Features

Best Midrange Smartphones from $300 to $600 (June 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 3T ($439)

We previously had the OnePlus 3T in our premium smartphone category, but with its nearly year-old design and the ever-increasing prices of high-end phones, there’s no better fit than right here. Speedy performance, great build quality, and a seamless Android interface are still its primary highlights.

REVIEW: OnePlus 3T (3 months later)

Huawei P10 ($580)

While it may seem odd placing Huawei’s latest and greatest smartphone in 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 F3 Plus ($480)

No other phone on this list does selfies better than OPPO’s F3 Plus. It continues the “selfie expert” hook with a dual-camera setup in front — one handles high-resolution shots while the other does super-wide-angle selfies. Its great for media consumption as well, with a 6-inch Full HD display, 4000mAh battery, and fast charging.

WATCH: OPPO F3 Plus Unboxing

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

A racing virgin’s experience at the Toyota Vios Racing Festival

Challenging, but something worth doing again

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I love driving. Whether it’s an out of town drive for hours or simply going for a short trip with the wife, one could always count me in for such activities. So when Toyota Motor Philippines extended an invite to their annual Vios Racing Festival, I didn’t think twice and submitted my name.

I thought, “I drive pretty well on the road so this shouldn’t be that challenging. How hard is it to avoid cones, anyway?”

Boy, was I wrong.

The Racing Festival

As a quick background, Toyota Motor Philippines has been organizing Vios motorsport events in the country for six years now. Called the Vios Cup, the circuit race celebrates the spirit of Waku-Doki (shortened from the Japanese phrase “Waku waku doki doki” which translates to a feeling of “heart-pumping excitement”) and features drivers from different backgrounds — celebrities, new Vios owners, and car club members are just some of the individuals invited at this special event.

The Autocross Challenge

This season, TMP has added the Autocross Challenge that runs alongside the main event. It’s a timed competition where participants race through an obstacle course and finish with the quickest lap time possible. Basically, the company presents it as an amateur-friendly way to get into the world of motorsport.

The Experience

Unlike the main event where participants spent months training for the circuit race, I and my fellow media participants only got one day of practice driving around the obstacles before the event. The cars were provided by Toyota — a souped-up Vios OMR fit for the track — complete with manual gearbox and loads of torque. We were also given tracksuits and helmets so apart from keeping me safe, I looked like a legitimate race car driver wearing those.

As the title states, I had no experience whatsoever in racing cars. After the briefing, I was basically given the suit and the car and thrown into the track to get a feel for how to make the fastest lap time possible.

So I got in the car, drove up to the starting line, lodged the transmission to the first gear, and gave the engine a full rev. As soon as I was given the go signal Fast-and-Furious-style, I was off — complete with tires screeching.

The obstacle consisted of multiple chicanes and we needed to slalom our way past them. To make things more interesting, there were sharp u-turns and a 540-degree turn at one point and it was where I spun out since I made the mistake of applying brakes while making the turn. It felt like I was in a movie, though, like Ansel Elgort in Baby Driver.

After finishing the first lap, I made mental notes of how I can improve my time for the next practice run. The problem here wasn’t how to avoid obstacles. It’s how to avoid obstacles with speed to be able to finish with the quickest time.

Good thing there were seasoned racers with us and they were able to give me some tips. One could say that taking on the Autocross challenge is similar to dancing — you have to know exactly when to shift, when to brake, and when to turn. These are key elements that I needed to keep in mind, pretty much like memorizing dance steps. I did better time during my second attempt and that concluded our practice day.

Then came the race day itself. After breakfast, I was just in my hotel room sitting down and pretending to drive while thinking about the track. I saw the racing movie Rush a few years back and that’s where I got the idea of imagining yourself on the track, taking on the obstacles and practicing gear shifting at the right moment.

After the opening ceremonies and the main event kicking off, it was our time to compete. To cut some of the details, I finished with a time of 1:01 with the top 10 finalists finishing at 0:58. Considering it was my first time doing something like that, I was pretty happy and satisfied with my performance.

