Smartphones

5 easy ways to safely charge your phone

These tips are sure to help you do it safely

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One of the most common issues for any smartphone user involves the device’s battery. We already covered how you can keep the battery lasting longer, but let’s go into another issue: charging it.

Whether it’s based off their own experiences or through research, most smartphone users know how to properly charge their phones but the same problems still exist. From overheating batteries to phones refusing to power on, a lot of these issues come off as battery-related in the long run.

So, how can we charge our phones the right way? Well, here are some things you can do that can address your battery charging issues.

Use the charger that comes with your phone

Every phone comes with its own charger and accessories. If you’ve been a user of the same line of Android smartphones or iPhones, these things are no different to you. The natural thing to do is to simply reuse the same charger across multiple devices. But, there is a reason why that charger was bundled with that phone.

Companies provide you with a charger that best fits the electrical capacity needed to charge your phone, and you should seriously consider using them. Ideally, both the power brick and the charging cable were designed specifically for your smartphone. Using another phone charger or a generic one could pose dangers to the battery, and to the phone in the long run. Also, take note if your phone uses fast charging so you have a reason to use the charger that came in the box.

Don’t do a 100 to 0 all the time

You’ve come across people who have told you to discharge your phone completely, especially if it’s a new one. These same people have also told you that doing so is actually good for your phone’s battery. The truth, however, is that your battery will eventually discharge faster, even if they will charge faster or at the same rate. Battery University, a website run by battery company Cadex, calls this process “deep discharge.”

It’s better to keep your battery’s charge level at a workable percentage before even thinking of plugging in the charger. If you subject your phone’s battery to a deep discharge, there is a higher chance that you will gradually reduce its lifespan. It’s also recommended that the workable percentage shouldn’t be too low (experts say below 30 percent) as it has the same effect.

Don’t keep your phone charging until 100

There are people who also tell you to charge your phone until you hit the 100 percent mark. Sure, it means that you have proof that your battery is full — and who wouldn’t want that? What you probably don’t know is that doing this adds stress to the battery, which damages it in the long run.

As much as possible, charge your batteries up to a safe percentage. While it would be good to go all the way to 100, working with 80 to 90 percent would already be fine. If you want to maximize your battery life, you can always look up ways to save your battery.

It’s not advisable to charge overnight

Charging your phone overnight is a common practice. At the end of the day, you would want to treat your phone the way you treat yourself: getting enough charge for the activities that lie ahead. So, the logical thing to do is to plug in the phone charger and let it reach 100 percent overnight.

But as mentioned earlier, going all the way to 100 might not be a good idea. Even if your battery reaches its full capacity, a lot of “trickle charges” come into play while your charger is still plugged in overnight. These trickle charges keep your phone at 100 percent as it fills in for the charges that your phone naturally loses. When that happens, you’re just adding more stress to the battery.

Charge when you can, little by little

Instead of charging it overnight, charging it periodically would be the way to go. Plug the charger as often as you would want to within the day, up to a workable percentage for you. It’s also good to keep your phone charged for short bursts of time to keep your device up and running the whole day. While it seems impractical, doing this does not have any harmful effects to your phone’s battery.

India

Vivo U20 review: The most powerful budget phone right now

More capable than its Xiaomi and Realme counterparts

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In late September of 2019, vivo announced a new budget smartphone called the vivo U10. It was powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 665 — the same processor found on two of the most popular budget phones at that time: the Redmi Note 8 and the Realme 5.

Vivo’s entry into that very competitive price segment was a pretty good success. Just right after, competition came up with newer models at a slightly higher price segment and so did vivo with the slightly more premium U20.

With Snapdragon 675 running under the hood, the vivo U20 has a slight edge over its competition. But is there more to this phone? Here’s our full review.

Ordinary but solid design

With a 6.53-inch display, the Vivo U20 is a big phone that doesn’t feel bulky. It’s worth noting that vivo went with a full HD+ panel on the U20 instead of the HD+ panel found on the U10. The bump in resolution is much appreciated, as well as the wide viewing angles. The display is bright enough for outdoors or sunny days.

