Features

4 Best Uses for an Aging Smartphone

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Phones go in and out of vogue on an annual (or if you’re lucky, biennial) basis. With major manufacturers coming out with a new flagship phone or two every year, it becomes increasingly difficult to resist the latest and greatest. But what can you do with the phone you’re replacing?

If you don’t want to sell it, then there are plenty of other ways that an old phone can improve your quality of life.

As in-car navigation

Metro Manila traffic is infamously terrible. Relatives based abroad have stated with confidence that if you learn to drive here, you can drive anywhere. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use technology to help you cope with the notorious Philippine roads.

For navigation, there are really only two apps you need: Google Maps and Waze, both owned by Google. I myself avoid using Waze in the Philippines. While it’s great in countries with actual traffic infrastructure, Waze’s penchant for rerouting you at the slightest provocation will often cause headaches with our ever-changing U-turn slots, one-way roads, and Manila Water excavations.

By contrast, Google Maps sticks to one set route, so you can review the directions before setting out on your drive. You’ll lose out on the funny voices, but it’s better than getting lost. Plus, if you download the map data beforehand, you can even use Google Maps offline.

Why use a separate phone for maps? Navigation is horrendous for the phone’s battery, what with its use of the screen, mobile data, and GPS. Offloading that drain to a secondary phone (that you can even leave plugged into your car) will keep your daily driver topped up throughout the day.

As a dedicated mobile hotspot

The LTE speeds in the Philippines aren’t anything to brag about, but it’s better than staying disconnected when you’re away from home. LTE is a battery hog, so if you have a spare SIM card and an old phone lying around, you can easily use it as a hotspot and preserve your main phone’s battery.

Why use a phone instead of pocket Wi-Fi? You don’t need to log into a control panel on a separate device to register to internet promos, and it does far more than a bespoke pocket Wi-Fi while taking up just a little bit more space and weight. The phone can also pull double duty in the car as both the GPS and hotspot, and when you get out of the car, bring it with you so you have internet anywhere.

As a media box

As snazzy as some smart TVs are, you should buy a television for its picture quality, not for its smart features. The wide array of manufacturers and operating systems means that whatever multimedia abilities your TV will have is at the discretion of its maker. Apps are often limited, and firmware support ends pretty quickly.

Hook up your phone via an MHL cable, and you have an instant set-top box. By using an old phone, you have complete control over the media apps that you can use, and (if your phone is powerful enough) the file formats that your TV can play. Now you can finally play those x265 movies (that you ripped from your personal Blu-ray collection, of course) without having to bring out a laptop. The only caveat is that remote control will be impossible or a massive pain.

The best apps for multimedia include the open-source VLC, as well as the streaming services of your choice, such as YouTube and Netflix. If you’re old and have nothing better to do, you can also use Google Photos to seamlessly sync your photos from your main phone to your TV phone, and show off your vacation stills to your real-life guests in the living room (it’s how we did it before social media).

As an emulation machine

If the reception to the NES mini (and its upcoming successor) are any indication, retro gaming is bigger than ever. But if you never got one for yourself, which is likely, you can retrofit your old phone to play old games by connecting it to the TV with an MHL cable and using a Bluetooth controller. If your your old phone is an Xperia, chances are it’ll have native support for the DualShock 4, which one of the best readily available controllers for retro gaming. And let’s face it: The popularity of the PlayStation 4 means you have a controller handy already.

Our recommended emulation app is RetroArch. It’s an open-source emulation platform that’s completely modular — choose which systems you want to emulate, and download the corresponding “cores.” It has a bit of a learning curve (okay, a ridiculous learning curve), but once you tweak it to your liking, you can emulate any old system you wish with only one control scheme. Want one CRT shader for SNES and an LCD shader for GBA? RetroArch can do that. Your custom settings are also universal across systems, so your RetroArch experience is the same whether you’re on your phone or PC. Now, all you need are the old games (that you dumped yourself, of course) and you’re good to go.

SEE ALSO: 5 essential tips for buying a new phone

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Camera Shootouts

Pixel 4a vs iPhone SE (2020): Camera shootout

Battle of the small phones

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Pixel 4a iPhone SE

Now that we have the Pixel 4a in our hands, it’s time for another smackdown! Priced at US$ 349, we tested it against Apple’s US$ 399 iPhone SE that packs the powerful A13 Bionic Chip. With two compact phones sporting single rear cameras, which one will shoot better?

Make sure to jot down your answers, as the results of this blind test will be at the end of this article. As usual, photos were labeled, resized, and collaged (this time) for you to load the images faster. No post-processing nor any color adjustments were done in any of the photos. So, let’s begin!

