Smartphones

Oops! I was wrong about foldable phones

They’re here to stay in the years to come

Illustration by Migs Buera

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When the first foldable phone came out, the words I blurted out of my mouth were “Who the F needs that?” At the time, no one really needed it. It was a showcase of what the future might hold; a glimpse of where we’re headed.

For someone whose work requires him to be appreciative of technology, I wasn’t particularly receptive to change. Inherently, I believe that necessity is the mother of the invention which is why I was hesitant about the whole foldable concept — and even called it a fad. Smartphones are doing fine, why change what’s not broken, right?

Yes, my thoughts are the same about the flip phones that resemble the phones of the distant past. An ex-lover and I were jokingly discussing how impractical these phones are, despite working in the electronics and technology industry.

But the same thing cannot be said to the most recent foldable phones anymore, especially in 2021. There’s a certain allure with the Galaxy Z Fold2 that you can only experience when you use it. And the same goes with the Huawei Mate X2 when Michael Josh decided to play around with it. And I couldn’t agree more.

Using the Galaxy Z Fold2 for quite a while now made me realize how it fills the gap in the smartphone industry, and how they can help keep the technology industry from pressing forward.

Not the usual smartphone, not yet a tablet

By now, you probably know this foldable’s form factor. So I don’t need to go into the technical details and let me speak from experience.

The first time I got my hands on the Galaxy Z Fold2, I was afraid. It felt like a delicate flower that evokes grandeur and beauty. When folded, it’s nearly the size of average smartphones that you’re familiar with. It’s just thicker to hold and quite slippery that you might want to strengthen your grip to be on the safe side.

Opening it requires a gentler approach, but this is where the magic begins. The Galaxy Z Fold2 offered a bigger screen that I can hold for a longer time, which a tablet can’t even provide. It gave me the ability to work elsewhere without carrying my laptop all the damn time.

Though you can’t do heavy work in it, I was able to keep my social platforms running and I was able to hop on a meeting, check my designers’ works, and coordinate with my team — even if I was outdoors eating at an al fresco restaurant.

It’s also a head-turning accessory, seeing how foldables are unique to the average consumer’s eyes. And honestly, I liked the attention I got from it.

Okay, enough with its allure. Let’s talk about what my issues were and how it’s relevant to the future of smartphones.

Pushing the boundaries of what a smartphone should be

One of the issues most tech reviewers had with the foldable phones is the creases that, frankly, make or break an experience. I can live with it, but not a lot of people can (probably). But my issue was how most apps aren’t optimized for a foldable phone, yet.

This is why depending on how it pans out, foldable phones can turn the wheels again and make the whole industry move forward. Smartphones are getting boring and obsolete.

When every smartphone manufacturer releases a smartphone every damn three months, we get bored seeing how all of them look similar or offer a minor reiteration of the common slab devices. Remove their brand and coating, and they all look the same.

Companies have nearly perfected the design and experience of flagship smartphones. Midrange and budget phones, on the other hand, need a little bit more refining.

Other companies like LG — whose mobile division already shut down — started working on different form factors like the LG Wing. And we love it. Even ASUS made the whole Zenfone 8 an engineering solution, packing heavy features in a compact smartphone by shrinking some of its components.

Although frankly, we can all agree and settle with foldable phones as the next form factor. It’s starting to make sense, at least when you get your hands on it. With Samsung and Huawei leading the race on foldables, it’s certainly a phone war we’d love to watch from beginning to end.

The next standard of premium phones… or the future of smartphones?

If more people adopt foldable phones, smartphone manufacturers will be forced to step up their game and go where the demand is. Except, foldable phones still aren’t made for general use.

It still is a phone for those who have the money to burn, who want to be on the cutting-edge of technology, and those who need a device that fills the gap between a smartphone and a tablet to augment their lifestyle.

But whatever the future has in store for us, I’m certain that foldable phones — if done right — can be the next standard of what makes a phone premium. That, or it could be the next generation of our smartphones. Nonetheless, my mind has changed thanks to the Galaxy Z Fold2. And now, I’m excited to step into the future.

SEE ALSO: I’ve grown attached to the Galaxy Z Fold2

Reviews

realme GT Master Edition: Not a ‘disruptor’

But it’s still a damn good smartphone

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realme GT Master Edition

The realme GT Master Edition is a fine piece of tech. Spending roughly around 10 days with it, I can say it’s a pretty good midranger overall. So, this review is gonna be short and… I was tempted to say sweet, but I don’t think that’s the taste I’ll leave you with.

I’m going to jump right ahead to pricing. It’s always been one of realme’s strengths; offering great value products. That means you get a little more than what you pay for.