The front of the phone has an odd ridge against the curved frame, making it feel a little uncomfortable when you’re holding it, but it shouldn’t be an issue if you use the bundled case.

Its glossy back catches fingerprints quite easily. You’ll have to keep wiping it clean if you’re particular about smudges and grime, so the case definitely comes in handy.

You’ll find the vivo branding in landscape orientation, with the triple camera module and LED flash along the same line. There’s also the rear mounted fingerprint scanner. It’s smaller than what I’m used to and is placed a bit too high for comfortable use, but it works well and works fast.

On the right side of the phone are the power and volume buttons, and on the left is the hybrid SIM card tray for two nano SIM cards or one SIM card and one microSD card. At the bottom a 3.5mm headphone jack, loudspeaker grille, microphone, and sadly, a microUSB port.

The Vivo U20 is available in two colors: Racing Black and and Blaze Blue. The unit we have is Racing Black.

Capable gaming phone at such a good price

The vivo U20’s internals are actually pretty impressive. The Snapdragon 675 is a pretty powerful processor, especially at this price point. It’s able to handle multi-tasking and gaming with no lag or issues at all. It’s interesting to see vivo come out with it at the same price point as the Redmi Note 8 and Realme 5, which are powered by the much less capable Snapdragon 665.

Coupled with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, gaming with the U20 is a good experience. I played PUBG Mobile on the high preset with graphics set to HD, and frame rate set to high; and hey, I had zero issues — no lag, no stutters.

Just like other phones running on Snapdragon 675, it does get a little warm when you’re playing games after about 20 or so minutes.

Ultra Game mode lets you block incoming notifications and automatically answer phone calls in hands-free mode when you’re playing games. There’s also an off-screen Autoplay feature which lets you run a game even with the display switched off.

Nifty software features you’ll either love or hate

The vivo U20 runs Funtouch OS 9.2 on top of Android 9 Pie out of the box. There a little bit of bloatware pre-installed like Gaana, Amazon, Opera, and a couple more, but you can easily uninstall most of them.

FunTouch OS is something you’ll either love or hate depending on your preference. If you’ve used it before you’ll be familiar with the slight oddities. Otherwise there are a few things you’ll need to get used to that’s not found on other Android smartphones.

For example, you’ll need to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access the quick toggles which is the exact opposite of the action on every other Android smartphone. If that’s not to your liking, you change it to a swipe down from the upper right corner of the phone — similar to how it is on iOS.

There’s also vivo’s smart assistant Jovi which can recognize products you point the camera at. It can also remind you to drink water every day so you don’t have to install a third party app. Overall, it’s not really much more useful than Google Assistant.

A few features I like are raise-to-wake, the ability to launch apps by drawing alphabets on the lockscreen, and a Motorbike mode. There’s also dark mode and gesture navigation.

Average camera performance

The vivo U20 has a triple camera setup: a 16MP primary camera with a Sony IMX499 sensor, 8MP ultra wide angle lens and a 2MP macro lens. Up front, there’s a 16MP selfie camera.

Vivo’s camera app is hasn’t changed much recently. It has a variety of modes, including night mode, portrait mode, live photo, AR stickers, along with the usual timelapse and panorama. There’s also a pro mode for those who like to tweak their camera settings.

 

The vivo U20 is quick to focus and handles exposure well. Daytime images look pretty good in the gallery app. You’ll notice that they do suffer in terms of details when you zoom into them. There’s a tiny bit of grain that sweeps into each photo as well.

Portrait photos has pretty good edge detection. Photos come out with a good amount of detail and a natural level of bokeh. There’s also a separate bokeh mode where you can adjust the level of blur. The results are pretty good, too.

The ultra wide angle camera suffers from the same distortion at the edges and lack of details that we see on other phones at this price range.

