What a year 2018 has been! The number of outstanding products has been jaw-dropping, so it’s only right for us to create an extensive list to award the ones that wowed us the most.
Truth be told, we have a lot of categories to cover, so let’s get right to it.
Best Premium Smartphone: Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Apple iPhone XS Max
Yes, it’s a tie! For the Android side, the Mate 20 Pro edges out the competition with its smooth blend of performance and unique design. On the other hand, the iPhone XS Max is not just Apple’s biggest phone to date, but also an all-around beast.
Best Midrange Smartphone: Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
With smartphone prices increasing every year, it’s such a breath of fresh air to see Xiaomi keep margins low while producing excellent handsets. The Mi Mix 3 is a testament to that with an incredible form and unmatched performance in this segment.
Best Budget Smartphone: Honor 8X
2018 has been the year of fantastic budget smartphones, and the Honor 8X comes out on top as the best overall. We love everything about it, from the sleek exterior to the fluid interface and long-lasting battery.
Best Bang-for-Buck Smartphone: Pocophone F1
Without a doubt, no smartphone disrupted the market as much as the Pocophone F1 has. The performance you get for the price you pay is mind-blowing, making this the biggest steal of a deal in 2018.
Best Selfie Smartphone: Vivo NEX S
Not only is Vivo’s NEX S the best at taking selfies, it also has the coolest implementation. We’ve been using it since its launch, and we still can’t get enough of its pop-up camera. There’s nothing like it!
Best Special Edition Phone: Porsche Edition Huawei Mate 20 RS
It doesn’t get much classier than this. The Porsche Edition Mate 20 RS takes everything that makes the Mate 20 Pro so great and adds a smooth touch of leather on the rear and signature styling on the interface.
Best Gaming Smartphone: ASUS ROG Phone
It was in 2018 when gaming smartphones truly matured, and none have done it better than the ROG Phone. You can’t find a better mix of performance and cooling than this, and the variety of accessories simply sweeten the deal.
Best Smartphone Feature: SuperVOOC
Who wouldn’t want the fastest charging technology in existence? While manufacturers kept upping battery capacities, OPPO focused on speeding up the already-fast VOOC to create SuperVOOC, which can fully charge a phone in less than an hour!
Best Tablet: Apple iPad Pro (2018)
At this point, the iPad Pro isn’t just a tablet anymore — it’s pretty much an alternative to the traditional laptop. This year’s iPad Pro is so fast, so well-designed, that it stands above all competitors by a mile.
Best Laptop: Huawei MateBook X Pro
The MateBook X Pro is a Windows laptop we never thought we’d see: It has an unparalleled screen-to-body ratio, gaming-level performance, and superb battery life. Why are we seeing a notebook this great only now?
Best Convertible: Lenovo Yoga Book C930
The Yoga Book is back, and it’s better than ever! The C930 follows up on the original Yoga Book with an improved dual-screen form and all the power and battery life you need out of a thin-and-light convertible.
Best Gaming Machine: ASUS ROG Strix Scar II
There have been lots of awe-inspiring gaming devices this year, but the ROG Strix Scar II takes the cake as the most well-rounded product. We’re in love with its near-borderless display, and how the rugged look matches the top-grade hardware.
Best Wearable: Apple Watch Series 4
When choosing a smartwatch, an Apple Watch is always a serious consideration with its sharp looks and buttery-smooth interface. The Series 4 is the lineup’s most daring entry yet, and is what we want most on our wrists.
Best Professional Camera: Sony A7 III
The Sony A7 III achieved the holy grail: placing a full-frame sensor and interchangeable-lens mount inside a relatively affordable body. It does everything we ask of it, whether for low-light photography or smooth video recording.
Best Compact Camera: Sony RX100 VA
Sony’s RX100 VA made an already-incredible pocketable camera even better. It’s been our go-to compact shooter this year, thanks to its impeccable image quality and ease of use.
