Hands-On

Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus unboxing and hands-on

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Another year, another iPhone release. This year, as has been the case the past two years, we’re getting two models: the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

They’re basically two variants of the same phone — one bigger and more unwieldy than the other — except the Plus model is equipped with two rear cameras instead of one, and has upgraded software and hardware to showcase its new capabilities. The size difference and dual-lens system aside, both new iPhones share the same DNA across color and storage options.

The standard box isn’t too different, with the exception of the jet-black iPhone, which comes in a swanky, color-coordinated box. Inside the retail packaging, you’ll find the iPhone itself; Apple’s documentation just beneath the phone; a pair of Lightning earbuds but minus a case; a sync cable; a wall adapter; and a new adapter for connecting third-party earphones and headphones — it’s all pretty much par for the course.

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And, yes, the headphone jack is hitting the road in a bid to move the industry forward to wireless technologies. AirPods be (possibly) damned. According to Apple, the Lightning port was always meant for something more. Maybe now Apple can show us what it can do with the proprietary port. And let’s face it: Headphone wires, however colorful and thin and seemingly unobtrusive, are the devil, and we can live without them.

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Another thing we can all agree on: Those unsightly antenna bands on the iPhone 6/6s needed to go. For the most part, Apple has done a solid enough job of obscuring them this year, particularly on the black iPhones; it’s virtually impossible to pinpoint where they are on the jet-black model without taking a closer look.

And while we’re on the subject of Apple’s decision to go back to black, we don’t recommend you buy into the hype at all. It looks great, sure, but it also picks up fingerprints and scuffs easily. If the temptation is too great, then at least pair it with some decent protection.

What else is new?

The home button is touch-sensitive now, though we really should stop calling it a button. Technically, it’s a glass surface with a sophisticated array of sensors and vibration motors underneath. Apple says the technologies built into the hardware should simulate the experience of pressing a real button. While we agree to a certain extent, we do miss the mechanical click of the old button. Some will appreciate the switch, some won’t, and some will hate it.

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Another thing that’s changed about the iPhone is that its less prone to liquid damage. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are now officially dust- and water-resistant, though we still wouldn’t recommend getting one wet. In other words, don’t take it for a swim on purpose.

The displays, though just as big, have improved as well, now better at rendering colors. The new stereo speakers — one at the bottom of the phone, the other built into the earpiece — are noticeably louder and fuller-sounding in the treble frequencies.

The rear and front cameras of the iPhone 7 have been improved as well, with the latter getting a faster f/1.8 lens and image stabilization for sharper images in low light. The FaceTime camera has been bumped up to 7 megapixels from 5.

The biggest breakthrough, however, is found on the back of the Plus version. It adds another 12-megapixel telephoto camera with a f/2.8 56mm telephoto lens capable of real 2x zoom with just the tap of a button. An upcoming software update promises bokeh effects and shots with incredible depth of field.

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We’ll be posting an in-depth look at the iPhone 7 Plus’ rear cameras shortly, so do check back with us then for our analysis.

First impressions

Speed has never been an issue for new iPhones, and this year, it’s no different; these phones are relentlessly fast, maybe faster than the iPad Pro models. But then again, we’ll probably find ourselves saying the same thing next year when the new ones are out, with better internals than any other phone Apple has ever shipped.

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The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are also said to be more power-efficient, though we haven’t put one through its paces yet. We’ll have more to say about battery life in our review, so do stick around for that.

The pressure is on Apple to deliver this year, and with the iPhone 7, it has; they may not look like it, but the new phones are much improved across the board compared to what came before. They’re still fantastic phones, two of the best we’ve used all year.

But they’re also a bet on a future with few guarantees. Can I keep the jet-black iPhone in pristine condition? (Dollars to donuts, you can’t.) Will wireless headphones be cheaper and sound better two years from now? Is the forthcoming camera update going to be as good as Apple says?

Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus start at $649 and $769, respectively. Both are now available online and in stores.

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Features

11 most notable things about the Huawei MatePad 11

A quick list for you!

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It’s always a little tricky trying to find a spot for a tablet in your life especially if you’re not exactly the artsy, doodling type. But time and time again, Huawei makes devices that make you really want one. This is the case with the Huawei MatePad 11. 

If you’re already considering one, we put together a quick list that just might make you click checkout on your cart.

Gorgeous display

One of the primary reasons for getting a tablet is the larger display — at least one that’s larger than your smartphone but still more mobile than a laptop. But what good is a larger display if it doesn’t perform well? That’s not the case with the MatePad 11. This thing is packing.

