Philippines

Best Midrange Smartphones (Philippine 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 PhP 15,000 to PhP 30,000.

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:

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 (PhP 25,000)

It was the original Mi Mix that put borderless phones on the map, but it’s only with the Mi Mix 2 that Xiaomi can say they finally refined the concept. Now easier to hold and smarter in execution, the newest Xiaomi flagship has an improved pair of cameras and some of the best specs you can find on a phone priced at around PhP 25,000.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

OnePlus 5 (PhP 25,990)

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.

REVIEW: OnePlus 5

Huawei P10 (PhP 28,990)

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

Vivo V7+ (PhP 17,990)

Slim bezels have finally become mainstream on midrange smartphones thanks to the Vivo V7+. Although it no longer has a dual-camera setup like its predecessor, image quality is still top-notch for the price, and the new Snapdragon 450 chipset proves its worth in terms of performance and energy efficiency.

REVIEW: Vivo V7+

Moto Z2 Play (PhP 24,999)

We’re not including the Moto Z2 Play on our list just because it’s one of the few modular smartphones to come out this year (the Moto Z2 Force being the other one); in fact, it’s a solid handset with or without Moto Mods. We can thank the efficient Snapdragon 626 processor, super-fast fingerprint sensor, and clear Android skin for that.

REVIEW: Moto Z2 Play

Updates as of October:

  • Replaced Xiaomi Mi 6 with Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
  • Replaced OPPO R11 with Vivo V7+

Updates as of September:

  • Replaced ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom with Xiaomi Mi 6

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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