Google’s Pixel strategy is doing exceedingly well, at a cost



When friends ask me for tips on buying techie products, one piece of advice constantly comes up: Don’t be an early adopter of first-generation gadgets. Why? Because bugs need to be ironed out first, and brands never show all their cards on the first attempt. This way of thinking is about to change, however, and it begins with Google and ends with Pixel.

Google’s pair of Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones haven’t reached the consumer market yet, but they’re already being showered with glowing reviews.

Well-respected tech journalist Walt Mossberg calls it the “best Android phone” he’s ever tested; Wired is “totally in love with the Pixel”; and Gizmodo says the Pixel makes a strong case if you must buy an Android, even though they’re calling it “dumb and ugly.”

Reviews have been so good, in fact, that Alphabet (Google’s parent company) has experienced its highest stock prices since 2004, according to a report by Bloomberg. The cherry on top: Both phones are currently out of stock because of the overwhelming demand.

Sentiments from other outlets have been largely the same, with the only complaints being the sky-high prices, lack of waterproofing, and bland physical design. Do the cons sound a little familiar? Those have been shots taken against Apple’s iPhones for the longest time (only the second con changed recently), making the Pixel a perfect rival in both strengths and weaknesses.

Still, as happy as we are for Google and consumers wanting more choices, the Pixel strategy is alienating Android’s most important supporters: third-party manufacturers.

By releasing a high-end pair of smartphones that’s truly its own, Google is now a direct competitor to the companies it has been working so closely with since Android’s conception, sending a harsh signal to hardware partners that there’s an even better way to handle its operating system, way beyond what Nexus has ever done.

The Pixel strategy is alienating Android’s most important supporters: third-party manufacturers.

Despite having the Pixels manufactured by HTC, the search giant has the software and hardware process under its control from start to finish. This is distinctly different from the way the Nexus series was handled, wherein the likes of Huawei and LG had their own say for the design, and were only required to lay out a fresh layer of Android inside.

Samsung is clearly the most affected brand. Now that the Galaxy Note 7 is out of commission, you’d have to look all the way back to February to find Samsung’s current, yet somewhat stale, Galaxy S7 flagship line. The development surely doesn’t bode well for the Korean company, who has been largely responsible for boosting Google’s mobile operating system to an 87 percent market share last quarter, thanks to a 22 percent smartphone market share of its own.

LG V20 Nougat

“Sorry about that” – Google to LG

LG has also been caught in the crossfire. Its phablet flagship, the yet-to-be-shipped V20, has been heavily marketed as being the first smartphone to have Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, only for it to be outshone by the 7.1 version the Pixel smartphones will come with at around the same time. We wonder if Google knew about this in advance, or if they sent a really nice fruit basket to LG’s headquarters.

The only major player to benefit from Google’s new-found success is HTC. Even though its own self-branded smartphones continue to slump sales-wise, the Taiwan-based company actually saw a 41 percent revenue jump last month. Once the Pixels begin shipping, HTC’s fortunes will surely turn around, in spite of the lack of branding.

The only major player to benefit from Google’s new-found success is HTC.

As for how Chinese brands Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, and the like feel about this, well, they’re too busy raking in mountains of cash from dominating the entry-level and midrange markets — two segments Apple and Google don’t really care about at the moment.

The situation is similar to the topic we touched on when we talked about Project Ara’s demise a month ago. Android partners already feared Google had shot them in the foot by buying Motorola to produce its own phones. When the Mountain View company changed its mind and sold the well-known handset manufacturer to Lenovo and began work on its modular phones, brands such as LG and Samsung looked into alternatives to the Android OS.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), Project Ara didn’t push through, so third-party brands had less competition to worry about — but then Pixel came in, and here we are. Oh, Google!


Samsung Galaxy S9 guide for the selfie lover

How to get the best out of the beauty mode



The Samsung Galaxy S9 is a power-packed phone, but one great feature that is most overlooked is its front-facing camera capabilities. I’ve taken it upon myself to walk you through the wonders of what magic Samsung’s latest flagship can do to your selfies.

It all depends on what look you want to achieve. But first, the basics.

The S9 has a number of selfie modes but we’ll focus on two modes here: Selfie Focus and Selfie. Both can be found on the upper part of the camera app, when the front-facing camera is activated.

This tiny button, dubbed “beauty crystals” by one of our unboxing guests, will be your best friend. This unlocks a host of beauty filters and options that will allow you attain those flawless shots.

Now, let’s begin. On to the first look!

Au Naturelle

Sometimes, you need a no-fuss, natural-looking selfie for the times that you know you can’t be spending that much time on a selfie, but you still want to look cute.

Turn to the Galaxy S9’s Selfie Focus mode. This activates the bokeh mode which will blur out the background and makes sure that you’re the center of attention in the photo. Find good, soft lighting, find your angle and smile!

