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.
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.
Singapore’s first iPhone XS buyer goes all out
He went for the 512GB storage!
Whenever new iPhones launch, a familiar scene is people lining up in front of Apple Stores long before launch date. The same is true in Singapore where the iPhone XS and XS Max officially became available on Friday, September 21.
We visited the Apple Store in Orchard Road and caught up with the first person to cop the new iPhones. His name is Daniel and he went all out getting two units of gold iPhone XS Max with 512GB of storage. Watch our interview with him.
The same situation is true elsewhere in the world. In countries like the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, and more, lines formed as those who pre-ordered got ready to claim the new iPhones.
This is the first time that the two sizes of iPhones feature the same specs. In years past, there was always a plus model that had more features other than just having a bigger form factor. In 2018, the only difference is the screen size — 5.8 inches for the iPhone XS and 6.5 inches for the iPhone XS Max. Both phones are equipped with the new A12 Bionic processor. Apple says it’s their smallest and most powerful chip to date. Both also sport dual cameras.
The Apple Watch Series 4 also launched today. It’s a significant update to Apple’s primary wearable featuring medical advantages other than the usual improvements. As always, it still is a lifestyle gadget and comes with an array of available looks.
Apple iPhone XS unboxing: Beautiful gold color!
We have them early!
It’s now mid-September and if you’ve been following technology news, you’d know that means one thing: new iPhones from Apple. And if you’ve been following GadgetMatch closely the last few years, you’d expect us to be brewing content by now.
This year, we got them early. What we are unboxing the 5.8-inch model, dubbed the iPhone XS and the bigger variant, the iPhone XS Max. There’s also a more affordable 6.1-inch iPhone XR coming later in October.
The box has not changed much — it’s still the same minimalist white box with the image of the phone you’re getting. Inside are a packet with manuals and stickers, USB-A charging brick, Lightning cable, and a pair of Lightning EarPods (not AirPods, they just look alike).
It’s worth noting that the bundled charger is the regular adapter and cable from yesteryears, even if the new iPhones already support fast charging. To get fast charging on the iPhone XS and XS Max, you need to spend an additional US$ 75 for a Lightning to USB-C Cable and a 29W USB-C adapter.
Since omitting the 3.5mm headphone jack, these new iPhones are also the first ones to not include a headphone jack to Lightning dongle — an extra US$ 9 purchase if you ever need one.
Unlike previous years where you need to get the bigger model to have the best features iPhones have to offer, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are essentially the same phones — the latter just has a bigger display and battery capacity.
The iPhone XS and XS Max also come in a new beautiful gold color, something similar to our favorite iPhone 8 and 8 Plus color from last year — a subtle, non-tacky shade of gold. A slightly darker gold but shiny stainless steel band also highlights the edges of the phones. Button and port placements have not changed, and the notch housing Apple’s TrueDepth Camera technology lives on.
We have more iPhone content coming in the next few days so make sure to stay tuned for that. Our unboxing video is also coming where we unboxed a new case color as well. Subscribe to our YouTube channel if you haven’t yet.
Marvel’s Spider-Man, Iron Fist: Now Playing
All about action and some romcom!
The past few weeks have been crazy for the GadgetMatch team, like always. We’re still recovering from the announcements from IFA 2018 and the recent iPhone launch. Of course, to avoid burnouts, we take breaks and keep ourselves entertained. Here’s what’s now playing for GadgetMatch.
Games to play
Rodneil: There was so much hype surrounding this game and rightfully so, since Insomniac Games is dealing with one of the most loved superheroes of all time. They had to get plenty of things right and they more than delivered. Insomniac was able to capture the very essence of Spider-Man and translate it into a video game that will please both video game fans and Spidey fans who might want to try the game. It’s a lot of fun to play and you feel exactly like the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swinging across New York.
Movies to see
Bleach (Live Action)
Rodneil: Bleach — both the manga and the anime — was considered one of the top three in its genre during its run. The live action version tackles the Substitute Shinigami arc which is essentially the origin story of how protagonist Kurosaki Ichigo gets the powers of a soul reaper. If you’ve read the manga or saw the anime, you’ll know that this arc flows so seamlessly to the one that follows it that it almost feels like just a single arc. The live action version does a good job of creating some sort of finality in the movie that in case it never gets the green light for a sequel, you wouldn’t mind as much.
If this is your introduction to the Bleach lore, it doesn’t disappoint. For the most part, it’s a faithful adaptation and was translated admirably to a feature film. If you decide to watch the anime because of this, watch only until the end of the Arrancar arc and definitely skip the Bount arc (episodes 64-109). You’re welcome.
