Editors' Choice

GadgetMatch Awards: Best of MWC 2018

The best from Mobile World Congress…

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Every year, Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona becomes the venue for many exciting announcements in the tech world. This year was no different.

From smartphone flagships, to laptops, to new wearables, this year’s MWC did not disappoint. Here are our picks for Best of MWC 2018.

Samsung Galaxy S9

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 is not only stunning on the outside, it’s also a power-packed on the inside. What Samsung has been able to pull off with the Galaxy S9‘s Dual Aperture camera is a feat of engineering that only techies might fully understand, but anyone who loves to take photos can fully appreciate. The S9 was the marquee feature of MWC 2018 and it’s set the bar high. New features like AR Emoji and super slow-mo video sweeten the deal, and make this a solid upgrade.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9: Four fun new features

Nokia 7 Plus

The Nokia 7 Plus, crafted from a single block of aluminum, is a definite looker. Easily one of the best-looking phones at MWC, and proof that you don’t need a borderless screen to look good. It feels good too, with a soft textured back that doesn’t pick up smudges. Add a pair of Carl Zeiss lenses, a pure Android experience, and sub-EUR 400 price tag, and you have the best value-for-money phone so far this year.

SEE ALSO: Nokia 7 Plus brings near-borderless display and Zeiss optics to Android One

ASUS ZenFone 5 Lite

ASUS’ newest line wowed at MWC but one device in particular caught our eye — and not just because it comes in beautiful red. With four cameras (including two in front), and the same all-glass design as the higher-end ZenFone 5, the ZenFone 5 Lite is our favorite ZenFone of the bunch, and our new favorite selfie smartphone.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ZenFone 5 Lite comes with quad-camera system

Land Rover Explore

We loved the Land Rover Explore because it represents the active lifestyle like no other Android phone we’ve seen. The phone is drop proof, ice proof, and rain proof. But what makes this rugged phone an adventurer’s dream is its modular approach, with kits for bikers and mountain climbers in the works.

Nokia 1

To be a great phone, you just need to cover your bases and be great at them. Nokia goes back to basics and is amazing at it — proof that a smartphone doesn’t need all the frills to be a great device. Not only is the Nokia 1 the best budget smartphone of MWC, it’s probably the best sub-US$ 100 Android phone.

SEE ALSO: Nokia 1 is now official and it’s powered by Android Go

Vivo Apex

Is the future of smartphones borderless? In a sea of notch-full smartphones Vivo’s Apex concept easily became the must-see tech of MWC 2018. When many announcements are purely iterative, we appreciate innovation. The Vivo Apex has a fully borderless display, a pop-up selfie camera, and a fingerprint sensor that covers the entire half of the screen.

phone showcases another world’s first

LG V30S ThinQ

Technology is moving towards artificial intelligence and LG will not be left behind. If LG’s philosophy is to be believed, there’s nowhere to go but up. Instead of releasing a new phone, LG introduced their own artificial intelligence technology on an already existing premium flagship. This AI allows the device to recognize shooting scenarios and improve on the photos based on this information. The LG V30S ThinQ is a true testament to LG’s continued commitment to improvement and excellence.

SEE ALSO: LG announces V30S ThinQ with artificial intelligence built-in

Nokia 8110 4G

The Nokia 8110 4G is the throwback feature phone we’ve all been waiting for. The nostalgic device, once featured in the movie The Matrix, is back and it’s gotten some 2018 upgrades. It also comes in a bright yellow version — fitting for a device dubbed “banana phone.”

SEE ALSO: Nokia reboots another classic: The 8810 4G

Huawei MateBook X Pro

The borderless race doesn’t only apply to smartphones and it’s amazing that a laptop is leading in this category.

The world’s first FullView laptop comes in the form of Huawei’s MateBook X Pro. This beautiful device accomplishes what a lot of laptops have only attempted. Sheer ingenuity allowed for almost non-existent bezels on this machine — the camera is tucked away in the keyboard.

SEE ALSO: Huawei MateBook X Pro hands-on

Lenovo Chromebook 300e

Lenovo’s Chromebook 300e is the perfect notebook computer for students. It can flip around like a Lenovo Yoga and be used in tablet mode. Our favorite feature though is being able to use a regular pencil as a stylus!

SEE ALSO: Lenovo unveils powerful Yoga 730 and Flex 14 at MWC 2018

Sony Xperia Ear Duo

Sony’s MWC releases were not limited to phones. The Xperia Ear Duo is unlike any other headset; it reimagines how you listen to music giving you a more ambient experience and allowing you to still interact with signals from the world around you. These unique earbuds generate sound behind the ear and come with Google Assistant.

