Features

Our sweetest Black Friday gadget finds [Updated!]

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Black Friday is almost here, and we all know what that means: incredible holiday discounts!

That’s right; once November 25 arrives, we’ll all be rolling in some of the best gadget deals witnessed this year.

There’s a lot to take in, and not much time before the big day, so we’ve come up with a list of the coolest products we’ve come across so far. Bookmark this page because we’ll keep it fresh with all the latest deals as they come in. Keep your eyes peeled and your fingers fast – the best deals are the first to go, we know we’ve got our thumbs and wallets ready.

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New Nintendo 3DS – $99.99

With Pokemon Sun & Moon just out, here’s something that’s immediately caught our attention! Nintendo is releasing a new special edition of the 3DS beginning this Friday, November 25 all for a super low $99.99 price tag. It’s quite awesome, really, with artwork of Mario characters embossed all over it. This special edition Nintendo 3DS will be available at all US retailers and come in black or white. We’ll post links as soon as we get them.

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Kindle E-reader – $49.99

When in doubt about what to buy for yourself or a loved one this holiday season, you can never go wrong with a Kindle E-reader. Amazon is in a giving mood, and has slashed $30 off its 6-inch model, bringing the slate down to only $49.99. It has a glare-free touchscreen, Wi-Fi connectivity, and can store thousands of books in its sleek body. What’s not to love?

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Amazon Echo – $139.99

Your home isn’t truly smart until you have an Echo at its center. Like the Kindle above, Amazon is bringing the price of its voice-controlled speaker down to $139.99 from the original price of $179.99. It’s highly intelligent, able to play your online music, answer questions about everyday things like the weather or traffic situation, and help get you an Uber in a snap. 

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Google Home – $99

This is a tech deal we absolutely love (and one we wish we waited for). Best Buy is going to offer Google’s recently launched Home for only $99. That’s a total steal for such as new product! As a voice-activated speaker, it’s a lot like Amazon’s Echo, but relies on the search giant’s knowledge graph to assist you in everyday tasks and control smart devices around your home.

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Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus – $439.99

Online retailer GearBest is currently offering a fantastic price for the international version of Xiaomi’s Mi 5s Plus. If you’re not familiar with this model, you better listen up. At $439.99, you’re looking at a smartphone with specs and features that rival the very best flagship handsets in the world. We’re not kidding; it has the best processor currently available, a pair of high-resolution cameras on its back, and enough storage and memory to handle any workload.

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EasyAcc 15000mAh Solar Power Bank – $28.99

This EasyAcc powerbank can be topped up using solar energy, and costs only $28.99 if you buy it from GearBest. On top of its environmentally friendly recharging method, it has a hefty capacity of 15000mAh — enough to charge a typical smartphone to full up to five times! You can even plug two devices to it at the same time, and there’s an LED flashlight built in for emergencies.

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Meizu EP-51 – $23.99

With manufacturers killing off traditional headphone jacks bit by bit, it’s up to wireless technology to serve our tunes. The Meizu EP-51 is a perfect example of sporty Bluetooth earphones on the cheap. For only $23.99 after a 49 percent discount, it’s a great deal considering the features you get: water resistance with an anti-sweat layer, built-in volume controls and mic, and up to six hours of straight playtime.

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Nomu S10 – $119.99

Nomu may not be a familiar name to most, but the brand has some cool gadgets in its portfolio. Take the $119.99 S10 smartphone, for instance. It’s rugged to the core, owning the highest ratings for water, dust, and freeze proofing, as well as military-grade shock resistance for long drops. It’s no slouch in performance, either, thanks to a large 5000mAh fast-charging battery, 4G LTE connectivity, and pure Android Marshmallow on board.

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Xiaomi Notebook Air 13.3″ – $809.99

Xiaomi’s MacBook Air clone is experiencing a sweet 64 percent discount on GearBest.com right now. This means the 13.3-inch Notebook Air can be had for only $809.99, and we aren’t even talking about some low-end model. You get Intel’s well-balanced Intel Core i5 processor, a generous helping of 8GB for memory and 256GB for SSD storage, and a dedicated NVIDIA graphics card. Excuse us as we place our own order.

[irp posts=”7615″ name=”Best of 2016: Budget phones under $300″]

Smartphones

Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro Unboxing

What’s inside the box?

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You already know how impressed we were during the hands-on, so now it’s time to see what comes in the package of Huawei’s newest flagships. This is our Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro unboxing.

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Hands-On

Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus hands-on: A step-up

The company’s greatest contender

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Cherry Mobile recently launched their new Flare S7 series, which is essentially their main smartphone lineup for the year. The greatest offering among the bunch is the Flare S7 Plus, a device with all the specifications and features you’d expect from a 2018 phone.

Since it’s from Cherry Mobile, you’d expect the phone to be cheap, right? Price-wise, it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s just another affordable phone.

Here’s what I got to say about the Flare S7 Plus.

Cherry Mobile has officially joined the notch wagon with a borderless 6.18-inch display. It’s a Full HD+ panel with a 19:9 aspect ratio, and it’s Cherry Mobile’s best display yet.

It’s vibrant and produces vivid colors, but the user interface kind of ruins the beauty of the display. It’s best to download your preferred third-party launcher and customize to your heart’s content.

Unlike with other midrange phones, the Flare S7 Plus’ notch is pretty wide and there’s a reason for it. The phone is equipped with more advanced facial recognition hardware including an IR camera. This ensures higher accuracy, faster unlocking, and even better face detection in low-light.

If you’re not a fan of face unlock, you can always resort to the fingerprint sensor placed on the back of the phone. Based on my usage, the fingerprint reader is faster most of the time than the face unlock. Good thing you have the best of both worlds.

