fiber connectivity. Even I struggled to deal with intermittent connection from a certain Internet Service Provider (ISP). I remember using an extra 5G-capable smartphone as a mobile hotspot as my backup, especially when I was attending virtual conferences, team meetings, and client briefings.

It was costly, severely damaging my wallet in the process of staying connected. More importantly, not everyone is as privileged as I am. I get access to the latest technology and gadgets in the market.

Hope seems lost for most people, but there’s a new solution: the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G.

Design and capabilities

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is designed like the routers you see in the market today. Its build is similar to the Huawei WiFi AX3, especially when the device dons a plain, white colorway across its body.

I got the limited edition unit plastered with a cover design, drawn by award-winning Illustrator Stephanie Bravo-Semilla. The artwork playfully depicts how high-speed connectivity can link families together as they pursue their passions.

The router uses WiFi 6 technology — which guarantees speeds three times faster than the commonly used WiFi 5. It’s also equipped with a 5G NR SA/NSA connection, allowing it to connect to two wireless access technologies. Further, it has a 5G PLUS 2NR Carrier Aggregation, which expands the coverage indoors as well as maintains the connection’s stability.

Right off the bat, you can see how the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is built with six distinct external antennas as well, picking up better signals. It also have 9dBi high-gain antennas that extend the reach and support Gigabyte Ethernet Ports, WPA3 WiFi Security, and WiFi 22 MIMO.

Indicators, ports, buttons

You can find the LED indicators on top, displaying the status of your WiFi, 5G/4G signal, SIM, and System. There’s a pre-installed Smart SIM card that comes with 20GB of open-access data.

When you plug the router into a socket, it will boot up and the 4G signal will flash first unless it recognizes 5G connectivity in your area.

I used it inside my room, which is found in the innermost part of the house. At first, it didn’t pick up a 5G signal. The LED indicator for the 4G signal was on while the router was trying to find 5G.

That’s when I knew I had to place it outside my door. A few seconds later, the indicator for 5G connectivity lit up.

To confirm it, I turned on my mobile data using my 5G-capable smartphone and connected another one to the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G. Happy to report that I live in a place where there’s 5G — both my smartphones and the WiFi device are picking up the 5G signal.

At the back, you can find the power port, Ethernet ports, reset button, and WPS button.

GigaLife

When the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G was already up and running, I continued the setup by following the manual — which instructs you to access the web management page. I turned on my laptop, connected to the WiFi, and changed the network settings.

But that’s a grueling process — continuously going back to the web management page — just to check how your account is performing.

Luckily, you can use Smart’s GigaLife app. I like how it instantly reads the mobile number upon using the app. Even if I’m just connected to the WiFi. There was a prompt asking me if I was using a prepaid WiFi SIM.

Frankly, I dislike the hassle of adding and configuring accounts. I find it really convenient that the app easily recognized the account I’m using.

Through GigaLife, you can check your remaining balance, reload, and even monitor your subscriptions. Everything’s just easy when you have things sorted in one place.

Internet Speed for 5G-capable smartphones

I first tested the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G through 5G smartphones that I have. Using the Honor 50 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, I was able to do my everyday activities. Basically, the same stuff I would do had I been connected to my existing WiFi.

I played games without any delays, watched Netflix and other video content without buffering, and scrolled non-stop on social media.

I’ve connected two of my smartphones, my Nintendo Switch Lite, and my laptop. The router can supposedly handle 10 devices all at once. And even with four gadgets connected, not once did I feel any stutter in the Internet connection.

But then again, it really depends on the signal picked up in your area.

For laptops

Nevertheless, the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G gets speeds from 20 to 100Mbps. You can actually do your everyday tasks, including work and school.

My signal gave speeds between 60-70Mbps consistently, more than enough to let me upload and download creative assets for the projects I’m working on.

I’m privileged to have access to PLDT’s Fibr plans with an actual Fiber cable instead of copper lines. When I wasn’t using the 5G network, I get the same speed as I do when connected through the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G, albeit higher.

The experience is quite the same — in terms of speed, latency, and maintaining the stability of the connection.

For non-5G smartphones

Over the holidays, my cousin who was studying in the province visited our family for a month. Like most people, she hasn’t switched to a 5G-capable smartphone since 5G connectivity isn’t as prevalent in the province as compared to when you’re in Metro Manila and living in key cities.

There’s a preconceived notion that 5G connectivity can’t be enjoyed by non-5G smartphones, but we beg to differ. While you can’t reach sky-high speeds when you do a speed test, the experience is the same as when you’re connected to a WiFi with Fiber connectivity.

