Features

And the best smartphone camera is…

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Mirror, mirror on the wall, which smartphone takes the best photos of them all?

If you’re looking for the best camera smartphone money can buy, look no further. We’ve rounded up the best, currently available smartphones in the world today, took them on a road trip, took plenty of the same photos, and evaluated the results.


Here’s what we found…

Mechanics and Disclaimer

But wait! Before we dive in, allow us to set the stage a bit.

First, it’s important to note that these smartphones were announced at different times of the year. It’s possible that phones released later could benefit from more advanced technology.  

Second, this test wasn’t conducted in a controlled environment. We shot these photos in the real world, but did our best to keep shooting conditions as similar as possible, including framing and the position of the sun and clouds. All of these photos were taken handheld on Auto with high dynamic range (HDR) mode turned off (except, of course, for our HDR test).

And lastly the results were voted upon by the GadgetMatch team. The process involved a blind test where photos in a series were shown in random order. We had no idea which phones shot what until we reviewed the results. Some phones surprised us!

This feature is best viewed on a desktop computer or laptop.

Landscape

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe

3rd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

In our very first comparison, we were already impressed by all the phones! Not a single one of them did poorly in the landscape test; each one presenting strong colors and wide dynamic range despite HDR being turned off. Still, we had to choose a winner, and it was the Pixel. Every element looked sharp, and colors popped more than the rest. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe and Galaxy S7 edge were a close second and third, but honestly, all phones passed with flying colors.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Dynamic Range (HDR Off)

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Moto Z

This was another tough call, but the Pixel won out in our dynamic range test sans any HDR tricks. Again, both the foreground and background looked great, and no details were lost in the darker regions. To our surprise, the Moto Z captured second place, mostly due to its accurate rendering of the bright areas — just look at how striking the sky and vegetation are!

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Dynamic Range (HDR On)

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Was this even close? Take one look at all the samples, and it’s clear the Pixel won without any doubt. When high dynamic range is needed, Google’s HDR+ mode shines like no other. If not for the Pixel, the Galaxy S7 edge would have been the winner. Despite being a year old, its HDR mode still leaves most phones in the dust.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Portrait

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

3rd place: Moto Z

Yet another win for the Pixel! This phone does such a great job maintaining color accuracy while making everything look so crisp — check out the skin tone and details on the shirt to see what we mean. The Galaxy S7 edge did nearly as well, and the Moto Z once again impressed us despite being the oldest phone in this shootout.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Food

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Google’s flagship phone is making this look too easy. When it comes to food photography, we prefer the picture that makes the meal look the most appetizing, and the Pixel did just that. The Galaxy S7 edge did a fine job as well, producing colors that stood out but didn’t betray the actual look of the sumptuous shrimp.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Group Selfie

Winner: Moto Z

2nd place: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Surprise, surprise — the Moto Z now has a win under its belt! We loved how everyone fit comfortably in its frame and looked lovely in the process. That’s its edge over the iPhone 7 Plus, although the latter produced our favorite shot when it came to saturation and skin tone. But we must say, the rest had their own strengths, too; it all boils down to personal preference.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Color/Macro

Winner: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

2nd place: Sony Xperia XZ

3rd place: Google Pixel

Add a check mark under the iPhone 7 Plus for this round. When it came to capturing the most amount of detail up close, none could match the iPhone’s output; however, we must commend the Xperia XZ for maximizing its subject tracking to stick to the swaying flower and maintain sharpness. The Pixel had an overall fine performance, and earned the third spot.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Selfie

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Huawei Mate 9

3rd place (tie): Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and Moto Z

Turns out the Pixel has a pretty good selfie camera, too! Our subject isn’t lost in the crowded background, and each strand of hair is distinguishable. The Mate 9 performed nearly as well, if only it didn’t slightly oversaturate some of the colors. The Galaxy S7 edge and Moto Z are tied for third, thanks to well-balanced contrast and a pleasantly wide angle.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Dusk

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

2nd place: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

This had to be the most challenging scenario for all entries. There was lots of movement, colors were flashing from all directions, and the sun was setting quickly. With all these elements in place, the Galaxy S7 edge slayed the shot and brought home gold by taking in the entire scene without a hitch. We had to give second place to the iPhone 7 Plus for making the colors in the foreground look so attractive.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Night

