Here are the top stories on GadgetMatch this week.
1. The Pixel 3a is now official
Officially announced at Google I/O 2019 are the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. These phones are essentially powered-down versions of the Pixel 3 announced back in 2018.
The devices are running on Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 instead of an 800-series chip and it’s also using Dragon Trail glass on its display versus the more common Gorilla Glass. On its back you don’t even get glass at all, instead it’s a polycarbonate material.
What you do get are Pixel-exclusive features like Duplex, Call Screening, Night Sight, and Top Shot.
2. Android Q Beta also available for non-Pixel phones
Staying in Google I/O territory, it was announced that the Android Q Beta can also be tested using non-Pixel phones. Traditionally only available on Google’s own hardware, the beta OS can now also be tested on the following: ASUS ZenFone 5Z, Essential PH-1, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, LG G8, Nokia 8.1, OnePlus 6T, OPPO Reno, Realme 3 Pro, Sony Xperia XZ3, Tecno Spark 3 Pro, Vivo X27, Vivo NEX S, Vivo NEX A, Xiaomi Mi 9, Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G
3. Samsung announces 64-megapixel phone camera
The megapixels on smartphone cameras keep climbing and Samsung is now currently at the summit by expanding its 0.8μm lineup, adding the 64-megapixel Samsung ISOCELL Bright GW1.
Much like other 48-megapixel sensors today, Samsung’s new shooter uses the contemporary pixel-merging Tetracell technology. Further, the sensor will improve HDR shooting capabilities. The GW1 supports an HDR of up to 100dB. According to Samsung, the current industry standard goes up to only 60dB.
In case that was confusing, this means better low-light performance, sharper images, and improved slow motion videos.
4. Apex Legends is going mobile
The first-person-shooter genre in mobile is about to get more competitive. Software developer EA just confirmed that they are taking Apex Legends mobile. There are no specifics about platforms or release dates, but we’re betting Android and iOS are part of the list. There’s also a possibility for the Nintendo Switch to join the party.
Following the footsteps of titles like Fortnite and PUBG, Apex Legends also looks to make it big in mobile after enjoying some level of success on consoles and PCs.
5. Final Fantasy VII remake new trailer sparks hope
A remake of the much-loved video game Final Fantasy VII was announced way back in E3 2015. Roughly four years later, with a lot of delay issues and rumors in between, we finally have a brand new trailer showing off some new cinematic shots and a little bit of gameplay footage.
There’s still no specific release date but if you’ve been closely following development on this game, you’re probably used to that by now. Fingers-crossed we don’t have to wait another four years until the game actually comes out.
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.
Best of 2019: Our favorite smartphones
So many choices, so we narrowed them down for you
There’s really not one best smartphone. We all have different needs and thankfully, the options that brands give us is not lacking at all. Whether your priority is photography, gaming, or just something basic, there is definitely a smartphone for you.
Here are our favorites.
Best smartphones for photography: iPhone 11 Pro, Pixel 4
How good are the cameras? That’s always a topic of conversation when new phones are released. While other brands have made huge strides, the iPhone 11 Pro and the Pixel 4 continue to dominate this category. The iPhone is a no-brainer choice for most people. Consistency is key and Apple has been pretty much consistent with the cameras on the iPhone.
Meanwhile, Google’s computational photography on the Pixel 4 continues to wow reviewers and casual users. Like the iPhone, the Pixel has consistently been one of the best in this category and it appears it will continue to be in the foreseeable future.
Honorable mentions: Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Huawei P30 Pro
Best Android flagship: Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 10+
While the S Pen continues to set the Galaxy Note 10 series apart, the latest iteration of this Samsung flagship does so many other things at a high level as well. It is still a smartphone that’s literally for anyone, especially with the Galaxy Note 10 being made for people with smaller hands. Audio enthusiasts will lament the lack of a headphone jack for HiFi audio but more casual users are buying wireless earphones for their devices.
Honorable Mentions: OnePlus 7T Pro, Huawei P30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S10+
Best implementation of a foldable display: Motorola razr
While the Samsung Galaxy Fold dominated this year’s headlines — and not always for the best reasons, it was the Motorola razr that showed us that while it’s notable to be the first, it’s more important to be the first to get it right. The new razr is a buzzer beater entry in this category but it’s also a slam dunk. The device, at launch, just works. No creases, no displays you can tear off, and no threat of software support being banned.
Best smartphone with a 64MP camera: Realme XT
The only two other phones in this category are the Redmi Note 8 Pro and the Vivo NEX 3. We think that of the three, the Realme XT offers the best value. You see, other than the megapixel count, what sets smartphone cameras apart is the phone’s post-processing. The Realme XT consistently produces images with great detail and fantastic color reproduction. It doesn’t hurt that the phone’s white variant looks pretty good too.
Best value smartphone: Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro (Redmi K20 Pro)
This is 2019’s flagship killer. Not only is it equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 that’s present in most flagships today, it also has a modern all-screen design with a pop-up camera plus its rear cameras more than holds its own against phones that are similarly priced. But the price, that’s where this phone truly sets itself apart. For less than half of most flagships today, you get very near-flagship performance. There’s almost nothing else like it.