SEE ALSO: Sony Xperia Ear Duo are wireless headsets reimagined

Qualcomm Snapdragon 700

Qualcomm’s newest processor is technology we’ve all been waiting for. It bridges the gap between midrange and premium processors. Bringing top-tier functions like artificial intelligence to more markets, and more people. Considering most major smartphones rely on Qualcomm SoCs to power their phones, this was an easy pick for us.

Accessories

4 iPhone cases you won’t regret gifting your loved ones

I swear these on my Navy Ralph Lauren blazer

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iPhone cases

There are hundreds of iPhone cases to choose from, even if you simply search on Amazon or your local eCommerce platforms. So we’ve rounded up the best cases to match your iPhone 13 to help you find the right accessory that fits your budget, style, and needs.

But if you’re still on the fence on our top picks, or if you’re considering buying yourself or someone a case for your iPhone 13 — lose your worries. I’ve rounded up four brands that we surely recommend. And I swear all of it on my Navy Ralph Lauren blazer.

Mujjo — For those who are always on the go

iPhone cases

First on the list is one of GadgetMatch’s favorite since 2019 — the Dutch designer label Mujjo. Finding quality leather is quite difficult, and finding a functional yet stylish case that’s also made of leather… is rare. Moreover, Mujjo’s patina on its leather looks gorgeous as the cases really aged well like a fine wine. And with the recent refinements, it will surely keep an iPhone 13 protected in style.

Nomad — For those who want to feel protected at all times

iPhone cases

Nomad has been one of our serious contenders when it comes to our best iPhone cases every year. Always has been, always will be. Whether it’s a lineup of leather folios or even the new synthetic cases, the GadgetMatch team enjoys the durability and peace of mind it provides when it comes to protecting our beloved iPhones. Moreover, those synthetic cases are looking good especially for those who live an active lifestyle. Oh, they’re MagSafe compatible, too.

Moment — For those who can’t keep their hands off their iPhone

Another favorite, Moment is a brand filled with accessories we relish. From lenses that let us capture and see the world more, to cases wrapped in top-grade leather that looks and feels good to both eyes and hands. The newest iPhone 13 cases from Moment delivers utmost protection while ensuring smooth operation with Apple’s MagSafe system.

Apple’s own lineup of cases — For those who love Apple to death

Of course, Apple sells its own lineup of cases — both silicone and leather (and there’s also an option for MagSafe wallets). Die-hard Apple fans will surely find their way on the cases section in Apple’s retail stores or when browsing online. Nevertheless, Apple takes pride in having durable yet stylish cases, mostly painted in yummy and gorgeous colors that reflect the current themes and seasons. You can never go wrong buying a case from the phone maker itself!

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CES 2021

GadgetMatch Awards: Best of CES 2021

Flying cars, rolling phones, and Ice Cream right at home

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CES has always been the place for dreaming about the future of tech and this year, despite the annual convention being held virtually instead of in Las Vegas like usual, is no different.

We saw plenty of exciting innovations ranging from stuff that we can purchase soon, something for the new normal, and an effin flying car. Yes. If that doesn’t get your gears running we don’t know what will.

So here are our favorites from the tech show.

Best Gaming Laptop: ROG Flow X13 

ROG Flow X13

Gaming laptops have been getting slimmer and slimmer over the years but this one — it’s a gaming laptop the size of an Ultrabook. ASUS managed to pack gaming power — AMD Ryzen 9/Cezanne-HS mobile processor, RTX 3080 — in a 15mm thin and 1.35kg body.

To heighten the gaming experience further, you can pair it with the ROG XG Mobile GPU that gives the Flow X13 the power of a full-sized gaming rig. That’s bonkers.

Best Auto Concept: GM flying Cadillac Taxi

The idea of flying cars has long intrigued the human race. You need not look far than the prevalence of such a vehicle in sci-fi pop culture to see how much we long for it.

General Motors’ flying Cadillac taxi concept is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle, eliminating the need for any runway. It’ll run on a 90kWh battery with 56mph top speed. New flying regulations will have to come but we can’t wait for this to take to the skies.

Best New Smartphone Form Factor: LG Rollable

Smartphones are going through a period of change. What once was just a rectangular piece of slab has seen itself fold, flip, and now… roll.

We’ve seen LG showcase a rollable concept before but the LG Rollable could be the closest thing that might actually… roll out to the market. Details are scarce for now but expect plenty of news and rumors to build up as it gets closer to launch.

