Features

7 tips to stepping up your Instagram game

No amount of editing can fix a bad image

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It all started with sharing memories using a vintage filter. Through the years, Instagram grew and became a platform for self-expression, an avenue for individuals to showcase their lifestyle and creativity. More and more, people are curating their Instagram profiles and here you are, stuck with your messy feed and hoping to step up your Instagram game out of envy.

Fret not! A lot of us feel that way, too. As a creative who lives and breathes Instagram for brands, but doesn’t have the time to work on his own account, I’ve got seven tips to share to help people level up. Here they are:

Think like a brand

Chay likes to take photos of her food, while Kevin is passionate about landscape and aerial photography

Set the direction of how you want your Instagram feed to look. It can be in tune with your personality, hobbies, and interests, or you can transform it into your portfolio of artworks, photographs, or works you proudly share. It can also give people a glimpse of your lifestyle, or the things you’re passionate about. Whatever it is, you decide on what to show on your feed.

Equip yourself with the right camera

Kevin likes to capture his adventures with his favorite toy, the DJI Mavic Pro. MJ, on the other hand, prefers to capture his moments on a good camera phone

Today’s smartphone cameras can sometimes have the same resolution and image quality as a DSLR camera’s, but you shouldn’t fully rely on them. Depending on what kind of photographs you take, there’s a gadget that will help you up your Instagram game. