Features

Best Midrange Smartphones from $300 to $600 (July 2017 Edition)

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When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best midrange smartphones retailing from $300 to $600.

Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our two other lists for best budget and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom ($490)

The ZenFone 3 Zoom is best known for its dual-camera setup that lets you zoom in without quality loss, but less advertised is the massive battery and efficient processor it comes with. Combine both, and you get an ASUS gadget perfect for this selection.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom

OnePlus 5 ($479)

The OnePlus 3T has finally been unseated from our list, and what better way than by its successor, the OnePlus 5. The price may have gone up, but you get even more flagship-level features this time around: a much faster Snapdragon 835 processor, up to 8GB of memory, and an additional camera at the back capable of zooming in on subjects.

HANDS-ON: OnePlus 5

Huawei P10 ($580)

While it may seem odd placing Huawei’s latest and greatest smartphone on a midrange list, the P10’s price is surprisingly competitive, especially when compared to other flagships launched alongside it at Mobile World Congress 2017 (MWC). If you’re after something a little more beefed up, there’s always the more expensive P10 Plus.

REVIEW: Huawei P10

OPPO R11 ($440)

It took a while, but OPPO’s R series of smartphones has finally been given its much-anticipated update in the R11. It’s the first in OPPO’s growing lineup to sport two cameras at the back (the additional lens serves zooming purposes) and one of the first to come with Qualcomm’s brand-new Snapdragon 660 chipset.

REVIEW: OPPO R11

Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 ($400)

Samsung hit all the right notes with its newest Galaxy A5 variant, owning a design reminiscent of older Galaxy flagships, as well as specs fit for its price point. Best of all, it has both water and dust resistance, which no other phone on this list can boast.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

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Automotive

Celebrating spesh occasions with the Ford Territory

Friends, blue skies, and creature comforts for a cozy drive down south

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I can still remember the first time I rode the Ford Territory. I was astounded by the vehicle’s creature comforts that gave drivers and passengers a cozy experience.

We traversed between cities, looking for good food. Despite the hellish traffic that comes with driving in Metro Manila, we were entertained by the technology packed inside the automobile.

More than a year later, the Ford Territory found its way to my garage. It’s like a gift of adventure, in time for my birthday.

Day 1

9:00 am. south kids, ready to go.

July 23. It was a Saturday morning when I received a call from my best friend, Mark, asking me to get ready. They arrived shortly and tried to wind down watching Netflix at home while I prepare everything we need for the trip.

The last time I celebrated my birthday was three years ago. When the pandemic robbed us of time and moments to be with the people we love, I found it difficult to find joy in glamorizing my day. As the world eases up, I knew I had to take this chance to get out and be fabulous.

Before we set off for an adventure down south, we took a photo in front of the Territory.

It was only the three of us who are going for a ride, though. Two of my friends, Oliver and Marlon, weren’t able to join my momentous occasion due to a conflict in the schedule but they decided to stop by and greet me.

10:00 am. navigator at your service.

We were headed to pick up the parents of my godson along Santana Grove in Parañaque. Of course, I wasn’t the driver. I took on the shotgun to be the navigator and the DJ. And so I can always look at myself in the side mirror.

The first half of the trip consisted of exploring the Territory’s technology. A drive isn’t complete without good music, so we used Apple CarPlay in its infotainment system to connect our iPhones. Plenty of devices can get in the way of easily connecting your iPhone to the vehicle, but it’s still easy to pair.

READ: 13 Reasons Why I keep coming back to an iPhone

What we found troublesome was using both Maps and Spotify. The music gets interrupted whenever Maps prompts with a new direction to take. Since music is more important to us, I used my Android phone to use Maps and have a separate, dedicated navigation tool.

If you have a car mount like Moshi’s SnapTo Universal Car Mount, you can clip it so it’ll hold your smartphone.

11:30 am. blue skies.

Our destination for the weekend was Calatagan. That means we have to pass through Tagaytay, which is horrible on the weekends. We took several detours and long cuts just so we have to make it to our favorite stop, Mahogany, in time to meet our other friends driving their sedan.

Finally seeing good weather, we blasted ‘Teenage Dream’ by Katy Perry and opened the windows, as well as the sunroof, while traversing CALAX.

I was already having a good time, and it was just the morning.

1:00 pm. time for bulalô.

