Features

Best Budget Smartphones below $300 (June 2017 Edition)

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Welcome to GadgetMatch’s list of the best smartphones priced below $300! Each month, we update our selection with the budget-friendly phones we believe are most deserving of your hard-earned savings.

Even though the spotlight has been on high-end smartphones since Mobile World Congress 2017 (MWC), there have been a few surprisingly good entry-level handsets coming out lately, as well. So good, in fact, that we had to knock out some of our favorites in our May list.

Here they are in no particular order:

Honor 6X / Huawei GR5 2017 / Huawei Mate 9 Lite ($250)

No matter what name it goes by in your region, Huawei’s borderline-midrange smartphone ticks all the right boxes in our ever-evolving criteria for what makes a handset great. We fell in love with its premium build and fun dual-camera mode, which are two features previously unheard of at this price point.

REVIEW: Honor 6X (aka Huawei GR5 2017 or Huawei Mate 9 Lite)

OPPO F1s (Updated Variant – $280)

While the F3 hasn’t rolled out yet and we’ve yet to review it, the updated F1s with 4GB of memory (up from 3GB) and 64GB of expandable storage (up from 32GB) is our top pick from OPPO. This selfie-centric midranger offers a sleek metal design, one of the fastest fingerprint sensors in the market, and a user interface anyone — even iPhone users — can appreciate.

REVIEW: OPPO F1s

ASUS ZenFone 3 Max 5.5 ($200)

ASUS has been releasing ZenFone 3 variants like there’s no tomorrow, but the one offering the most value for the price is the 5.5-inch ZenFone 3 Max. It’s the larger version of the original ZenFone 3 Max, and borrows the faster camera of the ZenFone 3 Laser.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone 3 Max 5.5

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X ($200)

We finally had to take out Xiaomi’s Redmi 4 Prime on this list to make way for the Redmi Note 4X. It’s bigger and more fun to play with; plus, it has all the same features we loved from its smaller sibling, including the large battery, efficient processor, and solid build quality.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X

Vivo Y53 ($140)

When you talk about great value, you must include Vivo’s Y53. Despite having no fingerprint scanner, its processor and build quality are among the things you used to find on phones twice the price of this handset — truly a serious consideration when you can’t spend more than $140.

REVIEW: Vivo Y53

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Reviews

LG Velvet Review: New breed of flagship killer?

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Over the years, LG was once a pioneer in the smartphone industry with their G and V smartphone series. These phones are packed with a lot of punch and boast new and exciting features.

But LG has forgotten one thing, and that is how to fix their unexciting phone designs. From the G7 ThinQ all the way to V50 ThinQ 5G, those phones almost look unchanged. They might have been minor changes with the newer V60 ThinQ 5G, but it’s still not as eye-catching as other contenders.

The LG Velvet isn’t a replacement to their ever-existing flagship series. Instead, LG tries to reimagine things by making sure they produce products that cater the needs of not just tech nerds, but other types of consumers as well.

Here’s our in-depth review of the LG Velvet.

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Entertainment

Now Playing: Pride Edition

Celebrate the LGBTQ+ community!

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Happy Pride! To celebrate our LGBTQ+ community all over the world, we asked them and their allies about movies, shows, music, and podcasts you can watch and listen to, along with books you should read.

This list is also a good start to understanding the lives and struggles of our beloved LGBTQ+ community. You may refer to this article — Pride month or not! Here’s what’s Now Playing at Her GadgetMatch!

Videos to watch

Pride Conversations

MJ: Google concluded the Pride Month with a live stream entitled Pride Conversations, comprised of powerful members of the Filipino LGBTQ+ community sharing their remarkable and inspiring stories — from tales of coming out to their journey in owning their sexuality.

Movies to see

Love, Simon

MJ: A modern classic in today’s generation, Love, Simon is about yearning, secrets, and struggle of everyone in the LGBTQ+ community — coming to terms with your identity and getting out of the closet.

Prayers for Bobby

MJ: A heart-wrenching, tearjerker film that every parent must watch, especially when their religion and faith get in the way of truly loving their child.

The Half of It

MJ: Lighthearted yet revolutionary, The Half of It explores an introvert’s young love, sexuality, and loving in secret expressed through a love letter.

