Features

5 smartphones from 2015 that still matter

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Whenever we get asked whether to buy a current midrange smartphone or a similarly priced flagship from last year, we normally suggest the latter. After all, they were once the pride and joy of their respective brands, and buying them below the original retail price is a great deal.

For this list, we take a look back at the high-end phones we loved in 2015. Now that all of this year’s flagship devices are out, we can tell for certain which handsets of yesteryear matter the most.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is, without a doubt, the best stylus-equipped smartphone you can buy right now, and that’s primarily because of the Galaxy Note 7’s unfortunate downfall. If you must have a digital pen attached to your phone at all times, there’s really no better option than finding Samsung’s fifth-generation flagship.

It’s easy to forget, but before the Galaxy Note 7 came into the picture, its predecessor was widely considered to be the best smartphone money could buy, even when 2016’s best began rolling out. To this day, you can’t argue against the Galaxy Note 5’s speedy in-house Exynos chipset, optically stabilized rear camera, and stunning 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

This had to be the most polarizing flagship of 2015. It sought to answer the question: Do we really need a 4K display on a pocket-sized smartphone? The conclusion was mostly no, but the Xperia Z5 Premium was more than its overbearing screen resolution.

More importantly, it was the final torchbearer of Sony’s long-running Z series of water-resistant smartphones, and the last Xperia we could truly call premium. It had Qualcomm’s best processor in the Snapdragon 810, a high-resolution 23-megapixel rear camera, and fingerprint scanner conveniently placed on the side.

LG V10

In a year that sorely lacked groundbreaking smartphone innovations, the LG V10 definitely stood out. As much as we liked the V20’s aggressive features in our recent review, it’s no V10; the pioneering V-series flagship made better use of its rugged image and secondary LCD display.

Another feather in the V10’s cap is the use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 chipset. If you recall, the higher-end Snapdragon 810 processor that most flagship smartphones had last year was prone to overheating to the point of automatic shutdowns. LG evaded the issue by employing a more efficient hexa-core processor without compromising performance.

Apple iPhone 6s

Considering the minor cosmetic differences between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6s, last year’s model is still a fantastic deal. You don’t lose out on much; features like waterproofing and optical image stabilization for the camera aren’t must-haves unless you’re a travel photographer seeking a secondary pocket shooter.

Despite being a year old, the iPhone 6s’ A9 chipset is nothing to sneeze at; it can easily outpace every other phone on this list. You can also expect timely firmware updates for the next few years. And let’s not forget: You get to keep the 3.5mm audio jack!

Google Nexus 6P

With the release of Google’s new line of Pixel phones, the Nexus brand is effectively shelved, making the Nexus 6P a new-age collector’s item. What makes it so alluring is its continued support for the latest Android updates. You can enroll in Android’s beta program for version 7.1 of Nougat right now, and experience the best of the operating system before everyone else — except Pixel users, of course.

On top of that, the Nexus 6P has features other phones continue to envy, such as the front-facing stereo speakers, beautiful 5.7-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, and highly accurate fingerprint scanner. Its camera, despite having no image stabilization or fancy extra lens, can still hold its own against today’s best.

[irp posts=”7615″ name=”Best of 2016: Budget phones under $300″]

Features

Sony awakens new viewing experience with BRAVIA A8F OLED

Innovative technology with sophisticated design

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We first came to love Sony because of their advanced home entertainment system from the yesteryears. The Trinitron from the 70’s positioned Sony above any TV manufacturers long before the introduction of LCD and Plasma TVs. The latest advancement today is no other than OLED.

One of Sony’s best offering in the market today is the BRAVIA OLED A8F. This ain’t just another OLED-touting television you can also get from other manufacturers, because Sony — as a master in home entertainment — always puts their best foot forward.

Being an OLED TV, the A8F produces incredibly detailed images with deep blacks and rich colors. Viewers can appreciate the content on display at any position thanks to the panel’s exceptionally wide viewing angles, making watch parties more enjoyable.

Of course, Sony made sure that all of their latest display technologies are incorporated. The A8F has over eight million self-illuminated pixels capable of displaying 4K HDR picture powered by the X1 Extreme processor.

What does this mean? Let’s just say the term “best picture quality” is an understatement because seeing the TV in person is something you can’t justify with a few words. It even lets you see more details without the need to sit near the TV. Sit anywhere you like and you can still enjoy detailed images.

