Lifestyle

PSA: I like phones that fit my tiny hands

Bigger isn’t always better in my case

Illustration by Migs Buera

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Back in the early 2010s, we used to dread smartphones that are getting larger. At most, we could tolerate phones between 5 to 5.5 inches as our daily drivers — making it the sweet spot that fits our hands, pockets, and clutches.

Phablets were considered enormous with their insanely humongous screens sitting between 6.5 to 7 inches in size. But a decade later, we see it as the norm and compact phones have become a rare Pokémon in the wild.

But something shifted in the new decade as more smartphones, once again, started arriving in compact sizes. Although the definition of compact varies from one brand or manufacturer to another, smaller size phones coming back made me giddy. Goes to show that there’s a market to serve. As someone who constantly complained about the hefty, colossal smartphones with humongous screens, I am very much part of it.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra | Photo by MJ Jucutan

I actually enjoy the technology and smart features in large phones like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, OPPO Find X3 Pro, and the Mi 10T Pro. As wonderful as they are, they came with an inconvenience that a handful of people can relate to. Too big for smaller hands, too heavy to carry, too huge and bulky inside the pocket — the list goes on.

Bigger isn’t always better, at least for me

Yes, you read it right. Bigger isn’t always better, at least in my case. I had a lot of people (and egotistical friends) preached to me how they like the biggest and the largest smartphones available because of three reasons:

1. It’s the most expensive which shows how much they can shell out for a gadget.
2. They’re the best in a smartphone lineup because again, they’re the most expensive and the biggest.
3. They have the most features that you can enjoy.

Not gonna lie, I somewhat agree. Like how the S-Pen is compatible with the Galaxy S21 Ultra but not with the base edition. Although, at the end of the day, these features are nice to have but not a must-have.

All the exact features you need to make your smartphone experience enjoyable are shared across the product lineup. It’s a lineup for a reason. Don’t let other people tell you otherwise.

Unlike the reasons listed above, I’m not looking for the best, or the biggest, or the ones that I can brag about in mirror selfies. I want the right one. The right fit for my tiny and frail hands.

I want to hold it while I’m on the street without worrying about it slipping off my hand or dropping it accidentally. Or fit in my pocket without bulging. I want it to be just enough for my day-to-day life.

The product of listening

In 2021, a lot of handsets stuck to their usual sizes — mostly 6.5-inch and above. Only two flagship phones embraced a compact size and remained true to their promise: the Samsung Galaxy S21 and the ASUS Zenfone 8.

To pack so many features in a compact body is a great feat and a mindful one — because they actually listened to what a handful of users desire. Even though we’re in the minority, Samsung and ASUS listened, and that my friend is how you make a loyal customer. Keyword: listened. (Error 404: LG Mobile not found.)

To my disbelief, I particularly enjoyed the Zenfone 8 more than the Galaxy S21. It’s made of glass, kind of curved, and it’s much easier for one-handed use.

Though it’s just a bit smaller and lighter than Samsung’s flagship, overall, the Zenfone 8 had me glued to my phone once more. Don’t get me wrong: I still like both phones (and compact phones that are yet to come), but I had more fun using the no-frills Zenfone 8.

I realized what people claim to dislike about compact phones during are also the exact reasons why I like it. Another way of saying this is “what you take for granted is what someone else wishes for.”

The misconceptions and why they’re wrong

Liking compact phones is subjective. But there are common misconceptions regarding compact phones, mostly coming from those who prefer using large phones. Or those who have unrealistic standards when it comes to the latest smartphones marketed as “small and compact.”

Some say it’s not ideal for binge-watching, but I found myself watching more shows — on YouTube and Netflix — on the go frequently. When a phone is small and light, it makes it easy for your arms to lift for a longer time and not put a strain on your hands and fingers. This works especially when you’re unwell in bed and you just want to lie down and watch something.

Also, having a smaller screen doesn’t make it hard for me to watch a video unlike other people claim. Having an AMOLED display is enough: I can delight in a visual spectacle especially when you couple it with a magnificent audio experience. Don’t believe people when they say they need to squint their eyes when watching on a smaller screen.

On the topic of working remotely, some would prefer a bigger screen — and I adamantly feel the same. It’s better for writing and doing heavy work that you need to finish as quickly as possible.

But since my work requires checking designs and monitoring social media activities, I need to be able to take a glance and be on my toes. This means being ahead of any crisis, being able to jump on sudden turnarounds even if I’m on a sidewalk or I’m heading to a restaurant for my next lunch meeting.

