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

Automotive

The Ford EcoSport is the essential travel buddy for tech geeks

For both beginners and sporty drivers

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For years, automobiles have slowly left the realm of technology. Now, at least in the public’s eyes, cars exist more as a means of transportation, rather than feats of technology.

However, if you were part of the driving public over the last decade, you would have realized two things. Firstly, a great car is just as invaluable as an amazing flagship phone. Secondly, with the number of features packed into a car today, the line between technology and transportation is blurring once again.

Just as how they pioneered the moto industry in the United States, Ford is again leading the charge for technologically capable cars for the modern market. In 1908, it was the first Model T Ford. In 2018, it’s the Ford EcoSport.

What’s under the hood?

Sporting a 1.5-liter Ti VCT 110ps/142Nm engine, the Ford EcoSport is a capable daily driver for both urban stop-and-start traffic and countryside rough riding. For its size, the EcoSport straddles the fine line between sedan and SUV.

Further, this hardy engine is mated to a 6-speed PowerShift transmission (5-speed for manual). From a performance standpoint, the EcoSport transitions smoothly in and out of Sport mode.

Potholes? No problem!

With all this in mind, the EcoSport can blaze through most driving situations you can throw at it. Whether it was for urban trekking through tight roads or riding through tough rural tracks, the EcoSport powered through with barely a hiccup.

Potholes and unpaved roads were no match for the EcoSport’s suspension. Jolts and drops didn’t have as much impact as it usually does with other cars. The EcoSport inspires confidence even for inexperienced drivers.

Even with moderately deep mud pits, the EcoSport can power through with just brute force. Its capable engine can clear obstacles without flooring the pedal. Additionally, its high ground clearance can go through the debilitating floods that usually frequent the metro.

The EcoSport’s confidence carries itself despite challenging situations. A lot of cars today don’t inspire the same confidence as the Ford EcoSport.

Crank it up to 11

As with most Ford cars, the EcoSport carries a welcome Sport mode for accessing that extra boost you need for both smoother and hardier conditions. Sadly, most people don’t access this feature out of fear for what it’s capable of.

As the name implies, the Sport mode brings a sportier vibe to the EcoSport’s drive. Costing a small bit of fuel efficiency, the specialized mode injects improved speed, handling, and traction to everyday drives.

Personally, the Ford EcoSport brought one of the smoothest driving experiences I’ve handled across the industry. The Sport mode handled amazingly well against metro traffic.

All that junk inside that trunk

Besides exemplary performance, the EcoSport is a champ at four- to five-seater space allotment.

There’s nothing more comfortable than a ride that offers a mile’s worth of legroom. While the Ecosport isn’t the most spacious, it offers more than adequate room for even long legs. Riding or driving for hours is a breeze with the EcoSport’s space.

Sporting around twenty slots and compartments for gizmos, the EcoSport can carry an entire storeroom of goodies. Even as a dedicated tech geek, I was able to fit complete rosters of devices. On a road trip, I brought a sizable bag with my huge 15-inch laptop, an assorted yarn of chargers, mice, and mouse pads. It fits snuggly with a hard case for my DSLR and its variety of lenses.

Even then, the EcoSport can still pack in bags of food, gym bags, and more people. Ford even boasts that the back trunk has space for a 560-liter washing machine.

Despite the wide space available, the EcoSport’s thermal control system can cool or heat passengers adequately throughout the cabin.

Jamming to the sync

Sadly, commercially viable self-driving cars are still years into the future. Thankfully, smart technology isn’t limited to intuitive AI.

As always, Ford installs their trademark SYNC technology into the Ford EcoSport. The feature melds the car with the abilities of a smartphone.

Its most popular use is to connect your phone’s media to the car’s entertainment system. Besides through an AUX, USB, memory card, or CD, SYNC’s Bluetooth connectivity adds convenience to jamming through congested traffic.

The feature also adds to your device’s phone features. It takes a hands- and distraction-free approach to managing your phone life.