You’re getting a 10.95-inch display with an 86 percent screen-to-body ratio. That display also has a 120Hz refresh rate for a buttery smooth experience. Not to mention the DCI-P3 colour gamut for accurate colors. The 8MP front-facing camera is situated at the bezel so you get an uninterrupted screen experience.

Perfect for reading

The Huawei MatePad 11’s display is also easy on the eyes. It’s certified by TUV Rheinland for low blue light. This means it’s still friendly to your eyes even during extended sessions with the device.

That extended session can mean going through the collection you’ll find on the pre-installed Huawei Books. Naturally, you can also install whatever reading app you fancy.

Fantastic for watching

Noze of WAYB on Street Woman Fighter 😍

Speaking of apps, you’ll find plenty of streaming ones you can enjoy on the MatePad 11. We’ve been on Viu quite a lot watching episodes of Slam Dunk and this new Dance variety show Street Woman Fighter — our Managing Editor is especially rooting for Noze of WAYB.

M-Pencil is included 

You know how you have to buy the stylus separately for most other tablets? Not the case with the MatePad 11. The M Pencil (2nd gen) is included in the packaging. It’s a handy tool for many things, even if you’re not art-inclined.

The M-Pencil (2nd Gen) sits magnetically on this part of the MatePad 11

We’ve used this for signing documents, precise skimming of videos we need to preview, and many more tasks. The 2ms low latency makes for a really good writing experience.

And there’s sufficient app support 

But of course, if you are on the artsy side, there’s no shortage of apps that you can use this with. When you boot the device with the clean-looking HarmonyOS 2.0, there’s a folder with suggested apps you can install made especially for taking advantage of the M Pencil (2nd gen).

But if the suggested apps aren’t to your liking, there are a bunch more that you can look for and download on the Huawei App Gallery and Petal Search. Want quick access to good design work? Get Canva. Need something reliable for note-taking? Download Nebo and jot down things to your heart’s desire!

The Smart Magnetic Keyboard is better than we expected

What surprised us the most is perhaps how you can really get things done on the MatePad 11. This is especially true when used in conjunction with the Smart Magnetic Keyboard.

Despite its tiny look, it’s a full-sized keyboard with a decent amount of travel for a satisfying typing experience. Whether you’re writing a lengthy email or composing a rant tweet that you probably shouldn’t post, this tablet-keyboard combo is made for typing productively.

This one is sold separately, but it’s worth the addition! Oh and more thing, tapping the Shift button will automatically project your Huawei phone’s screen on the tablet — a feature will dive more into shortly.

Huawei Share is convenient 

Are you the type who sends links and files to your own chat box so you can access it on your other devices? Huawei has made it so much simpler in their family of devices with Huawei Share.

Just pick the file or photo you want to share, and it’ll instantly detect the other Huawei device in the vicinity. Convenient.

Works great with your Huawei phone

If you wanna take that connection a little bit further, you can do so. Just like how it works on laptops, you can make it so that your phone’s screen is visible on the MatePad 11.

When this feature is enabled, you can control your phone without physically lifting it. Easier and faster access for messaging or if you wanna swipe on dating apps in between work tasks.

Multi-window is helpful

That floating window works not just when you connect your phone. It also works on certain apps. This way, you can easily reference other apps you might need for whatever you’re working on.

No need to leave the main app you’re working on just to take a quick glance at what’s happening on another app. This is a time-saver.

Floating apps is a godsend 

When those floating apps are inactive, they sit in the right-hand side of the screen. The most recent app you used for multi-window is the icon that will show up on top. But the rest will be right there for easy access.

This is great for toggling between multiple messaging apps. So whether you’re coordinating with your team on Slack or exchanging messages on Telegram, it’s quick and easy to do so without being completely distracted from what you’re working on.

It’s a great addition to your Huawei life 

The MatePad 11 is a big part of Huawei’s 1+8+N strategy where you can build your Huawei life starting with one of their smartphones. This extends to the secondary devices and accessories like the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro and Freebuds Pro. If you add the MatePad 11 to that equation, it makes for a seamlessly connected set of devices that’ll elevate your quality of life.

Price and availability

The Huawei MatePad 11 retails for PhP 26,999. If you purchase now, you’ll get a Dark Grey Cover (PhP 999) for free.

You can get the device on the Huawei Online Store or the official Huawei Store on Lazada and Shopee.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

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Features

Neo QLED TV: Samsung bringing the best of all worlds

A TV that does it all. No compromises.

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The blue pill or the red pill? It’s a question that’s circulated in the Internet’s meme culture but it was born out of The Matrix film franchise. There’s a deeper explanation on the two choices but we’re not gonna get into that.