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

2nd place: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Here’s another tough situation in which the Galaxy S7 edge beat all its rivals. It’s clear Samsung’s specialty lies in nighttime photography, wherein all the glaring lights stay in check and scenes aren’t littered with unsightly noise. Choosing a second placer was tough, but we had to give it to the iPhone 7 Plus for nailing all the colors without blowing out the highlights.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Low-Light Portrait (Flash Off)

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

2nd place: Google Pixel

When it comes to low-light portraits, we prefer leaving the flash off, so we’re glad all the cameras produced acceptable photos. What stood out the most, though, came from the Galaxy S7 edge. Nothing looked overly dark or bright, and the subjects didn’t turn into a mesh of lost details. Despite being one of the few phones here without optical image stabilization for night shots, the Pixel managed to secure the second spot.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Low-Light Portrait (Flash On)

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: LG V20

3rd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Finally, we tested the flash capabilities of each camera. As you can tell, the results varied greatly from phone to phone, with the first-place finish going to the Pixel once more. It had the only photo with evenly distributed lighting and the most accurate skin tone. The V20 had a similar result, except colors were a lot more muted. Third place went to the Galaxy S7 edge for its smart illumination of the background.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ


And the winner is…

When the Pixel was launched back in October, one big claim was that it was the highest-rated smartphone camera on DxOMark, the world leader in camera, lens, and image quality ratings.

After 12 rounds of our own tests, we have to agree — the Google Pixel has, without a doubt, the best camera on a smartphone today.

Having said that, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 edge announced eight months prior, is a solid second and arguably still the best camera when it comes to low-light photography.

In a month, its successor the Galaxy S8 will also be unveiled; if Samsung sticks to its guns, the S8 may be the cameraphone to look out for in 2017.

Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus is third on our list. It may not have come out on top as many times, but it was a consistent performer overall, and shot some of the most color-realistic photos of the bunch.

The Moto Z also deserves an honorable mention. It’s the oldest of all the phones tested and in a slightly lower price point, but it held its own and even ruled its own category. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.  

The blind test was tough and our choices highly subjective. If you see things differently, that’s okay; it boils down to your own taste in photos. Some of us like nice saturated colors, some prefer warmer tones, and when it comes to selfies, some like the softening a good beauty mode provides.

Either way, all of the phones tested did great — a testament to how far technology has come. While thousand-dollar professional cameras will always take the best photos, when it all comes down to it, nothing beats the camera in your pocket.

SEE ALSO: Best Premium Smartphones (February 2017 Edition)

[irp posts=”10008" name=”Best Premium Smartphones (February 2017 Edition)”]

Features

A beginner’s guide to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

Wizards, unite!

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Niantic, Inc. has just rolled out its brand new game to over 150 countries worldwide over the weekend. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is also a location-based game that uses augmented reality and builds on the current platform of the company’s games Pokémon Go and Ingress.

Quick disclosure: I’m far from being a Potterhead so I might not get the right terms related to the franchise in this article. Although, I’m a long-time and current player of Pokémon Go hence I checked out Wizards Unite.


Onto the game itself. If you’re like some players I know who would rather just get to the game right away and skip the numerous pages of introduction and dialogues, the main plot of the story is pretty simple. A mysterious event called Calamity has struck resulting in certain magical items and beings to scatter in the real world.

It is your job as part of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force to bring these items, people, and creatures back to the Wizarding World and complete your registry. This registry acts like your Pokédex and tells you what you have and things to look out for.

Throughout the game, you will come across different terms, items, and structures. Let’s take a quick look at the basic elements of the game:

Professions – Just like in the books and movies, you can choose from three types of professions once you reach level six. These are Auror, Magizoologist, and Professor.

Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and complements the other two during battles. It’s important to note that you can later on switch professions if you wish to but the upgrades already bought could no longer be reattributed.

Confoundables vs Foundables – In Wizards Unite, foundables are those you hunt down to bring back to their proper time and location. Meanwhile, you banish the confoundables that are responsible for getting the foundables stuck in our world.

Casting Spells – In order to banish confoundables, you need to cast spells by accurately tracing the pattern shown on your smartphones. There are about ten spells available as of the time of writing but the company says they will eventually be adding more. In addition to accuracy of tracing, speed also plays a big part to achieve a “Masterful” trace (there’s Fair, Good, Great, and Masterful).

Spell Energy –  You’ll need to have spell energy to cast spells. Initially, you’re allotted up to 75 energy points and you use them whenever you try to cast spells on the confoundables. When it reaches zero, it’s basically the equivalent of running out of Pokéballs and you could no longer “catch” foundables.