Our mood went down; energies depleted. We finally encountered Tagaytay’s unbearable traffic on the weekends. It took us at least half an hour to arrive at Mahogany Beer Market, and we even struggled with finding a parking slot.

When we found a space to park, I loved how the Ford Territory assisted us, thanks to its Ford Co-Pilot 360, an advanced suite of standard driver-assist technologies. Parking in reverse — parallel even — allows the screen to provide a simulated aerial view of the Territory’s surroundings on the screen.

The Mahogany Beef Market is popular for serving fresh meat such as beef, chicken, and pork. On the second floor of the beef market, you can find a slew of food stalls serving Bulalô — a Filipino soup dish made from beef leg bones and marrow.

Mahogany wasn’t fancy in any way, but the food is overwhelmingly delicious and they serve it at a cheaper price compared to restaurants found in Tagaytay. The place is also nostalgic. I remember my drunken nights from Papa Doms, stopping over at Mahogany so I can get sober.

READ: 24 Hours in Tagaytay

3:00 pm. safe drives in the rain.

It took us more than an hour to reach Calatagan coming from Tagaytay. The drive was filled with chill OPM blasting through its speakers. We weren’t able to use the sunroof since we encountered heavy rains and thunderstorms when passing through Nasugbu.

The infotainment system came in handy when I was adjusting the vehicle’s air-conditioning system, the ambient lighting, and sometimes, the seat’s heater. My friend kept increasing my seat’s heater while I try to take a nap, which annoyed me since my butt’s getting really warm.

On another note, my friend was able to keep his eyes on the road and take control of the vehicle’s settings even if we were all asleep, thanks to the easily reachable buttons in and around the steering wheel.

4:00 pm. hello, calatagan.

By four in the afternoon, we were able to arrive at our destination called The Beach along Lucsuhin-Hukay Rd. There are military checkpoints along the way, so be sure to stop when they tell you to do so — even if you’re obstructing the traffic. They’re pretty angsty if you’re considerate of other vehicles.

Nevertheless, the staff at The Beach greeted us with a welcoming smile when we arrived. Even in the lobby, the staff were polite, courteous, and accommodating. When we got the keys to our room, we were served refreshments while we bask at the sound of the waves crashing down the shores, along with the murmurs of friends and families chatting and having fun.

We tried to settle in and change our clothes so we can relax.

6:00 pm. dillydallying at the beach.

As the sun sets, we were vibing, dancing to the beat, and drinking beer, while gawking at the scenery unraveling before us.

When the night came, we ate our freshly-served dinner and I blew the candles from the cake my friends surprised me with. It’s funny how they stole the Instax films I have at home as my cake’s topper to make it really about me.

My birthday night ended with moments of revelry, alcohol, music, and good companionship. I couldn’t ask for more.

Day 2

07:00 am. mornings by the beach.

The Beach, home to aesthetically-pleasing sets and decors, looked immaculate when I went out to enjoy the rising sun. The sea was calm, the breeze was cool, and there are happy vibes all over the place.

The resort offers a freshly-brewed Kapeng Barako, a coffee varietal grown in Batangas province coming from the Coffea Liberica species. There’s also a complimentary breakfast for the guests.

The Beach had an Instagrammable dining area by the sea, and we opted to eat our breakfast there.

9:00 am. laughter and splashes.

Making the most out of our stay, we decided to head to the beach. We weren’t thrilled with the kayak, and instead, we swam up to the inflatable which proved to be challenging for almost everyone trying to make their way up.

We took several photos, had fun splashing around, and enjoyed swimming.

Moments later, we decided to try the Infinity pool. Of course, we still had our photos taken.

12:00 pm. it’s time to go.

Check-out is at 12 noon. We dressed up because we were a little extra. We took group photos in several parts of the resort to commemorate the celebration.

Of course, we all posed in front of the Ford Territory. Rising pop-rock sensation, Noela, and her boyfriend stood out of the sunroof. If this was a 7-seater, we would’ve really enjoyed using only one vehicle, and our drives may have been filled with waves of laughter and stories.

2:00 pm. wind in my hair, i was there.

We were on the way home, and there were only three of us inside the Territory since the couple we picked up before were joining my friend in another vehicle. We were taking separate ways after eating our lunch at Tagaytay, again.

