Features

5 keys to making the Google Pixel 2 a success

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I make it no secret that the Google Pixel was, to me, one of the best smartphones of 2017along with the OnePlus 3 and 3T, of course. And yet, it came with its fair share of flaws that the successor could potentially rectify for an even better experience.

The Pixel 2 and its larger equivalent (Pixel XL 2? Pixel 2 XL?) will arrive on October 4. Unlike the iPhone X launch, however, leaks for the pair have been scarce, with only a handful of renders floating around the web giving us clues.

Even info on the partner manufacturers have been kept under wraps. Rumors point to HTC coming back to create the smaller Pixel, while LG will try their hand at making a Pixel from what they’ve learned designing the V30.

In any case, we’re half a month away from the big reveal, and I’ve compiled my wishlist for what will hopefully be 2017’s best phone.

Please trim the bezels

I think we can all agree that no phone looks more last year than the original Pixel. The thick bezels on the top and bottom with nothing maximizing their space — like stereo speakers or a fingerprint scanner — got scrutinized by critics and consumers alike.

Now that most major brands have jumped on the near-borderless bandwagon, it’s only natural for Google to follow suit. The render above was leaked by Android Police a couple of months ago; it still has that Pixel aesthetic minus the unsightly bezels, but we can’t say for certain if this design will fly. Hopefully, Google has more planned out.

Please make them water-resistant

Another weakness the Pixel phones shared was the lack of any level of water and dust resistance. Yes, this was 2016, but rivals Samsung and Apple added the feature on their own phones at that point after Sony popularized it.

With HTC and LG expected to take the helm and having produced the water-resistant U11 and V30, respectively, chances are high for this feature to pull through for both Pixels. They better.

Please don’t touch the 3.5mm audio port

What do the newly released iPhone X, Essential PH-1, and HTC U11 have in common? You guessed it: no port for headphones and speakers.

Leaked case renders for the Pixel 2 hint at the exclusion of the port, since there’s only one gap that’s seemingly reserved for the more vital USB-C port. I’ve already invested in Bluetooth headphones in anticipation of this year’s complete shift to wireless audio, but unless Google promises a much larger battery capacity in exchange for the loss, I’d rather keep the hole.

Please make them easier to buy

Whether it was Google’s fault for not anticipating the demand of their first-ever smartphone (not counting the Nexus line) or HTC simply not being fast enough in manufacturing, the Pixel and Pixel XL were so difficult to find in stores — especially for the larger storage variants and that Really Blue color.

With more experience under their belt and the possibility of two factories producing the Pixels, this shouldn’t be an issue anymore. And if we’re going to be optimistic, more widespread international availability would be great, as well.

Please focus on designing the best smartphone camera ever

Fun fact: The two top-rated smartphone cameras in the world are created by Google and HTC, based on DxOMark’s ratings. We shouldn’t expect anything less than stellar from the next flagship produced by the two companies.

The question is: Do we want dual cameras on the new Pixel pair? I’m a firm believer that two cameras working in tandem don’t necessarily equate to better image quality — as the original Pixel has proven — but settling for a single shooter may hold back certain sought-after features, something like the iPhone X’s portrait mode and Galaxy Note 8’s optical zoom. Whatever the case, I hope Google applies the same setup for both the regular- and XL-sized models like they did last year.

I’ll be looking back on this list come October 4. Make these happen, Google!

SEE ALSO: HTC U11 Review: Better than the Pixel

[irp posts=”17685″ name=”HTC U11 Review: Better than the Pixel”]

Smartphones

Unboxing the OPPO Find X2 Pro Automobili Lamborghini Edition

Looking grand and fancy!

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Sleek, classy, and powerful — these are the words I think of whenever I see Lamborghini. The Italian luxury carmaker has always been associated with grandeur and power. It has etched itself as a desirable experience one can dream of. You can even call it a beauty and a beast; evident in their supercars, SUVs, and e-bikes.

Brimming with such finesse, no wonder it partnered with OPPO’s finest phone which similarly carries the same epitome: a beauty and a beast.

Back in 2018, OPPO and Lamborghini already collaborated. The OPPO Find X Lamborghini Edition — worth almost US$ 2000 — was a remarkable luxury device. In 2020, OPPO brings the same lavish experience albeit more sophisticated.

An exquisite unboxing

Before we start, let’s call the OPPO Find X2 Pro Lamborghini Edition as Find X2 Pro Lambo. This luxurious handset came in a sexy, black paper bag.

Both OPPO and Lamborghini’s symbols were embossed in striking gold color, shining reflectively. Lamborghini’s signature patterns were embellished to present an exquisite and noble look.

The posh and upscale weight possessed by the ornate box was conspicuous all throughout. First, its design was reminiscent of Lamborghini’s distinct scissor doors.

You can open the box outwards like you’re about to enter your own Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster — the inspiration for this special edition phone. In essence, it felt like a regal experience.

Of course, the Find X2 Pro Lambo edition came in a protective case, but I took it out to marvel at its magnificence standing out against my black coat. In certain angles, it reveals subtle patterns that make it look dapper.

