Smartphones

ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe unboxing

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It may be late to the market, but the ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe is finally starting to trickle out, with Asia being the next stop for the Taiwanese manufacturer’s most premium — and most expensive — smartphone yet.

ASUS certainly took its sweet time releasing this one, and it shows: The Deluxe is luxe from the inside out and beyond the hardware. Its box alone is likely to elicit “oohs” before it’s even opened, enough to give the impression that what’s inside is valuable. (To be perfectly clear, it is; the $700 5.7-inch Deluxe costs as much as an iPhone 7 Plus or a Pixel XL.)


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Our 5.7-inch Deluxe in gold came in this sturdy navy blue box. The box features a magnetic flap that keeps it closed and holds the package together.

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The inside of the box reveals a fancy interior (accentuated by ASUS’ concentric-circle detailing, of course); it is broken up into compartments with the unit up top, and the accessories and documentation stored underneath. There’s a pull-out tab for the hidden compartment.

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The bundled charger (and Type-C cable) outputs at up to 9 volts and supports fast charging. We’ll reserve our judgment for the review, but so far we’ve been able to consistently get back to a full charge in a little over an hour.

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The white-and-silver wired earphones are housed in a plastic casing. It comes with three sets of additional earbud attachments, so you’re more likely to find one that fits snug in your ear. We like them. A lot. Apart from the phone (duh!), they’re the highlight of this unboxing. We haven’t tested them thoroughly yet so we can’t be sure of their quality. Check back in the coming days.

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The branded SIM eject tool is the same one you’ll find bundled with other ZenFone models released this year.

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First impressions

By now, you must be wondering: “So, what about the handset?” Well, there’s certainly a lot to like about the the ZenFone 3 Deluxe. It’s lightning fast — absolutely the most powerful and responsive ZenFone we’ve used thus far, bar none; the AMOLED display is lovely and incredibly crisp; and the cameras take vibrant, detailed images.

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Everything seems to be in order here. But, as you know, some phones — especially the most expensive ones — deserve a deeper dive than others. And we’ll be sure to take that plunge in the days to come. By then, we’ll be sure to arrive at a definitive conclusion as to whether or not this phone is worth the wait and high price of admission.

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Features

6 best smartphones of 2019 (so far)

H1 2019 Edition

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We’re about to hit the half-way mark of 2019, and with most major smartphone launches out of the way, it’s time to pick the best models so far.

After numerous new products around the globe, it’s impossible to cover everything and provide a top-to-bottom ranking. With this in mind, these are the top smartphones we actually tested and believe are front-runners till the end of the year.


In no particular order, here they are:

Xiaomi Mi 9

Whenever a new Mi flagship comes out, people’s heads turn. The Mi 9 is this year’s first “flagship killer,” owning the specs and attractive price tag that made the more premium brands rethink their marketing strategies. Despite being one of the earliest to release this year, its price-to-performance ratio is still one to beat.

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Even though the Galaxy S10+ borrows several key features from the past generation, it does so with grace. By combining the best of the best, we have a flagship smartphone that’s more refined inside and out compared to the other entries on this list. It may not be groundbreaking, but Samsung nailed what we want in a high-end device.

Huawei P30 Pro

Controversies and trade ban aside, the P30 Pro set the highest bar for smartphone photography this year. Its zooming capabilities are unreal, and when combined with the advanced image processing and incredible battery life, this is practically a standalone camera replacement. Let’s just hope the second half of the year is nicer to Huawei.

OPPO Reno 10x Zoom

OPPO made it clear that they’re serious about the premium segment when it unveiled the Find X last year. The Reno follows up on that ambition with an impressive set of rear cameras and one of the most unusual selfie shooters we’ve ever seen. It owns some of the best internal hardware, as well, making this a lot more well-rounded than you’d expect.

Google Pixel 3a

Months of leaks and rumors eventually blossomed into the lower-end sibling of the much-loved Pixel 3. Google’s Pixel 3a makes a few compromises here and there, yet retains the features we truly want, such as the unmatched single rear camera and always up-to-date software — all in a package that costs only US$ 399.

OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus may have veered away from its affordable pricing strategy, but the OnePlus 7 Pro justifies the price hike with possibly the best smartphone screen in the market, along with a gorgeous design and unrivaled specifications. This gadget most definitely does not settle.

Honorable Mention: Redmi K20 Pro

We’re currently in the process of reviewing this device, but from what we can tell so far, this is indeed a winner. As the spiritual successor to last year’s smash hit, the Pocophone F1, the Redmi K20 Pro looks to become 2019’s one true flagship killer. It’s got everything, from the sharp looks and top-shelf specs, to the high-tech cameras and lovely price.

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News

Some Huawei phones are showing unwanted ads on lock screens

A way for Huawei to earn money?

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Huawei P30 Lite | GadgetMatch

While Huawei continues to find ways to fight off the trade ban implemented by the US, a number of Huawei phone owners are expressing their dismay over sudden ads on their lock screens. Huawei doesn’t need more negative publicity right now, but the company decided to push unwanted ads without users’ permission.

Initially reported by Android Police, users in several countries have noticed an ad for Booking.com on the lock screen of their Huawei phones. Surprisingly, some of the devices affected include the flagship models like the Huawei P30 Pro, P20, P20 Lite, P20 Pro, Mate 20 Pro, and Honor 10. Other models are also presumably affected. [Editor’s note: I noticed this on my Mate 20 X, as well.]


Huawei users now have a Reddit thread to talk about this fiasco, and Twitter reports are coming in. Here some of the tweets showing the reported lock screen images:

It seems like the ads are appearing for device owners who are using the preinstalled landscape background wallpapers. The ads are showing up in certain countries in Europe and South Africa for now.

Huawei phones have a “Magazine unlock” feature that shows a series of curated wallpapers based on the user’s preference. This can be turned off and that should get rid of the advertising. Needless to say, this could be Huawei’s move to earn extra ad cash.

SEE ALSO: Huawei on getting to top spot: ‘This process may take longer’

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Deals

Pocophone F1’s cheaper price makes it an even better flagship-specced phone

A 2018 flagship for the price of a midrange phone

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Pocophone F1 | GadgetMatch

While we anticipate the arrival of the Redmi K20 Pro or Mi 9T Pro, the former affordable flagship model of Xiaomi gets a new discounted price. The Pocophone F1 already had its retail price slashed earlier this year making this price cut a sign that a new model is coming.

If you’re in the market looking for a new flagship-specced phone, be sure to check out the Pocophone F1. The 6GB/64GB variant is now priced at just PhP 13,990, which is a thousand pesos off from its former retail price and PhP 4,000 cheaper compared to its launch price.


Image credit: Xiaomi Philippines

The discounted Pocophone F1 is listed on LazMall through Lazada Philippines and it’s eligible for free shipping anywhere in the country. It’s available in two colors: Blue and Red.

The phone was first released in August 2018 as Xiaomi’s breakthrough phone that offers incredible specs for a fraction of the price of premium offerings. Check out our review of the Pocophone F1 to know more about the device:

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Mi 9T is basically the Redmi K20 for the European market

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