Best Laptop: ASUS ZenBook Duo 

The ZenBook Duo, first showcased at Computex 2019, sort of took a gap year in 2020. What we saw instead was a gaming version with the Zephyrus Duo. It makes a comeback now more refined and with internals fit for the new year.

The new ASUS ZenBook Duo is a refinement of this new laptop form factor in every way imaginable — one that, theoretically, should be much more useful than its predecessor.

Best Chromebook: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 has all the bells and whistles of the first generation but it now comes with a QLED panel. Yep, Samsung’s TV display tech has made its way to a notebook. This could just be the beginning.

Best Audio Wearable: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Galaxy Buds Pro

Buds, Plus, Live, and now Pro — not exactly the progression that makes the most sense name-wise but Samsung may now finally have the TWS that can go toe-to-toe against the AirPods Pro and Freebuds Pro.

The Galaxy Buds Pro promises intelligent ANC that adjusts according to your environment and a playtime that’s par for the course for the other buds it’s going up against.

Best Wearable: MaskFone

Ever since the pandemic hit, face masks have come in all shapes, sizes and features — the MaskFone is no exception.

The MaskFone has a mic in the facepiece and two earbuds hanging on wires by the earloops. The mask is made of a water-resistant, breathable, and washable material and includes a pocket for PM2.5 filters. As far as tech goes, this one’s pretty in your face.

Best Kitchen Appliance: ColdSnap

What’s better than getting sweet, icy treats on a dreary day? It’s making those sweet, icy treats at your own home with ColdSnap.

It works like coffee pod machines but instead of coffee, it serves ice cream and other frozen treats from recyclable aluminium pods. Now, you can Ice Cream and chill at your leisure.

Best Smart TV: Samsung NEO QLED 

Samsung’s QLED was already pretty good but turning things up to eleven is their Neo QLED. With this new display tech, Samsung promises improved picture quality — dark areas are darker, bright areas brighter, and so on. Of course, we’ll have to see it for ourselves but it already sounds promising.

Best Wellness Device: Lora DiCarlo Drift, Tilt, Sway

If you can get past snickering like a tween, you’ll realize this offers many… benefits. Inspired by human warmth, the new model mimics the heat we experience from our partners’ bodies. Lora DiCarlo used a nylon-based thermally conductive polymer and its WarmSense Technology, simulating body temperature.

I’m sure we can all use some warmth in these cold nights.

Best Cleaning Device: Samsung JetBot 90 AI+

Keeping your place squeaky clean doesn’t get any smarter than this. The JetBot 90 AI+ is a vacuum cleaner that uses object recognition technology to identify and classify objects to decide the best cleaning path. LiDAR and 3D sensors allow JetBot 90 AI+ to avoid cables and small objects, while still cleaning hard-to-reach corners in your home.

Best Camera/Drone: Airpeak

Professional videographers who’s weapon of choice are Sony Alphas are probably dying to have their hands on Airpeak. It’s a drone that can be equipped with Sony’s professional grade, mirrorless cameras. This opens up new possibilities in terms of aerial footage.

Best Monitor: Dell UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD

It appears we’re facing a future that’ll have us sitting in front of monitors for longer than we realize. That’s why having one that’s easy on the eyes could be extra beneficial. The ComfortView Plus on the Dell UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD monitor can help with that. Not to mention, it is color accurate and should aid you nicely in your work-from-home setup.

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Editors' Choice

Tech controversies of 2020

It’s been a long year for everyone

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Though everyone stayed at home this year, 2020 was still a highly controversial year. From the COVID-19 pandemic in March to the U.S. elections in November, a lot happened in 2020. However, if you’ve heard enough about the political or the healthcare scene this year, the technology industry was also popping.

As we do every year, let’s run through the best (or worst, depending on your outlook) tech controversies of 2020.

The shadiness of 5G

With everyone at home and on their Wi-Fi, you might not have noticed the advent of 5G technology. More and more smartphones are touting compatibility with 5G networks. Coinciding with the spread of 5G smartphones, 5G networks are also rising, albeit slowly.

However, despite the promises of superfast internet, 5G adoption is anything but smooth. For one, everyone is fighting over who should usher in the new era. Huawei, the de facto leader in building 5G infrastructure, is currently crumbling all over the world. Especially in the United States, countries don’t trust the Chinese company to protect everyone’s cybersecurity interests. In other countries, Nokia and Ericsson are rising with their own infrastructure, likewise banning Huawei from their soil.