Additionally, the features boast added support for the most useful apps for driving. With a bit of technological know-how, the car’s infotainment system can access and display Waze for convenient navigating through alleyways and side streets.

Safety first

Ford remains at the forefront of road safety. With a slew of safety features, drivers can rest assured that the EcoSport won’t skid uncontrollably.

The EcoSport comes equipped with an Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and Electronic Stability Program. The mechanisms prevent skidding, wheel spins, and understeering.

Further, the rear also has parking sensors to help with all forms of parking.

Pick your colors

Even with the all-in-one package, the Ford EcoSport offers options for how it looks. It comes in four variants (Ambiente 1.5L MT, Trend 1.5L MT, Trend 1.5L AT, Titanium 1.5L AT) and six different colors (Panther Black, Ingot Silver, Winning Blue, Candy Red, Mars Red, Frozen White). Personally, the Frozen White variant is quite the looker.

Further, sportier fans can grab the Black Edition, which offers more style than the six regular variants. Besides black finishing for the exterior grills and tires, the variant also touts roof cross bars, rear spoilers, illuminated scruff plates, and sports pedals.

SEE ALSO: Ford launches all-new Mustang and Expedition at MIAS 2018

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E3 2018

NEX is now, E3 2018 was a blast: Weekend Rewind

The future looks exciting!

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Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.

1. NEX is now!

Launched alongside the World Cup 2018, Vivo nearly hit a hat trick by announcing two variants of the Vivo NEX. The Chinese company’s all-screen smartphone with an in-display fingerprint scanner is finally here in midrange and flagship forms. The midrange variant is powered by a Snapdragon 710 with 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage while the flagship is running on a Snapdragon 845 with 8GB RAM and up to 256GB of storage.

Speaking of the World Cup, here are four apps you can download to keep tabs on this major football tournament.

2. Samsung Galaxy S9 overtakes iPhone X in sales

X doesn’t mark the spot for the iPhone as the Samsung Galaxy S9 nabs the crown as best-selling smartphone according to the latest report from Counterpoint Research. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ captured a global market of 2.6 percent each against the iPhone X’s 2.3 percent. The report is dominated by Apple and Samsung phones but Xiaomi managed to crack the list with the Xiaomi Redmi 5A and Redmi 5 Plus

3. Xbox came out with a bang!

Microsoft arguably had the best conference at E3 2018 as their Xbox briefing was absolutely jam-packed: 50 games, 18 exclusives, 15 world premieres to be exact. Exclusives include Forza Horizon 4Halo Infinite, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Also part of the announcement are Fallout 76, Kingdom Hearts 3, Devil May Cry 5, Jump Force, and Cyberpunk 2077.

4. PlayStation still king

Sony didn’t blow the competition out of the water but they still had plenty of interesting titles to keep E3 2018 attendees hooked. The company revealed new gameplay footage for previously announced titles like Marvel’s Spider-Man and Ghost of Tsushima, and also announced the remake of classic horror RPG Resident Evil 2. However, most people were buzzing over the trailer and gameplay footage for the Last of Us 2.

5. Nintendo looked to smash

Not to be outdone, Nintendo announced two major titles for the Nintendo Switch. Battle royale game Fortnite is finally coming and that alone could play a major role for the Switch’s growth, but they didn’t stop there. Every character to ever appear in Super Smash Bros. alongside new ones will make their way to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The characters are unlockable instead of being downloadable content. It doesn’t get any more ultimate than that.


Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

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Hands-On

Vivo NEX Unboxing and Hands-on: The future!

Truly bezel-less

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If smartphone trends of the last two years are any indication, the future, as we know it, is bezel-less. And the first to make that future a reality is Vivo.

Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress, Vivo showcased its APEX concept smartphone. An all-display phone with no notch, no bezels, but with a pop-up selfie camera.

Now, we finally have a phone we can buy. Vivo launched the NEX lineup in Shanghai, China this week and we just got our hands on a retail unit.

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