I’m gonna slap on the specs here once more so you can reference it as I babble about my time with the phone.

  • Display — 6.43″ AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate
  • Processor — Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G
  • RAM — 8GB + up to 5GB DRE (Dynamic RAM Extension)
  • Storage — 128GB and 256GB
  • Battery — 4,300mAh, Dual-cell design, 65W SuperDart charging
  • Rear Cameras — 64MP f/1.8 main camera, 8MP f/2.3 119° ultra-wide lens, 2MP f/2.4 macro lens
  • Selfie Camera — 32MP
  • OS — Android 11, realme UI 2.0
  • Color Options — Voyager Grey, Daybreak Blue

Price and availability

The realme GT Master Edition comes in two colors — Voyager Grey and Daybreak Blue. And two variants: one in 8GB+128GB and another in 8GB+256GB. Here are the pricing and pre-order details:

Lazada Exclusive 

  • 8+128GB — PhP 18,990
    • September 24 (Whole day flash sale) — PhP 17,490 (PhP 1,500 discount)
  • 8+256 GB — PhP 21,990
    • September 24 (Whole day flash sale) — PhP 19,990 (PhP 2,000 discount)

Offline Pre-Order details:

  • September 24 – October 1 (with free realme Smart Scale)
    • 8+256GB — PhP 21,990
    • Claiming: October 2 & October 3

It’s right around the ballpark of my personal favorite midranger/sub-flagship — the OnePlus Nord 2 — a phone I was generally happy with.

Build quality and design 

I had already expressed my opinion on the realme GT Master Edition’s design in the Unboxing and First Impressions article. TLDR:

  • The concave vegan leather feels great
  • I appreciate the travel/suitcase theme
  • Not particularly fond of the the designer’s signature (I even mulled over slapping TWICE stickers on it but decided otherwise)

I thought the size was perfect at first. Phones like this that have a 6.43” display are typically the ones I feel are in the sweet spot of not too big and not too small. However, after further use, I felt it could have used a little more chunk.

Without the included silicone-ish case, the phone gradually felt tiny in my hands. But I refused to use it with the case because it takes away from that fantastic leather feel. Perhaps they could have added another component or two to add some chunk and heft. Although, that may have pushed the price up which would betray realme’s whole “disrupt” approach.

That said, it’s not entirely unsatisfactory. And how it feels in your hand will vary differently from mine. One thing’s for sure, most people will love the concave vegan leather back. It’s a material rarely seen in this category and realme deserves props for having the balls to include it here.

Bloaty much

One thing I thoroughly disliked about the version of realme UI on the realme GT Master Edition is the incredible amount of bloat on the thing. You know how pre-installed apps take up some of the first home screen and maybe a little bit of the second page of the home screen. Well, this one took over half of the second page. That’s too much.

realme GT Master Edition

Sure, you have staples like Facebook, Messenger, and Netflix installed. But for every single one of those you get crap folders like Hey Fun, Hot Games, and Hot Apps. Yes, you can remove them, but it’s just inconvenient.

Speaking of inconvenient, that’s the only word I can think of to describe the App Market. Yes, it’s the same one found on some OPPO phones. It’s a hassle to have to go to the Google Play Store to install an app, but then have that same app go through the App Market for some security check before you can launch it.

I tried to figure out how to remove that extra App Market layer but eventually lost patience. This might be a minor inconvenience for some, but it is an inconvenience, nevertheless.

realme GT Master Edition

What sucks most is that these weren’t present in previous realme devices we reviewed. The realme UI is relatively clean, so this amount of bloat was a bit of a shock to my system.

Smooth despite the annoyance

I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I hated my time with the realme GT Master Edition. Despite the largely annoying additions when you fire up the device, it remains pretty smooth for whatever you want to do with it.

For me, that’s some casual browsing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as mindlessly scrolling on TikTok before bedtime. I didn’t really do any work tasks on it other than using chat apps for coordinating with teammates and external partners.

realme GT Master Edition

STAYC’s “Stereotype” is stuck in my head

Of course, I also snuck in some Netflix time in there for good measure.

realme GT Master Edition

I’ve been busy so I haven’t caught up to Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha

Most of my game time was also spent playing Marvel Future Revolution — which is the only other game on mobile I can tolerate other than Call of Duty: Mobile.

realme GT Master Edition

Glad to find another mobile game I can somewhat enjoy

I usually play after having lunch or breakfast to finish a mission plus a few sidequests. That takes about 20-30 minutes. The phone performed admirably while displaying fantastic graphics. It did heat up but nowhere near an alarming point.

