Features

9 smartphones from 2016 that still matter

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2017 has been an incredible year for smartphones. Bezels are getting smaller, cameras are breaking new grounds, and artificial intelligence is playing a bigger role. Don’t think for a second, however, that last year’s handsets are any less relevant.

Despite their age, the phones listed here are still solid choices for your next purchase. Some are a lot cheaper now, but be warned: They may also be more difficult to find now.

Here they are in no particular order:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

This was the first choice to come to mind when compiling this list. The iPhone 7 Plus is an excellent option to this day for two reasons: It looks identical to this year’s iPhone 8 Plus, and it’s much cheaper than the iPhone X. Updating to iOS 11 will also make it feel like a newer phone.

REVIEW: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

LG V20

LG V20

LG’s V20 symbolizes the end of an era; it’s the last flagship smartphone from a major brand to house a removable battery. But that isn’t the V20’s only claim to fame. It also delivers an excellent video and audio experience, as well as an underrated secondary screen for faster multitasking.

REVIEW: LG V20

Huawei Mate 9

As great as the Mate 10 series is, we must not forget how well-rounded the Mate 9 was. Even though the bezels aren’t up to today’s standards, the extra-large build feels lovely in one’s hand. Mix in the dual-camera setup and its revolutionary machine learning software, and you have a handset that keeps getting better.

REVIEW: Huawei Mate 9

Google Pixel

You don’t have to look any further than all the camera shootouts the Pixel won to see how great of a camera-phone it is. To this day, we still use the original Pixel for shoots and recording Facebook Live shows. And it’s got something the newer Pixel 2 doesn’t have: a 3.5mm audio port.

REVIEW: Google Pixel

ASUS ZenFone 3

Our one complaint about the ZenFone 3 when it first launched was its price. But now that it’s discounted, we’re looking at a great all-around phone. Its Snapdragon 625 processor and 4GB of memory are still the standard setup most midrange handsets follow today, and the build quality is as premium as ever.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone 3

Moto Z

Moto Z

At first glance, the Moto Z doesn’t stand out in this cutthroat list; however, its edge comes in the form of Moto Mods. Even the newer modular accessories work with the aging handset, making this an affordable yet powerful gateway to the world of feature-rich attachments.

REVIEW: Moto Z

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

It’s easy to forget how the Galaxy series once looked now that the Infinity Display of the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 are engraved in our minds. And yet, the Galaxy S7 Edge is still a beautifully shaped device with a conveniently placed front-mounted fingerprint scanner. The planned update to Android Oreo will raise its stock even higher.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

OnePlus 3T

If there was one smartphone that was a cut above the rest in 2016, it was the OnePlus 3T. As an improvement over the original OnePlus 3, the newer version had it all: a reliable camera, impeccable build quality, the fastest interface of its time, above average battery life, and a mouthwatering price for its specs.

REVIEW: OnePlus 3T 

Xiaomi Mi Max

It was tough choosing just one Xiaomi phone from their comprehensive 2016 roster — the Mi Mix and Redmi 4 Prime came to mind, as well — but the Mi Max won out for being their best multimedia option. The massive screen and generous battery capacity make this the go-to choice for movie watching and gaming on the go.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi Max

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy M20 hands-on: Give the users what they want

Awakening of the sleeping giant

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Samsung has been the smartphone market leader for half a decade now, and its flagship phones continue to be an inspiration for everyone. However, while the brand is dominating in developed markets, it has taken a massive beating in the developing ones.

Thanks to players like Xiaomi, the South Korean brand has consistently lost market share in countries like India. Samsung slowly prepared itself to change strategy by the end of last year and intends to go hard in 2019. It announced the new Galaxy M-series lineup of phones in the budget segment and the M10 and M20 are the first ones to roll off the shelf.

The M20 has been launched in India for INR 10,990 (US$ 154) and comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. The option with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage costs INR 12,990 (US$ 182). The phone goes up against the Redmi 6 Pro, Realme U1, and even the Mi A2.

To start with, Samsung has opted to go with a basic design, consisting of a plastic body that is curved at the edges and is pretty glossy. The phone is extremely comfortable to hold, and the build quality is top-notch. Even the buttons are very tactile and bezels are smaller.

On the front is a 6.3-inch TFT display with a Full HD resolution and small water-drop style notch on the top. This is the first Samsung phone to feature a notch, and the display quality is surprisingly good. The color production is vivid and satisfying, while the viewing angles are perfect. It is easily visible even under direct sunlight.

For authentication, a fingerprint scanner is located on the rear and it is fast enough. You also have the option of face unlock and it works quickly in well-lit conditions. It has dual-SIM support and there’s a separate slot for microSD card, as well.

Powering the phone is an octa-core Exynos 7904 processor, which is considered to be on par with the Snapdragon 636. It is a very power-efficient processor with more emphasis on the cameras. Day-to-day tasks are handled smoothly and games like PUBG are playable with low graphics.

