Getting a new phone can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve been out of the consumer tech game for a while. Manufacturers release new phones seemingly all the time. Some, like Samsung, put out two flagships every single year. Amid all this noise, what should you keep in mind when you’re looking for a phone?
There’s nothing wrong with the mid-range…
It’s easy to be blinded by marketing buzzwords like HDR. But as far as real-world use is concerned, phone specs have plateaued. You can get a smooth OS experience on both iOS and Android without having to resort to the top-end. Examples include the superb iPhone SE, which crams most of an iPhone 6s’ innards into an iPhone 5’s body, as well as the well-regarded Moto G5 Plus, which is splash-resistant and has near-stock Nougat.
Smartphones have equalized to the point that mid-range phones have once-flagship features such as Full HD (or higher) screens and fingerprint readers. The Moto G5 Plus has both.
… or the low-end
Sometimes, all you need is a modern phone — for calling, texting, messaging, social media, web browsing, podcasts, and the occasional photo when you really need it. The trickling down in smartphone tech has reached the low-end, especially on Android. Their days of being a sluggish mess are far behind it, because of performance improvements since Android Lollipop, the ubiquity of multi-core processors, and the rise of Chinese manufacturers.
Need proof? Take a look at our camera face-off between the Samsung Galaxy S8 (the best Android phone in the world right now, in my opinion) and the Vivo V5 Lite (a US$ 200 Chinese phone). And if you’re only using the camera to share images on highly compressed platforms, Snapseed can probably save the day, anyway.
But if you’re going high-end, make sure you get a flagship
If you’re going to go all out on a phone, a flagship is the only answer. By getting the best phone your money can buy, you’ll be set for a while in terms of software support, camera quality, and robustness of features.
iPhones are historically guaranteed to be supported for at least four years (see the iPhone 5, for example). But do note that now isn’t the best time to get an iPhone 7, with the next iPhone just around the corner.
Over on Android, flagships are more or less locked to two or more major OS updates — you often can’t say the same for mid- to low-range entries. With a flagship, you’ll also get features like an extra-tall aspect ratio, almost bezel-less displays, and HDR, all of which can be game-changers, depending on your needs.
Flagship features don’t have to break the bank, either. Companies like OnePlus (and its Chinese counterpart OPPO) have been disrupting the market for years with phones that are nearly identical specs-wise to Samsung’s flagships at a fraction of the price.
If all else fails, get last year’s model
My trusty Xperia Z2 finally died, after surviving countless falls, extended dunks in steamy hotspring water, and being smuggled into the ICU. I needed a new phone.
I had grown accustomed to Sony’s minimally intrusive Android skin and reliable firmware updates (for its flagships, at least), so I was keen on staying with them. But Sony had dropped the ball with its recent flagships (seriously, nobody needs 4K resolution on a 5.5-inch screen) and I was no longer interested in a large phone. Apparently, Sony had stopped making smaller versions of its top-end phones, and nobody else had stepped up to the plate. As a result, I was seriously considering getting a Galaxy S8.
Then I saw the Xperia Z5 Compact in a forgotten corner of a Sony store at a clearance price. I looked it up.
Once-flagship specs. Great camera with a two-stage hardware button. Fingerprint sensor integrated into the power button. Dual front-facing speakers. Water- and dust-proof. Insane battery life. Android Nougat. Tiny. And a third of the price of the Galaxy S8.
I bought it, and it’s been my daily driver ever since.
Given the relative slowness in the progress of phone tech, with only iterative yearly improvements, you can’t go wrong with getting an older phone, as long as they’re still well supported. Other Android examples include the OnePlus 3T and Moto G4 Play. Apple has the iPhone 6s, which shows an appalling lack of courage but has the utility of a headphone jack.
Get a phone that molds to your needs, and not the other way around
There’s never been a better time to get a phone — variety can be found at all points in the spectrum. What’s the point of getting a six-inch phone if your small hands necessitate one of those ring grips, completely messing up the phone’s industrial design? I have big hands myself, but I prefer a phone that I could use one-handed in all situations.
Need a phone on which you can type without looking, in multiple languages? BlackBerry has you covered (they’ve been using Android for the past few years, so you won’t be too behind the curve).
Would you like a status symbol and the satisfaction of sneering at your green-bubble inferiors? Apple has you covered — they even spearheaded the current trend of gold as a flagship color.
Will you be watching movies on your phone? Samsung has you covered. Be an informed consumer, read reviews and impressions, and you’ll find the phone that’s right for you.
[irp posts=”8433" name=”Best smartphones of 2016"]
Huawei headlines with superzoom photos, non-Android OS: Weekend Rewind
The photos look promising!
Here are the top stories on GadgetMatch this week.
1. Could this really be the Huawei P30 Pro’s superzoom camera?
We’re roughly around two weeks away from the launch of the Huawei P30 series and with that comes a new round of leaks. In this edition though, it looks like we’re being treated to sample photos of the Huawei P30 Pro’s superzoom camera.
