Features

Of disruptors, flagships, and price points

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What makes a smartphone a flagship phone?

Just the other day, during a weekly chat over drinks, the GadgetMatch team found ourselves in a conundrum.

While a few years back the answer was simple, these days, the imaginary lines that separate phone classes are getting murkier. That’s especially true in 2016, a year where up-and-coming brands are disrupting price points by introducing the same kinds of phones for less.

Companies like ASUS and OnePlus both offer smartphones that can compete with the best of 2016 at almost half the price. No buts, no ifs, no compromises.

The only thing separating the cream of the crop are features that are great to have but otherwise completely unnecessary: a 4K display, like most high-end televisions; water resistance; and modularity. But when it comes to high-end essentials, the disruptors have it all.

Next week, I’ll be off to New York to cover the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, the latest in a trio of high-end phones by the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer. If its little brother, the Galaxy S7, is any indicator, expect the Galaxy Note 7 to be one of the best smartphones 2016 will see.

The Note 7 has everything that makes the S7 great: a gorgeous design, weatherproofing, expandable storage, a top notch camera, a built-in stylus, and, possibly, an iris scanner for security.

I haven’t settled on my favorite phone this year yet, one that’ll I’ll keep and use everyday for a year. But in my quest for the best smartphone technology has to offer, the Galaxy Note 7 is sounding like the perfect candidate.

My current daily driver, for all of two weeks, is the OnePlus 3. One of those disruptors I’ve been talking about. The OnePlus 3 is a gorgeous $400 smartphone: all metal, with rounded edges and an ultra-slim frame.

It’s just the right size; runs one of the best Android skins I’ve used; and comes with almost all the bells and whistles I look for in a phone: fast charging; fast fingerprint scanning; and a great camera. The only high-end features this phone doesn’t have are water resistance, a 2K display, and a rich ecosystem of compatible apps, accessories, and companion devices.

But I’m okay with that. In fact, the more time I spend with the OnePlus 3, the more I tell myself, this is actually a phone I don’t mind using daily. Scratch that—this is a phone I actually enjoy using. All of a sudden, my world is turned upside down. Maybe I don’t need a $700 phone? My current $400 phone costs significantly less, but it makes me happy.

Late last week, in Vietnam, another disruptor, Taiwanese tech brand ASUS announced two new smartphones, the ZenFone 3 Laser and ZenFone 3 Max. While ASUS has a phone that competes directly with the OnePlus 3, the equally impressive ZenFone 3 Deluxe, the two just-announced phones compete at another, much lower price point. But they too are disruptive.

Also last week, we were given an opportunity to take these yet-to-be released devices for a dry run. Our verdict? Both of them are significantly better than their predecessors. Our only dilemma, how to classify them. Are they midrange phones or budget phones? Between their specs and price tags, it’s hard to tell.

Which brings us back to the question, what makes a smartphone a flagship phone? Or, for that matter, what makes a budget phone? A midrange phone?

When everything was much simpler, the answer had to do with design, choice of materials, and specs. But now, even those at lower price points, some smartphones are designed well, made from premium materials, and come with impressive specs and features. Now that the playing field is somewhat equal, it all boils down to price.

For disruptors OnePlus and ASUS, it’s a question they both currently face, weeks before for their upcoming launches in the Philippines. I expect both their flagship offerings to come in at around P20,000 ($420). With both phones equally matched in terms of specs, whichever is more affordable is likely to win.

But it’s not just about these two phones. What about the flagships whose popularity they intend on disrupting?

At around the same time both the OnePlus 3 and ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe are supposed to go on sale, so should the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 for about P40,000 ($850). The Galaxy S7 is slightly cheaper, about P35,000 ($740).

Bleeding-edge tech comes at a premium, but I wonder, if for the casual consumer, it is worth it. Will there come a time where users, spoiled by the promise of a premium smartphone experience for less, reject the idea of any expensive phone?

Maybe we’ve hit the nail on the head. Maybe a flagship phone is about a premium experience.

I own another phone, a second daily driver, the iPhone 6S—a smartphone so great, that on paper has never competed head-to-head with all the other greats in terms of specs, but nevertheless continues to impress.

Case in point: the budget ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser has 4GB of RAM, twice that of the premium iPhone 6S. What Apple does, however, to justify its higher price points, is that it controls all the moving parts so that the internals can take a step back and users can focus on the usage experience instead.

The challengers to Apple and Samsung seem to have caught on that principle. When you unbox the OnePlus 3, enclosed is a letter from OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei. His message is simple: “Never settle.”

The thinking at ASUS isn’t very different. ASUS CEO Jerry Shen tells me the ZenFone is about “empowering luxury.” It’s about perfecting the smartphone experience and making it possible for everyone to afford this experience.

In a world where the common belief is you get what you pay for, it is intriguing to find that premium doesn’t have to cost so much. And while I appreciate how tech companies innovate with curved displays, super-fast charging, and the like, perhaps the biggest smartphone innovation of 2016 is something less tangible.

Perhaps it’s about premium experiences we can all afford.

[irp posts=”8433″ name=”Best smartphones of 2016″]

Features

Why the IdeaPad is an ideal partner

For getting started and more

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Lenovo IdeaPad

Every good thing we have today began with an idea. But it didn’t end as just being that.

When you’re in the late stages of college or university education or perhaps about to enter the workforce, this is the time when you’re full of youthful energy and a desire to make a dent in the world.

It’s also around this time that you’re bursting at the seams with ideas on what you want to do, and what you want to contribute to society. You might also be looking for a tool that can help you bring these ideas to life.

