Smartphones

Here are new Pixel 6 features you should definitely try

Get that Magic Eraser out

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Pixel 6

The Pixel 6 series has finally launched. More than previous iterations, Google’s new flagships have a host of fresh hardware and new features underneath its smooth and sexy frame. If you’re getting either the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro, you might miss out on a few features introduced in the new series. Here’s a rundown of some tips and tricks you should definitely try out.

Customize your home screen

Wallpapers aren’t the only ways to customize your phones anymore. Android 12’s biggest design change revolves around personalization. Now, whenever you change your wallpaper, the phone’s theme changes along with it. It can change its icon’s themes and color palettes.

Harness the power of AI

With the new Tensor chipset, Google is going all-in on AI technology. As such, the Pixel 6 series has a flurry of AI-enhanced features to make its users’ lives easier.

For one, the Pixel 6 can save you a lot of time whenever you call business’ toll-free numbers. Google Assistant can now tell you when the best times to physically go to a business, transcribe automated menu options, and hold for you during long hotline calls.

Speaking of transcriptions, Google Assistant now has a much better transcribing feature for Messages. It adds the ability to transcribe emojis and spell out difficult words.

For languages, Google can now transcribe messages and media better and faster in real time. The Recorder can also transcribe more languages now.

Finally, you don’t need to go “Hey, Google” all the time anymore. The Pixel 6 now offers a few quick phrases available without the need for Google’s usual call phrase — such as snoozing an alarm or answering a phone call.

An improved camera

Google’s new AI doesn’t just affect Google Assistant. It also improves the device’s camera features. Most especially, the camera has a new Magic Eraser feature which automatically removes photobombers and distractions from the background.

The camera also has new ways to handle moving images. Action Pan can focus on a moving subject but blur the background to improve focus. On the other hand, Long Exposure mode can add a creative blur for subjects portrayed while keeping the background crystal clear. Not a fan of either? The Pixel 6’s camera can also remove facial blurs for moving subjects (human ones and not animal ones yet).

Further, the auto adjustment feature now takes the subject’s skin color into account. It ensures that the Pixel 6 remains inclusive, rather than focusing on only a few skin colors.

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Obviously, besides the ones listed, the Pixel 6 series and the new Android 12 have a lot more features packing inside. With the smartphone series now launched, it should be easy to discover these new features for yourself.

SEE ALSO: Pixel Pass bundles a Pixel 6 with a subscription service

Features

Why I trust Samsung’s Knox security

A nod to the security platform that makes me feel safe and protected

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A smartphone is like a treasure trove in the age of the Internet. Filled with confidential information for personal and business use. A gold mine of data that can be used by big companies to improve technology. Or an opportunity for hackers and criminals to steal and sell as valuable resources.

I’m no stranger to discussions about cybersecurity and data privacy, even though my himbo veneer begs to differ. Two years ago, I attended a conference mounted to discuss the importance and value of data as a commodity in this era.  I learned what technology giants like Samsung and Huawei are doing to protect the new currency of the digital age.

Coming full circle, cyberattacks have increased in the past two years. Samsung knows this all too well, bringing Knox Platform to the front — end-to-end protection they have had for several years already.

The ultimate defense

In 2019, I was lucky to be given an audience with the South Korean giant executives to learn and discuss what Knox is. Samsung Philippines’ Product and Solutions Manager Anton Andres explained how Knox Platform works, and how it sets them apart from other brands when it comes to Android security.

Knox was just a security platform that automatically encrypts and decrypts information every time you boot up the device.

It’s embedded on a Galaxy smartphone or any smart device marketed with Knox’s security during a secure supply chain, offering real-time protection to actively safeguard devices against data attacks or malware.

Any unauthorized attempts to access your phone’s core are blocked in real-time. Even a device as old as a Samsung Galaxy S8 was compromised and reset, Knox automatically blows the fuse to wipe your corporate or personal info. Therefore, preventing any data leakage and security risks.

Knox also lock-up apps containing sensitive data such as Samsung Pay, Samsung Pass, Secure Folder, or Samsung Health — especially when the smartphone was booted in an unapproved state.

Samsung Galaxy Watch4 | Samsung Health

Apart from the platform security, the South Korean company delivers solutions like Knox Manage and Knox Configure — services that let enterprises customize Galaxy smartphones and tablets, as well as control the device and user interactions for safety and security.

Keeping your network safe

Aside from my interview with Andres, I was also able to speak with David Kim, Samsung Mobile B2B Asia’s Corporate VP and Chief Revenue Officer.

Kim stated how important your network is, and how you can only control the hardware, software, and who access the phones. The executive added, “There are also Wi-Fi and networks. If someone can sneak in your network, they can sneak in your email.”

Public Wi-Fis are one example of an unsafe network that might compromise your security. Free Wi-Fi sounds nice. You’re not going to spend a single dime. But it’s also a pot of gold for hackers trying to steal data — personal information such as your credit card purchases.

I haven’t connected to public Wi-Fi for more than three years due to the awareness of the risks it poses to my security. And because I’m privileged enough to buy large data allocation for my Internet use and have consistent network signal.