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Results

Pixel 4a: 1A, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9A, 10A, 11A, 12B, 13A, 14A, 15B, 16B, 17A, 18B

iPhone SE: 1B, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5B, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9B, 10B, 11B, 12A, 13B, 14B, 15A, 16A, 17B, 18A

If you observe closely, the iPhone SE produced warmer yet vibrant photos and well-lit, wider portraits. During daylight, it provides more details while it gets pretty noisy in lowlight.

Meanwhile, the Pixel 4a captured cooler photos. Portrait-wise, it has better focus compared to the iPhone SE despite the cropping. But this affordable phone shines better with its HDR and Night Sight, doing a great job in lowlight!

At the end of the day, both phones took photos that are rich in colors and manageable highlights. They also have decent backlit shots and creamy depth-of-field which might appease smartphone photography enthusiasts. For US$ 399, we already have an impressive camera performance. There are no losers here.

 

 

 

 

SEE ALSO: Apple iPhone SE vs Google Pixel 4a: Head to Head

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Unfiltered

My Internet service provider sucks and I can’t do anything about it

Is this what living in a third-world country is about?

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It’s 2020 — a year that many people were looking forward to. To some, it’s another year to chase after their goals and dreams. While for others, it’s merely the start of a new decade.

In the technology industry, 2020 was supposed to be a culmination of the innovation we’ve had for years, bringing the future to the present. Technology should’ve been ripe enough to usher us into a truly digital age.

Frankly, we’re already living in the so-called digital age. We have gadgets and technology focused on communication and connectivity, aiming to improve people’s lives. The most recent development is the 5G connectivity taking over some parts of the world.

Yet even with the promise of bringing technology closer to people, I still can’t feel it.

The struggle of being in a third-world country

I live in a third-world country, where having a good, stable Internet connection is a privilege. In the Philippines, the major telecommunication companies and some smartphone brands have been aggressively pushing for it this year, dividing most people regarding its arrival.

Some techies and geeks rave about the hopes of having the future right in the palm of their hands. But most people — distressed customers like me — are wondering why there is so much emphasis on innovation, yet there are no solutions to most problems consumers currently face.

While I cover stories about new technology and occasionally try it out before it finds its way to more people, my heart never goes too giddy at the sight of new tech. Instead, I look for the functionality, purpose — how can it help the average consumers e.g. my family, friends, colleagues, and people who are just constantly trying to keep up with new technology.

That was what lingered on my mind when people discussed 5G connectivity. “How could you keep on blabbering about the next generation, when we haven’t experienced the proper service we deserve?” or so I thought.

All my angst are channeled to a certain Internet service provider I’ve been subscribed to. I’m just not getting my money’s worth. Whether it was a DSL connection from a few years ago or a recently-installed Fibr connection, they never fail to disappoint.

Living life with the Internet

I’m not alone in my frustrations. I know that thousands of people out there have similar complaints. Imagine paying for a 15Mbps connection, but only getting around to 2-3Mbps. It’s been this way since March 2020 despite our numerous attempts to have the problem rectified. That’s six months of having sluggish connection while paying the same amount. On top of the speed issue, I experienced multiple disconnections and loss of dial tone.

When the pandemic struck, everyone was reliant on proper Internet speed yet the limited number of players proved to be difficult to handle millions of subscribers just from the nation’s capital. We stayed at home, alienated, and struggled with the so-called new normal. In the wake of the devastating situation we were thrust into, my life went on even with the disruptive issues I encountered with my Internet service provider.

I lost count of how many virtual meetings were interrupted because of my sudden disconnection. I can’t exactly remember how many times I’ve wanted to call my bank regarding my finances and purchases. Moreover, I stopped tracking the amount of money I spend on mobile data to keep me connected and to continue my life — whether it’s working remotely, ordering food, and staying alive by not going out.

What irks me the most is my ISP’s customer service. They have been harder to reach, given the limited personnel caused by the coronavirus health crisis that’s taking so long to be addressed. The last ticket I created with their customer service representative took more than two weeks to get the repair service I requested.

We’re all glorifying the remote working setup as the future of productivity and distance learning as the future of education, yet we continuously forget how difficult it is to handle when Internet access isn’t the same for everyone.

We’ve been dependent on the Internet and online services, to keep us safe and continue our lives in this pandemic. Yet somehow, the company I trusted my money, livelihood, and perhaps my life too, doesn’t give the service I rightfully deserve.

Exhausting options, on the brink of giving up

Maybe you’re wondering, “Why don’t you just switch providers?” That’s easy to say when you have options. Believe me, I’ve tried. I considered three more providers, only to find out my area isn’t serviceable.

I’m nearly giving up on the mere fact that this hopeless situation won’t improve. I’ve been exhausting all possible options, using prepaid services to connect to the Internet so I can resume my life and work. But it’s taking a toll on my financial, emotional, and mental health.