Structures – Structures like Inns and Greenhouses are your way of getting more spell energy and ingredients to make useful potions. Inns will give out energy by dining in them, while Greenhouses churn out ingredients to make different potions. So playing in areas densely populated with Inns and Greenhouses will ensure you have the resources for a more efficient grinding session.

There’s a third kind of structure and it’s the Fortress. A fortress is a place where up to four friends can join forces and battle together different sets of magical creatures to further upgrade their abilities and come across rarer entries for the registry. Every tier gets tougher and tougher so it encourages players to team up with new players and overcome stronger foes.

Potions – As mentioned earlier, you can concoct your own potions by getting ingredients from Greenhouses. As per usual, these potions vary with different effects and can be used in battles either to heal yourself, make the spell more effective, or prevent the foundable from departing away and missing the chance to add it to your registry.

Portkeys – To get you moving while playing the game, you’ll be able to collect Portkeys that only open after walking certain distances in the real world. Right now there are 2KM/5KM/10KM variations of Portkeys and once it’s opened, it has the power to bring you to different locations so you can collect items and even XP.

Now that most of the basics have been covered, here are some tips to keep in mind while playing based on me and my wife’s experiences.

  • Download all assets as soon as you can. This will make loading times faster while performance will be more stable.
  • Turn on Trace Auto-Align to make encounters with AR slightly faster
  • An Inn with a green color serves up to 10 energy points, purple and blue give up to seven, brown up to six, and a pink one only dishes out a maximum of three energy points.
  • Master Notes are secret patterns that reduce brewing time of potions. Figure it out by checking the available patterns at the Potions Info page.
  • As the stages you battle in Fortresses level up, magical creatures grow stronger. Having a friend to fight alongside you will be needed even more so in the higher tiers of Fortress matches.
  • If you see a floating icon with a beam of light above it, it means it’s a high risk foundable with high rewards. Be sure to get it!

  • Use Dark Detectors for rarer foundables to appear, Exstimulo potions against higher risk foundables, and Baruffio’s Brain Elixir before claiming rewards like Portkeys to get double XP.
  • Flags and smoke from Greenhouses and Inns, respectively, signify they’re still on cooldown.
  • Be sure to have enough energy before battling at Fortresses. Quitting during an unfinished session will render the Runestone useless.
  • Turning off AR during encounters is easier for the phone and will save precious battery life.
  • Just keep on playing. Niantic’s games reward players who just keep on exploring new things (or simply staying) in the game.

If there’s anything we missed or if you want to add to these tips, be sure to leave a comment!

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What to expect at MWC Shanghai 2019

5G. 5G everywhere

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Mobile World Congress 2019 in Shanghai is happening this week and GadgetMatch will be on the ground to bring you the latest updates straight from China.

5G. 5G everywhere

Perhaps the largest talking point during the entire conference is 5G with several of the programs dedicated to discussing the next generation of broadband access.


Huawei, who is currently in the middle of perhaps its biggest challenge, will continue to push for its 5G technology. Especially since the event is happening in their home turf, there should be little to nothing holding back the brand from making a big splash at MWC 2019 in Shanghai.

Just recently, the company has inked a 5G developmental contract with Russia’s biggest telco, MTS. So it would come as no surprise if Huawei will announce something big in relation to 5G tech.

SEE ALSO: Explaining 5G internet

Under-display cameras

OPPO already gave us a sneak peek of their prototype smartphone that features an under-display camera. Various posts online suggests they could be ready to showcase the prototype to the public and MWC is the perfect stage to do so.

Vivo will also be present at the conference. We’re holding out hope that maybe the company is also ready to unveil an under-display camera prototype. However, murmurs online suggests otherwise.

The primary innovators of the pop-up camera might be turning their attention to fast charging. And we say fast, we mean really fast.

 

Details are scarce on how it actually works but everything we’ve gathered online so far suggests that this new fast charging tech from Vivo can fill up a 4,000mAh battery in just 13 minutes.

There’s also a chance that Vivo might announce a device that supports 5G. Whatever it is they have in store, we’re excited to get our hands on it and share it with all of you!

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Watching TWICELIGHTS on a 75″ Samsung 4K QLED TV

Almost as good as attending the concert

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K-Pop girl group TWICE is currently on their first world tour called TWICELIGHTS and due to schedule conflicts as well as an inability to camp out for tickets, I missed all possible chances to see this nine-member group live.

