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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Hands-On

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Hands-on: Best phone of 2018?

Huawei outdoes itself again

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In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.

In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.

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Features

Huawei Mate 20 vs Mate 20 Pro: What are the differences?

Price isn’t the only factor

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Huawei has once again launched two flagships phones at the same time; one comes with a Pro moniker, while the other does not. Like before, there are some significant differences between the Mate 20 pair to take note of.

While we wait to get our hands on the Porsche Design Mate 20 RS and Mate 20 X, here are the two phones we already know everything about.

Display

One obvious difference is in their displays. While the Mate 20 Pro goes for a notched 6.39-inch 1440p curved HDR OLED display — certainly a mouthful — the regular Mate 20 has a 6.53-inch 1080p RGBW HDR LCD with a much smaller notch.

The Pro model justifies the larger notch by housing a more complex camera system for secured facial recognition, but if that doesn’t matter to you, the regular variant’s Dew Drop notch may be more appealing — and definitely less intrusive.

In addition, the Mate 20 Pro’s OLED tech allows it to curve the edges and equip an in-display fingerprint scanner. It’s essentially the more modern-looking design of the pair.

Performance

Since both models have Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset installed, pure performance is virtually identical. The Pro and non-Pro also share the same memory and storage configuration of 6GB and 128GB, respectively, although the plain Mate 20 has a more affordable 4GB memory variant available, too.

Another minor difference: The 4200mAh capacity of the Mate 20 Pro, along with the more energy-efficient OLED, provides it with potentially longer battery life than what the Mate 20’s 4000mAh capacity and LCD panel offer.

A more significant advantage for the Mate 20 Pro is its inclusion of a 40W SuperCharge adapter in the package — noticeably better than the 22.5W output of the Mate 20’s. Plus, the Pro version can charge other phones wirelessly using wireless reverse charging tech.

Cameras

Perhaps, you’ll care most about the difference in camera quality and performance. While it’s too early to make photo and video comparisons, an initial look at specs shows that the Mate 20 Pro may have an edge.

There are three modules in place for the Pro: One is a 40-megapixel main camera, another has 20 megapixels and an ultra-wide lens, and the final unit offers 8 megapixels with 3x optical zoom

As for the Mate 20, its main camera has only 12 megapixels, the ultra-wide shooter settles for 16 megapixels, and the 8-megapixel telephoto camera goes up to only 2x optical zoom.

Despite the larger notch of the Mate 20 Pro, they share the same 24-megapixel selfie camera.

Pricing and colors

This part largely depends on where you reside, but in an ideal setting, all five colors — Emerald Green, Midnight Blue, Twilight, Pink Gold, and Black — should be available for both models.

Pricing is another matter, and it again depends per region. In Europe, the Mate 20’s 4GB+128GB configuration retails for EUR 799 and its 6GB+128GB model goes for EUR 849. The Mate 20 Pro’s sole 6GB+128GB variant costs EUR 1,049, making it more expensive by EUR 250 and EUR 200, respectively.

In Singapore, the Mate 20’s 6GB+128GB setup retails for SG$ 998, while the Mate 20 Pro is at SG$ 1,348 — a difference of SG$ 350.

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Features

Huawei Mate 20 series first to have Nano Memory Card

Could this become a trend?

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Aside from introducing a host of flagship features to the freshly minted Mate 20 series, Huawei also introduced a new memory card standard, simply named Nano Memory Card.

It’s available on both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, and it effectively replaces the microSD slot we’ve become so accustomed to. The question is: What’s so special about it?

The simplest answer is that it has the same size as the nano-SIM card inside any smartphone today. Because of the identical dimensions, the secondary card slot doesn’t have to be designed differently, like what has been done for microSD cards.

In the case of the Mate 20 series, the removable card tray has back-to-back slots: one for the nano-SIM, and the other for either another nano-SIM or separate Nano Memory Card.

As of writing, Huawei will be offering 128GB and 256GB NM Cards, with speeds of up to 90MB/s. They’re hoping it’ll become the new standard, and are producing adapters for additional compatibility.

It’s certainly a more efficient way of adding physical storage to a handset, and allows manufactures like Huawei to use the saved space for other features, like a large battery.

Looking ahead, it seems only logical for other smartphone brands to follow suit, but that would mean consumers would have to buy into a whole new standard and let go of their microSD cards.

The same thing happened with the introduction of the USB-C port, wherein users had to replace their micro-USB cables for the newer, more intuitive system. It’s been a gradual process, but definitely rewarding.

It’ll take a while before we find out if this will become a trend, but for now, we should appreciate Huawei’s courage in taking the first, big step.

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