Philippines

Best Budget Smartphones (Philippine Edition)

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Welcome to GadgetMatch’s list of the best smartphones priced below PhP 15,000! 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 list.

Here they are in no particular order:

Huawei Nova 2i / Honor 9i / Mate 10 Lite (PhP 14,999)

Huawei once again confuses us with their elaborate naming scheme, but one thing is for certain: The Nova 2i is easily one of the best smartphones you can find in this price range. A total of four cameras (two in front and two at the back) and a near-borderless display are standout features at this level.

REVIEW: Huawei Nova 2i

LG Q6 (PhP 12,990)

How often do we see a near-borderless display on a budget-friendly smartphone? As of now, it’s still uncommon. Thanks to LG, we’re seeing FullVision on the Q6, and it’s stunning at this price point. Along with it comes a power-efficient processor, high-grade aluminum frame, and triple-card slots.

REVIEW: LG Q6

ASUS ZenFone 4 Max (PhP 9,995)

It doesn’t get much more complete than this below PhP 15,000. The ZenFone 4 Max has everything you’d hope for in a PhP 9,995 phone, including a dual-camera setup and large 5000mAh battery in a body that’s surprisingly compact. Once its cleaner version of ZenUI arrives, this will be one tough entry to kick out.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone 4 Max

Xiaomi Mi A1 (PhP 12,000)

Putting stock Android on a Xiaomi handset is a match made in heaven. Being the first of its kind, the Mi A1 offers consistent software updates, a surprisingly good dual-camera setup, and the great battery life you’d expect from this brand. This is the phone for Xiaomi fans and Android purists alike!

REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi A1

OPPO A71 (PhP 8,990)

If you’re on a tight budget and simply want a smartphone that’s fast enough to get everyday tasks done, it doesn’t get much better than the OPPO A71. It gives up OPPO’s signature selfie branding in exchange for a sleek, no-frills design and space for two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time.

REVIEW: OPPO A71

Updates as of November:

  • Replaced Huawei GR3 2017 with Nova 2i
  • Replaced Xiaomi Mi Max 2 with Mi A1

Updates as of October:

  • Replaced Vivo Y53 with OPPO A71

Updates as of September:

  • Replaced Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X with Mi Max 2
  • Replaced OPPO A57 with the LG Q6
  • Replaced ASUS ZenFone 3 Max 5.5 with ZenFone 4 Max

News

Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ pricing and availability in the Philippines

Galaxy phones are getting more expensive

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Samsung just announced their greatest and latest Galaxy flagships — the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9+.

Unlike last year, the two new Galaxy phones don’t just differ in size. The Galaxy S9 is the smaller of the two with a 5.8-inch AMOLED Infinity Display and a 3000mAh battery, while the Galaxy S9+ has a larger 6.2-inch AMOLED Infinity Display and beefier 3500mAh battery, hence its “Plus” moniker. But the Galaxy S9+ is not just bigger; it also has a dual rear camera setup like on the Galaxy Note 8. The rest of the specs are identical on both, but you’ll have to weigh the advantages of the Galaxy S9+ before making the choice.

Beginning February 27, you can pre-order the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ starting at PhP 45,990 and PhP 52,990, respectively, for the base storage configuration of 64GB storage. If you want more internal storage, only the Galaxy S9+ gets the options: 128GB for PhP 55,990 and 256GB for PhP 60,990.

We were told that the 256GB variant is exclusively available for pre-order, so you better start making early reservations if you want that model.

As for the colors, only Midnight Black and Lilac Purple are available for the Galaxy S9. Again, the Galaxy S9+ gets a slight advantage over its smaller sibling with the addition of Coral Blue as one of its color options that’ll be locally available.

The new Galaxy S9 phones will hit Philippine stores on March 16.

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News

Next-gen Fossil smartwatches arrive in Philippines

There are hybrid smartwatches, too!

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When it comes to merging tech and fashion, trust watchmaker Fossil to have a knack of hitting that sweet spot. Their newest line of smart and hybrid watches are no exception.

