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 this entire year, there have been a few surprisingly good entry-level handsets coming out lately, as well. So good, in fact, that we had to reassess our entire July 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.
OPPO A57 ($240)
Now that OPPO’s F series belongs in the midrange category of our lists (the recently launched F3 is valued above $300), it’s up to the A57 to be the gateway into the Chinese company’s portfolio. Armed with an efficient Snapdragon 435 processor, selfie-centric front camera, and speedy fingerprint scanner, the A57 is OPPO’s best budget bet.
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.
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.
Vivo Y53 ($120)
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.
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ChatGPT Explained: Should we be scared of AI?
Will the talking robot take over the world?
Back in the earlier days of the internet, an emerging but short-lived trend involved chatbots who could generate conversation with whomever it talked to. Does this sound familiar? Today, a similar phenomenon is creating a lot of waves online, headed by the infamous ChatGPT. The exceedingly popular ChatGPT is turning heads out of fear that the technology will eventually upend society and eradicate a lot of jobs.
But what exactly is ChatGPT? How is it different from language programs in the past? Is the world right to worry about them?
On the rise of language learning
ChatGPT is hardly the first software to inexplicably generate comprehensible dialogue without human intervention. Decades ago, the internet hosted rudimentary versions of today’s chatbot technology. The concept is somewhat similar, though. The early versions relied on a database of responses from human users. If you asked about coffee, for example, the answer you get will likely come from the logs of another user who talked about coffee in the past.
Because the system was imperfect in its infancy, part of the appeal was trying to get the software to fumble a conversation. However, if it did mess up, you can count on it asking you what it should have said. The next time someone asks the same question, the software might mirror what you said, creating a learning process between the software and the user.
Today, chatbots — meaning those usually used by businesses today — operate in the same way. If a customer comes with a query, the software will rely on a set of responses to most appropriately address the user’s problem. If the software can’t come up with a solution, the ball usually gets passed on to a human consultant.
Is ChatGPT just another chatbot?
Though the label certainly gets thrown around, ChatGPT isn’t strictly a chatbot. Instead, the software uses GPT-3.5, a specific language model created by OpenAI. Whereas early and more rudimentary versions of the same technology can already store an unbelievable amount of information in its memory, ChatGPT can analyze billions of words and the relationship between them.
Further, OpenAI extensively trains the software, ensuring that comprehension and grammar can live up to today’s standards. The learning is supervised. In fact, the company even has a makeshift reward system to ensure that the software puts out the most appropriate response. With users also contributing to the software’s learning process, ChatGPT is quickly emerging as a powerhouse for the technology.
The results speak for themselves. While users can generate simple conversations with the software, ChatGPT can just as easily answer more extensive queries with lengthier responses. If you ask it to create an essay about Christopher Columbus, for example, it can write a lengthy piece that can easily fool a casual reader. It can even handle more speculative queries. In a sample published by the developer, ChatGPT can answer what would happen if Columbus discovered America in 2015.
What’s it good for?
Based solely on what the software can do, ChatGPT can find its purpose in today’s world. The software can improve voice assistants and chatbots all over the internet. It can make big strides in the world of automation, enabling a more responsive interface between user and software.
On a more human aspect, the software can also handle more professional jobs with simpler prompts such as those involving simple marketing copy. It can help with more ephemeral research efforts, allowing users to get simple answers for otherwise complex questions.
And, on a more technical side, ChatGPT can reportedly analyze and detect what’s wrong with a piece of coding. With the software, developers can use ChatGPT to potentially repair code without having to pore over every single line. Allowing a powerful tool to inspect code speaks volumes for a lot of applications all over the world including smart vehicles and technical machinery.
However, as with every piece of technology, users will always find a way to use something beyond what it was originally designed for. ChatGPT is now changing the world of education as students are using the software to do their homework for them. Though a lot of the sample texts look like they can fool only lower levels of education, a Wharton business school professor (via Business Insider) recently stated that he would have been fooled by a ChatGPT essay, grading a sample with a passable grade of B or B-.
Should we be scared of ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is undoubtedly rocking the world of education. While some schools have banned the technology outright, others are debating on the software’s impact on how schools are taught. Since ChatGPT deals out more factual information, could education reinvent itself to teach more personal, tailored learning, rather than just the ability to spit out memorized facts. (“Factual” might even be an exaggeration. CNET, which recently experimented with AI-written articles, discovered a plethora of errors from using the software.)
Now, education isn’t the only world in peril. The creative industry is facing an extreme challenge wherein ChatGPT can potentially cause workers their jobs. Though the danger certainly seems real, the limitations of technology are also real. ChatGPT can create comprehensible text that can fool a human, but it will likely stumble with conceptualization.
A piece of software is just software. Even if it can write an essay about existentialism, it cannot think of the concept metaphysically. In the same way, even if it can show you a photo of a parrot, it cannot think of that photo as anything but a pattern of pixels. To a language learning software, words don’t mean anything else besides their relationship with each other. It’s the same thought process as a dog learning to run to its human when its name is called. The dog doesn’t know that you just said its name (or even the mere concept of a name); it just knows to do a certain action after hearing a specific sound.