 

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I took this moment to sing along to my favorite songs, as I open the sunroof. We were savoring the cool breeze despite the blazing heat of the sun. It was literally a Taylor Swift moment of “Wind in my hair, I was there” because I remember it all too well.

4:00 pm. do you have oat milk?

Like on ‘Death By A Thousand Cuts’, we took a long way home. But no, we didn’t ask the traffic lights if it’ll be alright. We passed by Amadeo, the coffee capital of the Philippines. We stopped over by Kaffe Belardo so my friends can buy their coffee beans.

I bought a ready-to-go beverage, taking a sip of their cold brew mixed with almond and oat milk. It’s rare to see local cafes offering milk options, especially for those allergic to regular, fresh milk.

With the scent of coffee and the cool breeze thanks to a lineup of trees surrounding the highway, Amadeo is a good place to drive when you just want to get away from it all. I wish I went here when I was losing myself before.

9:00 pm. singing in the car, getting lost upstate.

The Sunday traffic was arguably hellish, especially if you’re down south. The full tank was almost depleted after over a hundred-kilometer drive, which made us giddy since we didn’t have to stop over at gas stations to refuel while we were on our way. It made the trip efficient, and our planned schedule was followed — even with bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The Ford Territory offers a cozy experience — whether you’re a driver or a passenger. It makes being on the road fun and comfortable, thanks to its creature comforts that are easily accessible to anyone. Moreover, the technology infused in the vehicle makes everyone feel safe.

I never pegged the Territory as a long-drive companion, but it proved that it can handle city drives and road trips excellently, more than what we asked for.

To know more about the latest offers, visit ford.com.ph/shopping/latest-offer/ or any Ford dealership nearest you.

SEE ALSO: Ford Territory: Feel at ease while traveling in style | Ford Territory: A techie finds his dream car

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24 Hours Series

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4: First 24 Hours

And a quick unboxing video!

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The Galaxy Z Flip4 was just announced, and it’s the perfect time to get the review devices.

But this time, we’re doing it in a different way.

Here’s Michael Josh’s unboxing and first 24-hours with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4.

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Features

GadgetSnaps: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 in New York

Snaps from the Unpacked trip

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The Unpacked event for Samsung’s newest foldables was a little unusual but it was still a blast. After the event, we immediately got our hands on both the Galaxy Z Flip4 and Galaxy Z Fold4. So, what did I do? I took the Galaxy Z Fold4 and snapped away around New York City. 

The camera department is one area that the Galaxy Z Fold4 got an upgrade in. Here’s what it looks like on paper: 

Cover: 

  • 10MP, f/2.2

Under display: 

  • 4MP, f/1.8

Rear: 

  • 12MP Ultra Wide, f/2.2
  • 50MP Wide-angle, f/1.8
  • 10MP Telephoto, f/2.4

Now that all of that is out of the way, let’s get to the photos!

Food 

Let’s start with something that everyone loves taking photos of. Food! In true Samsung fashion, these tasty treats are made to look even tastier with Samsung’s tendency to make colors really pop.

Galaxy Z Flip4

Galaxy Z Flip4

Galaxy Z Flip4

Here’s one taken with 3x zoom. 

And here’s a couple flexing Samsung’s Nightography capabilities. 

Galaxy Z Flip4

Galaxy Z Flip4

Zoom in, zoom out

Like the Samsung Galaxy S22+, I had fun taking photos with the main wide angle lens, the ultra-wide angle lens, and the multiple zoom capabilities. 

Here’s a quick demo of what that looks like on this cool United States of America flag display in our hotel lobby. 

Ultra-wide 

1x (Main wide angle)

3x Zoom. (As we zoom in, you’ll see exactly how they made this and it’s pretty cool). 

10x Zoom. In case you couldn’t tell from the 3x Zoom pic, these are beer cans, arranged in a way that they would look like the American flag when viewed from across the room. 

Here’s a 20x Zoom shot for good measure. 

I went up close for this next shot, using the main wide angle lens, for a different perspective. 

Galaxy Z Flip4

And here’s a shot of the same area with someone passing by. I sort of wanted to see how the Galaxy Z Fold4 processes a person in motion and this was pretty good. At least, I think so. 

Galaxy Z Fold4

I later on learned that this person on the shot is Yejin Choi. One of the Generation17 Young Leaders that Samsung featured on this trip. You can read and watch about her amazing contribution to education here. 