First teased at the Baselworld 2017 watch conference in Switzerland and later at the IFA tech show in Berlin, the company is bringing its new lineup of watches to the Philippines this month.

The Q Venture and Q Explorist are Android Wear 2.0-powered smartwatches and the first from the brand to feature the new first full-round touchscreen, which may not sound like a big deal unless you’re familiar with the Android Wear “flat tire” — an incomplete circle that’s peeved many early adapters.

If smartwatches are not your cup of tea, there’s also the Q Commuter Hybrid with smartwatch-like features including activity tacking, music control, and syncing with your smartphone’s clock — all without a touchscreen display or having to charge your watch daily.

Fossil Q Venture and Q Explorist watches are available at Fossil boutiques and start at PhP 13,910. Fossil Q Commuter watches start at PhP 9,150.

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Enterprise

Philippines improves 4G LTE availability but falls short at rankings

Still one of the slowest in the world

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It’s no surprise that internet in Southeast Asia hasn’t caught up with 2018 standards. Based on several OpenSignal reports throughout the years, the region still rattles out poor ratings in 4G availability and speed.

Sadly, the most recent report shows more of the same. Though improving in reliability, internet in the region is still the slowest in the world.

The data was collected from over 4.8 million devices and almost 59 billion measurements throughout October to December last year.

The latest findings, which show definite improvements over last year’s results, offers eye-opening insights about the current state of 4G internet and its uncertain future.

South Korea still on top, but stumbles in speed

 

As with previous years, it’s no surprise that Singapore and South Korea dominate the boards once again. The world’s prime destination for eSports tops 4G availability; internet users in South Korea enjoy 4G connections for 97.49 percent of the time — a huge feat when around half of the recorded nations struggle to move past the 75 percent mark. Unfortunately, the country falls off a bit in terms of speed. Whereas the previous report clocked speeds of 43.46Mbps, this report measures a lower but still speedy 40.44Mbps.

On the other hand, Singapore tops the rankings for speed again with 44.31Mbps. Also, the country slightly improved their reliability at 84.43 percent.

The Philippines improves, but still a lower-tier country

Learning from their years-long stint at the bottom of the rankings, the Philippines finally improves their rankings with a marked upgrade on reliability. From a paltry 52.77 percent last year, the archipelagic nation now enjoys 63.73 percent 4G availability. As a result, the Philippines is no longer in the bottom 10 nations of the world, but is still the third lowest in Asia.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the country’s speed. Despite an upgrade (from 8.59Mbps to 9.49Mbps), the Philippines is the fourth slowest country in the world (and third slowest in Asia). This year’s ranking is also slightly worse than last year’s list where the country placed as only the fifth slowest.

India barely moves up

Despite a brilliant showing in 4G availability, India still holds the unfortunate title of “slowest 4G internet in the world.” Indian internet speeds average only 6.07Mbps. The sub-par speeds slightly improved from last year’s showing, which only clocked in 5.14Mbps. This may be attributed to India’s status as one of the most populous nations in the world. On the bright side, the South Asian country marginally improved its reach — 86.26 percent from 81.56 percent last year.

4G internet speeds are plateauing

4G technology started in 2010. Since then, countries continue to edge closer but miss the vaunted 50Mbps mark. As of 2018, it’s safe to assume that everyone’s hitting the hay in the hunt for speed. Most, if not all, upgrades in speed this year were marginal at best. With the apparent plateau, the world focused on providing more reliable 4G internet across the globe. Countries fared better in improving their 4G reliability.

Too little, too late?

5G is just on the horizon. Tech companies are already pushing for 5G-compatible devices; 5G will soon obliterate the 4G speed plateau. With a more efficient solution coming, we should ask whether the race for the best 4G service shows an alarming trend.

Before we know it, the race to the best 5G network will kick off. Developed countries already have a leg up. Unfortunately, those who trailed in the 4G race will fall behind even further as 5G passes them by. Even if 5G will be easy to implement, the lack of reliable 4G in developing countries will only widen the gap between 5G-ready and 4G-ready countries.

SEE ALSO: Philippines still ranks near bottom for 4G LTE speeds and availability

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