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

Hands-On

Honor 10 Unboxing and Hands-on

Huawei P20 with a cheaper price tag

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Huawei’s sub-brand is making a name for itself with the launch of its flagship phone to the world, the Honor 10.

The phone sports the same features as the pricier Huawei P20: Kirin 970 with neural processing chip enabled, the latest EMUI 8.1 software based on Android 8.1 Oreo, a fingerprint sensor in front, and dual cameras. Two of the biggest differences are the lack of Leica branding and inclusion of a headphone jack — all in a cheaper price tag.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

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Features

Vivo unwraps X21 World Cup Edition

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It’s less than a month until the 2018 World Cup in Russia and FIFA’s official smartphone sponsor is pulling out all the stops before kickoff. After announcing the much-awaited launch of the retail model of the Vivo APEX concept phone, Vivo is treating fans to what the company dubs the Extraordinaire Edition of the X21. And as expected, it has World Cup extravaganza written all over it.

Based on the box alone you can already tell that this edition of the X21 is not just any other smartphone from Vivo. Unlike the less appealing white boxes we’ve encountered recently, this one is adorned with the 2018 World Cup pattern and an embossed silhouette of the X21 with the World Cup and Vivo logos front and center. There’s also a hint of the in-display fingerprint sensor, a feature pioneered by Vivo that hasn’t rolled out to any other smartphone but the X21.

The special edition X21 comes in two variants — painted with Russia’s colors, either blue or red. The World Cup pattern is a little bit more pronounced in these glass backs and it’s making me sing “Waka Waka” in my head. Wrong song, I know. 😂

Does it not make you go zamina mina éh éh? As far as specs go, it’s the same X21 that launched earlier this year: 6.28-inch AMOLED display, Snapdragon 660, 3,200 mAh battery, 6GB of memory, and 128GB of internal storage, a pair of 12MP and 5MP main shooters, and a 12MP camera up front for selfies.

Flipping the phone around, you get a Russia 2018 wallpaper and a custom Dusha typeface throughout the entire interface. Notice that the phone has a smaller chin bezel thanks to the futuristic under-display fingerprint sensor.

What’s a special edition smartphone without a custom icon pack? I love how the settings icon in this theme looks like a football! It’s subtle design choices like this that makes special edition phones more premium; it’s well thought out and is not just a gimmick.

Speaking of design choices, boy am I ready to see these squads on the pitch! Vivo is also offering custom shells and I’m definitely copping that Argentina case (the blue one) to match my kit. The designs are based on popular teams’ colors, clockwise from bottom left: Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, and what looks like Egypt but is supposed to be Germany — we’ll save the discussion for why it should have had a gold trim instead of white for another time.

The most important question that needs an answer is, did Vivo just predict the Top 4? We’ll find out soon enough. There are also custom themes based on the four teams so it matches your case and your team spirit. They will be available for download on the Vivo theme store.

The best part: Unlike Samsung’s Olympic edition phones, both variants of the X21 will not be exclusive to athletes and officials only. The X21 Extraordinaire Edition will retail for CNY 3,698 (US$ 579), and the blue variant will be on sale starting May 26, and red on June 1.

SEE ALSO: Vivo to launch all-display phone on June 12

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy A6 Hands-on: Repackaging the older series

A combination of the Galaxy J7 Pro and Galaxy A8

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The latest midrange phones of Samsung are finally hitting the stores, but they got us a little confused. Since the introduction of the Galaxy A series, it has always been the family of upper-midrange Samsung phones with a premium design. In 2018 though, Samsung is blending the Galaxy A and Galaxy J’s designs; the result is the new Galaxy A6 phones. There’s a regular and a better plus variant, but let’s check out the former first.

This is the Galaxy A6: A phone with a 5.6-inch Super AMOLED display and an 18.5:9 aspect ratio or Infinity Display, as Samsung calls it. The resolution of the display is underwhelming at just 1480 x 720 pixels or 294ppi, but it’s still pretty sharp. The Infinity Display of the Galaxy A6 doesn’t curve to the sides unlike with the Galaxy S9 flagship, yet the bezels are minimal.

The vibrant Super AMOLED display is a common Samsung trait

We have the usual sight in the front including the 16-megapixel f/1.9 selfie camera paired with its own LED flash, earpiece, and sensors. There’s no branding on the face of the phone so when the display is turned off, it looks sleek and clean on the table.

Too bad it doesn’t have the Always On Display feature, even though it has an AMOLED screen.

It’s an Infinity Display but not edge-to-edge

Having the loudspeaker at the side has now been a staple among Samsung midrange phones. It’s a much better placement than on the bottom since you don’t cover or muffle it when viewing in landscape orientation. This is ideal for watching videos or playing mobile games.

Both the loudspeaker and power button are on the right side of the phone

The volume buttons are on the right

Those who dislike making a choice between a microSD card or secondary SIM card will be glad to see the triple card slots of the Galaxy A6. There are two card trays inside the phone: one for the main nano-SIM card and another for the second nano-SIM and the microSD card.

You have to take out two trays to get all your cards inside

The body of the phone is mainly made up of aluminum with U-shaped antennas similar to the Galaxy J7 Pro’s frame. To be honest, the Galaxy A6 can easily be mistaken for the Galaxy J7 Pro if not for the rear camera. Speaking of, the Galaxy A6 has a 16-megapixel f/1.7 rear sensor inside an area shared with the fingerprint sensor. Thankfully, it’s identical to the Galaxy A8’s and Galaxy S9’s placement.

There should be fewer smudges on the camera lens

Going further into the internals of the Galaxy A6, it’s powered by an Exynos 7870 processor — the same silicon the popular Galaxy J7 Prime had back in 2016. The processor is getting old, so we’re hoping Samsung will use a newer one in their next release.

Good thing the bigger Galaxy A6+ has the latest Snapdragon 450, or else it’ll be just an under-powered midrange phone.

The variant we have here has 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage, but there’s also a 4GB/64GB combo available in select markets.

The Samsung Galaxy A6 with the 3GB/32GB configuration retails for PhP 16,490 in the Philippines while in India, it goes from INR 21,990 up to INR 22,990 depending on the variant.

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