Ugh. Marvin and Rodney are always getting in the way of my work 😂

A big bright window was used in this instance, and though other GadgetMatch people were proving to be big distractions in this photo, the bokeh took care of their annoying intrusion.

Sometimes, you don’t necessarily have to up the beauty mode to take a good selfie.

Fresh finish

For times that your fave needs a little boost, we turn to those “beauty crystals!”

The same Selfie Focus mode allow for a little airbrushing. Tap the “beauty crystals” found at the bottom right of the screen and this will allow you to toggle Color and Skin Tone.

Bumping these controls up can give you a fresh, glowing face, even on days when your face is nowhere near those two things.

With above mentioned settings, I managed to take a fresh photo as I was haggardly trying to navigate my way through an unfamiliar city by foot. A little beauty mode air-brushing does wonders, I tell you.

Basic makeup look

We move on to makeup looks! The following uses the Galaxy S9’s Selfie mode.

After navigating to this mode, tap the “beauty crystals” and a slew of themed looks will appear. Tap “Basic” and adjust intensity as needed. Tapping on the tiny “beauty pencil” will also allow you to customize the settings more.

On days when you need a tiny makeup retouch, this option works best. This setting allows for a filter that makes for subtle but made up look. The sample shown above is me at the end of a long day — my face still looks makeup fresh because of this mode, even when I personally wasn’t.

Beauty boost

For a more va va voom look, we turn to other settings on the S9’s Selfie mode.

Tapping each pre-set look will give you a fresh new makeup theme. The toggle at the bottom of the screen controls the filter’s intensity. Remember to take great care in making sure that the filter isn’t too much for your face, otherwise, you run the risk of looking fake.

After picking a particular look, tapping the “beauty pencil” brings you to even more makeup options — you can choose to change eyeshadow, lipstick, eyelashes, contouring, and more. Go crazy with the choices! And, you can even have a friend join in on the fun as the filters work for more than one person.

Friends that put makeup together, stay together

This is how me and Chay looked after a long day of shooting. In this photo, we’re fresh AF and makeup was definitely on fleek, which wasn’t necessarily true in real life.

Live your life on fleek with these Galaxy S9 tips. Seriously, I never thought a device could make application so easy, but here we are.

Technology, you’ve done it again.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9 tutorial: How to make AR Emoji

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9: An honest review of AR Emoji and more

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Show and Tell

Samsung Galaxy S9 Unboxing with Georgina Wilson

She talks about her life with the Galaxy and her new favorite feature!



It’s not every day that we get to collaborate with someone who’s not from the tech industry. Not known to many, model and businesswoman Georgina Wilson-Burnand has been a long-time Samsung Galaxy user — ever since the Galaxy S6 came out.

In this video, Georgina does her very first unboxing with Michael Josh and talks about how her life has changed so much the last few years. Now married and a new mom, the only thing that hasn’t changed is she’s still using a Samsung smartphone.

“It really has grown with me. When I switched to the S6, I was just using it for selfies but now, I already gave up my laptop because I just work on my phone. Anyone in my life can attest that I live on my phone.”

Not only does Georgina use her phone 24/7 for work, it’s also the only camera that she uses to catch those precious moments of her son Archie that she would otherwise not be able to with another camera.

“My son has completely grown up on the Galaxy. I want to do a digital album of the millions of photos that I have because his life, even before he was born, has just been captured on my phone.”

The timing could not have been more perfect because Samsung promises to have reimagined the camera on the S9 which is also Georgina’s favorite feature on the new phone.

“I was so happy already with the S8 and I keep wondering how Samsung is going to outdo themselves. But the S9 has.”

The marquee feature of the S9 is Dual Aperture, a first on a smartphone. Michael Josh stresses it’s an engineering feat for Samsung to pull it off.

For a non-photographer, it’s one of those features that Georgina just assumes to be there but now that she understands what it means, she realizes it’s the reason why her photos are much better on the S9, especially in low light.

“It’s really mimicking how brilliant the human eye is.” She says it needs to be the best camera because it’s what she brings with her everyday.

As someone who’s been working in fashion, Georgina also commends Samsung for releasing the S9 in Lilac Purple — a color all her favorite designers are also using this season.

Michael Josh challenges Georgina to a dunk challenge, where they try to capture the splash after dunking a cookie in a glass of milk using the S9’s super slow-mo feature.

Fascinated by the idea of making a cartoon version of herself, Georgina finds herself gravitating towards using its selfie camera to make her own AR Emoji. She gave her character a pair of spectacles and the medium-length hair she’s sporting in real-life.

In between takes, Georgina also tries the new selfie features on the S9. She loves being able to blur her background using Selfie Focus, and virtually appling makeup straight from the camera app.

This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Samsung.

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Huawei Nova 2 lite Unboxing and Hands-on

Face unlock on a budget phone!



The huge success of Nova 2i in the Philippines prompted the company to make a follow-up. The Nova 2 lite carries features usually seen on higher-tier phones but positions itself as a budget handset.

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