Can ChatGPT change the world? Overall, the jury is still out, but it’s unlikely that a piece of learning software can do much to replace human-centric work. Regardless, it’s important to think of how ChatGPT can improve (or detriment) humanity.
Like with other supposedly dangerous technology, the world of technology is a Pandora’s box. We can never put the genie back into the bottle. Once it’s out, it’s out. Instead of worrying about how technology can destroy the world, the more appropriate response is to figure out how it can better humanity without sacrificing anyone’s wellbeing in the process.
Samsung Galaxy S23, S23+ and S23 Ultra Hands-On
Samsung has finally Unpacked the newest Galaxy S23, S23+, and S23 Ultra in San Francisco.
This is actually Samsung’s first in-person event during the pandemic.
With all the design and hardware improvements, do you actually need to upgrade?
Watch our Samsung Galaxy S23 Series Hands-on video to help yourself decide.
SHOP S23 Ultra
SHOP S23 & S23+
DISCLOSURE: GadgetMatch earns a commission from qualifying purchases from any of these links.
HONOR X9a 5G Hands-On: Tough and capable
Strong 2023 start for HONOR?
HONOR is determined to make some serious noise in the smartphone space in 2023. In the Philippines, they’re looking to start strong with the release of the HONOR X9a 5G.
If you follow any tech publications and some influencers and endorsers online, you likely saw the drop test videos the company had literally everyone do. That includes GadgetMatch.
For what it’s worth, the thing is really tough. During our quick shoot, we dropped it around 3 times on concrete. No major damages suffered. The 0.65mm ‘Deeply Reinforced Glass’ on the display is, for the most part, not just a gimmick. Still, don’t go dropping the phone carelessly if you do decide to get it.
We’re already talking about the display anyway, so let’s dig into it a little more.
Pleasant to the eyes
The HONOR X9a 5G sports a 6.67-inch OLED Curved Display. It has a 394 pixels per inch count with a 2400 x 1900 resolution and 800 nits of peak brightness. Marketing materials also tout its 1.07 billion colors and TUV Rheinland Low Blue Light Certification.
For the most part, the phone is everything it says it is on paper. The curved display affects more how the phone feels on-hand than it does for your eyes. It makes the phone’s profile feel slimmer than it actually is. And it’s not too curved to the point that it distracts from whatever you’re watching.
Colors also look great. We can confidently say that you’ll have a good time watching videos on the HONOR X9a 5G. Whether that’s one of our YouTube videos, mindlessly scrolling on TikTok, or catching up on your favorite series.
It also delivers a buttery-smooth feel, it has a 120Hz refresh rate and a 300Hz touch sampling rate.
Going over to how the rest of the phone looks, it gives off a Magic-ish, Mate-ish vibe. The circular camera module on the back plays a huge part in that. We’ll get to the camera details later on. For now, let’s focus on the look.
One glance and you could mistake it as an HONOR Magic or even a HUAWEI Mate phone. After all, they share a similar design language.
All the buttons (power and volume) are on the right.
And at the bottom, you’ll find the SIM Card tray, USB-C port, and speaker-grille. Pretty standard stuff.
Globally, the phone comes in three colors: Titanium Silver, Emerald Green and Midnight Black. In the Philippines, it appears only the first two colors will be available at launch.
Overall, it’s your standard slab with a signature look. That camera module is certainly doing a lot to separate it from the pack.
Now onto the cameras. Here they are by the numbers:
- Main (Wide): 64MP, f/1.8, PDAF
- Ultrawide: 5MP, f/2.2,
- Macro: 2MP, f/2.4, (macro)
- Front (wide): 16MP, f/2.5
And since video taking seems to be all the rage these days, you might be pleased to know that both the front and back cameras can take 1080P at 30fps footage.
Again, these are pretty standard numbers for midrangers. The same is true for the actual output. There’s nothing here that’s mind blowing. But for posting on socials and just capturing stuff on the daily, it’s more than serviceable.
Take a look at these samples:
The HONOR X9a 5G is powered by the Qualcomm SM6375 Snapdragon 695 5G processor. In the Philippines, it comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. It also has a massive 5,100mAh battery. Software-wise, it’s running Magic UI 6.1 based on Android 12.
In practice, all these components come together to deliver a steady performer of a smartphone. The HONOR X9a 5G is reliable in all the ways that matter. The processor, while not new by 2023 standard, still does what you expect it to do. That is to keep the stuff you need running in the background as needed.
It also has a decent power efficiency, which, paired with the massive battery, delivers an overall battery life that won’t have you running to the nearest power outlet as the day winds down.
We didn’t do much gaming on the phone, but given that it’s the same processor that was equipped on mobile gaming-inclined phones in the past, we’re confident it can steadily run plenty of the most-played games on mobile.
Solid start for HONOR
The HONOR X9a 5G is a tough, capable smartphone that’s easy on the eyes. It’s the quintessential midrange smartphone. Everything we’ve come to expect from midrangers is present on this phone while also being extra tough and lasting extra long.
With this being HONOR’s first offering in 2023 in the Philippines, the company is off to a solid start.
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