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Best smartphones of 2016

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OnePlus 3

This is it: our selection of this year’s best smartphones!

After dozens of reviews on our website and YouTube channel, coming up with this list was by no means easy.

We debated for hours on what we believe are the absolute best handsets released in 2016. Each of us have our GadgetMatch just like you, so all nominations were valid.

Let’s get down to it.

OnePlus 3

Must we say more? With a price that undercuts every other flagship out there and specs that continue to shine, we can affirm that this is truly OnePlus’ flagship killer.

And it’s not just the price and features that we fell in love with. The way it was designed — from the sleek metal build to the squeaky clean Android interface — instantly won us over.

Sure, the updated OnePlus 3T already came out, but we’ll stay loyal to the one that kept us company since last June.

Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

We’re sort of cheating by giving two slots to the same brand, but Apple’s simultaneously launched flagships once again deserve a pair of spotlights.

Although the upgrades are incremental and all the talk is about next year’s super-duper tenth-anniversary iPhone, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are so powerful and so refined that they continue to make most Androids look like rocks in a sea of pearls.

And even if next year’s iPhones turn out to be drastic revolutions, there’s no shame in having what are currently the best Apple smartphones ever.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

We feel bad adding these two to the list, because this spot should have belonged to the Galaxy Note 7. Had it not been discontinued, it would have been our unanimous best.

Still, Samsung hit two homeruns at once with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Released way back in February, these phones continue to overshadow most handsets launched since then.

Powerful processors built by Samsung, gorgeous AMOLED displays with equally beautiful glass and metal frames, plus the best cameras in the business — we love using our Galaxy S7 pair to this day.

Honorable mentions

There you have it; those were our top choices for smartphones of 2016. But with so many incredible gadgets this year, we just had to include a few honorable mentions. Let’s break them down into their respective awards.

Best software in a smartphone: Google Pixel

Google Pixel

Even though it didn’t make the cut, Google’s very own Pixel phone shines with its optimized take on stock Android, which effectively replaced the Nexus brand we all had to say good bye to. The software is so good, it makes every shot taken with the Pixel’s camera look that more alluring. And we can’t forget about Assistant; Google’s intelligent AI outperforms the likes of Siri and Cortana with lots of humor behind its mostly accurate answers.

Best premium compact smartphone: Apple iPhone SE

Apple iPhone SE

Now that Sony is no longer investing in premium compacts like the well-received Xperia Z5 Compact, the award for best phone that actually fits in your hand and pocket is the iPhone SE. It’s nearly identical to the iPhone 5s before it, but speedier components and new colors make it a significant upgrade for those wanting a phone well below five inches in screen size.

Best modular smartphone: Moto Z

Moto Z

Not much competition here. With the demise of Google’s Project Ara and the clunkiness of LG’s execution on its G5 flagship, the Moto Z is the clear winner for best phone with modularity. The simple magnetic strip at the back is your gateway to a host of varied Moto Mods that’ll grow in number next year. We’re excited!

Best smartphones below $300

How can we have the best smartphones of 2016 without mentioning some of the more budget-friendly products? Well, we covered five of them in a recent list which we also debated over for hours. The list still holds strong now, no matter how fascinating the phones above are.

Do you strongly believe we’re missing out on your favorite phone? Is there anything else we could have added? Please let us know by commenting below.

Features

ASUS ZenBook Pro 15: Is the ScreenPad worth it?

Two screens for double the fun

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At first glance, the new ZenBook Pro 15 (UX580GE) may look like an ordinary laptop. There’s nothing out of the ordinary on its solid chassis, and both the keyboard layout and screen are as plain as can be.

On the inside, my unit has some of the best specs around: an Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics, 16GB of memory, 1TB SSD storage, and a mouthwatering 15.6-inch 4K touchscreen — but those still aren’t this notebook’s coolest feature.

It’s only when you turn on the device and press a button on the keyboard’s top row when the magic happens.

You can go from this…

… to this!

Yup, the touchpad is a touchscreen called ScreenPad

Besides being able to choose whatever wallpaper you want for it…

You may also play music on it

Check your calendar for upcoming events

Turn it into a handy virtual numpad

Use it as a full-fledged calculator at any time

And add any other function you might need 

It even comes with its very own settings menu

Not impressed yet? Let’s try Extension Display mode

Now you can treat it as a secondary screen!