But let’s forget about the phone for a while, and let’s proceed to see what else is inside the box.

The marriage of aesthetic and performance

Inside the thick layer where the phone sat houses the manuals written in a bunch of black papers, a premium-looking warranty card with stamped insignias, and a SIM ejector tool.

At the deep-end of the box, you can find the elegantly-designed accessories. If there’s one thing I can commend OPPO about, it’s the meticulous presentation of an opulent device. Those who will attempt to do special edition boxes can learn a thing or two from how OPPO and Lamborghini did it.

It’s complete with accessories produced cohesively, conveying the marriage of performance and aesthetics. Lamborghini’s design language was written all over these peripherals, how can you not love it?

There’s a SuperVOOC 2.0 charger, a golden braided USB-C to USB-A cable (and a shorter, black one), a car charger, an exclusive phone case, and OPPO’s true wireless earphones — the OPPO Enco Free.

Hey there, handsome!

The Find X2 Pro Lambo edition has a unique and stunning exterior. It’s composed of a four-layer overlaid carbon-fiber texture similar to the Aventador SVJ Roadster, coated with a forged glass revealing simulated patterns and curves you’ll definitely love.

Compared to the original Find X2 Pro (which we associated with Hermès), the Lambo edition fashioned a hexagonal, edgy camera module in lieu of the rounded frame. It also stuck to the Lamborghini branding, applying gold and metallic accents to the phone and its accessories.

What I loved the most is the golden braided cable. It’s similar to my favorite cable from the HP Spectre X360 13, which looks suave!

The beauty to your beast

Naturally, a luxurious, special edition phone should come with an exclusive case to make its users feel special. Gratefully, OPPO packed a hand-stitched two-toned case: black carbon fiber and a metallic copper leather exuding a certain oomph when you glide your fingers.

This phone will suit your style if your aesthetic is a mix between black and varying shades of leather brown. Par exemple, this fancy phone complemented my faux leather brown organizer and Louis Vuitton vacation bag.

Moving to its front, the Find X2 Pro Lambo edition runs a custom Lamborghini Color OS 7.1 theme. This handset brims with the same power and performance.

It still has the same 6.7-inch OLED display with HDR10+ support and 120Hz refresh rate. The same processor, memory configuration, and battery capable of OPPO’s proprietary 65W fast charging support — which you can enjoy on the Find X2 Pro — are also housed in the Lambo edition.

A splendid, special edition experience

Certainly, the partnership between OPPO and Lamborghini is a fine example of special edition phones done right. It offers the lavish experience every Lamborghini car owner and fan can delight on, at a staggering price.

The OPPO Find X2 Pro Automobili Lamborghini Edition retails for CNY 13,000 (US$ 1,900 / PhP 92,000). For a luxury special edition phone, the price tag isn’t something that Lambo owners worry about. However, the phone is only available in China.

Meanwhile, the Find X2 Pro retails for CNY 7,000 (PhP 65,990). In the Philippines, telco providers offer the handset as part of their postpaid plans.

SEE ALSO: OPPO Find X2 Pro Unboxing and ReviewFind X2 Pro review: OPPO’s finest

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5 things we like about the realme Watch

A fitness band you won’t mind wearing in non-workout scenarios

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realme has been on a roll in expanding their product portfolio. They started with smartphones, added some earphones and powerbanks, and this year they have two wearables so far – the realme smartband and the realme Watch.

Today we’re listing some of the things we really liked about the realme Watch. Oh and quick note – most of this video was shot using the realme X3 SuperZoom.

Battery Life

Okay so, number one is battery life.

At the time that this was written, the Watch was at 52 percent and it has been seven days since the last time it was fully charged. If I use it more or less the same way I have in the past seven days, then it’ll be another week before it completely runs out of juice.

It’s definitely a plus when you don’t have to think about charging your watch too often.

Variety of workouts

At launch it can track 14 different workouts with good variety.

You have stuff like Running, Walking, Strength Training, Yoga and even sports like Football, Table Tennis, and Badminton.

The only “workout” I really got to try is walking, since I absolutely dread running — or any other form of exercise for that matter. But the fitness tracking was fairly accurate for the most part.

I was dying to try basketball since that’s the only workout I truly enjoy. Unfortunately the courts are still closed because in case you forgot, the Coronavirus is still very much out there taking lives and we are totally not winning that battle.

Casual fit

If it’s just your regular trip to the grocery store, then this watch will suit you just fine.

Perhaps, you can also wear this on regular work days if you’re required to report onsite. Point is, since it doesn’t look like a fitness band. You can probably get away with wearing it in most casual situations.

Remote camera

This one was particularly useful for when I was making this video.

The remote camera camera works for both photo and video. And for photos, it can be set to either take the snap right away or with a timer.

Very convenient if, like me, you’re forever alone, and need or want photos of yourself.

Water reminder

For you thirsty folks out there, it also has a water reminder option that you can turn on using the realme link app.

