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5 essential tips for buying a new phone

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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.

SEE ALSO: Best smartphones of 2016

Camera Shootouts

Flagship Smartphone Camera Shootout: Best of 2017

Find out which premium smartphone comes out on top

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The iPhone X, Pixel 2, Mate 10 Pro, and Galaxy Note 8 — they may all look different, but they share one important feature: an excellent set of cameras.

Join us as we compare photos taken by each of these flagship smartphones around Indonesia and Singapore. Which shooter comes out on top? Watch and find out!

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Dyson V8 Carbon Fibre cordless vacuum hands-on

The future of housekeeping

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Made a mess? Dyson’s got you.

The V8 Carbon Fibre, the newest addition to Dyson’s renowned cordless vacuum line, has just been launched in Southeast Asia.

The new cleaning device utilizes the same technology from previous Dyson innovations, which ensures optimum performance of this lean, mean, cleaning machine. Certain features — like a better battery and a more powerful engine — are improved on this new vacuum release.

Dyson engineer Sam Twist explains what the V8 Carbon Fibre can do

Dyson engineer Sam Twist explains what the V8 Carbon Fibre can do

At the launch in Bangkok, Thailand, I got to go hands-on with the device. Quite literally, I made a mess and cleaned it up with the V8 Carbon Fibre. Here are some initial observations:

Easy to handle

What amazed me most is how intuitive this device is. There was no learning curve. I picked it up for the first time, pulled a trigger that’s perfectly positioned in the area where my hand goes, and voila, I was vacuuming!

Now, call me uninformed on the workings of a vacuum (and general housekeeping) but I always thought vacuums were heavy. At least I didn’t expect something with this power to be as light as it was.

Like their Supersonic hairdryer, the V8 Carbon Fibre is ergonomically balanced. Simply put, it’s designed in a way that ensures easier handling.

Power!

This engine, tiny and light as it is, isn’t just a load of hot air (pun intended).

This device has 30 percent more suction power than its predecessors. That capability was shown off in a curious exhibition, one that entailed a vacuum-sealed container and some water. Yep, this vacuum sucks, in the best possible way.

This device tests the vaccum’s suction power! You can see the water rising as the device is turned on.

From corn chips to oregano, sprinkles to baking soda; we tried the vacuum and another Isa-made mess was averted.

Leave no dirt in sight

And, if the newly cleaned surface isn’t enough proof for you, you can just take a gander at the dirt you’ve picked up in the vacuum’s compartment.

This machine runs on an improved battery that’s capable of 40 minutes of non-stop, cord-free cleaning on low mode.

Very versatile

Aside from the fact that it’s a pretty capable machine, this thing also works well on different surfaces and different scenarios.

Different Dyson-engineered heads allow for cleaning a variety of textured spaces. There’s a tool specifically designed for carpets, hardwood floors, mattresses, and even one for “mess-free dog grooming!” Various accessories also mean that you can modify your vacuum specifically for the spot you want to clean — imagine a multi-angle brush attachment that allows you to clean hard to reach areas.

An added feature is that these vacuums have a wall-mounted charging dock, which is the most convenient thing. I’m definitely reserving a spot for this device in my future hypothetical high-tech house!

Now, these are just my initial thoughts on the V8 Carbon Fibre, but it’s enough to get me excited over vacuuming — who would’ve thought?

Quite honestly, I’ve never really enjoyed cleaning up my messes, but this thing might just change that.

The Dyson V8 Carbon Fibre will retail for PhP 47,500 in the Philippines starting February 21. It will be available in Thailand come March.

SEE ALSO: Dyson Supersonic review: Bladeless hair dryer

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CES 2018

Episode 001: Getting lost at the world’s largest tech show

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In this first epidose of GadgetMatch Podcast we talk about the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2018) which just wrapped up in Las Vegas. Michael Josh and Isa share behind the scenes challenges of covering the world’s largest tech show. And the team talks about the most attention grabbing tech from the show including an entire range of Artificial Intelligence and Google Assistant gadgets, Vivo’s new phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor, Sony’s new robot dog, and Razer’s Project Linda.

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