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Here are the top stories on GadgetMatch this week.

1. ASUS ROG Phone 2: Mobile gaming beast 

This is the most specced out phone in the world today. ASUS held nothing back when they launched the ROG Phone 2.

Just look at these specs:  Snapdragon 855 Plus, 120Hz AMOLED Display, 12GB RAM and 512GB storage, 6,000mAh battery

All of that along with a host of other features specifically on performance improvement and cooling that keeps the phone in optimal condition promises to deliver the best mobile gaming experience to date.

There are even new and improved accessories like the Kunai gamepad that makes the phone look almost like a Nintendo Switch to take your gaming experience to an even higher level!

While it’s announced globally, it’s only currently available in China and comes in different variants. We’ll likely find out global pricing at IFA in September.

2. Huawei worked with North Korea on spying tech

Huawei continues to make headlines and not in the best way.

A Washington Post report says the company worked with North Korea on spying tech. Yikes.

Huawei and North Korea’s ties began when the company helped establish Koryo link — the country’s telecommunications provider. That’s all well and good, right? However, the report says the partnership didn’t end there.

A telling internal document suggests that Huawei agreed to create an algorithm that allows the government to intercept and monitor all calls made using Koryolink. This news doesn’t bode well for Huawei who has been the star of the US government’s crackdown on cybersecurity concerning China.

If you find this alarming, it’s prudent to note that the US was also in a cybersecurity mess not too long ago.

Back in 2013, then NSA analyst Edward Snowden leaked classified information revealing that the US government had also been spying on its citizens. They used a program called PRISM that collected user data from companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple.

Bottomline: Cyber Security is and will continue to be a hot topic but, as I mentioned in a previous article, it shouldn’t be Huawei’s burden to carry alone.

3. “iPhone 11” details starting to link

We’re getting more details on the iPhone 11 as its launch approaches.

A report by 9to5Mac reveals we could be saying goodbye to 3D touch. Taking its place is a new taptic engine that has the codename “leap haptics.” It’s unclear what this is capable of but surely we’ll find out more soon.

Another new thing is the front-facing camera is getting an upgrade that will allow it to record slow-mo videos in 120 FPS. There’s also the expected new chip which will likely called the A13.

Previously we’ve seen leaks about the upcoming iPhone’s triple rear cameras. One of which will be a wide angle lens. Lastly, the report says Apple will stick to a lightning port instead of shifting to USB-C.

4. Honor 9X series launches in China 

Honor just launched a new midrange series — the Honor 9X.

The Honor 9X and Honor 9X pro will both be powered by the Kirin 810 processor. It has a pop-up camera giving way to the 6.59-inch All View display.

The star of the phone though is its 48MP main camera that comes with a Night Vision feature. The main camera is flanked by a 2MP depth sensor and an 8MP wide angle camera.

All these features will be supported by a 4000mAh battery.

The Honor 9X will come in the configurations: 4GB RAM + 64GB storage, 6GB RAM + 64GB storage, and 6GB RAM + 128GB storage.

Meanwhile, the Honor 9X Pro will come in these configurations: 8GB RAM + 128GB storage, 8GB + 256GB storage

The phones are currently only available in China but we have confirmation that they will also hit global markets soon.

5. Starbucks wants to send your coffee straight to your door

No need to line up for coffee anymore as Starbucks is partnering with app delivery services that will send your coffee right where you are.

In the US, Starbucks is expanding to a nationwide delivery via Uber eats. Previously, the service was only available in 11 cities including New York, LA, Chicago and a few more.

In Southeast Asia, Starbucks is already available via delivery through GrabFood. Singapore and Malaysia previously had this service but this week the Philippines was also added to the list!


Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

Unboxing

Apple Watch Series 7 Unboxing: Starlight the new Silver or Gold?

The best smartwatch for fitness and fashion?

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The new Apple Watch Series 7 might look ever-so-similar to last year’s Watch Series 6, but it’s more than meets the eye.

There’s a bigger display, new watch faces, and of course, newer aluminum finishes as well — including ours in Starlight.

But is it the best time for you to buy or even upgrade your Apple Watch?

Here’s our Apple Watch Series 7 unboxing.

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Gaming

Nintendo Switch OLED Unboxing and Review

Should you upgrade?

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Michael Josh might have forgotten to pre-order the newest Nintendo Switch OLED, but that doesn’t stop him from lining up to the nearest Nintendo Store in New York.

After hours of waiting and shopping spree, he finally ordered not one, but two on the line!

Other than the classic red and blue Switch, there’s also a new white version available.

But should you upgrade? Or do you just need to keep your existing Nintendo Switch for now?

Head over to our Nintendo Switch OLED Unboxing and Review now!

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Camera Shootouts

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs vivo X70 Pro+: Camera shootout

The Chinese company’s finest smartphone goes head-to-head with the South Korean giant’s best.

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Huawei with Leica, OnePlus with Hasselblad. Like many brands that have come before, vivo recently partnered with lens manufacturer Zeiss in an effort to level up its reputation as a bonafide smartphone camera champ.

We’ve always been cynical of these co-branding partnerships as being nothing more than a license to plaster a camera company’s logo on smartphones. Although, our experience made us a believer.

