Features

Best of 2016: Budget phones under $300

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Funds not enough for a premium smartphone? No worries, there are plenty of excellent options on the cheaper end of the spectrum.

We’re in the golden age of smartphone parity, where fast specs and fancy features are no longer limited to Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxies.

Take fingerprint readers, for example. They’re everywhere now, from China to Cupertino, upscale or down and dirty. In fact, four out of the five devices that make our list can tell fingerprints apart.

We’re in the golden age of smartphone parity, where fast specs and fancy features are no longer limited to Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxies.

And that’s really just the start of it. In 2016, the budget phone market is so competitive that there are plenty of phones that can give you a premium smartphone experience for less. No compromises.

To give you a hand, we’ve picked the 5 best smartphones under $300 to choose from. Considering what phones in this price point were like a year or two back, having five to choose from is a luxury even the cash-strapped can afford.

Vivo Y55 ($165)

Vivo Y55

Vivo Y55

The Vivo Y55 is the cheapest offering on this list, but don’t let it’s value mislead you into thinking it’s categorically the worst of the lot. Far from it, actually. We thought it would make a fine addition to this page because of how surprisingly good it is for the price. For roughly $165, you’re getting an iPhone look-alike with an iPhone-inspired paint job, a decent 8-megapixel camera, and a capable processor. The Y55 isn’t a pity case; it’s one of the best items you can buy this side of Android land.

[irp posts=”7340″ name=”Vivo Y55 unboxing and review”]

ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser ($245 for Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 with 4GB RAM model)

gadgetmatch-zenfone-3-laser-20160722-02

ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser

ASUS unleashed a boatload of ZenFones this year. And between the Max and the Laser, the latter takes photography more seriously, boasting a 13-megapixel camera that works well enough to occasionally maintain focus on the subject while blurring out the background. It’s good to see the fast laser autofocus system around the back, as well as the improvements ASUS has made under the hood. The healthy 4GB of RAM, in particular, stands out, and makes the Laser more future-proof than other budget blowers.

[irp posts=”3508″ name=”ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser hands-on”]

Moto G4 Plus (starts at $249 for 2GB RAM and 16GB storage)

Moto G4 Plus

Moto G4 Plus

A fantastic Android pick that comes in at a relatively low starting price of $249, the G4 Plus undercuts some big names yet offers much the same performance, not to mention near-stock Android Marshmallow (with Nougat on the way shortly). The uninspired design and copious use of plastic may turn off some people, but they’ll be missing a damn fine handset that embraces Google’s vision of Android.

[irp posts=”7651″ name=”Moto G4 Plus review”]

OPPO F1s ($265)

OPPO F1s back

OPPO F1s

China-based OPPO has once again impressed us with a bargain handset that goes beyond taking nice shots of people’s mugs. Slapping a 16-megapixel camera on the front should turn heads; but it is the other things that are likely to hold your attention in a positive way. The fingerprint sensor hidden under the home button works fast and offers extra functionality; the rear camera doesn’t let down the awesomeness of the selfie shooter one bit; the LCD display is large and colorful enough to enjoy movies and games on.

[irp posts=”7385″ name=”OPPO F1s review”]

Vivo V3 Max ($285)

Vivo V3 Max

Vivo V3 Max

A superb, reasonably priced smartphone, the V3 Max has the brawn and beauty to match the greats. A metal design that looks and feels better than it costs? Check. Solid battery life and quick charging? Check. All the hallmarks of a quality modern smartphone, particularly a good low-light camera, a fast fingerprint reader, and internals that would make most phones blush? Check, check, and — wait for it — check. Take a bow, Vivo. You’ve done it again.

[irp posts=”1944″ name=”Vivo V3, V3 Max Hands-On Review”]

(Note: All prices excluding that of the Moto G4 Plus are based off of suggested retail prices in the Philippines.)

First Look

realme 8 5G Unboxing and First Impressions

Midrange game changer?

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Game-changer. It’s a bold adjective to use, especially when you’re describing a smartphone that’s situated in a competitive midrange segment. But realme has always dared to leap, and they’re doing exactly that with the realme 8 5G.

