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Forget about Pixel and Nexus, where’s Android One?

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Broken MyPhone Uno - Android One

Last week saw Google proudly (yet not surprisingly) unleash its flagship, Nexus-killing Pixel phones. It’s so satisfying to see a pair of Androids that finally feel like worthy iPhone rivals, but they only cover the high-end spectrum. Wandering around blindly in Google’s basement is the series once destined to rule the entry-level smartphone market. Let’s take a moment to figure out what’s happening — or what happened — to Android One.

The Nexus effect

Before going any further, we have to define Android One’s intended purpose. Originally released in 2014 throughout Asia, the program’s smartphones were designed to be a gateway to Google’s mobile operating system. By delivering the latest software updates to bloatware-free phones costing around $100, the search specialist could capitalize on consumers who just wanted a handset that worked well, essentially labeling it as a role model for other entry-level Android devices.

If this sounds familiar to you, that’s because the Nexus series did the same for the premium and midrange market segments. Unlike the new Pixel lineup and its all-out specs and price approach, Google’s previous pride and joy simply maximized the hardware it collaborated on with third-party manufacturers.

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Smartphones such as 2013’s LG-produced Nexus 5 showcased how well Android could be optimized in a competitively priced package, while the two Nexus 7 tablets from ASUS did something similar by cutting down the products’ price without compromising performance.

Why, oh why, Android One

To better understand the root of Android One’s disappearance, you have to know what the internet giant offered hardware partners who were part of the program. It was basically a blueprint, laying out Google’s strict hardware and software requirements in creating a smartphone that fits its mold.

As a result, partners would be assisted in selling attractively priced smartphones; Google would spread the joy of its app suite and integrated search engine; and consumers would be able to buy into a pure Android experience at a fraction of the cost of any Nexus. That was the plan, at least.

By having a stranglehold on the requirements, Google gave third-party manufacturers no freedom in designing their own smartphones. This gave local brands a difficult time differentiating their handsets from everyone else’s.

“Google gave third-party manufacturers no freedom in designing their own smartphones.”

The situation got so bad, Google eventually relaxed its rules on features, components, and price late last year, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Sadly, it came far too late, and local smartphone brands already lost interest in the system.

And that was just about hardware. Android One partners were also forced to apply a pure operating system on every handset, resulting in an interface free of any bloatware and unneeded features.

While that sounds great for consumers, local companies — especially the struggling ones — needed to make money out of pre-installed apps from sponsors. Those advertisement-loaded games and obscure messaging apps you’ve seen built into phones are vital in paying off a handset’s manufacturing and marketing costs.

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It’s all about branding

With a very small profit margin from $100 phones and Google’s dominant branding inside and out, there was very little incentive in producing for Android One. Now, you might be asking: Google had a similar blueprint for the Nexus series, so how did it manage to last six years? That’s a different case.

Besides receiving full support from Google and being able to sell at a higher price, Nexus partners got a lot more intangible rewards in return. For example: Like LG’s Nexus 5 and ASUS’ Nexus 7, the Huawei-made Nexus 6P became the Chinese company’s ticket to gaining more traction in the US market. It didn’t turn out as well as the two parties had hoped, but it revealed just how important branding was in the succeeding deal that didn’t push through.

“There was very little incentive in producing for Android One.”

The Nexus 6P is a fantastic phone and a great example of how stock Android should be handled, so naturally, Huawei was approached by Google to manufacture the Pixel phones. Problem: There was to be no third-party branding allowed on the new flagship devices, and Google would claim them as its own, one hundred percent.

According to insider reports, this development didn’t bode well for Huawei, who wanted as much global brand awareness as possible, and so the Pixel deal was subsequently handed over to HTC’s Taiwan-based plants instead. Why did HTC bite the bullet? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know that the former leader in refined Android design hasn’t been doing well financially in the past few years, and any sort of collaboration that involves huge sums of money is heaven-sent for the struggling company.

Dead on second arrival

With all the team shuffling Alphabet (Google’s parent company) has been experiencing, it really makes us wonder where Android One currently resides. Last we heard, the program folded into Google’s new unified hardware division under former Motorola president Rick Osterloh, and plans were set for India to see more handsets launched in the near future — both of which were reported last May by Android Authority and The Economic Times India, respectively.