Before we do a deep dive on its cameras, let’s discuss the partnership first.

Vivo x Zeiss: What is it all about?

Zeiss claims one of the areas they partnered in has to do with Zeiss T* coating. This time around, all of the X70 Pro+’s cameras have this coating and Zeiss says it has to customize a recipe for each one, so it’s optimized for each lens.

The coating helps reduce the glare, ghosting, and imaging artifacts. Take a look at this example shot at the Barclays Center.

Left: iPhone 13 Pro Max (Normal coating), Right: vivo X70 Pro+ (Zeiss T* coating)

See how the X70 Pro+’s camera managed all that glare.

Cameras

Now, let’s talk cameras and take a look at some samples.

First, the X70 Pro+ has four cameras: a 50-megapixel wide camera, a 48-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with a 114-degree field of view (and with gimbal stabilization), a 12-megapixel telephoto camera with optical zoom, and an additional periscope camera with 5x optical zoom.

Regular 1x shots

Ultra-wide-angle shot

2x zoom

Using the periscope

Macro

Taking selfies on its 32-megapixel selfie shooter

Mirrored

Performing against the Galaxy S21 Ultra

This is probably what you’ve been waiting for: a comparison of the vivo X70 Pro+ against the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Without further ado, let’s jump ahead. For easier comparison, all photos on the left were taken using the vivo X70 Pro+ while the photos on the right were shots from the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

These photos were shot during the day with the sun out, and the phones do well as expected.

Even in tricky situations such as against the light shots, where the HDR kicks in.

It’s the same on a gloomier day.

Low light is where we’ll see the most dramatic of differences, but first, let’s go indoors.

Admittedly, this wasn’t the most photogenic cocktail but the X70 Pro+ produced the most post-worthy shot.

And we like its photo best in this shot of the bar’s interior.

Next, dusk — right before the lovely blue hour.

This shot taken at Transmitter Park in Brooklyn could go either way. The Galaxy S21 Ultra’s photo is the brightest while the X70 Pro+ tones it down a little — keeping it bright but also keeping it as close to reality as possible.

Now, let’s add a human subject. The problem here is the X70 Pro+’s photo is too bright, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s is not very sharp.

Low-light battle

That evening, we also stumbled on a very, very dimly lit bar. Think: heavily dark room with little to no lights.

Truly, the X70 Pro+ is a low-light master. Chay looked stunning and the room looked bright — something you couldn’t even see even with your naked eye. (Because the room is dark, remember?)

The Galaxy S21 Ultra managed to capture all the colors too, but at cost of noise. And when a face is involved — it’s not very flattering.

Although, personally, we wouldn’t post the shot taken using the X70 Pro+. It’s so good, it kind of takes away from the point of the photo.

That said, this is such a great example of how good of a low-light shooter this phone is.

Last shot at this bar without a human subject. The drink was a Piña Colada smoothie and it was white. Notice how the X70 Pro+ captured the condensation on the glass.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s shot was color accurate, but if you’ll zoom in to the upper right corner, you can see how noisy the S21 Ultra’s shot actually is.

You good? Crazy ‘no?

While comparing, here’s one last thing we want to show you. Thanks to its T star coating, notice these two shots taken in two different subway stations. Notice how the fluorescent lights aren’t as blown out on the X70 Pro+’s photos.

X70 Pro+ vs Galaxy S21 Ultra

Cameras aside, the X70 Pro+ directly goes after the Galaxy S21 Ultra. On paper, it’s got a resume that can go head-to-head with Samsung’s best.

S21 Ultra 

X70 Pro+

Processor

SD888

SD888+

RAM

12GB/16GB

12GB

Storage

128-512GB

256GB-512GB

Display

6.8 / AMOLED / 120Hz

6.8 / AMOLED / 120Hz

Battery

5,000 mAh

4,500 mAh

If you look at this chart, you’ll see they’re pretty similar. The X70 Pro+ is at a slight advantage with its newer 888 Plus processor, which was launched last June way after the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s release. While the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a bigger battery.

They both offer a complement of cameras that, as you saw in the comparison, are competitive with one another. But the Periscope Camera on the Galaxy S21 Ultra can zoom further to 10x.

They both have things like IP68 water and dust resistance, and an under-display fingerprint scanner — both of which are fast and snappy.

Both have quick wired and wireless charging. The biggest leg up the Galaxy S21 Ultra has is support for the S-Pen, in case you want a phone that lets you use a stylus.

Is the vivo X70 Pro+ worth considering as your GadgetMatch?

Overall, vivo has built a solid challenger, delivering on the needs of hardcore users: a screen that’s great for content consumption be it watching movies or games; cameras that shoot well, especially in low light; and batteries that last longer and charge fast.

And in a world without Huawei — still suffering from the Google ban — and LG, which closed down its mobile phone business this year, vivo is the only other manufacturer that’s made a phone that can legitimately rival the best from Samsung.

Undoubtedly, the X70 Pro+ is one of the best Android phones you can buy today. Period. And for that, the phone deserves the GadgetMatch seal of approval.

For the full vivo X70 Pro+ review, watch our video on YouTube:

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