They’re calling it a 5G game-changer. It will require more extensive testing to determine whether that’s true or not, but for the meantime, here are our first impressions of realme’s newest offering.

But first, a quick rundown of the specifications for this device.

Display 6.5-inch IPS LCD display, 90 hZ 1080p
Processor MediaTek MT6833 Dimensity 700 5G (7nm)
RAM + ROM 128 GB ROM/8GB RAM
Cameras 48MP primary camera (wide)
2MP macro camera
2MP depth sensor
Battery 5000 mAh

 

The phone comes in realme’s signature yellow box. No surprises there.

Taking out the lid, you’re greeted by a short note from the brand. Nice touch!

Going through the rest of the box, you’ll find your usual set of manuals, a charging cable, and your charging brick. Realme also included a case for free out of the box. Good stuff!

It makes a good first impression, but can it last?

Out of the box, the first thing you notice is how pretty the device is. Without touching it, you’d think it was made out of glass. But in reality, they used plastic for this device. The radiant light effect is definitely a nice touch.

Outside of the fingerprint smudges you’ll definitely be leaving on the back, you’d want to rock this phone without a case.

The realme 8 5G uses a curved back for added ergonomics. The phone is well-built, and it doesn’t feel cheap even if plastic was realme’s material of choice.

That extra feeling of sturdiness matters, especially in a competitive midrange market. First impressions can make or break whether you get a smartphone or not. In this case, realme passed with flying colors. Early indications suggest that realme has a winner with the 8 5G.

That’s all we have on realme’s newest midrange offering for now. We’ll be testing the device to see whether the realme 8 5G can truly #CaptureInfinitePossibilitiesWith5G.

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First Look

Huawei MatePad 2021 Unboxing and First Impressions

The device for people on the go!

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Huawei has updated its primary tablet the Huawei Matepad. Come and join me as we unbox the new Huawei MatePad 2021.

Unboxing

Starting off, we have the box. A clean and simple look, but definitely pleasing! The front of the box shows us the branding and the name of the device.

A Huawei logo on the upper left corner, the AppGallery on the lower right, and on the lower left, the screen size of the device.

The box also has an interesting texture, only on the top cover though.

Opening the box, we have the device itself wrapped in fine paper and a pull tab to assist you when lifting the device out of the box.

Underneath the device, you are presented with two boxes. One box for the charging brick…

and the second containing the paperwork, USB Type-C cable, a 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor, and a warranty card.

Only the larger box is removable so be careful not to rip out the smaller box. Behind the larger box is the sim ejector tool, be sure to keep it safe!

Huawei MatePad

Removing the paper, we now see the simple but gorgeous Huawei MatePad in the “Midnight Grey” colorway. Be sure to remove the sticker — it’s optional but I suggest that you do.

The device itself is lightweight and easy to carry around, as a slim device it’s very easy to place it in a bag and you will have no problem carrying it around all day.

Starting off at the front, you will see the 10.4-inch screen with the camera at the top. Referring to the format at the back of the device, the front-facing camera is placed at the top.

On the left side of the device, you will be able to find the speakers along with the sleep/wake button. The right side shows you another pair of speakers and a charging port.

The top shows 4 microphones with the volume up and down button at the very left.

Heading over to the back you’ll be able to see the single-shooter camera, the Huawei branding, and an indication of their partnership with Harman/Kardon. The camera is accompanied by a flash and a microphone.

Specs

  • Display: 10.4-inch 2000×1200 IPS, 225 PPI
  • Processor: Huawei Kirin 820 series
  • Memory: RAM – 4GB, ROM – 128GB
  • Camera: 8MP front, 8MP rear
  • Battery: 7250mAh

Final thoughts

Finally, now we have unboxed the new Huawei MatePad. With this, the device itself feels good to the touch and is a good size for a tablet. Additionally, the “Midnight Grey” colorway of the MatePad is a great choice, it doesn’t collect fingerprints easily and the device is lightweight so you don’t have to worry when taking it with you anywhere.

The initial setup of the new MatePad was fast and easy, there are pre-loaded apps that are ready to use. Although I’m not sure if it’s just me or the apps change from time to time when you open the designated folders of the pre-loaded apps. For media consumption, the experience was good. Although the YouTube app was not the same as the ones we see on our devices, it works well as it should.