But not everyone is in the same position like I am. Luckily, Samsung gives you the capability to encrypt outgoing internet traffic and disable tracking apps and websites.

With a Galaxy smartphone, you can activate Secure Wi-Fi so you can browse the internet safely on public wireless connections without fear of security breaches.

Handling your sensitive data

Some people have poor privacy habits: Using the same passwords across different platforms. Admittedly, I was once like that. But using Samsung Pass throughout the years helped me easily access my credentials. Without needing to remember countless usernames and passwords.

Samsung’s use of innovative biometric authentication technology helps average users and techies alike to keep themselves protected — whether it’s Samsung Pass or an Ultrasonic Fingerprint.

If you’re still wary, I’d understand. But your biometrics data — no matter how many — are safely stored in Knox Vault. It’s a processor operating independently from the main CPU to securely isolate your information.

What you need to be cautious about are phishers waiting to attack. These are cybercriminals who might trick you into handing over sensitive information. Oftentimes, they attack by installing malware disguised as links, attachments, or even legitimate apps, on your devices.

The possibilities are endless on what these criminals can do if they have access to your sensitive information. They can use it to demand a ransom, steal your personal information and apply for loans without your knowledge, and even make purchases with your credit card information.

Though Samsung continuously scans your device for malware or suspicious activity via McAfee protection, we need to do our part as well in keeping ourselves safe.

White House approved

All these multi-layers of security are one of the reasons why Samsung believes they’re more secure than any other brand. The Samsung Mobile B2B Asia Vice President confidently claimed to GadgetMatch, “We don’t have a perfect security rating, but we are well received. That’s why the White House is comfortable with us.”

After all, Samsung designs, creates, and validates every computer chip, piece of wiring, and hardware component before lodging them into smart devices manufactured. This approach gave Samsung control over design, manufacturing, and assembly which ensures a secure supply chain.

Further, it prevents unauthorized backdoor access in each device that hackers won’t easily bypass. As a rule, don’t download unofficial or unauthorized apps lest you open up yourself to vulnerability.

Be careful of what you download

At the end of the day, it’s about you and your relationship with your smartphone and the Internet. Samsung’s Product and Solutions Manager Anton Andres warned about downloading third-party apps, especially keyboards. Yes, it can make your keyboard look pretty, but it also compromises your security.

“If you access your mobile banking credentials on a third-party keyboard, they can phish your information,” Andres said. “With Samsung Knox, we identify specific applications and URLs. Once identified, Knox automatically hides your information to prevent potential threats.”

Samsung is constantly updating the Knox Platform and its security solutions. If you haven’t had the time to keep yourselves extra secure, this is your sign to do it now.

In the meantime, let our response be: In Knox we trust. 🙏

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Reviews

OPPO A55 review: Just the basics

Will teach you resource management

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OPPO A55

I did something pretty stupid while setting up the OPPO A55 for review. I copied all the settings and apps from my main Android phone which is the flagship OPPO Find X3 Pro. Predictably, the phone slowed down. But there’s one thing I realized — I had been living in excess.

Perhaps this is the most important lesson I learned during my time with the OPPO A55 — that I can get plenty of the things I need even with just a budget phone.

To get the OPPO A55, which is powered by the MediaTek MT6765G Helio G35 (with 4GB RAM, 64GB storage), to optimum performance, I proceeded to uninstall apps I barely use. It took a while but I was able to narrow down the apps I normally use. They are as follows:

Work/Productivity: 

  • GMail
  • Google Docs
  • Google Keep
  • Slack
  • Messenger
  • Telegram

Yes, three messaging apps under productivity because I handle plenty of comms for work both internally and externally. It’s this part of my job that saps my social battery the most.

Entertainment/Leisure:

  • YouTube
  • Netflix
  • TikTok

TikTok has become the app I use the most as I try to tire myself to sleep. It’s not the healthiest of habits but it’s been keeping me sane. There’s plenty of content here that’s littered with misinformation but that’s a topic for another time. Like most other social feeds, you can teach its algorithm to show you only the stuff you want to see. For me, that means an abundance of videos about K-Pop super group TWICE.

OPPO A55

I’ve also been taking a trip down memory lane and started rewatching Season 1 of The Flash CW TV Series as well as the Cowboy Bebop animé as a palate cleanser from the unsavory after taste of the Netflix live action adaptation of the show.

Social Media: 

  • Twitter
  • Instagram

OPPO A55

Notably missing is Facebook. I’m sure most people use the app and you’ll have no trouble running it on top of all the apps I’ve already mentioned. It was a conscious decision on my part to skip Facebook for my sanity’s sake.

On Instagram I mostly just browse photos related to the K-Pop girl groups. And on Twitter, I’m mostly on my burner account ranting about life. All activities just to keep myself sane, somehow.

Just the apps I need

OPPO A55

Our set of apps could look very different, but I feel like the ones I mentioned above are pretty common and should resemble most people’s most used apps. I didn’t really do much mobile gaming on the phone but the games I play most — Call of Duty: Mobile, Marvel Future Revolution, and Dragon Quest Dai were all installed and ran smoothly albeit on low graphics settings.

