Smartphones

ASUS ZenFone 3 unboxing

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As many of you know, we’re only a few short weeks away from seeing ASUS’ signature smartphone series hit the streets in many parts of the world.

As of this month, it’s reportedly already available in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. Next up are Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines in August. A ZenFone 3 launch event is expected to take place in India sometime in September. Shipments could be headed to Europe, Japan, and the United States later in the year.

The standard ASUS ZenFone 3 comes in two variants: one, a 5.2-inch model with 3GB of RAM and a 2,650mAh battery; the other, a 5.5-incher with 4GB of RAM and a 3,000mAh battery.  Each variant is identifiable by a unique model number. But regardless of specifications, the outward appearance has been completely redesigned from the ground up — in lieu of a removable plastic back, there’s curved-edge glass on the front and back and a metal frame that holds the assembly in place.

The ZenFone 3 is far less cumbersome and prettier now, arguably more attractive than the bigger and higher-specced and more expensive ZenFone 3 Ultra and Deluxe models. Its design is proof that ASUS, like Xiaomi and OnePlus and so many other Chinese startups, is also capable of building a premium-feeling phone for less.

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More importantly, the ZenFone 3 is a more capable phone than before, housing a new octa-core processor from Qualcomm, as opposed to an Intel chip, which has historically been synonymous with poor heat dissipation and inefficient battery use. We quickly noticed the difference and thanked the heavens ASUS went with a different chip maker this year.

Our immediate takeway from the ASUS ZenFone 3 event was that the Taiwanese manufacturer is well aware of the huge expectations from the public that saw a deluge of quality but affordable smartphones over the past year and a half, hence the guns-blazing approach in 2016. After playing around with the ZenFone 3, we’re convinced ASUS has surpassed its previous feats.

But ASUS doesn’t operate in a vacuum; and more so than ever, the market is seeing brands of all sizes making headlines in the affordable phone segment.

The ASUS ZenFone 3 starts at $249. Check out our unboxing video to see a retail unit in action.

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[irp posts=”3880" name=”ASUS ZenFone 3 review”]

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Vivo S1 Pro: Quad-camera midrange phone

Can it compete with other midrangers?

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The year is almost coming to a close but Vivo isn’t letting up on the new phone announcements as they unveil the Vivo S1 Pro.

First thing that you’ll notice is the S1 Pro’s camera module. The cameras are arranged in a diamond like position. Speaking of cameras, this phone has four: a 48MP (f/1.8) main camera, an 8MP (f/2.2) super wide angle camera, a 2MP (f/2.4) super macro camera, and another 2MP (f/2.4) lens for bokeh purposes. Up front, you still get Vivo’s usual 32MP selfie camera.

Powering the smartphone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. It has a 4500mAh battery which supports Dual-Engine Fast Charging which you can charge through its micro USB-C port. Yes, it took a while but a non-flagship Vivo phone is finally rocking Type-C.

It has a 6.38″ Super Amoled display and underneath it is Vivo’s fast in-display fingerprint scanning technology.

Pricing and availability

The Vivo S1 Pro will come in Knight Black and Fancy Sky colors and will be available in the Philippines starting November 30 for P15,999.

On paper, the Vivo S1 Pro seems like a worthy midrange challenger but it’s facing stiff competition with the likes of Xiaomi and Realme who have both released smartphones with 64mP main cameras in that price range.

SEE ALSO: Vivo S1 review: The Skyline’s the limit

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India

Vivo Y19 is an affordable phone with triple rear cameras

A phone that gets everything right

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Photo by GadgetMatch

The affordable segment has seen a wide range of new phones this year thanks to a raging war between Xiaomi and Realme. While the two are constantly trying to undercut each other, brands are striving to take advantage of the situation.

Vivo has unveiled a new phone dubbed the Y19 and it’s being launched in India as well as the Philippines. The design is rather different and incorporates a 3D design that can mimic a wide range of reflective colors. The phone will be available in Magnetic Black and Spring White color options.

On the front is a 6.5-inch LCD Full HD+ display with a tiny water-drop notch on the top. Powering the phone is an octa-core MediaTek Helio P65 SoC, paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage.

In terms of optics, the triple rear camera setup of the Vivo Y19 includes a 16-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The phone also gets a 16-megapixel selfie camera at the front.

It has dual SIM support and ships with Android 9 Pie-based Funtouch OS 9.2. For a better gaming experience, an Ultra Game Mode has been provided for optimization.

In India, the phone has been priced at INR 13,999 (US$ 195) and will be available for purchase via all major online as well as offline sellers.

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Phone case by castAway doubles as a secondary display

Any phone can fold!

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Folding displays have been the highlight of 2019 thanks to the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Huawei Mate X, and Motorola razr. From a use-case scenario, a small phone can be converted into a tablet that offers a bigger screen.

However, folding phones aren’t a new concept. A range of phones have been made that incorporate a secondary display. If the Surface Duo got your attention, this phone case is made for you.

castAway is a second screen for your smartphone that the creator’s claim will fit 95 percent of smartphones, giving you the dual-screen experience for less than US$ 200.

If the implementation looks familiar, that’s because we’ve sort of seen this before from LG with their Dual Screen handsets — the LG V50 ThinQ and the LG G8X ThinQ.

The small variant, the castAway One runs at 5.8-inches while a larger castAway One Plus 6.3-inch variant supports larger devices. Across both size categories, the case supports either iPhone or Samsung devices at launch. That’s not all though.

The case itself is like a very small Chrome OS tablet and is powered by a 1.5GHz ARM-based processor with 4GB RAM and 32GB of storage. You’ll be able to hold it like a book, turn it to a landscape orientation, and even close it up fully.

That comes complete with USB-C horizontal and vertical ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an EMR stylus. The castAway case battery is comparable to a smartphone battery too, allowing standalone use.

 

The castAway case supports all Apple iPhone’s since the 6. Supported Samsung phones include the S7, S8, S8+, S9, S9+, S10, S10+, Note 7, Note 8, Note 9, and Note 10.

For early adopters of the case, the prices start out at US$ 129 for the smaller castAway One. Just US$ 10 more nets buyers the larger castAway One Plus. Shipping will start in May 2020, if everything moves forward smoothly.

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