I was devastated after being told that the tickets had already been sold out. This, despite me waking up much, much earlier than I usually do on a weekend and lining up for hours.


So I did the next best thing — watch fancams on the 75” Q90R Flagship QLED 4K HDR 2000 Smart TV.

4K in all its glory

My advice in watching 4K fancams is to select the ones that focus on a certain member. This will give you a better and closer look and really feel that 4K goodness.

That said, the 4K footage will vary depending on the device it was shot at. Some 4K footage don’t do well in concert lighting conditions and when zoomed in which is the case for most fancams.

Despite this, the Samsung Q90R more than delivered. It didn’t matter if I was sitting on the couch directly in front of the TV or over to the side at our dining area. I was getting the same quality no matter the viewing angle.

TWICELIGHTS on the 75” Samsung 4K QLED TV is an absolute joy to watch. Instead of being stuck with a single view, you get to experience the concert from a multitude of perspectives thanks to the various fansites that cover TWICE.

I put together a playlist on YouTube which you can find towards the end of this article. If you see an abundance of Momo and Chaeyoung fancams, this is because those two are my biases.

After watching (and *ehem rewatching) the concert, I had to test what else this TV can do.

4K upscaling

The girls already look good in HD, and they look even better when upscaled to 4K. You see, this is what the TV is capable of. Much like its 8K counterpart, the Q90R is equipped with a chip that upscales footage to 4K.

The music videos, which are mostly just in 1080p, look stunning on the 75-inch 4K QLED display. This is especially true for K-Pop videos that are known to be colorful.

Something we quickly noticed though is that some of the upscaled videos appear a little more saturated than usual. Personally, this didn’t really bother me but it might be important to note for those considering to purchase this TV.

Gaming and watching movies

The saturation doesn’t stop at upscaling. When you switch to game mode, the colors tend to switch to colors that some people might find too aggressive.

We played NBA 2K19 on the monitor and some courts almost hurt your eye because of how strong they appear. This wasn’t the case for other games though.

Try playing God of War or even Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice on this thing and you’ll be exposed to some of the best video game visuals your eyes will ever lay your eyes on.

The same is true when watching movies built for 4K machines. It’s a perfect blend of “damn this looks like I’m actually seeing them in real life” while maintaining that cinematic feel. Words aren’t enough, you truly need to see this in person.

With Netflix, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime Video pre-installed, you won’t run out of 4K content to go through. My only gripe is that the TV doesn’t support the NBA App. Basketball is one of the few things I actually try to watch live but that’s not possible unless I have a cable subscription which I have no plans of getting any time soon.

At first I thought this was just a glitch on the particular unit we were lent but Samsung confirmed that they currently do not support the NBA app. However, they added that they are “looking to find ways to improve customer experience by expanding our content services and apps available in our smart TVs.”

Casting issues

There weren’t a lot but I did experience some casting issues on the Q90R. YouTube worked perfectly but other apps like VLive struggled to connect right away unlike when I’m just using a chromecast.

There’s also this little hiccup when you want to watch Facebook videos. The TV will force you to use the Facebook Watch app and have to connect a single user’s account to the TV versus anyone just being able to cast a video as long as they are connected to the same wifi network.

It’s a minor inconvenience although it could be an issue if you have to have more than one person connect their Facebook account to the TV just so they have easy access to the Facebook videos they prefer watching. That said, I don’t imagine a lot of people need to use Facebook Watch to begin with.

Truly a Smart TV

One of the things I truly appreciate about the Q90R is how seamless you interact with it. The remote and the TV’s interface is well thought-out.

The Q90R foregoes the usual remote in favor of what looks like a circular directional pad which works perfectly on the TV’s interface. The other buttons can also be easily located by feeling your way on the remote. Adjusting the volume is as simple as pushing up or down on a button.

You can, of course, use the mic and ask Bixby to do things on the TV for you but personally that’s not my thing. I don’t want to have to speak when interacting with my TV but I find that this can be a useful way for other people.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The 75” Q90R Flagship QLED 4K HDR 2000 Smart TV is an entertainment powerhouse. It’s perfect for family gatherings and inviting a large group of friends for some Netflix and chilling. It’ll set you back at PhP 399,999 (roughly around US$ 7800).

However, if you have an extra PhP 200,000 lying around, you might want to opt for the 8K version which retails for PhP 599,999 (roughly around US$ 11,700) which puts you in better position to be ready for the future. If not, the 4K isn’t shabby at all.

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