It’s a critical time in your life and you may not have the resources for multiple tools. So if you’re putting all your eggs in one basket — or in this case one gadget — let it be something that’s powerful, versatile, and can match all your needs.

Here’s an idea: Perhaps you should get a Lenovo IdeaPad! We think you should choose the new IdeaPad Slim 5/5i or IdeaPad Flex 5/5i. Read on to know why.

The processing power you need 

The IdeaPad Slim 5/5i and Flex 5/5i are equipped with fresh Intel or AMD Ryzen processors to go along with configurations of up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 1TB of SSD internal storage. That means all the computing power and speed you would need to last you for a few years.

Whether you’re dealing with tons of documents, endless pages of spreadsheets, and slide after slide of presentations, an IdeaPad will have you more than covered.

A workhorse like you deserves a partner that can more than keep up. These IdeaPads come with batteries that can stay with you for over 10 hours. Whether you’re making things happen at home or lugging it around for necessary remote work, it’s a device that has enough juice for a day.

Tools that keep you going

If you’re working with videos and images, the IdeaPad Slim 5/5i and Flex 5/5i will surely help in bringing your ideas to life. The only limit is your imagination.

It’s peppered with ports to unlock the multimedia mage in you. IdeaPads typically have a USB-C port, two USB 3.1 ports, a DisplayPort, an SD card reader, and an audio jack. You’re also equipped with competent connectivity (WiFi 5, Bluetooth 4.2). That’s everything you need to work your magic.

If you’re really deep into the arts, the IdeaPad Flex 5/5i comes with a stylus to give your creativity even more flexibility. Flip it however you like and whatever form you’re comfortable with. This is a gadget line that won’t leave you wanting.

A worthy partner

Life is already difficult enough as it is. Make it easier on yourself by choosing a partner that will help you achieve your goals. A partner that can stay with you through the grind and enable you to do things you probably didn’t think you’re capable of.

You need a partner that you can just let loose on without fear that it will give up on you at a crucial moment. This is what Lenovo IdeaPads are built for. They’re designed to provide you better opportunities, greater connectivity, and the ability to transcend limitations with its smarter technology and solutions that unlock your potential when turning ideas into reality.

The IdeaPad Slim 5/5i and Flex 5/5i are pre-installed with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2019 and come bundled with Lenovo’s 3-Year Premium Care warranty upon purchase. This top-notch service provides customers with direct access to Lenovo engineers. They can guide you on basic troubleshooting and do an annual PC Health Check, as well as on-site repairs if absolutely necessary.

Don’t let yourself be held back by machines that fall short of the greatness you wish to achieve. With a Lenovo IdeaPad, you’re equipped with the necessary tools to make it big. Once you have one, all you really need is an idea to build on.


Contact any Lenovo authorized reseller to get your hands on an IdeaPad: http://lenovoph.com/authorizedresellers

This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Lenovo Philippines.

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Apps

How to get NBA League Pass with your telco provider

There are two package options

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NBA action is in full swing. In fact, it has been since August when the season restarted following a shut down that was caused by the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic. As of writing, we’re in the thick of the Conference Finals series. If you want to catch all the action, here’s how you can get NBA League Pass through different telecomm providers in the Philippines.

It’s now easier than ever to get access to the games legally. All of Smart, PLDT, and Globe are offering the same price packages.

PhP 85 — Watch any three games of your choice
PhP 485 — 30-day pass for all games including live and on-demand

Here’s how to get the subscription for each provider.

Smart Postpaid and Prepaid
(Also works with TNT and SUN Postpaid)

  • Download the NBA app (iOS / Android /APKPure)
  • On the app, click on the icon at the top-right corner
  • Click sign-in
  • A banner on top of the page will appear for Smart, Sun and TNT subscribers
  • Click ‘Get Started’
  • Enter mobile number for verification and a one-time PIN which will be sent to your mobile number
  • Choose your provider: Smart, TNT or Sun.
  • Choose your NBA League Pass Package (3-game or 30-days) and enter mobile number
  • Confirm your payment by entering the one-time PIN sent to your mobile number
  • Click NBA logo and start watching

PLDT Home

  • Go to pldthome.com/nbaleaguepass
  • Select your preferred package
  • The amount will be added to your next bill
  • PLDT will give a voucher
  • Download and sign-in to the NBA app
  • Enter the voucher in the promotion code field
  • Click NBA logo and start watching

Globe

  • Open the GCash app
  • Go to Buy Load
  • Look for the PayTV tab
  • Choose your preferred package. (Note: The chosen package is valid for 90 days).
  • Confirm payment
  • Open the NBA app and enjoy!

As mentioned earlier, we’re no in the Conference Finals with four teams remaining. Dueling in the West are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. Meanwhile in the East, it’s a battle between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics.

A new NBA champion will likely be crowned in the next 30 days so now is the best time to subscribe!

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Accessories

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Watch SE: Unboxing and Buyer’s Guide

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There’s a new Apple Watch iteration every year — although this year, we have two new models to unbox. Other than that, we also have the newest one-piece bands called ‘Solo Loop’ — both in silicon and braided.

Although Apple completely removed the charging brick out from the usual packaging, they packed several new features on the Watch Series 6 including the new blood oxygen sensor and Always-On Altimeter. Meanwhile, the Watch SE is meant for people who’d want to experience Apple’s wearable without having to spend too much.

Between these two, which of them is your GadgetMatch? Or are you struggling to choose one?

You can head over to our latest Apple Watch Series 6 vs Apple Watch SE Unboxing and Buyer’s Guide right here to find out more.

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