We’re here because when buying a TV, the choices previously were a display with a brighter image or a display with deeper blacks. Well, Samsung says with the Neo QLED TV. You don’t have to choose.

Samsung Neo QLED

The Samsung Neo QLED TV is easily one of the best TVs you can buy today. The company has made strides in their display tech, picture quality processing, gaming, and so much more.

It’s a TV that caters to all kinds of needs. Whether you’re a TV or cinema buff, a gamer, or someone who likes to work on a humongous screen — The Neo QLED TV is packed with features to address all of these.

We have a lot to get through so let’s dive right in.

Bright and dark

With the introduction of Neo QLED tech, the company has also improved in the deeper blacks department.  Samsung’s QLED tech has always been about providing bright and vivid picture quality without the risk of burn-in. With the introduction of Neo QLED tech, the company has also improved in the deeper blacks department.

Samsung Neo QLED

We had a whole explanation before about how the QLED thing works, but in a nutshell these are small LED lights. Great, right? But what’s different is that those Quantum LEDs are now even smaller with the new Quantum Mini LED which offer a more precise dimming control. That leads to the perfect blend of bright images and sharp, dark blacks.

You only really have to tweak your picture quality settings once and you won’t feel the need to touch it again. Whether you’re relaxing in the middle of the day or enjoying a movie at night, the image you’re gonna get is quite a sight to behold.

Samsung Neo QLED

The Neo QLED TV also stands out in a bright room not only for its brightness and picture quality but also for its anti-glare coating. You can put the TV right next to a window and you’ll still see clear and crisp images.

Sounds about right

Naturally, you still have Samsung’s upscaling tech which is even better than ever. Making sure you’re getting as close to 4K as possible for non-4K source content. If you wanna take things further the Neo QLED is also available in 8K with the same upscaling tech.

The viewing experience isn’t complete without sound to accompany it. The Neo QLED TV employs what it calls a SpaceFit Sound.

The TV is equipped with sensors to determine its place in whatever room you decide to place it in. It then analyzes the surroundings and tunes the sound to one that best suits the space. It also has Object Tracking Sound or OTS. The Neo QLED has upfiring, sidefiring, and downfiring output vs conventional TVs which only have two speakers.

Sound doesn’t get any smarter than that. Or does it?

The TVs speakers are fine on their own. But you can elevate that experience with a Samsung sound bar. Why Samsung? Well, more than the punchier bass the TV and the soundbar will work together to deliver an even better sound — this is called Q-Symphony. It’s like magic for your ears and it works in tandem with OTS and Space-Fit for that room-filling sound.

We’ve had the pleasure of being exposed to this and it’s honestly the best kind of cinematic experience you can get seeing as we still have little to no access to actual cinemas due to the pandemic. It’s the kind of assault to your senses that you’ll never get enough of.

Gaming and more

Now this is where it gets really fun. The Samsung Neo QLED TV is ready for the best gaming consoles today. Depending on the size and model you opt to get, you’ll have anywhere between one to four HDMI 2.1 ports. That means support for 4K, 60hz and 4K, 120Hz smooth gaming.

This one that we’ve used in particular was consistently giving us 4K, 60Hz. Only because we don’t really own a game that gets up to 120Hz. PlayStation 5 upgraded titles like Ghost of Tsushima look extra epic. Saving your island from invaders has never looked so good and so satisfying.

Samsung Neo QLED

But the great thing about it is the expanded Game Mode settings. If you’re a PC gamer, you’ll likely get more out of this.

Just press and hold the play-pause button while in Game Mode to pull up the Game Bar. Here your Neo QLED TV can shift from the standard 16:9 aspect ratio to either a 21:9 or 32:9 aspect ratio for a wider field of view.

Samsung Neo QLED

This is perfect for shooter games that require you to be attentive to your surroundings. Speaking of shooter games, the Auto Low Latency Mode or ALLM is also a boon. Combined with Motion Xcelerator Turbo+, you’ll maneuver the stage unlike any other with no delay from your input to the screen. Now all you really have to work on is your aim.

Going back to the remote real quick. This one’s not exactly gaming related but is worth pointing out. Layout-wise, Samsung’s remote is already one of our favorites. They take it up a notch by providing Neo QLED TVs with solar powered ones saving what they say is about 99 million of AAA batteries over the course of seven years.

Samsung Neo QLED

You also get a cool feature where you can display screens from different sources. For instance, you can take a quick break from your adventures in Midgar on Final Fantasy VII Remake to watch TWICE’s “Alcohol Free” music video. It’s a neat feature that works on all your input sources. Which means you can pull up different things and enjoy your TV the way you want.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Samsung Neo QLED TV is literally for everyone. It gives you more options so you can enjoy the content you like the way you want to enjoy them Blue pill or red pill? No need to choose. With the Neo QLED TV, you get the best of all worlds.

