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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)

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Features

Nintendo and Sony are in a heated battle during lockdown

Study also reveals which consoles were the most searched as lockdowns continue in SEA

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It’s been roughly two and a half months since Southeast Asian countries have gone on lockdown due to COVID-19. As people were kept off the streets, video game companies found a way to reach these audiences through their consoles and game libraries. We watched as people spent most of their days learning new skills, staying healthy, and playing video games.

Little did we know, video game companies maximized this opportunity to sell more consoles, as well. A study by the iPrice Group revealed interesting data about the mini-console war that’s currently happening in Southeast Asia (SEA). In most countries, the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4 are leading the charge towards greater heights.

It made perfect sense that Nintendo’s handheld console is seeing its staggering sales increase during this period. Searches on online shopping platforms related to the Nintendo Switch skyrocketed by 245% within SEA alone, thanks in part to the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons back in March.

Image source: Livedoor

Apart from that, the Nintendo Switch dominates 5 out of 7 markets in SEA in terms of search volume. This, of course takes into account searches and purchases from people between mid-March to mid-April.

For most markets, the big 3 of gaming consoles (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation4, and Xbox One) dominated the charts. Apart from the Switch, the PlayStation 4 saw significant increase in interest between mid-March and mid-April by 135%.

The releases of the remastered versions of Resident Evil 3 and Final Fantasy VII contributed heavily to that increase. Surprisingly, in three countries (Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines), the PlayStation 3 makes an appearances as a widely-searched console.

Looks like people really love their video games! If you want to know more about this trend, you can find the full report here.

SEE ALSO:
#PlayApartTogether: Embracing lockdowns and social distancing
Tinder users are going on Animal Crossing for their first dates
Just Dance 2020 helps with your workout-from-home

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Peloton vs excuses: Mind tricks that can help you squeeze in a workout

For those struggling to keep a routine

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If anyone tells you that having a personal gym at home will remove all barriers to working out, they’re lying.

The Peloton bike packs an insane amount of tech that should help me stay on track, so I should have no excuses not to exercise, right? With it I can do live and on-demand spin classes, strength training, yoga, even meditation and sleep courses. Having it at home also means not needing to make time to travel to the gym. And yet, despite all of this, I still find reasons to shun fitness on the daily.

If you’re like me who typically gets a good week of workouts and then hits a slump when life happens, I’ve compiled some tips that you might find useful. Here are some ways I tricked myself into working out more regularly whenever I struggle to do classes on my Peloton.

Find the time that makes sense for you

After doing your workouts for a while, take note of when you enjoy it the most. For me, sweating it out in the morning works best. If I tell myself that I’ll workout later in the day, it just never happens. I’m just not someone who enjoys exercising in the afternoon or evening as much.

Make it habit

While some people make plans, I just tell myself that I’ll work out everyday and figure it out later.

Peloton has workouts that are as short as 10 or 15 minutes. Even when pressed for time, 15 minutes is just that — 15 minutes. 

Those days I end up not exercising I would just consider recovery days. Our muscles need time to rest after all.

Take a scenic ride

Another trick I do is telling myself to do 10 minutes of a scenic ride. This is an option on the bike if you don’t feel like doing a class. You can ride at your own pace while the monitor shows beautiful landscapes and cities.

What usually happens when I do this is I end up doing an additional 10 minutes of arm workout. Often, I’ll feel warmed up and ready for a regular class afterwards.

Warming up at my own pace without any pressure to perform gets me in the right mindset to actually do a full workout. There are lots of other warm up rides available, too, but they’re usually pretty tough. Picking something that has no pressure eases me in.

Low impact doesn’t mean low effort

When I discovered the low impact ride, I wondered why I hadn’t been doing them all along.

I’m an old lady, or at least my body feels that way. I’ve gotten injured a few times riding the bike: the tendonitis in my thumb flared up, and the muscles that aren’t used to being used so much protested.

You still get a great workout when you choose low impact, but you’ll never achieve a personal best — and that’s perfectly okay.

Put the leaderboad away

Now we’re going to dip into the tech side of things. The leaderboard pushes you to get your personal best, which is great. But when I don’t want to work out, I’ll tell myself that a 45min class will be more doable if I take the leaderboard away. As a competitive person, I always get horrified at my performance when I check it because I don’t push myself nearly as hard apparently.

Pick a class with a gimmick

Peloton offers so many kinds of classes with different genres of music. I’ve done Guns N’ Roses as well as Madonna rides. Jess King has a show tunes series, and there are rides with a DJ.

Whenever I don’t feel motivated to exercise, I think of it as entertainment first and that’s how I trick myself into doing a full workout.