Perfect for watching videos while “working” 😉

Or simply trying to be more productive

Here I am viewing photos while editing on Photoshop

And choosing the next clip to edit on Premiere Pro

It can even handle Photoshop and Premiere Pro at the same time!

Here’s my favorite trick: watching a YouTube walkthrough while playing games

There are a lot more things you can do with the ScreenPad, but these were the most useful ones in my own workflow. ASUS is opening up the magical touchpad to other apps, so the possibilities here are endless and it’ll only get better through time.

So, is the ScreenPad actually worth it? To be honest, I usually left it on wallpaper mode with my favorite pictures to add style to my workspace; I even turned it off completely while the laptop was unplugged to save on battery power.

It’s one of those things you never knew you needed until you got it. The ScreenPad is an evolution for laptops which have been becoming stale in the past couple of years, but not something you can’t live without.

Do I want a ScreenPad on all future laptops? Yes, definitely! Who wouldn’t want two screens at once?

If you want to learn more about the ZenBook Pro 15 and watch it in action, check out our hands-on video:

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Features

OPPO drops the F9, Motorola copy-pastes: Weekend Rewind

Why innovate when you can recreate, right?

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Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.

1. OPPO F9 (water)drops!

We were getting teasers of this phone two weeks ago and now it’s finally here! The OPPO F9 is official and it comes with a notch that the company is essentially calling a “waterdrop.” That aside, it’s looking like a lean, mean, midrange machine with its 6GB RAM and 64GB of storage, an AI-enhanced 16MP main shooter with a secondary 2MP depth sensor for portraits, and a 3500 mAh battery.

Our hands-on and unboxing is up on YouTube so make sure you watch it!

2. Motorola copy-pastes

Notches and gradients are all the rage in 2019, so we guess it makes sense that Motorola opted to fuse both the iPhone X and the Huawei P20 Pro. The result is the Motorola P30 because Moto probably couldn’t be bothered to think of another name. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 636 chip with 6GB memory. It will come in both a 64GB and a 128GB variant. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery they say. Moto must really want to butter up Apple and Huawei.

3. Poco loco!

Xiaomi’s been cooking something but since this is the Internet and tech leaks are totally a thing, we already know what it is. Coming our way officially next week is the Pocophone F1. A leaked video pretty much already told us a lot of what we want to know: 5.99-inch display, Snapdragon 845, and 6GB of memory.

We’ll have our own video on this soon so definitely stay tuned for it.

4. Pies to go

Google is being generous in handing out pies. Android Go, a less data-hungry version of the mobile operating system, will also get Android Pie. The Go edition of the newest Android OS only needs half the storage space and can run fluidly, even with just a gigabyte of memory.


5. Contraceptive app

Not ready for the responsibility of raising a child? There’s an app for that! The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved Natural Cycles. It’s the very first app to be marketed as a method of contraception. It determines whether a woman is fertile or not then advises which days you should “abstain” or “use protection.”

However, the FDA warns that “no form of contraception works perfectly, so an unplanned pregnancy could still result from correct usage of this device.”


Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

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Features

7 best affordable flagship smartphones of 2018

Best specs, lower prices

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Putting the words “affordable” and “flagship” seems like an oxymoron at first, but manufacturers have reached a point wherein this magical combination is actually possible.

Yes, affordable flagships are a thing now, and they’re taking away some of the premium segment’s long-standing thunder. Why wouldn’t you want the best specs and features in a cheaper package?

This year has been kind to us with all the affordable flagships launched thus far. Here are the best ones to date:

OnePlus 6

Let’s begin with the brand that started it all. Originally called the “flagship killer,” the OnePlus line is synonymous with high-end power without the extravagant pricing. The OnePlus 6 is the latest entry, and it’s an absolute stunner from its gorgeous display to the fluid Android interface.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S

This is the one time Xiaomi likes to go a little more premium, and we support it a hundred percent. The Mi Mix 2S combines a ceramic body with a massive, notch-free display and incredible hardware for the price. Each generation improves on the predecessor — this is no exception.

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