In my experience, the ASUS Zenfone 8 served me well. I’ve gone to several lunches and dinners, and in between meetings I was able to respond and deliver my work — all done with just one hand while my other hand carries a Starbucks cold brew.

Though having a compact phone gave me a 2010-like experience that I can enjoy in 2021, a lot aren’t still sold with my experience for one, specific reason: the current compact phones aren’t small enough.

That small isn’t small enough?!

Some friends said the Zenfone 8 isn’t small enough. But are we looking for another iPhone 12 Mini — which is cool and cute by the way — whose production ended due to a low number of sales?

I started wondering: Up to which extent are we going to force smartphone manufacturers to produce a smartphone that fits our ideals? Samsung and ASUS did it right, technically speaking. Both companies made strides to pack the smartest and best features for their lineup in a phone so small, that the only limitations I encountered were its batteries.

To which, I still think, is something that both companies should continue to work on if they decide to press forward with compact phones. Nonetheless, it’s discourteous to discredit both companies from doing their best. It’s like telling someone that their best efforts aren’t good enough.

Like it or not, compact phones are here to stay. And if the “compact” size they can do right now is a 5.9-inch, then so be it. Maybe it’s the right size, maybe it’s the new sweet spot. Only time and numbers will tell.

For now, I’ll enjoy this phone that fits my tiny hands. And I don’t think you should worry about my opinion as well. At the end of the day, the best phone that you can have is the one that fits your hands and obviously, the one that you can afford without breaking the bank. C’est la vie.

Apps

I’m missing the Olympics because I don’t have cable

And it sucks

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It’s 2021. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which was delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, is in full swing as of writing. However, as someone whose primary source of media entertainment all comes from streaming, there’s no easy and convenient way for me to watch the games. Major bummer.

I like to enjoy my media a certain way; I prefer to stream them on my TV. Which is why majority of the content I consume come from YouTube, Netflix, and the occasional Amazon Prime, HBO Go (Yep, not even HBO Max), and Apple TV.

I find it incredibly baffling that the stakeholders involved in bringing the games to the people failed to come to an agreement to make it easily accessible on the aforementioned platforms. It’s 2021. Why on earth am I not able to watch the greatest sporting event on the planet the way I want to?

Believe me, I hear the privilege in my words. Regardless, I still feel marginalized.

So how can you watch the Olympics right now?

I asked a friend who’s been covering the games. He watches through cable and had to pay a PhP 150 fee (around US$ 3/ SG$ 4) to avail of the Tokyo 2020 Premium from a particular cable provider.

Thing is, the whole Olympic coverage in the Philippines is locked to the MVP group of companies. You wanna follow the games, you’re gonna have to do it on one of their platforms.

Here’s an excerpt from their press release on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic coverage:

“Sports fans will have comprehensive access to the Olympic Games — from the Opening Ceremonies all the way to when the games conclude — on free to air via TV5 and One Sports. One Sports+ on Cignal TV will also dedicate a significant amount of their daily hours to broadcast the events, with Cignal also opening up two exclusive channels dedicated to broadcast the games 24/7. Cignal Play, in addition to live channels TV5, One Sports & One Sports+, will be offering exclusive channels broadcasting live updates to its subscribers, along with exclusive content not available on the TV broadcast. Cignal TV’s One News leads the group’s round-the-clock news coverage, featuring results, updates, and highlights.”

Comprehensive? Maybe. For platforms within the MVP group of companies. If you’re not subscribed to any of these, well, that’s just too bad. It’s good for business and I completely understand how the whole thing works. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The coverage also missed to televise or showcase Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal win in the Weightlifting competition. If you’ve been following sports news, the Philippines was expected to get a medal in this event. Sadly, the moment was only known following updates from reporters on the ground.

How I wish it was handled

I’m sure there’s a lot more that goes into it in terms of TV and broadcasting rights, but we’re literally at an age where plenty of folks have decided to cut the cord and rely on streaming for content.

On YouTube, you can buy and/or rent movies and shows. The platform and structure exists for pay-to-watch content. They could have even made tiers or packages like charge a certain amount to gain access to all the games, a different and lower amount if you just want to follow a certain sport and/or a certain event.

Maybe the potential earnings to do so didn’t justify the costs to implement it. Whatever the case, it’s still incredibly frustrating.