To all the boys I’ve loved before
MJ: To all the boys I’ve loved before is the show I’ve been dying to see ever since I heard it’s going to have its film adaptation on Netflix. It’s a feel-good movie that will make you remember what it feels like to have crushes, secret feelings, and writing letters — things that our teenage selves did back then.
MJ: What if you made a pact to your best friend that you can’t fall in love with his brother, even if he’s really, really charming (and hot)? Netflix’s Kissing Booth is about a girl falling in love with her best friend’s older brother and in a sudden turn of events, forced to choose between following their friendship’s set of rules or following her heart. It’s a movie about secrets, loyalty, and betrayal, but above all, it’s a romantic comedy to entertain you during your idle hours.
Set It Up
Chay: I’ve been in the mood for feel-good romcoms lately, and Netflix’s Set It Up did not disappoint. Like most romantic comedies, it’s predictable and cheesy, although it did come with a twist I didn’t really expect. I very much appreciate that both protagonists’ personal issues are realistic enough to be relatable to people my age.
TV shows to binge watch
Shingeki No Kyojin (Attack on Titan) Season 3
Rodneil: Attack on Titan was a well-received anime when it first came out and three seasons in, it hasn’t missed a beat. At first it was just about humans taking shelter inside a walled city for protection versus mindless, humongous, man-eating monsters, only to find out later on that the real monsters lie inside the walls lording over the people trying to survive. Season three is still ongoing and it looks like the theme is about uncovering the truth about the Titans.
MJ: Insatiable means impossible to satisfy, which is all about the main character, Patty Bladell, who was once fat and bullied for her appearance, and turned skinny to get revenge by winning pageants and getting a crown. But it doesn’t stop there. It takes a pretty dark turn when the title comes into play, as the show is also about vengeance, bad decisions, and what it means to be really beautiful. To critics, it’s an inconsistent show. But for the audience, we absolutely love it. It’s really, really, fun!
Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 2
Marvin: If you aren’t a fan of Iron Fist’s first season, the second one may change the way you look at the series. It’s less centered around Danny Rand, who many viewed to be the main problem of Season 1. Even though he’s the primary protagonist, his lessened screen time allows other (more interesting) characters to shine. Plus, the fight scenes are way more exciting this time — no longer a low point of an action-filled superhero series.
Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to
Momoland (All Songs on Spotify)
Rodneil: I have officially been consumed by this K-pop group. “Bboom Bboom” went viral this year and they followed it up with “Baam.” Both songs are lively and great so I decided to listen to the rest of their songs and I haven’t stopped since. My favorites are “Curious,” “Bingo Game,” “Hug Me,” and “Love Sick.”
“Sana Bumalik” by Sud
Rodneil: The song itself is just okay; it talks about that universal feeling of wanting someone back. To truly appreciate what Sud did here, you first have to watch the music video for their other song called “Sila.” That’s part one of the story they’re trying to tell. While the songs don’t exactly match the narrative of the videos, they do match the mood, and for fans who followed both videos, it’s exciting to see the cast return as we get to see how their story unfolds.
Cities/Places to visit
Marvin: Anilao, which is found along the west coast of Batangas in the Philippines, is best known for its incredible diving areas, but little do people realize that it’s a perfect spot for a relaxing getaway, as well. Situated on the tranquil side of the ocean and far away from big cities, its beaches are ideal for long walks and star gazing — not at all for surfing or other extreme water sports. But be warned: It’s a lot easier to find than it is to leave.
MJ: Sagada is the best place to visit when you’re on the verge of having a breakdown or you just want to take a break. It’s a quiet, laid-back town situated in the northern mountains of the Philippines. Surrounded by pine trees and fog enveloping the sky and the streets, this place will definitely give you a cozy retreat while wearing your favorite sweater, sipping hot coffee, and doing some soul searching.
Chay: My first time in Berlin wasn’t short of both unfortunate mishaps and fun stories to tell. It’s a city that doesn’t forget and whose most popular landmarks tell its history. It offers pockets of charming places here and there, efficient public transport, and good food. Admittedly I had way more doner kebab and Vietnamese food during my stay instead of German sausages.
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!
Vivo V11 (V11 Pro) review: Innovation continues to reign
A step up from its competitors
NBA 2K19: A complacent champion
Needs a legit challenger
Nokia 3.1 review: Back to Android One’s beginnings
Bringing an updated build to the entry-level
Amazon makes a grand announcement of new Alexa-enabled Echo devices
Huawei gives free power banks to Apple fans
Instagram now lets you send GIFs through direct messages
Singapore’s first iPhone XS buyer goes all out
GoPro HERO 7 goes official with plethora of video and imaging features
Best Budget Smartphones in the Philippines below P10,000
Best Midrange Smartphones in the Philippines from P10,000 to P20,000
Best Upper-Midrange Smartphones in the Philippines from P20,000 to P30,000
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