It has a dual-camera setup on the rear, consisting of a 13-megapixel primary shooter and a 5-megapixel wide-angle sensor. The pictures clicked during daytime are decently saturated but lack sharpness. Even focus tends to get slow in low-light conditions. The wide-angle lens works best in bright surroundings only and is a very handy tool. For selfies, it has an 8-megapixel shooter with built-in beauty enhancements.

It ships with Samsung Experience 9.5 out of the box and is actually well optimized. There is barely any lag and the UI offers a plethora of customizations and features. The company announced that the Android Pie update will be landing soon. Lastly, it has a massive 5000mAh battery that’ll get you through two days of usage.

Xiaomi has been successful because it offers users a balanced product that suits everyone’s needs. With the M20, Samsung goes down the same road. While the recently announced A-series phones were for photography enthusiasts, the M20 is good enough for everything.

The M20 is no disruptor, but an indication that Samsung is gearing up. And as a generation-one product, it’s performing fairly well.

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Cameras

Fujifilm Instax SQ20 hands-on: How good is it?

Trying out the new Motion Mode on doggies!

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Fujifilm’s sequel to their first ever digital/analog hybrid is here and it’s looking better than ever. The Instax SQ20 is one classy-looking instant camera but what can it do? With a set of built-in filters and new features like the Motion Mode, it looks like a promising device.

I finally try it out, with help from some doggies, on our hands-on video.

The SQ20 retails for US$ 199 in the US, PhP 12,999 in the Philippines, and SG$ 299 in Singapore.

In case you’re having trouble viewing, watch HERE.

READ ALSO: Fujifilm Instax SQ10 review

READ ALSO: Prynt Pocket unboxing and review: A printer that prints videos?

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Features

DALLA DALLA, Crazy Rich Asians: Now Playing

A Valentine’s special!

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While we wait for the Galaxy S10 to launch and MWC 2019 to start, let’s take a moment to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

If you don’t have a date, don’t be grumpy. Sometimes, all you need is self-love and entertainment to keep you going. Have some fun alone time and enjoy what’s now playing at GadgetMatch!

Movies to see

Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Marvin: If you’re single and unhappy about it this month, catching a late showing of Dragon Ball Super: Broly may be the best way to release stress in the theater. It’s by far the best Dragon Ball movie yet with tireless action and gorgeous visuals, plus it’s surprisingly friendly to both old fans and those new to the franchise.

Crazy Rich Asians
MJ: Crazy Rich Asians is a film for those who are ready to take it to the next level. It’s about standing up to people who get in the way of your happiness, and choosing what’s best for the person you love. It’s a dash of romance with a sprinkle of comedy to keep you from crying in heart-wrenching scenes.

TV shows to binge watch

Kakegurui
Rodneil: The anime follows a transfer student who seemed sweet and normal at first, but has an insatiable thirst for gambling. It’s a relatively easy watch and you can follow along even if you’re doing something else.

Games to play

Kingdom Hearts III
Rodneil: There’s too much backstory heading into this game that it can get super confusing, especially if this is your first game in the franchise. The story is clunky at best but the game is a visual spectacle. Push the narrative to the side and just play it for the fireworks.

Resident Evil 2
Marvin: I was too afraid to finish Resident Evil 2 on my own as a kid, so I’m glad it’s been remade for my braver adult self. In line with Valentine’s Day, I’d say it’s a perfect game to play with a partner so that you have someone to hold your hand during the most intense zombie sightings. 💕

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Kahit Ayaw Mo Na by This Band
Rodneil: Only caught wind of this song recently and I haven’t been able to stop listening since. It talks about someone wanting to work it out with her/his partner. However, the partner seems unwilling. The music invites multiple listens and the way the words flow is ear-candy.

Shine by Pentagon
Rodneil: My obsession with girl group Twice has served as a gateway to other K-Pop tracks, and this is one of them. It’s simply an absolutely fun song to listen to. A great pick-me-up to get you started in the morning.

Can’t Help Falling In Love by Kina Grannis
MJ: Kina Grannis’ strings and acoustic guitar rendition of Elvis Presley’s classic love song makes you remember how love is a force you can’t resist. The emotion you’ll feel in this song is overwhelming — ranging from the bliss of being in love to confusion and even heartbreak.

DALLA DALLA by ITZY
Vincenz: The song’s unique and dynamic blend of sounds, from a hip-hop centric intro and bridge up to a contrasting, bright chorus, makes it a great and catchy debut song (their visuals are exceptional, too). Message of the song? It’s all about empowerment and self-love!

Gokigen Sayonara (A Happy Goodbye) by IZ*ONE
Vincenz: This song caught my ears with its catchy tune and lyrics, which doesn’t usually happen since most J-Pop releases sound so different. Its lively, electro-pop vibe opposes the song’s message about bidding farewell to someone you truly love, but it works.

Cities/Places to visit

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Boracay
Marvin: Now cleaner and more beautiful than ever, Boracay’s beach is the perfect weekend getaway once again. A lot of activities and shops are still unavailable, but if you simply want to soak in the sun and sea breeze, it would be a great time to go once the tourists leave post-Valentine’s.


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!

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