These bits of news sound all well and good, but if you consider the amount of hardware Google recently introduced and how weak Android One sales have been, it’s not surprising to see the least profitable division take a step back.

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It’s a shame, really. There were signs of life when Japan launched its own Sharp 507SH, a waterproof Android One handset with a three-day battery life, three months ago. Last February, Google tried something different with the internationally available General Mobile GM5 Plus, which is the first and only midrange smartphone to come out of the One series, appropriately costing $300.

And it’s not like the older One handsets have been neglected, either. The latest version of Android has been rolling out to 2015’s second-generation lineup, and with some tinkering, owners of the first generation from 2014 can get Nougat on their devices, too.

Barely a billion

Back when I interviewed Caesar Sengupta, the VP for Product Management at Google and head of the Android One initiative at the time, when the program was slowly spreading throughout Southeast Asia, he emphasized their main goal: to deliver smartphones to the “next five billion.”

It seems like the Mountain View company’s greatest weakness is being overambitious. Remember Google Glass? Shattered to pieces. And how about Project Ara? We all know how that turned out.

This isn’t to say Android One is dead, but you can’t help but feel discouraged when you realize that releases from the likes of ASUS, HTC, and Lenovo never panned out, and likely never will. Imagine owning a high-quality HTC device equipped with the purest operating system in the market at a price below $300.

One can only dream at this point.

Features

5 timeless gifts you can give to a dad anytime of the year

For your dad, your friend who became a dad, or any ‘dad’ in your life

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Father's Day Gift Guide

Dads don’t get a lot of spotlight, probably because a lot of us suffer from daddy issues. But for those who have a loving relationship, or those who just started repairing theirs — giving your dad a thoughtful gift might be a way to strengthen the connection.

Here are five timeless gifts you can give to your dad, your friend who just became a dad, or if there’s any ‘daddy’ in your life.

Powerbank

Father's Day Gift Guide

In the era of connected life, going out without a power bank is like going out without a wallet. Even though most gadgets nowadays have strong battery lives, it’s always practical to have a backup.

And dads love being prepared at any costs, making it the perfect gift that’s versatile to every need — whether it’s for their smartphone, wireless earbuds, portable speakers, or a mini-fan. Shop here.

Electric Shaver

Father's Day Gift Guide

Just because they’re getting old, doesn’t mean they should forget how to groom themselves. Teach them to be like a fine wine — they should get better as they age, and they should even look more dapper to keep up with the times. (Hello, matching father and son outfits?).

Anyhoo, an electric shaver will suffice — giving them a clean, shaved look that will help them look presentable wherever they are. Shop here.

Leather Wallet Phone Case

Father's Day Gift Guide

For so many years, dads kept us protected in different ways. Now that we have a chance to give back, why not help them protect their essentials through a leather wallet phone case?

Mujjo’s, for example, speaks convenience and efficiency, without forsaking style. Its cardholder can carry up to three cards, and the case comes in a durable yet gorgeous leather design producing a beautiful patina over time. Shop here and use coupon #dad for 15 percent off all products (valid through June 21st).

Cordless Drill

Father's Day Gift Guide

Men love cordless drills. Not because they love drilling somebody else, but because it gives them the power to build and repair things.

In a way, it’s also one of the most useful and practical gifts that you can give, since the household can use it in different situations. Shop here.

Treadmill

Our dads sometimes forget that health is wealth. Give them the gift of health through a treadmill, so you can encourage them to live an active and fit lifestyle to prevent diseases that come with age.

Running a few miles can help them live longer, so you all can bond and make more memories together. Shop here.

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First Look

realme 8 5G Unboxing and First Impressions

Midrange game changer?

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Game-changer. It’s a bold adjective to use, especially when you’re describing a smartphone that’s situated in a competitive midrange segment. But realme has always dared to leap, and they’re doing exactly that with the realme 8 5G.

They’re calling it a 5G game-changer. It will require more extensive testing to determine whether that’s true or not, but for the meantime, here are our first impressions of realme’s newest offering.

But first, a quick rundown of the specifications for this device.

Display 6.5-inch IPS LCD display, 90 hZ 1080p
Processor MediaTek MT6833 Dimensity 700 5G (7nm)
RAM + ROM 128 GB ROM/8GB RAM
Cameras 48MP primary camera (wide)
2MP macro camera
2MP depth sensor
Battery 5000 mAh

 

The phone comes in realme’s signature yellow box. No surprises there.