There’s also the Triluminos Display technology making sure you get the most accurate and faithful color reproduction. And lastly, you can view high dynamic range or HDR content in most formats including the industry standard HDR10, Hybrid Log-Gamma, and even Dolby Vision.

Furthermore, the A8F runs Android TV to let users effortlessly browse and enjoy content. With a wide array of apps to choose from the Google Play Store, you can easily jump to your favorite video streaming applications such as Netflix and YouTube.

You can even play Android games straight from the TV! Just be sure to have a controller available for the best TV gaming experience.

This TV is not just about the picture quality; it’s also about aesthetics. The A8F has a clean, minimalist design with a narrow frame that maximizes the viewing area.

Sony has a vision called “Soft Minimalism” that welcomes shapes and textures to deepen the viewing experience.

It also has an intelligent cable management feature that virtually hides the unsightly cables connected to your TV.

 

You must be asking: Where are the speakers of the A8F? With Acoustic Surface, the TV has two actuators behind the TV that delicately vibrate to create sound within the picture. This means the audio is coming out of the screen, not just from a single source or below the TV. It’s like listening to the actual conversation of the characters on screen.

A subwoofer is built into the rear of the TV to add depth and powerful bass for a more immersive viewing experience.

Apart from impressive hardware, the TV is also packed with extra audio features such as ClearAudio+ for fine-tuning and S-Force Front Surround Pro for a virtual 360-degree sound effect. Both of these work together to provide a more professional sounding and immersive surround sound without setting up external speakers.

The Sony BRAVIA OLED A8F is more than just a piece of technology to put in your home; it’s a TV that wows when it’s on and comfortably resides in its environment when turned off.

There’s a harmonious relationship between the TV and space it occupies like a piece of art. It triumphs in its simplicity, but it packs everything a modern TV should have.


This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Sony Philippines

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Features

Indie game developers in Asia get exclusive training from Google Play

Now is the time to make mobile games!

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huuuuge venue, hundreds of thousands of people, and everything gaming wherever you look.

This was the scenario during last week’s G-STAR 2018 at Busan, South Korea. Known to be one of the most important gatherings for game developers from around the world, Google Play took advantage of this event to showcase something new.

Instead of having additional big names thrown into the lineup of the four-day event, the company brought its promising platoon of independent game devs to share their works with everyone. More importantly, to share their stories of how they started and how Google has helped them get to where they are now.

Indie Games Accelerator program

Earlier this year, Google Play introduced the Indie Games Accelerator program that targets gaming startups based in India, the Philippines, Singapore, and other nearby countries. This is due to a rising revenue in mobile gaming in the APAC region with the Philippines and India being one of the fastest-growing players in Asia.

Google Play Director Purnima Kochikar explains that they want to keep their customers coming back and downloading their apps at the Play Store.

The goal is to help budding developers make high-quality games and reach their full potential. Google Play does this by conducting gaming bootcamps and providing them with all the tools and mentoring they need to create a successful title.

Aspiring developers may apply for the four-month program where they learn to build, scale, launch, and market the next generation of mobile games.

Game developers from the Philippines (middle) and Vietnam (right).

Apart from the tools and technology that Google is providing, developers accepted into the program will work with people already in the industry, be connected to its networks, and be given professional insights to help keep them walking on the right path.

Philippines’ Mochibits

Howard Go, an indie game developer from Mochibits, is the first Filipino to participate at a Google Play event at G-STAR. His game, Bounc.io – Balls vs Balls, lets players battle it out PvP style in real-time.

A former VP for a local telco, he quit the corporate life and went for what he really likes doing.

Howard Go, Mochibits

According to Go, the reason he took this path was that he wanted to do something that actually belonged to him. And by joining the Indie Games Accelerator program, he was able to produce a quality game that meets the standards of today’s big titles.

He was given tools that help detect in-game problems, avoid app crashes, and more. Go said the company also provides feedback and tells the developer what works and what doesn’t based on actual stats.

His game now has a rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 at the Google Play Store.

Mobile Gaming as the future of gaming?

There’s no denying that mobile gaming is on the rise.

Our smartphones are getting more and more powerful and we take them wherever we are — making them a perfect platform for gaming on the go. During the event, some of the biggest tournaments were not played on a console or PC, but on mobile phones. That’s something you didn’t see a few years back.