Holding the Man

MJ: Raw, honest, and genuine. It’s difficult not to weep after watching a touching piece tackling a love affair weathering the struggles of coming out in the 70s and 80s — remembering the horrors the stigma surrounding AIDS caused.

Free Fall

MJ: Jokingly known as the German version of Brokeback Mountain, Free Fall is a complex, hot, and passionate story about a married man’s internal struggles of falling in love with a colleague.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour

MJ: Blue Is The Warmest Colour is a moving film portraying a French teen’s beatific, intimate attachment to another woman.

Metamorphosis

Vincenz: Intersex is one of the minorities in the LGBTQIA+ community. This is a locally-produced indie film that shows how one explores and discovers him/herself. Just like the process of metamorphosis, s/he finally accepts and reveals who s/he really is to the eyes of many.

Sila-Sila

Vincenz: A depiction of complicated homosexual relationships: from hook-ups, break-ups, losing people you value the most, and even getting back together. A slice of life that shows laughs, joys, and tears of gay people throughout their relationship with their friends, family members, and partners altogether.

Shows to binge-watch

Queer Eye

Chay: The Fab 5 spreads love in Pennsylvania back in the US in the latest season of our favorite feel-good makeover series. Whenever I’m feeling distress or despair — especially during these difficult times — Queer Eye is the series that never fails to restore my faith in humanity.

Pose

Chay: House Evangelista is back for another season of ball culture, voguing, building new relationships and rekindling old ones, and confronting crises LGBTQ+ people of color faced in the ’80s. Prepare not just your favorite bag of chips but your box of Kleenex as well!

Love, Victor

Chay: If you enjoyed Love, Simon and find yourself wanting for more a spinoff series premiered on Hulu this month. Love, Victor tells the story of a new student at Creekwood High School — the ups and downs at home, making new friends, and exploring his sexual orientation.

Looking

MJ: Being in your late twenties and early thirties can be mind-boggling. Such is the case in Looking, where three best friends in San Francisco tell their explorations in love and in life while each taking separate paths.

One Day at a Time

MJ: A refresh of a hit sitcom in the ’70s, One Day at a Time is a modern comedy that has an upbeat take on tales of coming out yet still portrays the struggles of coming to terms with your sexuality within a family.

TharnType The Series

Vincenz: Not your typical sugarcoated Thai BL series as it eradicates homophobia as well as how they openly portray the sexual desires of two men. Expect a rollercoaster of emotions when you watch this series.

Gameboys

Vincenz: One of the first Filipino BL series that is timely and relevant — especially during this pandemic. Can you believe two gamers ended up falling for each other even with just a series of game battles, chats, and video calls? In my own thoughts: “Sana all hindi pang-quarantine lang“.

Hello Stranger

Vincenz: What would you do if you were paired up with someone you truly dislike? Hello Stranger exhibits unexpected love at an unexpected time, reminding us that love simply happens for everyone, regardless of your orientation.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Music Universal: PRIDE

 

Chay: Pop icon and ally Carly Rae Jepsen and artist and activist Mark Kanemura put together a Pride-themed playlist featuring music from different artists and eras that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and our right to express our true selves. This 90-minute playlist is perfect when you’re working out, experimenting in the kitchen, or walking to your neighborhood cafe for your iced latte fix!

Chromatica

 

MJ: Lady Gaga’s return with “Chromatica” has sent the LGBTQ+ community reeling over the nostalgia evoked by this eccentric album — bringing back the days of dancing to Gaga’s fabulous and bizarre pop music we loved.

Help by 10cm

Vincenz: Although the music video only showed minor scenes of how people consider same-sex relationships in public a taboo, the song’s message should dig deeper into our minds and hearts that we should ask for somebody’s help when all of these deep-seated issues come in mind.

Oh my God by (G)I-DLE

Vincenz: Originally a Now Playing: Volume 3 entry, he message of the song this time is clearer because it’s in English — and we can’t deny it’s all about two women having love and affection for one another.

Books to read

What If It’s Us?

MJ: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera’s novel about two men stumbling upon each other in New York City is a refreshing take on common, gay love stories. It tackled love, signs, and universe — reminding us that we meet people in our lives for a reason.