What’s the point of paying an enormous amount for a service that’s considerably trash? When the sudden disconnection causes you to become agitated when it disrupted your work? We’re all glorifying the remote working setup as the future of productivity and distance learning as the future of education, yet we continuously forget how difficult it is to handle when Internet access isn’t the same for everyone.

I’ve tried looking for answers, too, given my inquisitive nature. When I had a conversation with a friend — an engineer who worked on the project of bringing 5G in the Philippines — I learned the difficulties of setting up towers in different areas, and mostly had to do with red tape. Limited towers mean there will be limited connection. In case you didn’t know, it’s what the 5G connectivity is trying to solve: bringing access to places that 4G connectivity is having a difficult time reaching.

Despite having the knowledge about how it works, I’m still disgruntled. At the end of the day, I’m just a consumer. All I want is to get the service I paid for, sans souci. I’m certain a lot of people feel the same way. This collective frustration forced the Philippine government to break the duopoly and let another player enter.

Frankly, I’m even more skeptical. When most players are struggling with the infrastructure needed, how is another player going to help? It might just bring more disappointment. But that’s something we can all worry about more in the future.

For now, I just need my Internet service provider to become competent in handling after-sales, customer service, and being true to what they advertise. Because I’m already resigning to my fate that being in a third-world country means you won’t get the service you deserve, and you can’t hold anyone else — private entities or the government — accountable. (Unless you’re a pretty celebrity with four million followers.)

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Automotive

4 techie ways the Ford Ranger Raptor conquers the road

Tough but comfortable

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Have you ever wondered what type of technology lies underneath your car’s hood? Cars today are no longer just the mechanical machines of the last decade. Now, every car is packed with as much technology as our smartphones. From a complex infotainment system to an accurate terrain management system, you can look forward to more than horsepower or suspension. In the new Ford Ranger Raptor, you’ll find these tough features and more.

Here are the top technology features you’ll love in Ford Ranger Raptor.

We don’t need roads

As mentioned, the Ford Ranger Raptor sports an incredibly adaptable Terrain Management System. The feature comes with six pre-set driving modes, pushing out performance in any type of driving situation.

First, of course, you have the Normal mode, maximizing output from the 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel engine. By itself, the powertrain can deliver up to 213ps of horsepower and 500Nm of torque. Complementing this dynamic duo is a whopping 10-speed automatic transmission system.

Besides the ubiquitous pre-set, the Ranger Raptor also has Sport mode, Rock mode, Mud/Sand mode, Grass/Gravel/Snow mode, and a Baja mode for sand dunes. Regardless of which mode you prefer, the pickup truck’s race-bred suspension can endure anything with 2.5-inch Fox shocks and 33-inch all-terrain tires. It’s a perfect off-road vehicle.

A couch on the road

Technology isn’t just about gizmos and gadgets. Even a car seat’s engineering is a marvel of today’s technology. At the front, drivers and passengers will sit comfortably on body-contoured sport seats. The seats — as well as the steering wheel, the soft top instrument panel, and the shifter — were wrapped snugly with unique Raptor stitching. You’ll feel like you’re sitting on your living room couch.

Speaking of living room, both front and back passengers can keep their road (or off-road) trip entertaining with Sync 3, a capable infotainment system with voice-activated controls.

Safety first, always

This time around, Ford has added much more safety features than ever before. Besides the standard slew of car safety features, the Ranger Raptor also has a new Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection. When you’re on a road, the pickup truck can keep you safe and sound with an automatic Lane Keeping System. It also comes with LED headlamps and a high mount USB port.

What’s more, Ford packed in all of these at no extra cost to the customer, making the pickup truck a perfect bang for your buck.

Premium care for a premium customer

Besides what they packed in their new pickup truck, Ford has built a new Ford Premium Care service for Ford Ranger Raptor customers. The new aftersales service comes with a whole host of convenient perks and necessities.

First of all, Ford upped the vehicle’s warranty by two years. Instead of the standard three-year warranty out of the factory, the Ranger Raptor’s warranty lasts for five years (or 150,000 kilometers, whichever comes first).

For maintenance, Ford will service the new pickup truck for up to five years (or 50,000 kilometers, whichever comes first). The scheduled service plan covers all parts and labor needed for preventive maintenance service.

Finally, the Ranger Raptor expands Ford’s Emergency Roadside Assistance service to five years, a big upgrade from the standard three-year service in the past. With the service, customers can get 24/7 assistance in the event of a vehicle breakdown. The service comes with free towing and minor onsite repairs like battery boosting, refueling, or a change of tires.

All three come at no extra cost to the customer. You’ll be paying the same price for more features.

Without a doubt, the new Ford Ranger Raptor is built Ford tough. Besides the comfortable type of ride that you’ve already come to expect from Ford, the new pickup truck comes packed with new comfort and safety features for a worry-free drive. It’s a tough monster built for anything and anywhere.

For more details visit the Ford Philippines website.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Ford Philippines

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