Sure, I can go through the hoopla of setting up a VPN and look for streaming sites. But that’s more even more cumbersome. I don’t mind paying a convenience fee if it means that after a long day of work I can kick back, relax, and watch some damn sports.

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Dating

Google is banning ‘sugar daddy’ dating apps

Starting September 1

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Dating apps are a dime a dozen nowadays. Regular daters have the more popular apps available including Tinder and Bumble. Niche daters also have their own set of apps for their own preferences. Did you know that there’s a dating app for farmers, for example? Apparently, despite the wide variety of apps, Google is less than thrilled over a very specific category of the market: sugar-daddy dating apps.

First reported by Android Police, Google is issuing new policies to cover the strange niche. And yes, they do exist. As the name implies, these dating apps are specifically made for daters looking for their own sugar daddy or sugar mommy (or vice versa).

In dating parlance, sugar daddy and mommies refer to rich daters who spoil their partners using their wealth in return for physical affection. The relationship type shouldn’t be an issue in itself. (“Different folks, different strokes,” as the saying goes.) However, Google certainly has issues with these apps.

According to the new policy, there will be “new restrictions on sexual content, specifically prohibiting compensated sexual relationships (i.e., sugar dating).” The policy will go into effect starting September 1.

Google has always been moderately tough on sexual content. Though looking up “sex” on the Play Store elicits a swath of tools and apps, the online catalog never outrightly includes any sexual content. Google potentially dislikes the “compensated” part of sugar-daddy dating apps, which can link it to a form of prostitution.

That said, Google seems to be all-in on less transactional dating apps like Tinder. Instead of propagating relationships through transactions, apps like Tinder do promote finding a true partner.

SEE ALSO: How to quench your thirst for dating in the time of social distancing

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Accessories

3 accessories that should be inside your gym bag

Forget trackers and sports watches

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Working out has been a holy grail in my daily life. Even though gyms are closed, I made it a habit to use my gym bag. It made it easier to keep my stuff organized, and it helps with compartmentalizing. I can focus on my workout when I dedicate a space for everything related to fitness.

By now, you probably know the usual essentials that should be inside your bag. Smartphones, smartwatch, resistance band, hand wraps, water bottles, extra clothes, and more.

But I’ll let you in on my little world: I have three mainstay accessories inside my gym bag which I deem essential for my workouts — whether it’s at the gym or at home.

Soundcore 3

A portable Bluetooth speaker isn’t something I would use at the gym. But on my outdoor workouts and the social distancing imposed in almost every location, I need entertainment that allows me to still be in tune with my surroundings.

This is why the Soundcore 3 has been a great companion that I bring in my routines, especially when I decided not to use my pair of wireless earbuds.

It pumps up the bass even at low volumes, making my cardio exercises a bit more fun. And its dual drivers with pure titanium diaphragms minimize distortion for clearer audio.

The Soundcore 3 also has easy controls and carries a massive battery that gives you 24-hour playtime. Yes, my dear friend. You can listen to more than 400 songs on a single charge.

But what I like about it the most is its IPX7 rating. It gives me peace of mind when I hold the speakers with my sweaty hands or when I work out in the rain. And because I can bring it to the shower whenever I practice my dance moves.

The Soundcore 3 retails for PhP 3,195.

Powercore 5000

Another mainstay in my gym bag is an ultra-compact power bank from Anker. Called Powercore 5000, this power bank slides easily in your pocket (or your bag’s pockets). With 5000mAh capacity, it can recharge either my phone or my Soundcore 3 whenever I take a rest.

It does not support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge, but it still sports an exclusive PowerIQ technology so you can still experience high-speed charging for your gadgets.

Nonetheless, it comes with a travel pouch so you can keep your power bank safe, a MicroUSB cable for connectivity, a welcome guide, and a worry-free 18-month warranty.

The Powercore 5000 retails for PhP 1,295.

Anker Powerline 3-in-1

I like being prepared and ready at all times. This is why even a cable was able to count as a mainstay in my bag. Anker’s Powerline 3-in-1 is a handy accessory since it has interchangeable connectors — Lightning, Micro USB, and USB-C.

It makes it easier to charge several devices that have different ports, without carrying multiple cables that would probably populate my organizers. Luckily, the Powerline 3-in-1 keeps the internal wiring protected so I don’t have to worry about replacing cables anytime soon.

Plus, it has an MFi certification from Apple so it charges fast and safe — which I lend to my friends that use an iPhone, who for some reason, always forget to carry their own cables.

The Anker Powerline 3-in-1 retails for PhP 995.

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