Best Action Camera: GoPro Hero 7 Black
This was a no-brainer: The Hero 7 Black is the culmination of GoPro’s constant drive to create the best-performing, most user-friendly action camera in the market. Shaky video is definitely dead here.
Best Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM3
Now in its third generation, the WH-1000XM3 delivers some of the best noise canceling and sound quality we’ve ever experienced in mainstream headphones. We can’t get enough of these cans!
Best VR/AR Experience: HomeCourt
When we want to up our basketball game, we look to HomeCourt to monitor our progress and improve our skills. It works flawlessly with our iPhones, and its straightforward interface simply makes us want to shoot more hoops.
Best Drone: DJI Mavic 2 Pro
It was a tall order, but DJI managed to make the hottest drone even more desirable. The Mavic 2 Pro ups the ante in every single aspect, from image quality to flying performance, while making all other drones in its class seem inferior.
Best Vehicle: Honda CR-V 2018
Out of the all the cars we drove this year, Honda’s 2018 CR-V impressed us the most. The way it presents a high-tech interior while maintaining the power and fuel efficiency of its diesel engine is unheard of at this price point.
Best Toy: PlayStation Classic
The classics are back in a complete yet portable package! The PlayStation Classic offers a solid roster that not only produces strong nostalgia, but also introduces now-retro games to a whole new generation of gamers.
Best Smart Speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
Every smart home needs a matching smart speaker, and nothing has been more fitting this year than the third-generation Echo Dot. It’s louder, more robust, and listens way better than models before it — absolutely essential for homebodies.
Cooking on High, Islands: Now Playing
We don’t feel any December blues
There’s still so much going on before the year ends. Here’s what everyone’s up to while waiting for the holiday season!
Movies to see
Spider-Man into the Spider-verse
Rodneil: A lot of people are calling this the best animated flick of the year. The visuals are stunning and the story introduces mainstream audiences to a new Spider-Man, all while keeping the spirit of the character and the whole franchise firmly intact.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
Daniel: The newest adaptation to the beloved classic is a showcase of the latest and most impressive motion capture technology. The story is a bit on the dark side, but still has the elements of the classic. The best part is it’s available on Netflix and it’ll be a good film for everyone to watch, especially on a big screen.
TV shows to binge watch
Rodneil: This might just be one of the most messed up anime I’ve seen in awhile. It starts off as a seemingly regular shōnen series with a monster of the week but quickly turns into a depressing social commentary about how people can be the true monsters after all.
Rodneil: My growing mild obsession to K-pop led me to this clip on my YouTube recommendations. The actress prominently featured on the clip isn’t even the lead actress but after watching the pilot episode of the series, I instantly got hooked. Ms. Hammurabi tackles power balance and politics in the Korean judiciary but with a sprinkle of romance here and there.
Cooking on High
Marvin: You could describe this is a prestigious culinary competition on TV, but it’s essentially about guests getting high on cannabis-based dishes prepared by master chefs. The 15-minute format makes it perfect for in-between-work binge watching, and is ideal for red-eyed folks with short attention spans.
Games to play
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Marvin: Lara Croft’s third entry in the revived Tomb Raider series is one to remember. It’s not GOTY-worthy by any measure, but its refinements over the predecessors and gorgeous graphics make it a high-octane gaming experience over the holidays.
Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to
The Best Thing I Ever Did by TWICE
Vincenz: Their latest song feels “merry” enough to be considered a winter song, but diving deeper into the lyrics clearly leaves an impression among fans, as it wants to show how one’s love can change everything, even the coldness and emptiness we feel especially when it’s December. After all, that’s what the spirit of Christmas is all about: giving what you love and loving what you give.
Islands by Reese Lansangan
Vincenz: If you’ve been listening to Reese’s previous songs, you’d definitely know that her latest single sounds different. From the title of the track itself, it is a tropic-themed song that has electronic sounds and water drop synths, making it ethereal enough to listen to.