The first bundle showcases a concert of British boy band Blue — one shot with a wide-angle lens, the other with a closer shot without losing much detail. Another set of photos shows a prenuptial photoshoot but with clear labels of the camera’s different modes.
A little while back, a Huawei official also released a photo of an incredibly zoomed-in moon and tag that says “Huawei P30 Pro.” Perhaps the Chinese company could have just used any of these photos instead of a stock image on one of their promotional materials.
2. Huawei working on non-Android OS
Huawei CEO Richard Yu recently confirmed with German publication Die Welt that they are indeed developing an operating system not based on Android. No other details were revealed but he said the company is doing this due to “extenuating circumstances.”
The company has faced multiple issues over the past few months with the most recent one against the US government who they filed a case against. Despite this, Yu said they still prefer to stay with Google’s ecosystems and that what they’re working on is only a backup plan.
3. Android Q beta now ready on Pixel phones
The rollout of Android Pie to most Android smartphones is still ongoing. However, it didn’t stop Google from releasing Android Q Beta 1.
Yes, the latest Android is now ready for download on Pixel phones. Since this is an early preview, expect to experience some instability. Here’s to hoping everyone else gets a piece of Android Pie before Android Q reaches its final stages.
4. Motorola to come up with a midrange foldable
Several rumors have come up, many of which speculate that Motorola will likely revive its Razr line as branding for its foldable phone. However, a new report says the foldable will be called Voyager. It will have the following specs: Snapdragon 710, up to 6GB of RAM, up to 128GB of internal storage, and a 2730mAh battery.
5. Harry Potter AR game from makers of Pokemon Go is here
Potterheads rejoice! It’s your turn to roam the streets with the new augmented reality (AR) game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
Developed by the same studio that brought us Pokemon Go, the game will have you walking around looking for artifacts instead of adorable pocket monsters. According to The Verge, there are mini-games when casting a spell. You’ll have to complete a collection book, earn points, and level up. Eurogamer also notes that players can choose one of three classes: the Magizoologist, the Profesoor, or the Auror. Which one will you choose?
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.
Captain Marvel, The Umbrella Academy: Now Playing
This is how we celebrate Women’s Month!
Samsung has just unfolded the future and MWC Barcelona gave a glimpse of this year’s trends in smartphones. While we’re recuperating, we travel, celebrate International Women’s Month, and catch up with the latest shows and movies to see. Here’s what’s Now Playing:
Movies to see
Chay: March is International Women’s Month and what better way to celebrate than by watching, RBG, a fascinating documentary about the life and legacy of US Supreme Court Justice and icon Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She pioneered and has pushed for gender equality throughout her career not only by arguing for women’s rights, but also by proving that gender-based discrimination hurts men as well.
Marvin: I’m at the point of origin story fatigue, so seeing yet another one while every other character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is fully developed feels like a drag. Still, Captain Marvel is a required watch before buying a ticket for Avengers: Endgame which is coming out next month. Not to say that the movie is bad, but I wish Super Saiyan Carol were as interesting as the cast around her.
Dan: Let’s take a break from Hollywood and embrace local cinema. Ulan, which stars Nadine Lustre and Carlo Aquino, is a mix of movie genres. In a nutshell, it’s about a girl’s perception about the rain, may it be positive or negative. Be warned that you might feel weirded out at times, but I’d say it’s part of the viewing experience. Combining folklore and a modern love story is not a bad idea.
TV shows to binge watch
Chay: This new Netflix series isn’t like any other reality TV about dating and finding love. Each episode features someone who goes on different blind dates and by the end of it, he or she picks someone to go on a second date with. There are so many unexpected twists that are not only entertaining but also completely relatable. It gives you a peek at how different people are in choosing potential partners, and is a good reflection of what we are like on first dates.
The Umbrella Academy
Dan: Umbrella Academy is the next big thing on Netflix. Its first season might not be as strong as Stranger Things’, but its interesting storyline will keep you hooked. It’s a different kind of superhero story about kids who were born on the same day and were adopted by a billionaire. If you like bizarre stories and superpowers, be sure to check this out.
Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to
Chrysalis by Empire of the Sun
Kevin: The Australian electronic music duo Empire of the Sun who wrote the catchy/dancy “Walking on a Dream” released a brand new track through an exclusive vinyl reissue. Called “Chrysalis,” the song has more of a laid back approach compared to their previous works while still owning that new wave vibe that they’re known for. It’s a nice, progressive song to relax with when you’re having a hectic day.