My cousin played Call of Duty: Mobile for hours while connected to the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G, and she expressed interest in taking it home. Especially with how stable the connection was even if there were my other four gadgets connected to the router.

Should you get one?

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is the perfect solution for fiber-less homes wanting to have wireless fiber-like connectivity. You just have to remember that it uses a mobile network. The quality and speed of the connection will always depend on your area. Somehow, it’s a  worthy investment for the everyday consumer living in the Philippines.

Students and budget-conscious consumers can monitor their data usage and spending since it’s prepaid WiFi. If you have spare money, it can be a backup plan just in case your Internet connection is interrupted. You won’t have to worry when you’re in the middle of a meeting, a conference, or an online class.

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G retails for PhP 15,995. It will be available at the Smart Online Store. For the same price, you can get the Smart Bro 5G Rocket WiFi. It’s perfect for anyone who needs to stay connected while on the go.

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Features

How to get your bumpy fitness journey back on track

Start slowly with a smartwatch

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Redmi Watch 2 Lite

The rise of smartwatches and wearables is revolutionizing healthcare in an entirely new way by allowing us to take charge of our physical and mental well-being right from our wrists.

Anyone can quickly jump-start a fitness routine designed for their level. But if you haven’t kept up with your fitness routine over the past year, I’m not going to blame you. I’ve been hibernating most of the year, too!

The thought of figuring out how to start working out again seemed daunting. But wearing a smartwatch can help shake off the dust. Such is the case when I wore the Redmi Watch 2 Lite — I knew right away it’s time to get back in shape.

Know your fitness level and start slowly

It’s been a while since my last workout, so I remembered to take it easy. Starting off with something as rudimentary as a week of stretching is fine.

I decided to begin my fitness journey with quick runs, yoga, and quality stretching. If you’re unsure where to start, smartwatches usually have workout modes built-in. In my case, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite offered 100 workout modes — from core sports like outdoor running, and even freestyle workout tracking.

It also includes support for GPS, Glonass, as well as Galileo, and BDS satellite systems to improve accuracy in tracking your outdoor runs and rides.

Keeping my heart healthy, unbothered and happy

Before working out, I used to pick a Spotify playlist that’ll last the entire duration. Then, I just head off and skip some rope or run on a treadmill. Or go outdoors when the sun is setting down.

I’d do anything to keep my heart rate up without depleting my strength. It helps with my concentration and focus — something that we need to consider beyond our workouts, too.

The Redmi Watch 2 Lite has an optical heart rate sensor that continuously measures heart rate during exercises, or even when you’re lounging around day or night. On the plus side, it helps me track my stress levels and wind down through guided breathing exercises.

Take essential breaks to power through

Hitting your fitness goals as soon as possible might be your main objective for now, but you shouldn’t work out relentlessly. Take breaks. Come back better and stronger.

Throughout my journey, I learned how important sleep is, especially in helping your muscles recover. It actually matters the most during training.

Although sleeping requires far less energy than most daytime activities, I was surprised that it’s still an active period for burning some calories.

Seeing statistics on my wrist about my sleep quality helped me understand recovery better. For in-depth understanding, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite syncs with a dedicated Xiaomi Wear app — which works with any smartphone.

Somehow, I learned more about my sleep stages as well as my heart rate and blood oxygen levels when I’m snoozing, and how they’re an important indicator if your body’s doing well. I realized that my sleep quality can help me determine how much effort I’ll make on my workout the next day.

Stay active, no matter what

Consistency is key. I’m a deep believer that our habits don’t just appear out of nowhere. A significant reason is that things don’t just happen in a split second — time is needed to get stronger, build muscle, and lose fat. Having a visual reminder of my workout streak motivates me to keep going.

This is why I enjoyed the Redmi Watch 2 Lite. It packs a 262mAh battery capacity which, based on my regular usage, lasted me for at least 10 days.

It’s great having a smartwatch with a solid stamina that can accompany you through your fitness journey. You don’t have to spend a lot of time charging your device every now and then, so you can continue being active and staying on track. Hit your goals right!

Ready, #GetFit, and #StartNow!

Imagine having a smartwatch that can certainly get you a week’s worth of time in between charges. For a budget smartwatch, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite certainly impressed me on how it can be a long-lasting companion as I try to get my fitness journey back on track.

It also looks chic and it doesn’t feel cheap, even for a retail price of PhP 2,899. Plus, the screen has a reasonably good quality.

The Redmi Watch 2 Lite comes in various colors such as Ivory, Black, and Blue. Meanwhile, the straps showcase different colors that complement the watch, namely Pink, Olive, and Brown.

Get the Redmi Watch 2 Lite on Xiaomi’s flagship stores in Shopee and Lazada.

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