Tadow by FKJ & Masego
Kevin: Sexy, smooth, intimate — these are some of the first words that come to mind when describing this track. FKJ or French Kiwi Juice is a French multi-instrumentalist who makes tracks that will make you want to lie back and drift away. “Tadow” is no exception with its soulful sax, chill beats, and soothing vocals. Turn down the lights, hit play, and enjoy the night.
Line by Line by PREP
Kevin: “Line by Line” is the latest of two EPs released in 2018 by British pop band PREP. Their songs are a mix of funk, R&B, and a bit of electronic music that go together to create a an easy-listening experience to make you feel good and dance when no one is looking. Their older EPs (like “Futures”) are golden, as well.
Cities/Places to visit
El Nido, Palawan
MJ: White sand beaches, crystal-clear water, towering palm trees, and amazing lagoons behind limestone rock formations. El Nido is indeed a tropical paradise, one that you should visit at least once in your lifetime.
DIY/Trends to try
Brown sugar milk tea
Marvin: It’s nothing new, but certainly one to enjoy. Milk tea stores have been ramping up brown sugar production lately, and each one has its own signature flavor. Whether you try it in Taipei or your own neighborhood, it’s a sweet alternative to the tried-and-tested formula.
Apps to download
MJ: PackPoint is a very useful app to help you pack your essentials for an upcoming trip — whether it’s for business or leisure. It has local weather forecasts and comes up with a checklist that you can customize depending on the activities of your trip.
Books to read
What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
MJ: Personally, I believe the universe brings us the people we need in our lives. If you think the same, then you need to read What If It’s Us. It’s a love story between Ben and Arthur and yes, it’s gay fiction, but it’s a book anyone can read this holiday season. After all, it’s about love and the universe. This book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and probably your local bookstores.
Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!
9 Best Gaming Smartphones (Q4 2018)
Before 2018 ends, let’s have our final Best Gaming Smartphones list for the year! A number of great smartphones came out recently, making this list the most exciting.
Without further ado, here are our top gaming phones:
Apple iPhone XR
Replacing the iPhone XS Max is the iPhone XR. Both 2018 iPhones were announced on the same day, but the XR was made available a bit later. It’s using the same powerful A12 Bionic chip but has a lower-resolution display which is not bad for gaming. With fewer pixels to render, it can run games smoother. Plus, iOS is known to have a better selection of mobile games compared to Android.
ASUS ROG Phone
When we first saw the ROG Phone during Computex 2018, we knew it would be the best Android gaming phone. ASUS took their time to release it, but we can finally buy the ROG Phone plus all of its accessories, which are kind of overkill for mobile gaming. It’s rocking an overclocked and liquid-cooled Snapdragon 845 chip, 90Hz AMOLED display, stereo speakers, and RGB lighting. What more do you need from a gaming phone?
From its name, you’d already know that it’s meant for playing games. The Honor Play is currently one of the cheapest flagship-grade smartphones you could buy. It’s just as cheap as midrange phones, but its specs are in the same league as its more expensive cousins like the Huawei P20. With a Kirin 970 processor and 6GB of memory, you’re sure to play well on this phone. GPU Turbo gives the phone extra oomph, too!
Huawei Mate 20 X
The Mate 20 X is Huawei’s most powerful phone and it’s designed to be used for gaming. Huawei went a little over the top when they compared it to the Nintendo Switch, but it’s almost as big as Nintendo’s due to its 7.2-inch display. It does come with a gaming accessory and is equipped with an impressive cooling system. It can also last long on a single charge with its 5000mAh battery.
OnePlus updated its flagship model and made it even better. The upgrade to the OnePlus 6T from the OnePlus 6 is just incremental, but if you’re about to buy one, you should get the former already. It’s still powered by a Snapdragon 845 chip, but now has a smaller display notch to get you more immersed in the action. It’s also one of the cheapest flagship phones.