Honorable Mentions: OnePlus 7T, Realme 5 Pro
Best budget smartphone: Realme 5
Realme broke out in 2019 like no other brand. They’ve strengthened their foothold in key developing markets by launching devices that punch above their weight class. The Realme 5 is one such device. As one of the few budget smartphones with a quad-camera setup and is capable of basic gaming, it’s a well-rounded device and is perfect for anyone looking to get their first smartphone.
Honorable Mentions: Redmi Note 8, Samsung Galaxy A20s
Best smartphones for videography: iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max
iPhones have been far and away the best smartphones for taking videos for a while now. The same is true in 2019. The iPhone 11 series has put even more emphasis on the cameras and just took what it was already good at and just became better at it. No one’s touching the iPhone in this category but the challengers have been gaining on them.
Honorable mentions: Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Huawei P30 Pro, OPPO Reno2, Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
Best gaming smartphone: ROG Phone 2
It’s not even about the accessories. Yes, those are cool, but what really makes this a gaming smartphone is its design. We’re not just talking about how it looks. Design should always be how form and function come together. The ROG Phone 2’s features and little touches here and there like the second usb-c port for charging, the flat display, the front-firing speakers — these are all design decisions that address a mobile gamer’s needs. It’s extremely thoughtful of its target market.
Best Android smartphone without Google Mobile Services: Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Heh. Sorry Huawei, we just had to. ✌
Motorola razr Hands-On
The popular RAZR is back!
The new Motorola razr is a modern version of the popular RAZR V3. It still has a sleek design, but now has a 6.2-inch Flex Display with a perfectly executed zero-gap hinge.
It runs on Snapdragon 710 chipset, 6GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 2510 mAh battery with 15W TurboPower charger right out of the box.
But does all of that justify the $1499 price tag?
This is our Motorola razr hands-on.
I was in Facebook jail for 24 Hours
Banned unjustly without any chance to appeal
It was a lazy Friday morning when I woke up to a 9GAG article. Chuckling on its narrative, I saved the article in hopes of reading it later again so I can decide if I will share it with a close friend of mine. However, saving the article meant posting and sharing it, according to Facebook. I was given a warning for violating their community guidelines.
Shocked and confused, I unsaved the link. To find out if it’s the real culprit, I saved the link once again and then boom! I was banned from posting, liking, and engaging in any posts on Facebook.
At first, I thought the ban would only affect my profile. Little did I know, the ban would extend to the pages I handle. I couldn’t post, not even the scheduled posts I prepared for the day were posted. It affected my job as a social media manager.
Locked up and grounded
Que horror, the only word I uttered after realizing I screwed up. I asked someone to cover for my work while I channel my frustrations on Twitter and Reddit. Mindlessly, I scrolled through Instagram and I repeatedly had the urge to switch apps and browse on Facebook so I can share memes, just like what I would do on a normal day.
“They know everything, they can see what’s happening, but they just can’t tell the world the situation they’re in.”
However, I couldn’t handle it anymore. Not being able to share or at least react, I felt disconnected from everyone. To free myself from the negative feelings circulating inside, I uninstalled Facebook and did the rest of my work for the day.
For 24 hours, I was impatiently waiting to get my ban lifted. Being in Facebook jail didn’t feel like being cut-off from the world, but it was more like being grounded. It’s like my parents decided to stop me from seeing and contacting my friends just because I sneaked out of the house past 10pm.
But more importantly, being in Facebook jail made me reminisce the prison life in the TV series I used to watch. How people — both criminals and victims of injustice alike — band together in a different, locked-up space, watching the world outside prison quietly. They know everything, they can see what’s happening, but they just couldn’t tell the world the situation they’re in.
To make it through the day, I casually searched for people who experienced the same situation — unjustly banned for using a feature that isn’t directly hurting anyone. If I would have said something explicit or any form of hate speech, I would understand. But I didn’t.
“Facebook is just an authoritarian organization doomed for failure.”
If the article I wanted to save and read for later was violating the platform’s nudity policy, then why was 9GAG not reprimanded for posting it at all? Why did it have to be me? Up until today, I still can’t fathom the reason. Not even on Facebook’s useless Help center. It was reading stories that shared the same fate as I did that made me feel better. They made me feel that I’m not alone. “I’ll get through this,” was what I told myself.
It’s funny how being connected through the world’s largest social media platform made it both a good and a bad thing for everyone. It’s good in a way that Facebook helped us maintain the connection and relationships despite the distance. It’s bad in a way that we depend on Facebook to get updates from people through the posts they share and the stuff that goes viral; that we need to stay online and check on everyone through our news feed just so we don’t miss anything that might be discussed in real life.
What I learned
The ban was lifted after what felt like forever and I learned my lesson. It’s like being given a second lease on life. But what I learned, first and foremost, is to never use Facebook’s save feature. Without any strict, proper guidelines on what constitutes a ban according to their policies, Facebook is just an authoritarian organization doomed for failure — a dictator deciding what to censor without any justifications or proper explanations.
Of course, it’s their platform. They can do whatever they want with it, but Facebook is more than a platform. It’s a whole new way of connecting with everyone around the world. A lot of realizations dawned on me through this incident, and there is one more lesson to learn here: Life without Facebook can be a good one, too. One where we rely on real, physical, and intimate connections. One where we only catch up with the people that truly matter.
Now I know what people feel like when they claim they have found freedom after deleting their Facebook accounts. I’m still far from deleting my account, but slowly, I’ll figure it out. Maybe, for now, what I can do is step away and disconnect, and live a day or two without social media.
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