After a friendly debate with Go on whether mobile gaming is indeed the future of gaming, we’ve agreed that it’s not something that will die down soon. In fact, it will simply get bigger in the coming years.

If you’re an aspiring developer, now is the time to start making games. Google Play just made it a lot easier to get your ideas out there.

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Hands-On

Huawei Y9 (2019) hands-on: Things got bigger

It’s also more fashionable

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Like every year, cheaper devices come after the premium phones get announced. If the flagship phones are too much for your usage or maybe you’re just looking for a secondary phone, the midrange lineup is the way to go.

As a successor, the new Huawei Y9 (2019) brings in noteworthy upgrades. Although, Huawei seems to be pushing larger phones to the mass market because this year’s Y9 model comes with a bigger display and, of course, a vibrant colored body.

Is the Y9 (2019) any good? Let’s find out.

It has a large 6.5-inch Full HD+ display

Pretty much edge-to-edge with a notch

The notch houses two front cameras

And some sensors as well

The power and volume buttons are on the right

The power button has a special texture

The phone accepts a microSD and two nano-SIM cards

No need to choose!

It uses a micro-USB port for charging

At least there’s a headphone jack

The rear of the phone looks beautiful!

The exterior is plastic, though

There are two AI-enabled cameras on the back

Capable of portrait shots!

It’s bigger, better than before

From 5.93 inches, the latest Huawei Y9 model now has a bigger 6.5-inch display and a higher screen-to-body ratio. The resolution remains at Full HD+ and so does the battery at 4000mAh, but it’s now borderless, which means the infamous notch comes in. The cutout is relatively small though, and it houses two cameras for taking selfies. Also, the aspect ratio is now a bit taller making the phone easier to hold with one hand despite the bigger dimensions.

The phone’s body is mostly made out of polycarbonate, but it doesn’t feel cheap or plasticky. The interesting color of the phone’s back makes the Y9 (2019) look more interesting than other phones in its range. If you like flashy phones, the Y9 (2019) will not disappoint.

When it comes to performance, the Y9 (2019) will also satisfy even the most demanding of users. The phone is powered by Huawei’s latest midrange chip, the Kirin 710. Since the Kirin 710 is manufactured using the 12nm process, it’s more efficient and powerful. The unit I have has 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage, which is enough for what users need today.

Running Android 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.2 and GPU Turbo already available out of the box, the phone can handle graphics-intensive games with ease, especially those that are fully optimized with GPU Turbo like Asphalt 9. I also got high frame rates with Mobile Legends and PUBG: Mobile during my time with the phone.

Equipped with AI-powered cameras

The Y9 (2019) has four cameras: two at the back and two in front. Although, the additional sensors on each side of the phone are purely for depth sensing, so there’s not much to be excited about.

The 16-megapixel f/2.0 rear camera, which is accompanied by a 2-megapixel depth sensor, takes care of the main shooting duties, while the 13-megapixel f/1.8 front camera (also assisted by another 2-megapixel depth sensor) handles selfies. Like any other Huawei phone to come out lately, the Y9 (2019) has AI available to take better photos based on the detected scenario.

Check out these samples:

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Again, turning on AI doesn’t always help. There’s something about the AI cameras on Huawei midrange phones (even Honor) that makes photos appear more saturated and a bit softer, especially in low-light. Good thing it can always be turned off even after taking the shot.

Portrait shots seem pretty okay as well as the selfies. The beauty mode is not my cup of tea, so I have it set to the lowest setting most of the time.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for a device that’s relatively cheap and has everything a modern smartphone should have, the Y9 (2019) is an easy recommendation. Don’t expect it to fly, but it’s got more features than your typical midrange phone. Basically, this is Huawei’s answer to the Honor 8X. Both practically have the same specs, but Honor is selling theirs with a cheaper price tag.

The Huawei Y9 (2019) is now available across Asia and it retails for PhP 12,990 in the Philippines, MYR 899 in Malaysia, and CNY 1,499 in China. Aside from the Sapphire Blue color, it’s also available in Midnight Black and Aurora Purple.

Price-wise, the Y9 (2019) sits below another Huawei phone — the Nova 3i. They have matching specifications and features, so the Y9 (2019) is a good option if you want to save a few bucks yet still own a Huawei phone.

SEE ALSO: Huawei Mate 20 Review: The simpler sibling

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