You can set a time period when you should be reminded, as well as the frequency of the reminder. I didn’t exactly follow this all the time since I sorely lack discipline, but it’s nice to have that constant reminder.

Is the realme Watch worth buying?

To properly set your expectations, you’ll need to think of the realme Watch as more of an enlarged fitness band versus an actual Smart Watch, since most of its features are geared towards health and fitness.

And if you look at it, it’s… okay. Not really something you’d want to show off.

Underneath the display there’s this subtle realme branding that could’ve been smaller or they could’ve totally done away with. That might have helped with the overall look a little bit.

The watch faces are also limited at launch, but realme emphasized that a wide variety of choices is coming soon.

For PhP 3990 (US$ 81), you get a fitness band that you wouldn’t mind wearing in non-workout scenarios. I think that’s the primary benefit that you get, for paying around twice the price of a regular fitness band.

SEE ALSO: realme X3 SuperZoom, realme Watch price in the Philippines

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How to maximize your Redmi 9

Smart tips for your budget smartphone

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Having a smartphone these days is akin to a necessity. However, times are especially hard and you may not have the means to splurge on the best ones. Here are tips on maximizing budget smartphones — specifically, the Xiaomi Redmi 9.

First of, let’s find out what we’re working with. Here’s a quick rundown of the device’s specs:

Redmi 9

Display 6.53” FHD+ Dot Drop Display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Processor MediaTek Helio G80 Processor
RAM + ROM 3GB+32GB and 4GB+64GB
Battery Capacity 5020mAh, support for 18W charging
Front Camera 8MP
Rear Cameras 13MP main wide-angle camera

8MP ultra-wide angle camera

5MP macro camera

2MP depth sensor

There’s not a lot you’re working with here. But that’s to be expected from a phone that starts at PhP 6,990 (US$ 141) for the 3GB+32GB variant which is what we have with us currently.

Quick note: That specific variant is currently on sale today on Xiaomi’s official flagship store on Lazada. On July 7, 2020 only, it’s up for grabs for PhP 500 less or at exactly PhP 6,490 (US$ 131).

If you want to snap this up, here’s what you’re getting.

It doesn’t look like a budget phone

Some budget smartphones tend to look very bland. That’s not the case with the Redmi 9.

The Ocean Green variant has this subtle radial pattern on its back. It’s very nice to hold and marginally adds to the grip. That’s a thoughtful choice considering how most budget smartphones come in plain backs in a slippery plastic build.

Another thoughtful design decision is the alignment of the power button and volume keys. For a phone with this big a display, having them all on the right side is an underrated design decision.

Unfortunately, that design decision is countered by the placement of the fingerprint sensor. It’s curiously connected to the camera module. During your first few days of use, you’ll be prone to smudging the lens that sits right above it.

That said, that camera module also doesn’t look like it’s a budget smartphone. The vertical camera array is situated on the top middle part and is separated by a circle that looks like the source of the radial pattern.

Learn basic mobile photography skills

While we’re talking about the cameras, the versatility of the ones equipped on the Redmi 9 is pretty impressive.

On most occasions, you should be able to take a good enough photo for your social media feeds. But you can even take it a step further by learning some basic mobile photography skills.

Here are some tips and how tos from our archives that you might find useful:

  1. How to take slice of life photos
  2. Capturing festivities
  3. Using foreground element

Use the built-in photo editor

You don’t have plenty of space for apps, so it’s prudent to learn the in and outs of the built-in photo editor. Just go into the gallery and edit one of your photos, and you’ll be treated to plenty of options.

Take for instance this wide angle photo. It looks fine, but a little unbalanced.

On the photo editor, you can fix that by aligning the horizon to the grid and making the colors pop more.

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are also plenty of filters you can play with. Here’s a sample of how that same photo was turned into this very stylized one that looks almost like a scene from Attack on Titan. 

Google is your best friend 

One of my favorite Google Apps is Google Photos. It gives you unlimited storage of your photos at zero cost.

It’s most likely already installed on the Redmi 9 out of the box. Just make sure you turn syncing on so every time you take a photo, it’s automatically uploaded and backed up.

Google also has lite versions for most of their apps so that should help ease up the load on your limited RAM and storage.

Use lite versions of apps

Lite apps aren’t limited to Google though. More commonly used apps like Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, and even Spotify have lite versions.

These versions eat up less space and less memory when used. Of course, you’ll be missing some features, but that’s the trade-off.

What you can do is identify which app you use the most and need all of the features available, so you can get the full version of that app, while keeping everything else lite.

Be resourceful about it

One of the hallmarks of Xiaomi and Redmi is offering good value for less. That means making the most of what you have.

For the Redmi 9, this means knowing for sure what it can do, and allocating its existing resources based on your smartphone needs.

Remember, your smartphone is only as good as how you use it.

A quick reminder that the Redmi 9 (3GB+32GB) is currently on sale today on Xiaomi’s official flagship store on Lazada. On July 7, 2020 only, it’s up for grabs for PhP 500 less or at exactly PhP 6,490 (US$ 131).

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