End of Day Thoughts

As someone who’s always into trying out new things, participating in an Autocross Challenge was definitely one for the books. It’s a great initiative from Toyota Philippines to continuously hold events like this to keep the spirit of motorsport alive in the country.

The racing festival itself, even if you’re not a participant, was a really enjoyable event even for the entire family. It’s also worth recognizing TMP’s efforts to bring new blood into the sport every year as it’s not exclusive to Vios owners only. In fact, they’re also opening the Autocross Challenge for the public through their social media pages.

So if you want to get into the adrenaline-pumping world of racing, head to their official pages and see how you can be part of the next Toyota Vios Racing Festival.

If you’re still reading up to this point, it just means you’re one interested fellow and you might want to check out the event next year when it makes a comeback.

You’ll enjoy it. I know I did!

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Accessories

Best of 2019: Our favorite iPhone cases

Dare to make a statement

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iPhones are the easiest to spruce up with stylish cases. They don’t come with gorgeous gradient designs that make it hard for you to cover it up. There are a lot of gorgeous cases to choose from and sometimes, it’s easy for us to get overwhelmed. To make it easier for you, here are our top picks of the best iPhone cases this year.

Mujjo Leather Wallet Cases

One of my all-time favorites, Mujjo’s leather wallet cases are perfect for those who value convenience and efficiency. It has a cardholder that can carry up to three cards. Additionally, it comes in a stylish leather design producing gorgeous patina over time. Mujjo ensures that you have a beautiful phone case that can protect your iPhone, and grows with you throughout the years. Shop here.

Otterbox Symmetry Series

OtterBox’s Symmetry series is meant for the bold type and those who love making statements through their fashion choices. It’s made of polycarbonate and synthetic rubber designed precisely and gracefully to help you keep your phone safe without sacrificing style. Shop here.

Speck Presidio Grip

If you love a protective case that screams strength and future, look no more. Speck’s Presidio Grip cases are slim, durable, and provides a secure no-slip grip so you can text, game, and take selfies without worry. It has a polycarbonate outer shell and is designed to be pocket-friendly and thin enough for easy wireless charging. Shop here.

Pangram Pangram x Casetify

For those who have a serious relationship with wanderlust, Casetify’s collaboration with Pangram Pangram is the best iPhone case for you. It lets you customize your iPhone case by choosing an airport and adding your name. It’s just like a luggage scan tag with your name on it. Currently, there are more than 30 cities to choose from. Shop here.

Moshi Altra – Shadow Black, Sahara Beige

If you just don’t know how to let go of your phone (and your feelings), then Moshi’s Altra cases are perfect for you. It features a detachable wrist strap that will let you hang your phone anywhere you’d like: From your neck to your shoulders, your wrist, and even on the hope that you and your ex would get back together — just hang in there.

Kidding aside, this strapped case lets you move around conveniently without the risk of dropping your phone. It comes in a premium finish and a unique, elegant design that would make you want to show-off this case wherever you go. Shop here.

Spigen Slim Armor Essential S

Sometimes, all we need is a clear, protective case so we can see how beautiful the iPhone is. Spigen’s Slim Armor Essential S has a clear design with a rigid back and flexible bumper. It’s pocket-friendly and has a built-in kickstand. It’s also compatible with wireless charging. Shop here.

Pela eco-friendly cases

If you care about the environment and sustainability is one of your advocacies, Pela’s eco-friendly cases are your perfect match. They help protect not just your phone but the environment, too. They’re soft, flexible, smooth, and made from Flax shive and a plant-based biopolymer, making these cases 100% compostable. Additionally, Pela donates a percentage of its sales to Ocean Cleanup and Preservation Initiatives to help lessen plastic in the ocean. Shop here.

Uniq Lino Hue

Those who love to look sleek and elegant without spending too much, Uniq’s Lino Hue cases are to die for. This Singaporean designer brand produces a minimalist, liquid silicone case available in different colors. On the inside, it has a microfiber lining for a luxurious finish. The case was designed with function, style, and durability in mind. Shop here.