The screen looks good so far with the 2000×1200 IPS display, trying a few videos and films, the quality was great. Additionally, the speakers are a huge boost to the volume — loud but good quality. The MatePad also doesn’t have a 3m5mm headphone jack, luckily, they provided an adaptor. The MatePad is looking good so far, stay tuned for the next article as we are going deep and we’ll be having a full review of the Huawei MatePad 2021.

 

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Features

Virtual Assistants reimagined as animé characters

Voice assistants no more!

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Virtual assistants

What if we gave a face to our favorite virtual assistants? That’s a question that sparked among us when Virtual Assistant Sam made the Internet go nuts.

After seeing people’s reception towards an animated assistant, we decided to commission Ange Salasiban, an artist based in the Philippines. Here, we reimagine how the popular voice assistants would look like.

Google Assistant

Not a girl, and not a robot. Google Assistant is giving us Janet’s vibes from the comedy show The Good Place. After all, Google decided to give it a gender-neutral name — and multiple voice options — to make them a personality that can serve depending on a user’s need.

In a way, we reimagine Google Assistant as a femme-presenting non-binary persona, albeit looking like a cis, blond woman, who’s knowledgeable and conversational, and isn’t defined nor limited by their gender to do certain tasks. It’s a much-needed representation in our society, slowly paving the way to encourage acceptance.

SEE ALSO: Google wants Samsung to favor Google Assistant over Bixby

Apple’s Siri

Apple’s Siri is sassy, sophisticated, and definitely a trendsetter. She most likely has a million followers and built a social media empire in her teens.

A celebrity-like persona, whatever Siri does encourages her cult-like community to follow her. Whether it’s dyeing her hair with an attention-grabbing color, sporting a new style to wear for Coachella, or even eating at a hip restaurant around Brooklyn. Although, she’s loud most of the time she talks and takes a lot of mirror selfies in every mirror she passes by.

She’s giving us major Leo vibes bordering between obnoxious and self-absorbed. But what made her cult-like community love her is her ability to connect and create a conversation. People just love it when they’re a part of a story, or if the lines of communication are open. And Siri is definitely a people person.

SEE ALSO: Apple’s Siri listens to private conversations, sexual adventures

Amazon’s Alexa

Amazon’s Alexa, in our reimagination, is the resourceful friend we all have in our lives. You might’ve mistaken them as Virgo multiple times because of their ability to provide information exactly the way you needed it.

After all, Alexa is well-rounded and possesses a versatile set of skills. She’s analytical, methodical, and highly organized. She’s a reliable friend that you can trust when it comes to finding solutions, as long as she’s not busy cooking and cleaning her home filled with gadgets and smart appliances — that probably make her life better.

SEE ALSO: How Alexa wants to be your round-the-clock assistant

Microsoft’s Cortana

Miss Ma’am Cortana, step on us. Kidding aside, Cortana is that intimidating yet softie superior in your office. She’s smart, sexy, and talented that you might even question your sexuality.

She looks serious and determined most of the time, kinda like a Capricorn. Though ambitious and goal-oriented, Cortana knows how to bond with her team, sometimes bringing out dark humor due to her sardonic personality.

Nonetheless, Cortana knows how to get a job done, and knows how to simplify tasks without using too many resources. She’s the efficient team leader we all need.

SEE ALSO: Even Microsoft listens to your Skype and Cortana recordings 

Jang Yeong-sil

If you haven’t watched Start-Up, you need to rethink your life. The hit K-drama showcased Jang Yeong-sil as the superior voice assistant that enabled two-way communication for the blind through an app called NoonGil.

Though the show *spoiler alert* introduced a character in the final episode with the same voice as Jang Yeong-sil, that didn’t stop us from reimagining the virtual assistant into this hot, gorgeous guy sporting the latest Samsung devices.

He’s classy, sexy, sometimes cheeky, and definitely a looker but you won’t see him bragging about it. He can be a good friend or a chivalrous partner that you might want to introduce to your parents. Or even envision marrying him in the future.

SEE ALSO: GadgetMatch Reacts: Netflix’s Start-Up

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