Save classes that made you feel good

When you save classes that made you feel good, you’ll be reminded of that feeling when you see it again on the monitor.When struggling to pick a class, I choose from a bunch of saved classes that I don’t mind doing again.

If I can’t bring myself to face a new challenge, doing one that I’ve already smashed is the best way to go!

Lower the instructors voice

If you have classes where you loved the soundtrack, save them and then choose to have more music and less instructor. It’s amazing how much having motivational music blasting helps.

Forgot how to change the audio mix? Hit the volume button on the right hand side of the display and then change the mix. You have to do it each time as it always resets back to an even mix of music and voice.

Find more tips and tricks on how to maximize your bike here.

Do a class with weights

Doing weights is challenging, but it gives your legs some rest. A 45-minute class is sometimes better than 30 minutes because I know I’ll get breaks to do weights.

Pick your feel-good instructor

Sometimes, picking an instructor that fits your your mood is all you need. When I just want to do a feel good class, I pick Cody because he’s like my gay best friend and his classes are always entertaining. Seeing instructors have a bit of a hard time with the workout is also the energy that motivates me to give the workout everything that I got.

Should you be taking workout advice from someone who struggles with working out? Probably not. Was this entire article about how to work out a little less hard? Maybe.

It would be unfair to say that fitness isn’t a big part of my life. I actually spend a lot of time thinking about working out more than working out itself. It’s one of my favorite past times.

Keeping a consistent workout routine is what I’m struggling with right now. These mind tricks have at least helped me get my ass on the bike and squeeze a workout in even when I don’t feel like it. And for someone who isn’t a disciplined fitness freak, that’s all that matters.

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Best Smartphones

Best Smartphones for Gaming in 2020 (so far)

You don’t need an expensive gaming smartphone to get good

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While you’re stuck at home, your smartphone becomes your go-to device for a lot of things. Whether it’s the news or connecting with your friends, at this point, you can’t live without a smartphone. But of course, even you will run out of things to do on your smartphone. At least, that’s what you think.

If you’re not off browsing through social media, you’re going to consider downloading games for your phone. However, most smartphones face the same problem when you’re strictly using it to play games: the heat. So, not only do you want a phone that lasts long, but one that can handle the heat while playing.

Lucky for you, here are four smartphones that we think are the best of both worlds. At the very least, these are proof that you don’t need a gaming smartphone to play all day.

The realme C3: the most budget-friendly option

If you need a phone that will definitely fit your budget, that’s exactly what the realme C3 offers. For starters, it comes in at PhP 5,999, and is actually the most affordable smartphone on this list. And for that price, you’ll experience solid gaming through and through.

Realme’s OS-based gaming optimization software allows you to play a ton of games without sacrificing battery life. However, the 3GB of RAM will be a bit of an issue when you want to play more graphically-intense mobile games. Nonetheless, it’s a great recommendation for a lot of people, especially for those who play shooter games.

See: the realme C3 in action

The Huawei Nova 7i: a little new but powerful enough to game on

Apart from the stylish colorway, the Huawei Nova 7i provides the power for anything. The Kirin 810 plus 8GB of RAM opens up a ton of performance for gaming purposes. And with a whopping 128GB of storage, there’s plenty of space in there for your favorites for PhP 13,990.

The device comes with GPU Turbo inside Huawei’s EMUI, which improves gaming performance overall. Most MMORPGs and shooter games greatly benefit from GPU Turbo’s enhancements, but it handles even most graphically-intensive sports games well. It’s a great all-around device that will also keep you gaming for hours on end.

See: Huawei Nova 7i pricing and availability in the Philippines

The OPPO A9 2020: big battery for the long playing hours

Much like the Huawei nova 7i, the OPPO A9 2020 also comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage inside. It comes in at PhP 15,990, but the real difference is that it comes with a whopping 5000 mAh battery. A bigger battery usually means longer screen time, which leads to longer playing time.

The key to that is OPPO’s Game Boost 2.0, which improves energy consumption and prevents your device from overheating. This gaming optimization software also does its magic on your phone display, reducing input lag. You can play for longer, and possibly compete against your friends in high-stake battles.

See: Hands-on experience of the OPPO A9 2020

The Samsung Galaxy A71: it won’t break the bank, and your back

Out of all the options on this list, the Samsung Galaxy A71 is the only one that breaks the 20K price point. However, even at PhP 22,990, this device is excellent for gaming on the go. Apart from the 8GB RAM + 128GB storage, it comes with the Snapdragon 730G octa-core processor. This, in itself, provides excellent performance and gaming on it is a breeze.

The device comes with the Game Booster optimization software inside Samsung’s OS which improves both performance and energy solutions. This opens up improved performance especially during intense gameplay. Furthermore, the hardware inside opens it up to take on more graphically-intense games.

See: The Samsung Galaxy A71 in action

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