Low light photos aren’t great unfortunately. There’s a real lack of details and a lot of grain. The dedicated night mode does help get brighter images, but they aren’t that much better. There’s also no image stabilization so you’ll want to stay really still if you’re using the night mode to take photos.

Great battery life

The vivo U20 is powered by a massive 5,000 mAh battery, and that translates to great battery life. You can use this phone for a day and a half on a single charge before you’ll need to reach for the charger.

On a day of heavy usage, with a bit of gaming, a couple shots on the camera, and the usual bits of social media and Whatsapp, I still had plenty of battery life percentage left when I got home at the end of the day.

Despite the gigantic battery, charging the U20 doesn’t take too long either. The bundled 18W Dual-Engine fast charger got the phone up from zero to over 30 percent in half an hour, reaching about 60 to 70 percent in one hour. A charge to 100 percent takes about an hour and 45 minutes.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

No one expected vivo to come out of nowhere and suddenly be this strong of a contender in this aggressive entry-level price segment. This is a company that lately have been pumping out more expensive smartphones, and what we have here is an entry level smartphone that is pretty premium for its price.

Its powerful processor and great battery life are great; if only the camera were better. And if we are to nitpick, we would have loved to not have seen a microUSB port on this phone.

If you’re on a budget and are looking for the most powerful phone in the INR 10,990 price range (US$ 155), the Vivo U20 is your best option right now.

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India

POCO is now officially an independent brand

No longer affiliated with Xiaomi

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Xiaomi has announced it’s spinning off POCO as an independent brand. This means the brand will now operate on its own. POCO started in 2018 as a sub-brand of Xiaomi and the parent company has decided to bring in structural changes.

POCO branding is active in India while all other markets get Pocophone. The brand is famous for its POCO F1, an affordable phone that packs a flagship-grade processor. The phone’s arrival created a completely new category of smartphones that are built to be inexpensive, yet offer unmatchable speed.

However, POCO took the backseat in 2019 while Xiaomi rained the markets with Redmi branded phones. Fans have been asking about POCO F1’s successor ever since and the parent company consistently stayed silent about the sub-brand’s future.

Rival brand Realme was also formed as an independent company but is able to leverage OPPO’s infrastructure as “partners”. Having complete independence, the company can operate on its own and decide its own strategy. This structural divide let Realme form a new identity and within no time, it reckoned with Xiaomi as India’s leading mobile vendor.

There were reports in the second half of 2019 that suggested Xiaomi might ditch the POCO brand completely. It’s safe to say that isn’t happening anymore. POCO’s social media handles have been actively announcing discounts and deals on the POCO F1, suggesting a new product could be on the way soon.

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News

This year’s #ShotOniPhone challenge is all about the night mode

Your shot might just be Apple’s next billboard

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Apple is bringing the #ShotOniPhone challenge back this year, but now with a focus on shots taken with their newest feature, the Night mode found on the newer iPhone 11 series. You can now submit photos as it already started last January 8 and it will end on January 29 at exactly 11:59 PST.

iPhone 11 series users can share their night shots with the hashtags ‘#ShotoniPhone’ and ‘#NightmodeChallenge’ and post them on Twitter or Instagram (account must be set in public).

Other users can also opt to submit their entries by sending high-resolution images through [email protected] with the file format ‘firstname_lastname_nightmode_iPhonemodel’.

Participants can send their shots straight from the camera. Photos that were edited using the editing tools in Photos or any other third-party software will also be accepted. Five winning shots will appear on Apple’s website, Newsroom, Instagram, WeChat, and Weibo accounts. They might also be on select Apple stores and billboards.

Among the judges are popular photographers and artists such as Malin Fezehai, Tyler Mitchell, Sarah Lee, and Alexvi Li. Other than them, Apple’s Phil Schiller, Kaiann Drance, Brooks Kraft, Jon McCormack, and Arem Duplessis will also join the league. Darren Soh from Singapore is also part of the critics after winning the #ShotOniPhone challenge last year.

To know more about this challenge, visit apple.com.

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