The Samsung Neo QLED TV is available now and starts at PhP 109,999.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Samsung Philippines.

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Hands-On

From slate to foldable: What is it like to switch to the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G?

Taking a leap outside of my comfort zone with slate and slab phones

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Galaxy Z Flip3

My affair with foldable phones has been similar to my dating life. I’m always cynical and skeptical at the premise of something promising. When you’ve lived life knowing a kind of love that only crashes and burns, you revel in the comfort of that familiar feeling.

That’s similar to how I felt when I saw the first generation of the Galaxy Z Flip. I lashed and criticized how impractical foldable phones would be — despite knowing deep down I’m attracted to it. A projection, you might say, because I haven’t faced the fact that sometimes it’s okay to like something that seems a little different from what you’ve known.

But that was a few years ago. My perspective changed when I realized how enchanting foldable phones were. And using the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G now was definitely a game-changer. And I just couldn’t let it go.

So gorgeous, it actually hurts

It was a fine evening back in February 2020 at Grand Hyatt Manila when I first saw the Galaxy Z Flip showcased together with the S20 series. It felt like ‘right phone, wrong time’. We simply weren’t aligned. What with the exorbitant price tag and my unwelcoming remark towards the foldable phone.

18 months later, the flip phone and I met again — but better versions of ourselves. With new iterations and better appreciation of the form factor, it was like a divinely orchestrated reunion. This time, I think it was right.

It’s okay to like something that seems a little different from what you’ve known.

Seeing the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G in luscious cream color, equipped with the latest specifications and sporting necessary features that I need, as it sleekly opens tugs a string in my heart; I’ve never wanted something like this in my life. Heart racing from excitement. Nervously grasping how beautiful it was. Seemingly magnetic that I want to grab it with my hands.

And yet, I wonder. Is it another love at first sight? Am I diving in headfirst without knowing what red flags might occur down the line? I couldn’t care less. That’s what it means to take a leap outside of your comfort zone, right?

And all at once, you’re all I want

The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G has certainly been getting a lot of attention when it was launched during Unpacked 2021. The lower price tag and an even more beautiful iteration of its predecessors; I was lucky to get a preview of this charmer before the whole world saw it. Quietly, intimately. And from the moment I laid eyes on it, I knew I had to make it mine.

And that’s what happened when the flip phone launched and it landed into my arms the next day. I was disheveled, seemingly jumping out of glee. It’s here. It’s right here.

Galaxy Z Flip3

I caressed it, stunned at its marvelous sight. My eyes glimmered with enthusiasm as I flipped it open for the first time. Even though I’m unsure what hiccups I might encounter while using the phone, I decided it’s going to be my daily driver.

Switching from slate to foldable wasn’t something I expected I’ll be doing soon. Sure, I did try the Galaxy Z Fold2 and it somehow became a phone that I used to do my work remotely or for tuning in at Clubhouse. But I was still using the usual slab phones as my daily driver. So switching to the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G as a daily driver was a serious jump.

Galaxy Z Flip3

Isn’t it delicate?

When I shared the flip phone on my social media platforms, friends and acquaintances alike gasped in admiration, and posed a crucial query: Isn’t it delicate?

Indeed, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G felt fragile when you constantly flip the phone close and open. I remember walking around and taking it out of my pocket. Using it bare without a case, I held it tightly even when it’s closed and compact that it rests easily in my palm. I couldn’t be sure.

Galaxy Z Flip3

That’s when I realized how important it is to dress the phone with a case for a worry-free experience. Samsung introduced a bunch of cases to match different personalities, so you can always order one in case you’re worried about the Flip.

But then again, it’s unfair to treat it like a glass cannon. The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G packs so much power without forsaking its defenses. Its frame uses armor aluminum — the same strong material used on the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G — and a Gorilla Glass Victus for the glassy portions, an added protection against scratches and accidental drops.

Galaxy Z Flip3

Its screen panels are also strengthened. Flipping it close and open constantly won’t do harm and no, the screen and hinge won’t break apart. Although over time, the hinge started to loosen up compared to when I first used it. But, that’s expected for anything tight and with a hinge — they loosen up after constant usage. 😉

Galaxy Z Flip3

More importantly, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G has an IPX8 certification now — the highest rating for waterproofing. You can submerge it up to 1.5 meters underwater, for up to 30 minutes. Although, its dust protection is questionable since it doesn’t have any rating.