Now that we’re on the back of the phone, let’s talk about another special feature of the Flare S7 Plus. Finally, Cherry Mobile embraces a more elegant design using a glass back and metal frame. I was told that they used Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides, so it won’t scratch easily in your pocket or on the table.

Since we we have a glass back, it’s possible to put in wireless charging and the company did just that. Simply place the phone on any Qi standard wireless charger, and let the magic happen.

It’s not exactly magic per se, but it’s amazing to have your phone charge by placing it on a table. This phone costs less than half of most flagships that don’t even support wireless charging.

Of course, you can always charge this phone’s 3050mAh battery through the reversible USB-C port, which also doubles as the audio port because, sadly, the Flare S7 Plus doesn’t have a 3.5 headphone jack. Cherry Mobile bundles a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter inside the box, so you can still use your legacy headphones as you please.

Powering the Flare S7 Plus is a MediaTek Helio P60 processor. We have already tried the capabilities of this chipset with the OPPO F9, and it definitely delivers great performance. If you’re into benchmarking, you’ll be glad to know the Helio P60 scores higher than its competitors.

The phone also comes with 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage which is pretty standard nowadays. It boots Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but there’s no word when Android 9 Pie is coming.

The gaming performance of the Flare S7 Plus is above average, which is what you can expect from the Helio P60. The Mali-G72 MP3 GPU works well with intensive games, but you must reduce the graphics quality a bit to get consistently high frame rates.

As for the cameras, the Flare S7 Plus has capable shooters that are probably the fruit of Cherry Mobile’s investment in improving their R&D when it comes to picture quality. The phone has dual rear shooters using a main 16-megapixel RGB sensor and a secondary 5-megapixel depth sensor. In the front, there’s another 16-megapixel selfie camera that’s paired with the IR sensor when needed. Check out the samples below:

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An additional feature of the front sensors is FlareMoji. Using the IR sensor and facial recognition, you can animate cutesy characters. Check this out:

It’s essentially like Apple’s Animoji, but the tracking is nowhere near as smooth as with the iPhone. Anyhow, it’s still enjoyable to use.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For just PhP 11,999 (US$ 225), the Flare S7 Plus offers a lot. You get a great premium phone with midrange power, beautiful display, and a plethora of extra features like wireless charging and an IR face scanner. The software UI is quite a letdown, but you can always download a launcher from the Play Store.

If you’re wondering what the Flare S7 Plus is in other markets, it’s also called the BLU VIVO XI+ and they share similar specifications and design.

SEE ALSO: Cherry Mobile announces Flare S7 series with three new smartphones

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Features

What does the GPU Turbo do to your phone?

Is it more than just a marketing gimmick?

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It’s been two months since Huawei rolled out the GPU Turbo update to its smartphones. Promised with a 60 percent increase in performance and reducing 30 percent on power consumption, a lot of fans and users were excited after the announcement.

Back then, everyone (including me) was hyped about lag-free games and longer battery life while playing. However, upon receiving the update, I began to wonder: Has GPU Turbo delivered what it promised?

What’s inside the update?

GPU Turbo was originally marketed as an improved gameplay experience, available only to PUBG and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

The Game Suite app, which comes with the update, offers an uninterrupted gaming feature, hiding all notifications when enabled (except for calls, alarms, and low-battery alerts).

Mistouch prevention is another feature to avert users from clicking the back and home button while playing — perfect for when you want to focus on your game.

Screenshots by Miguel Pineda, Huawei Mate 10 user

To some older smartphones like the Huawei Mate 10, the Game Suite App offers three performance modes: Gaming mode, which improves game performance but increases power consumption; Smart mode, which balances performance and power consumption; and Power saving mode, which saves power but reduces game performance.

For the newer Huawei P20 Pro (which I’ve been using) and Honor Play, it only has a gaming acceleration mode to toggle on or off.

Thoughts on the reduced power consumption

Because I used the Mate 10 before and recently transitioned to the P20 Pro, I’ve experienced the GPU Turbo update in both phones and I can guarantee that they’ve delivered on lowered power consumption.

With Game Suite, I can put my phone on power saving mode to further save battery. For instance, I was only able to drain the Mate 10 down to 15 percent during a 12-hour road trip despite switching between the games I play and other apps, such as Messenger, Netflix, Spotify, and taking photos and videos every once in a while. The same goes for the P20 Pro.

As a power user, I already get a lot of things done with these highly efficient smartphones and GPU Turbo; these allowed me to do more on a single charge. However, it’s a different case for gaming.

Improved gaming experience, but there’s a catch…

When I started playing games on gaming mode (or game acceleration mode on the P20 Pro), I could run Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on a high frame rate with the highest graphics setting available. Compared to how the game stuttered and lagged during 5v5 clashes, with GPU Turbo, it now runs smoothly, as if I have a smartphone made for gaming.

System notice when enabling the high frame rate on Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and the effects it may have on your gameplay

As shown above, most mobile games will notify their users about the possible repercussions of higher frame rates and using the best settings available. To prove that a smartphone with GPU Turbo can handle this, I sought out to confirm my suspicions.

After asking fellow Huawei users, I found out that after installing GPU Turbo, energy consumption is a lot faster than before. Their smartphones also heat up more easily, especially when playing games with the game acceleration mode on. This isn’t part of what was promised, and it’s pretty disappointing.

It’s not yet perfect

In my experience, GPU Turbo tries to boost performance above a smartphone’s limit hoping that users can experience better gameplay.

GPU Turbo can’t choose when to perform its best. It’s an update that is constantly running in our smartphones without any way to switch it off. We can only hope that Huawei will address these issues for the next batch of updates.

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