Fun at Times Square

Hours after the Unpacked event, we made our way to Times Square to capture the BTS Times Square takeover ℅ Samsung. 

On the way, I took a quick snap of Madison Square Garden — the Mecca of basketball. Too bad it’s the offseason so I couldn’t catch an NBA game. This was taken inside a moving vehicle.

Galaxy Z Fold4

And then we got to Times Square where the ultra wide angle lens really came in handy. Just take a look at this shot. 

Galaxy Z Fold4

I tweeted a quick video capturing the moment, taken using the Galaxy Z Flip4. 

I also put the Galaxy Z Fold4’s zoom capabilities to the test. And it was pretty impressive. Caught this nice shot of BTS member Jungkook.

Galaxy Z Fold4

And here’s a group shot so ARMYs don’t come after me. 

Galaxy Z Fold4

I took a few selfies while I was here for good measure. This was using the 10MP camera on the cover. As you will see on the clouds behind me, the dynamic range varies in every shot. And this was just the camera auto adjusting the colors. 

Spidey sighting!

Of course, what’s a New York trip without encountering Spider-Man? We saw this dude dressed up as Spider-Man Miles Morales and I just had to take shots.

For some dramatic effect, I used the portrait mode here and I think they came out well, creating a nice little separation between Spidey and the rather busy background. 

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

Walking around the Big Apple

Here are a few more shots of just me basking in the City that Never Sleeps. 

There are plenty of pizza places around New York. This one had a nice neon sign that I thought would look good on camera.

Galaxy Z Fold4

You can rent bikes too. These are found everywhere. Although, this photo was taken fresh off some rain that’s why a lot of them are just parked here.

Galaxy Z Fold4

This was taken at the cafe in the hotel where we typically had breakfast. It was taken right around the time it was raining. I just liked the contrast of the warm light inside the cafe and the cold, dull sight of the rain outside. 

Galaxy Z Fold4

Growing up, I watched a lot of American TV series. Walking around town, I was amused at how familiar the neighborhood seemed only because I’ve seen them a lot on TV. 

Here’s a shot when it’s bright and sunny. Taken right outside Kobrick Coffee.

Galaxy Z Fold4

A quick selfie with Michael Josh and Chay who were hard at work producing Reels and YouTube videos while I was just hanging around. 

Galaxy Z Fold4

Here’s a shot of Michael Josh posing with the Galaxy Z Flip4 in hand. 

Galaxy Z Fold4

The Galaxy Z Fold4 photo-taking experience

I’ve used both the Galaxy Z Fold2 and Z Fold3 and I can say that it was a tad more fun snapping with the Galaxy Z Fold4. 

The image results using the main camera, I found, were very satisfactory. Samsung is still doing its usual Samsung things in that the photos tend to look more saturated. But that’s a plus for most people, especially if you just want to snap a quick one and quickly share on social media. 

There are instances, though, where the overprocessing is a little too obvious. Take the photo below. Right on the top-left side, you’ll see some weird color lines that you otherwise probably wouldn’t see without any heavy-lifting from the photography AI.

Galaxy Z Fold4

The color reproduction among the rear camera lenses still isn’t 100% consistent unlike what I experienced with the Galaxy S22+. But they’re not half bad and aren’t immediately noticeable if you don’t compare them side-by-side. 

And if you take shots carefully, the color consistency can be surprisingly good. Take a look at the shots below.

The reduced weight, especially compared to the Galaxy Z Fold2 which I spent time with the longest, also made it easier to take photos when the Galaxy Z Fold4 is folded.

Not the best visual aid since I just took this while inside the hotel room, but here’s what that kind of looks like.

Overall, I had a grand time taking pictures with the Galaxy Z Fold4. The results aren’t too wild. In fact, they look vivid, sharp and ready for the gram. And the whole experience using the Fold to snap photos also feels natural. Sometimes even more so than the regular smartphones most of us have in our pockets right now. 

I’ll leave you with this shot of our hotel’s dark front desk area with a rather inspirational neon sign.

That’s it for now, make sure to tune in to GadgetMatch wherever you like to find your content to see more of Samsung’s foldables and accessories. 

Watch our Galaxy Z Fold4 Hands-on.

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