Nonetheless, I wasn’t afraid to use the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G for my day-to-day chores. The IPX8 rating gave me peace of mind that I can use the phone even if my hands were sweaty from working out, or when I’m in the shower.

Have I known you 20 seconds or 20 years?

Galaxy Z Flip3

When opened, it’s just like your average smartphone like the Galaxy S21. It makes so much more sense than using the Fold since the Flip still gives that familiar vertical slate when opened. Some curious cats asked, “How about the crease?”

Galaxy Z Flip3

I’d say, you won’t feel it if you’re scrolling from the bottom half of the phone. But if your finger scrolls in the middle, you’d definitely feel the crease and get annoyed with that uneven part.

The power button slash fingerprint scanner along with the volume rockers are placed a little bit higher than usual, though. So you might need to adjust to it.

But for the most part, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G lets you experience the best of both worlds: keeping that familiar slate affair without shying away from a new form factor.

High above the whole scene

Galaxy Z Flip3

What makes the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G interesting is the flexibility and versatility it offers. And how it makes everything convenient. When closed, I can adjust my music playback on the cover screen. And it comes with different widgets that you can customize, most of which are tools you’d normally use on your smartphone.

Galaxy Z Flip3

But being able to check the notifications as you would on your smartwatch, that felt really convenient. I can see from a glance who messaged me, and I can decide quickly if the person involved — or their concern which they sent as a message — is important enough for me to respond as soon as possible.

This helps me manage my time and prevent unnecessary scrolling on my phone. When you have a phone that’s too lovely to hold, it’s easy to get addicted and use it for hours.

Setting off, but not without my muse

The best part, for me, is utilizing Flex Mode. I had a marvelous time playing around with it and realized how it’s the little things that set this foldable apart.

For one, it’s easier taking calls with my colleagues or catching up with my partner — without the need for a phone stand since the Flip itself can prop as a tripod. I also had a wondrous time scrolling and checking updates from my favorite artists. And it kind of looks good when you play your music or watch videos while on Flex Mode.

Even my best friend had a wonderful time using the Flip and used it as a compact mirror when she needed to reapply her lipstick. She even likened how easy it is to carry and put inside her pocket and purse.

Above all, I could call the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G my muse especially for taking inspiration for my art and for helping me with my photographs. Its versatility adapts in any situation, helping me in capturing sceneries and even mastering the art of selfies. Whether it’s by Flex Mode or using it as your familiar slate.

Undoubtedly, it’s equipped with a flagship-level camera because, surprise, it’s still a flagship phone. Its cameras may not be as excellent as the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but it’s still enough to take Pinterest- and Instagram-worthy photos that you’d love to print some time.

Use my best colors for your portrait

Now that we’re on the topic: there are several ways you can maximize the Flip’s cameras. And that all depends on your shooting style and scenarios.

Most of the time, I use it like a regular smartphone. It captures nicely — perfect for my Instagram Stories and snaps to update my partner about my day.

It has the same functionalities as the S21 series, so you get to experience near-quality cameras, too.

Shooting in Flex Mode doesn’t have to be used for selfies alone. I use it to take low-angle shots for worm-eye views to make the subjects appear big and long — which can be useful for your travel photos if you’re a shorty who wants to look tall.

But Flex Mode has been perfect for recording my training which I send to my coach while we’re still not allowed to go back to the gym. And for what it’s worth, the Flip’s cameras can work for anyone — even if you’re going to use it for your TikTok jams.

Onto its Cover Display, you can shoot photos and videos even with its compact size — making it apt for those who want to shoot their vlogs and record videos while they walk. The only caveat, which Michael Josh has pointed out in his review, is how the output is limited to a square aspect ratio.

Nonetheless, it still solidifies the truth that anyone can use this foldable — only if your mind, heart, body, soul, and wallet are open for the experience.

I don’t want to look at anything else now that I saw you

Just when smartphones are getting unexciting, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G flipped things around. I’m no longer hesitant in trying new form factors, but more importantly, I’m in love with this foldable. I never want to let go.

Do I regret switching from slate to foldable? Not even a little bit, not even at all. Is it my GadgetMatch? Looks like it. Frankly, ’tis an experience I welcome in 2021 — and a moment to try something new. Sometimes, it’s okay to like what’s odd, eccentric, and unfamiliar.

You might have to sail through unchartered waters not knowing what awaits when you switch to a foldable, but the experience will be oh so worth it.

In any case, like the Galaxy Z Fold lineup, there’ll be a certain allure that you can only experience when you get your hands on a foldable phone. And if you spend time using it for quite a while. That je ne sais quoi is probably what made me fall in love.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 review: Foldable you can afford

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