It can go up as high as 120Hz for the refresh rate, but my personal recommendation is to stick with the default adaptive setting. This way, the phone will identify the best refresh rate for each app and will help conserve battery life.

realme GT Master Edition

realme UI looks just like ColorOS mildly reskinned

Speaking of battery life, this one’s right around what you would expect as well. It can last up to a day and a half for light to moderate usage, and one day for moderate to heavy usage.

Cameras, image processing is fantastic

Most realme midrangers have pretty good cameras. In fact, I even convinced one of my friends to buy a realme phone simply by showing a few sample photos. The realme GT Master Edition is no different. So I’m gonna do the same thing and just drop some samples here.

Food photos

Portrait

Filters 

Night

Indoors

Zoom 

Daylight

I don’t really have much to say in this section. I’m not the type who over analyzes the photo output. What I do know is that you’ll have a generally pleasant time snapping with the realme GT Master Edition.

It captures a good amount of detail, the image processing isn’t too aggressive, and the zoom performed so much better than I expected. Just be wary about using certain features in low light situations. For example, Portrait mode, that’s best when you have plenty of natural light.

If realme is selling you on this phone’s sheer photography prowess, it has every right to do so. It delivers as advertised.

Is this your GadgetMatch? 

realme GT Master Edition

I wouldn’t call the realme GT Master Edition a disruptor, but it’s certainly one of the best devices in this category. My only real gripe is the bloatware but other than that, it’s pretty excellent considering price and performance.

realme could have taken a few steps to make sure this is a 100 percent easy recommendation. But even as it is now, it’s still a product worth your consideration if you’re in the market for a capable smartphone.

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realme GT Master Edition: Price and availability in the Philippines

realme is calling this a ‘disruptor’

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realme GT Master Edition

realme is bringing a premium concave vegan leather touch to the midrange segment with the realme GT Master Edition.

We’re sure you’re curious about the specs so here they are:

  • Display — 6.43″ AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate
  • Processor — Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G
  • RAM — 8GB + up to 5GB DRE (Dynamic RAM Extension)
  • Storage — 128GB and 256GB
  • Battery — 4,300mAh, Dual-cell design, 65W SuperDart charging
  • Rear Cameras — 64MP f/1.8 main camera, 8MP f/2.3 119° ultra-wide lens, 2MP f/2.4 macro lens
  • Selfie Camera — 32MP
  • OS — Android 11, realme UI 2.0
  • Color Options — Voyager Grey, Daybreak Blue

realme gave significant attention to the back design having Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa lead the effort. His signature is also present at the back of the phone. Talking about the design, it’s inspired by the look of a suitcase to induce thoughts of travel. We’ve gone in detail how we feel about this approach in the Unboxing and First Impressions article so check that out.

In fact, that should cover most of what you need to know. That includes our quick thoughts on the device. But TLDR: Feels great, a little thin, realme UI has bloatware, but device is pretty good overall. Watch out for the review.

So here’s what you came here for. Pricing and availability of the realme GT Master Edition:

Lazada Exclusive 

  • 8+128GB — PhP 18,990
    • September 24 (Whole day flash sale) — PhP 17,490 (PhP 1,500 discount)
  • 8+256 GB — PhP 21,990
    • September 24 (Whole day flash sale) — PhP 19,990 (PhP 2,000 discount)

Offline Pre-Order details:

  • September 24 – October 1 (with free realme Smart Scale)
    • 8+256GB — PhP 21,990
    • Claiming: October 2 & October 3
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Here’s how the Honor Magic3 shoots great photos

It’s called the Ultra Fusion Quad-Camera Photography system

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Last month, Honor launched the Magic3 flagship series. Besides offering industry-leading hardware, the flagship series delivers the best that smartphone photography can offer. Of course, as any smartphone photographer can tell, packing in the largest specs only spells half od the equation. Smartphone makers need to leverage the technology too. To unveil most of the mystery, Honor has explained how the Magic3’s camera system rises above the rest.

Despite the smartphone’s lithe frame, Honor leverages both AI and hardware to deliver the best images possible. Honor’s Ultra Fusion Quad-Camera Photography system more intelligently uses the different cameras simultaneously to find the best combination depending on the situation.

More specifically, the camera system uses both color and monochrome cameras. The color camera, as the name suggests, keeps the color accuracy on point. Meanwhile, the monochrome cameras handle texture and detail.

Also, despite using multiple cameras at once, Honor’s AI technology can accurately stitch together images, resulting in sharper details without the blur. Likewise, the technology fuses both the main sensor and the telephoto lens to capture accurate long-range shots from a distance.

When it launched, the Magic3 series was one of the first flagships to feature Snapdragon 888 Plus. It’s natural that the flagship should come with a top-tier camera setup. And Honor has the tech to prove it.

SEE ALSO: Honor 50 series launches with a radical design, Google apps support

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