Butterfly by LOONA
Vincenz: “Butterfly” is one of the reasons why you should follow this Korean girl group. People say the music video looks “odd” since it focuses on women empowerment and racial diversity but its lyrics, the members’ goddess-like visuals, and their flawless choreography complements the song’s dreamy yet powerful vibe. 🦋
Cities/Places to visit
Kevin: Downtown Chicago feels like New York with its tall skyscrapers and busy streets — only it’s cleaner and quieter. It was my first time there and I was immediately enticed by its charm since most establishments have their own unique personalities. It’s filled with barcades (arcade bars) complete with old school titles like PAC-MAN and Time Crisis II. There’s also a veggie burger with fake bacon made of seitan that appeased the meat-lover in me. And if you’re not out eating or drinking, the WNDR Museum is a must-visit for installations and backdrops perfect for the ‘gram.
San Francisco, California
Marvin: San Francisco is famous for its diversity — not just in its people but in the places to visit. I didn’t get a chance to revisit famous spots like the Golden Gate Bridge and Mission Street, but my time around its financial district was memorable. It’s astounding how much merch there is to buy here, whether you’re into coffee, tech, cosmetics, toys, or sports.
Chay: There are more than a hundred reasons to visit The Metropolitan Museum in New York, but an ongoing exhibit called “In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at The Met” is one you shouldn’t miss. Running until October 2020, the show features Dutch paintings from the 17th century and gives you a good glimpse of The Dutch Republic’s colorful history and way of life during that period.
Trends to try
McDonald’s Flavors of Japan
Vincenz: I like the Teriyaki Samurai burger since the beef patty is juicy while the teriyaki sauce is oozing. You could also try their Ebi Burger if you like your shrimp tempura being sandwiched with buns, sweet sauce, and lettuce. Pair them with the Nori Shake Shake Fries and a Sakura McFloat for a full “oishii” experience.
Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!
Leaked infographic reveals more about Huawei P30
Based on six pillars
In less than two weeks, the Huawei P30 will be unveiled in Paris.
And if it’s going to be anything like last year’s blockbuster, Huawei’s next flagship should rock the tech world. But what exactly is there to be excited about?
A lot apparently. Recently I spoke with a source inside Huawei who showed me an infographic giving us new clues about the upcoming P30 and P30 Pro. While I wasn’t allowed to publish the infographic, I was allowed to take notes and publish the details here.
The infographic, like the rest of the official promo materials that have gone out, refers to the P30 as a smartphone that will “rewrite all the rules.”
My source tells me the phone will focus on six pillars.
- More beauty (phone design)
- More detail (selfie camera)
- More advanced (rear cameras)
- More convenient (fingerprint sensor)
- More features (UI)
- More battery (battery life)
While the source didn’t go into detail about what exactly these specific features and changes will be, one might be able to deduce enough.
More Beauty. Last year, Huawei pioneered a new design trend giving the P20 a host of eye-catching gradient finishes, including the most coveted, Twilight.
Leaked photos show that Huawei is sticking to its gradient design. But also offering new color selections including bright red (I want).
More beauty could also refer to the front of the phone with a more vibrant OLED panel, tiny teardrop notch, as well as a slimmer forehead and chin with no bezels on its sides thanks to its curved display.
More Detail. The leaked infographic shows the progression of P Series front cameras. From 8 megapixels on the P9 and P10 to 24MP on the P20. More detail perhaps might indicate an even higher megapixel count or maybe even pixel binning tech like Huawei does with the P20’s 40MP rear camera.
The wishful thinker in me hopes that more detail also means a wider lens, as the current crop of selfie cameras (aside from the Pixel 3 XL) that can fit very little into the frame are very limiting.
More Advanced. Over the past year, no other smartphone manufacturer has pushed the boundaries of smartphone photography more than Huawei. And it would come as no surprise if the P30 takes it yet another step forward.
The P30 is rumored to have three rear cameras (one normal, one ultra wide-angle, and one zoom) while the P30 Pro is going to have four; the fourth will be a Time of Flight sensor which maps 3D objects in a scene and provides even better depth sensing.
The zoom lens on both models will definitely be able to zoom in further than ever thanks to a new camera system based on periscope tech. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, Huawei VP for Marketing Clement Wong showed me an up-close photo of the moon, the same one posted by Huawei CEO Richard Yu to Weibo, saying it was taken using an unreleased Huawei flagship.
— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) February 19, 2019
Huawei has also posted this teaser showing the really close zoom-ins of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
More Convenient. It is almost all but certain that the P30 will have an under-display fingerprint scanner, the first time on the P series but not necessarily on a Huawei phone. It isn’t clear how this fingerprint scanner will be more convenient. Here’s to hoping Huawei has developed its own ultrasonic sensor like the Qualcomm tech Samsung put on the Galaxy S10+.
More Battery. Well, this one isn’t too surprising. Huawei smartphones, both the P and Mate series, deliver the best battery life in the market today and one would expect this tradition to live on in the P30 and P30 Pro. Expect a larger battery compared to last year’s model, even better optimization, and faster wired and wireless charging speeds.
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