Native Union’s Clic Series

L-R: Clic Card, Clic Canvas, Clic Marquetry

A yearly favorite, Native Union’s iPhone cases are crafted with unique, durable, and striking materials. Clic Card is crafted with genuine Italian Nappa leather with a built-in cardholder; Clic Canvas is made of premium woven fabric and a strong, flexible frame; while Clic Marquetry pieces together three genuine Italian types of leather made for the bold type. All cases are compatible with wireless charging. Shop here.

Bonus: Nomad Rugged Tri-Folio

For those who want to be taken seriously, Nomad’s Rugged Tri-Folio case is the best case for your iPhone. It’s made of Horween leather and has two large pockets and four extra-deep card slots to make your life convenient. Additionally, you can charge wirelessly with this supple yet durable case. Shop here.

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Accessories

9 gift ideas for the man of your life

For when your man can’t decide what he wants

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Finding a gift for a guy is difficult. You ask them what they want and they’ll respond with “anything.” (Guilty!)

I know, I know. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? To help you find a gift for the man of your life for whatever occasion, we asked several men what’s on their wishlist. Here, we narrowed down their choices:

Smartphone

Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro

Smartphones nowadays are essential to one’s life and the man of your life needs something that will let him stay connected with you and will capture every moment of his life. Gift him a powerful smartphone that won’t break your bank like the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro (US$ 403).

Sneakers

Adidas Continental 80

Give the gift of style and comfort by giving your man a pair of sneakers from Adidas like the Continental 80 (US$ 104), Stan Smith (US$ 94), or Ultraboost 19 (US$ 187). Your man would be delighted to receive some stylish kicks that he can show-off to his friends!

Gaming console

Nintendo Switch Lite

Let the man of your life — be it your brother, bae, best friend, or your dad — enjoy games by giving a Nintendo Switch Lite (US$ 200). This will also remind them that the only thing they should play with is a gaming console, not anyone’s heart.

RFID Wallet

Tommy Hilfiger Men’s RFID Blocking Leather Passcase Bifold Wallet

Wish your someone special well when you gift him a wallet, which is a symbol of wealth, money, and success. Gift them a stylish yet secure wallet like this Men’s RFID Blocking wallet from Tommy Hilfiger (US$ 24), which is guaranteed to protect his credit card and other info.

Instant Pot

Star Wars Instant Pot Duo Mini 3-Qt. Pressure Cooker, BB-8

Men are simple creatures: They want stuff that has multiple functions. To make sure they take care of themselves even without your help, gift them a Star Wars Instant Pot from Williams Sonoma (US$ 80). This single pot can be a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker, and warmer. It also comes in iconic designs like BB-8, R2-D2, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, and Chewbacca.

Wireless Earphones

Apple AirPods Pro

Help them live a life without cables by gifting them a pair of wireless earphones particularly the Apple AirPods Pro (US$ 249). It promises an immersive audio experience, thanks to its Active Noise-Cancellation. Let your man enjoy good music without being tethered.

Backpack

Briggs & Riley @work Medium Backpack

Gift them a backpack that can carry all their essentials while looking sleek and professional. This @work Medium Backpack by Briggs & Riley (US$ 319) has dedicated padded compartments for laptops and tablets, and RFID blocking protection.

Your Netflix Password

Netflix account

Of all the passwords you may share, it should only be Netflix and Netflix alone. Give them the gift of entertainment so they can enjoy the binge-watching sessions you do.

Wireless speakers

Sony SRS-XB41

For when he hosts a party with his friends and family, gift him a loud Bluetooth speaker that he can bring wherever he goes. For instance, Sony’s SRS-XB41 (US$ 196) is a waterproof, portable speaker equipped with party lights. He can now have his own music festival anywhere!

Bonus for 18+ adults: E-Cigarette

MOK e-cigarette

If he’s smoking and he can’t just quit, then an e-cigarette might be an alternative. MOK’s e-cigarette (US$ 98) is a Heat-Not-Burn device (HnB) which heats up tobacco to prevent consumption of harmful toxins smokers get from combustible tobacco, such as tar and carbon monoxide. Additionally, it doesn’t produce vapor and users can choose flavors for added sensation.

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