The Pocophone F1 is probably the best smartphone to come out lately. It’s a game changer in the midrange segment, although the Honor Play should also have some credit. I consider the Pocophone F1 to be Xiaomi’s gift to its fans. It’s a blazingly fast phone thanks to the best-in-class Snapdragon 845 processor and the special liquid-cooling system. You can play all you want and the phone will not heat up, or at least not easily.
Razer Phone 2
The Razer Phone 2 may not look any different from its predecessor, but it has the latest specs a gaming phone should have. Razer’s gaming smartphone has the fastest display refresh rate on the list at 120Hz, placing it on par with desktop gaming monitors. Complemented with a triple-headed snake logo that lights up in 16.8 million colors, Razer fans will love to have this in their collection.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
The top-of-the-line Galaxy Note 9 comes with the latest specifications — may it be the Snapdragon or Exynos variant. It has a large and beautiful display with curved edges that’ll make gaming more immersive. Additionally, the phone doesn’t have a notch that gets in the way. It’s also the only one on this list to have a built-in stylus, making it ideal for games that have too many small icons.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
If you want a gaming phone that’s truly borderless, get the Mi Mix 3. The availability of the phone is still pretty limited to China, but it’ll go global soon. Like with any other premium phone on the list, Xiaomi’s latest Mix has a flagship Snapdragon 845 processor and up to 10GB of memory. Its battery capacity is on the small side, though.
Vivo outs dual-display phone, China bans iPhones: Weekend Rewind
Brands that are hot and brands that are in hot water
Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.
1. Vivo’s new NEX phone comes with two displays
The NEX Dual Display Edition joins the Nubia X in spearheading two-face smartphones in the market. The main display measures 6.39 inches and it virtually occupies the whole front of the phone. On the back is the secondary 5.49-inch display which is always ready for use. Both displays use Super AMOLED panels and have Full HD resolutions.
Since the phone has an all-screen facade, it doesn’t have a front-facing camera. All of the picture-taking duties are handled by the rear shooters of the NEX. There’s a main 12-megapixel f/1.79 camera that’s accompanied by a special 2-megapixel f/1.8 night video camera and a Time of Flight (TOF) sensor.
2. MediaTek’s new CPU brings next-level AI
MediaTek went ahead and introduced its new chipset, the Helio P90, even though the Helio P70 just came out a few months ago. On top of better AI processing, it offers improvements across the board, from boosts in camera features and wireless connectivity to better overall performance.
It should also improve imaging capabilities. The Helio P90 can handle up to a supersized 48-megapixel unit or dual cameras split into 24 and 16 megapixels. 4K video recording at 30 frames per second is possible, as well as 1080p at 120 frames per second.
There’s still no word on which phones we can expect to feature this chip but we’re pretty sure the wait won’t be that long.
3. Samsung collabs with a Supreme rip-off
Earlier this week, Samsung China announced a startling partnership with lifestyle brand Supreme. In lifestyle circles, the red-boxed brand is a haven for hypebeasts.
Sounds good so far, right? The thing is, Samsung’s new collaboration is not with that brand. Instead, the Korean tech company has partnered with a known Supreme knock-off. Strangely, both the original Supreme and Samsung know this fact.
They have since re-evaluated this partnership and disclosed no definite reasons except that they “deeply regret the inconvenience caused.”
4. A loaded OnePlus 6T is now official
It seems like coming with a beefed-up version of a flagship is a thing now. After Huawei and OPPO partnered with Porsche and Lamborghini, respectively, OnePlus introduced its McLaren Edition of the OnePlus 6T.
Not only does it have a carbon fiber pattern and the popular automaker’s logo on the back, but it also has practical features like Warp Charge that outputs 30W and charges the phone from zero to 50 percent in just 20 minutes. That’s McLaren fast!
5. China bans Apple from selling iPhones
Recently, Qualcomm engaged in a legal battle against Apple in China. According to the company, Apple violated some critical software patents.
Long story short, China has issued a guilty verdict against Apple and has banned the American company from selling and distributing most of its iPhones in the country.
The ban didn’t include the new iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. However, iPhone models with older software versions are all under the ban.
Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.
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