Taking out the lid, you’re greeted by a short note from the brand. Nice touch!

Going through the rest of the box, you’ll find your usual set of manuals, a charging cable, and your charging brick. Realme also included a case for free out of the box. Good stuff!

It makes a good first impression, but can it last?

Out of the box, the first thing you notice is how pretty the device is. Without touching it, you’d think it was made out of glass. But in reality, they used plastic for this device. The radiant light effect is definitely a nice touch.

Outside of the fingerprint smudges you’ll definitely be leaving on the back, you’d want to rock this phone without a case.

The realme 8 5G uses a curved back for added ergonomics. The phone is well-built, and it doesn’t feel cheap even if plastic was realme’s material of choice.

That extra feeling of sturdiness matters, especially in a competitive midrange market. First impressions can make or break whether you get a smartphone or not. In this case, realme passed with flying colors. Early indications suggest that realme has a winner with the 8 5G.

That’s all we have on realme’s newest midrange offering for now. We’ll be testing the device to see whether the realme 8 5G can truly #CaptureInfinitePossibilitiesWith5G.

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First Look

Huawei MatePad 2021 Unboxing and First Impressions

The device for people on the go!

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Huawei has updated its primary tablet the Huawei Matepad. Come and join me as we unbox the new Huawei MatePad 2021.

Unboxing

Starting off, we have the box. A clean and simple look, but definitely pleasing! The front of the box shows us the branding and the name of the device.

A Huawei logo on the upper left corner, the AppGallery on the lower right, and on the lower left, the screen size of the device.

The box also has an interesting texture, only on the top cover though.

Opening the box, we have the device itself wrapped in fine paper and a pull tab to assist you when lifting the device out of the box.

Underneath the device, you are presented with two boxes. One box for the charging brick…

and the second containing the paperwork, USB Type-C cable, a 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor, and a warranty card.

Only the larger box is removable so be careful not to rip out the smaller box. Behind the larger box is the sim ejector tool, be sure to keep it safe!

Huawei MatePad

Removing the paper, we now see the simple but gorgeous Huawei MatePad in the “Midnight Grey” colorway. Be sure to remove the sticker — it’s optional but I suggest that you do.

The device itself is lightweight and easy to carry around, as a slim device it’s very easy to place it in a bag and you will have no problem carrying it around all day.

Starting off at the front, you will see the 10.4-inch screen with the camera at the top. Referring to the format at the back of the device, the front-facing camera is placed at the top.

On the left side of the device, you will be able to find the speakers along with the sleep/wake button. The right side shows you another pair of speakers and a charging port.

The top shows 4 microphones with the volume up and down button at the very left.

Heading over to the back you’ll be able to see the single-shooter camera, the Huawei branding, and an indication of their partnership with Harman/Kardon. The camera is accompanied by a flash and a microphone.

Specs

  • Display: 10.4-inch 2000×1200 IPS, 225 PPI
  • Processor: Huawei Kirin 820 series
  • Memory: RAM – 4GB, ROM – 128GB
  • Camera: 8MP front, 8MP rear
  • Battery: 7250mAh

Final thoughts

Finally, now we have unboxed the new Huawei MatePad. With this, the device itself feels good to the touch and is a good size for a tablet. Additionally, the “Midnight Grey” colorway of the MatePad is a great choice, it doesn’t collect fingerprints easily and the device is lightweight so you don’t have to worry when taking it with you anywhere.

The initial setup of the new MatePad was fast and easy, there are pre-loaded apps that are ready to use. Although I’m not sure if it’s just me or the apps change from time to time when you open the designated folders of the pre-loaded apps. For media consumption, the experience was good. Although the YouTube app was not the same as the ones we see on our devices, it works well as it should.

The screen looks good so far with the 2000×1200 IPS display, trying a few videos and films, the quality was great. Additionally, the speakers are a huge boost to the volume — loud but good quality. The MatePad also doesn’t have a 3m5mm headphone jack, luckily, they provided an adaptor. The MatePad is looking good so far, stay tuned for the next article as we are going deep and we’ll be having a full review of the Huawei MatePad 2021.

 

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