Call Me by Your Name

MJ: A powerful, coming-of-age, and tale of coming out stirring a pot of raw emotions. Call Me by Your Name explores sexual awakening, yearning, and obsession over the course of summer in Italy, in the year 1983.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

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Hands-On

realme X3 SuperZoom: A potential flagship killer

It all depends on the pricing

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I wrote about realme being a true disruptor and they have a chance to continue on that path with the realme X3 SuperZoom.

On paper, this phone screams flagship.

realme x3 SuperZoom

Display 6.6-inch Ultra-smooth FHD+ display

120Hz refresh rate

Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+
RAM + ROM 12GB + 256GB
Battery 4200mAh

30W Dart Flash Charge

Rear cameras 64MP Ultra high-resolution wide angle

8MP Ultra-wide angle

8MP Periscope

2MP Macro

Selfie cameras 32MP Main

8MP Ultra-wide

Right off the bat, you’ll notice two things that are present in most 2020 flagships that this phone doesn’t have. One is support for 5G, and the other is wireless charging.

However, those are two features that many people might consider icing on an otherwise perfectly tasty cake. Both 5G and wireless charging are nice to have, but I wouldn’t call them pillar features at this point in time.

Flagship performance

I had a blast using this phone for the past week since setting it up. Having used midrange phones that didn’t offer a higher screen refresh rate for a while and then jumping back to a phone with a 120Hz screen refresh rate, you can certainly tell the difference.

I cannot stress enough how smooth and fast everything feels. Browsing, swiping, toggling from app to app, it all felt seamless and speedy on the realme X3 SuperZoom.

To date, I’ve only used three phones with this feature — the Galaxy S20 Ultra, Find X2 Pro, and the ROG Phone 2. Now, the realme X3 SuperZoom joins that list. That’s pretty good company.

In fact, that Snapdragon 855+ and 120Hz screen refresh rate combo was one of the main highlights of the ROG Phone 2. Naturally, I tried a little bit of gaming on the realme X3 SuperZoom.

I played Call of Duty Mobile for the first time since reviewing the ROG Phone 2. While the performance is largely the same, the experience is a tad bit different.

Not entirely “flagship feel”

This one’s harder to explain. There are certain premium phones that just scream premium owing to a combination of things — the phone’s overall feel, a certain heft, looks, and performance.

While the X3 SuperZoom knocks it out of the park in the performance department, it falls just a tad bit short in the other departments. But I’d like to emphasize that this isn’t an entirely bad thing at all.

The phone — especially the Arctic White variant that I have — looks stunning. The front and back are made with glass, but a closer inspection will show that the sides are made with plastic.

Unlike phones that are north of PhP 40,000 or around US$ 800, it doesn’t have that wholistic glass feel, premium heft, and overall “it” factor. But that’s okay, because it’s not trying to compete with those flagships in that department.

Focusing on what matters

That “flagship feel” is almost an abstract concept and is truly reserved for most premium flagship phones. It’s a luxury.

This brings us back to what I think is the overarching theme of the realme X3 SuperZoom, and perhaps the theme of most realme smartphones —  flagship features for less.

One of those flagship features are the cameras. You’ve already seen the specs up top, so now here’s a quick look at the zoom features. The samples below only go as far as 10X Zoom — which I think is the optimal zoom on this phone.

It can go as far as 60X Zoom, but as I mentioned in previous reviews, the max zoom capacity on these phones isn’t necessarily their best.

I also like the color and detail it produces. Here’s a photo under good daylight.

This one’s indoors with a wide window light source.

While this one is taken at night.

There are a lot more features to explore which we will try to do so in the full review.

Flagship killer? 

There’s a lot going for the realme X3 SuperZoom. Its performance, looks, and camera capabilities are all top-notch. The realme UI — which is unsurprisingly reminiscent of ColorOS 7.1 — is clean AF.

There’s still some bloatware that you can easily tuck in the app drawer, but overall, it adds to the smooth and fast experience with a clean look and a ton of customization options.

In India, the price of this phone has been revealed to be INR 32,999 or US$ 436. That’s roughly PhP 22,000 BUT realme Philippines has been careful to point out that due to “local tax and tariffs,” the pricing will likely be different.

The launch and pricing announcement is happening on July 9 2020, iff they’re able to keep this below PhP 30,000, then we might just have a strong flagship killer contender.

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