There are some pre-installed apps and there’s not a lot you can do about them. Regardless, it’s still a fine exercise in managing resources whenever you’re using a budget smartphone. You can get a lot done, but you have to keep an eye out on your memory and storage, lest you run the risk of slowing the phone down.

Looks pretty basic too

Not that basic is a bad thing. In fact, plenty of people still prefer this “classic black” look. On the right hand  side you’ll find the power button.

OPPO A55

Over on the left side are the volume buttons as well as the SIM tray.

OPPO A55

On the bottom are the usual speaker grilles, USB-C port, and 3.5mm jack.

OPPO A55

Nothing too fancy, it’s pretty easy to grip, and just has the OPPO logo at the back.

OPPO A55

Decent snappers

OPPO A55

The OPPO A55 has a 50MP main camera and almost negligible 2MP for macro, and another 2MP for depth. You also have a 16MP selfie camera which I also didn’t get to use.

That said, I mainly stuck to using the main camera. Like most phones today, you won’t have many issues shooting under bright natural light. It’s also not gonna wow you with super detailed images, but I never expected it to.

OPPO A55

This was taken with on just normal mode. Even the camera sensors on budget smartphones are good enough to produce clean, bokeh-licious shots like this.

OPPO A55

Food shots don’t look as appetizing but it’s easy to make this pop with the right post-processing which you should do. “No-filter” is overrated.

Too much oil for my liking, but it this does look kinda appetizing.

The struggles come in night and low-light scenarios.

OPPO A55

라면 먹을래? Want to have ramyeon?

I never really expected much from the cameras. In fact, I’d say what you see with the samples above are par for the course for any budget smartphone no matter the megapixel count they slap on it.

Battery life and everything else

Sporting a 5,000mAh battery with support for 18W wired charging, while not supporting any exorbitant features, you’ll squeeze out a decent usage time from the OPPO A55.

Its 6.51-inch IPS LCD screen doesn’t demand much, and the processor is pretty efficient as well. You should be able to go through your usual day with the phone and not need to charge during the day unless you’re a heavy mobile gamer.

For general usage, it’s perfectly normal and delivers on your needs and basic wants.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

OPPO A55

The OPPO A55 nails the basics. There’s nothing exceptionally good or terribly bad about the phone. It’s the type of device you pick up because you just have to have a smartphone these days.

It’s fairly limited in what it can do and will force flagship users like myself to learn to manage a phone’s resources better. But if budget or lower midrange is all you’ve known, this is a pretty decent pick-up.It retails for PhP 9,999 and is available in OPPO retail stores, partner dealers and e-commerce platforms Shopee and Lazada.

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Deals

Xiaomi launches All I Want for Christmas promo

Get an adorable toy and more

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With the Holiday season just around the corner, Xiaomi is showcasing an exclusive Mi Bunny plushie on top of awesome freebies for their All I Want for Christmas promo.

From November 13, 2021 to January 14, 2021, customers will be able to get either the adorable plush toy or freebie bundles with a purchase of any of the following products: Xiaomi 11T Series, Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE, Mi 11 Lite, and the Xiaomi Pad 5.

The Xiaomi 11T and Xiaomi 11T Pro are the content creator’s ultimate companion. Both have high resolution cameras and a suite of AI-powered tools, including impressive filmography capabilities for “cinemagic” results.

The Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE, meanwhile, comes with a 6.55” AMOLED DotDisplay and 10-bit TrueColor support for ultra-vivid display. There are also four color choices:Snowflake While, Truffle Black, Bubblegum Blue, and Peach Pink.

The Mi 11 Lite combines substance and style with its optimized 16MP main camera that is best for low-light conditions with Night Mode — enabling users to take stunning images with higher brightness, sharper contrast and enhanced detail.

Xiaomi Pad 5

Lastly, the Xiaomi Pad 5 is the versatile and portable workstation that can boost one’s productivity with premium features.

Here are the following packages:

PURCHASE FREEBIES
Xiaomi 11T

  • 128 GB: PhP 21,990
  • 256 GB: PhP 24,990
Mi Bunny worth PhP 922

Mi Eco Bag worth PhP 480

Xiaomi 11T Pro

  • 8GB + 256GB: PhP 27,990
  • 12GB + 256GB: PhP 29,990
Mi Eco Bag worth PhP 480

Mi Bluetooth Speaker worth PhP 3,250

Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE

  • 128 GB: PhP 18,990
Mi Bunny worth PhP 922

Mi Eco Bag worth PhP 480

Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite

  • 128 GB: PhP 14,990
Mi Bunny worth PhP 922

Mi Eco Bag worth PhP 480

Xiaomi Pad 5

  • 6 GB + 128 GB: PhP 17,990
  • 6 GB + 256 GB: PhP 19,990
Mi Pad magnetic case worth PhP 1,500

Visit the Xiaomi Philippines official stores in Lazada and Shopee. More exclusive deals also await for Xiaomi devices in their Lazada and Shopee Global stores. You can also follow the official Xiaomi Facebook page to stay up to date on more deals and new products.

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