If the political slant wasn’t enough, conspiracy theorists are also falsely claiming that the new technology is responsible for spreading the coronavirus. Though the false claims haven’t reached any significant traction, the conspiracy theories have dented the smooth transition from 4G to 5G.

Tick tock for TikTok

Speaking of Chinese geopolitical issues, ByteDance’s TikTok, another Chinese company, is currently under fire for the same reasons as Huawei. Earlier this year, the American government and security researchers accused the short-form video-sharing platform as a hive for Chinese malware and information spying. Making its case worse, U.S. TikTok users successfully trolled President Donald Trump in his reelection campaign, buying out seats in his rallies.

Soon after, the American government issued an ultimatum, supposedly ending in November, for the platform: get out of the country or find an American buyer. Throughout the latter half of the year, TikTok rushed to find a buyer, volleying between Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook. Ultimately, Oracle won out in a bid to acquire the company. Though the controversy is still technically on, the issue essentially sputtered out of the limelight. TikTok is still in the United States.

The end of big tech

Amid the ongoing crusade against Chinese companies and platforms, the American government is also placing its biggest tech companies under the microscope. During the pandemic, lawmakers grilled them, especially Facebook, over information security and anti-competition practices.

For sure, these companies have often found themselves involved in numerous hacks, leaks, and security problems in the past. However, this is one of the rare times that the government is actually doing something about it,

Besides cybersecurity, the government is also questioning the companies for stifling competitors or straight-up acquiring them. The strategy is supposedly aimed to prevent the smaller companies from posing a threat to the current tech oligopoly.

Oftentimes, the companies’ head honchos found themselves speechless under severe pressure from grilling lawmakers, such as the case with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Apple’s chargergate

Despite the excitement surrounding the release, the newly released iPhone 12 series was controversial at best. Besides the rumored delays, several rumors preceding the launch predicted the removal of the traditionally free charging adapters and wired earphones.

During the launch, Apple defended the decision as an ecofriendly drive towards carbon neutral status by 2030. However, the new package also has profound effects for the company’s logistics and profit structures. For example, the smaller package can fit in larger numbers for a single shipment of iPhones. Apple can ship more iPhones around the world.

Additionally, Apple can sell more charging adapters, especially to those who haven’t stockpiled old chargers before. Even then, the new iPhone 12 series is starting new charging standards including a faster wired charging solution and a new wireless standard.

Though the spotlight shone on Apple for most of the time, other rivals also popped up in the conversation. For example, Samsung, who mocked Apple for removing their free peripherals, is consistently piling up rumors and evidence that they are also removing their chargers. Xiaomi, for its part, has already confirmed its own charger-less smartphone box starting next year. If 2020 is Apple’s chargergate scandal, 2021 might well be everyone else copying Apple’s decision.

Cyberpunk’d

Cyberpunk 2077 was arguably the most anticipated game of 2020 (emphasis on arguably). But it was delayed. Twice. When it did launch, users of last generation consoles weren’t too thrilled with the Night City they ended up in — the graphics was just downright bad and the game was mostly buggy.

Things were looking up at first with reports coming in that CD Projekt Red had raked in profits just on pre-orders alone. However, the barely working versions on the PS4 and Xbox One prompted the team to issue refunds where they can. It’s gotten so bad that some executives are in hot water over the botched launch.

Regardless, PC players with higher-end rigs are still able to enjoy the game, and the next gen console versions are also coming soon.

COVID-19 dominates 2020

As expected, COVID-19 takes the cake for 2020. Most of the events (or lack thereof) this year stems from the worst pandemic in contemporary history. Since January, long-standing events, including CES, MWC, IFA, and numerous Comic Cons, either postponed, reduced attendance, or outright canceled their dates this year.

Though it doesn’t seem like it at face value, the coronavirus has drastically affected the tech industry. Outside of events, differing priorities has shifted logistics away from device production and distribution. Some devices in the past, and still today, have been rumored to suffer delays. At the moment, the most prominent COVID-19-borne delays are during the ongoing PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S crisis.

As vaccines are finally rolling out the countries all over the world, the logistics world will still go through a lot of problems going into and throughout 2021, especially with specific requirements for specific vaccines.

Further, even with vaccinations, no one knows how events will go next year. For sure, mask-wearing and social distancing won’t go away any time soon. As 2020 finally ends, 2021 will start with a glimmer of hope. But make no mistake: the lessons of 2020 can (and should) still inform the events of 2021.

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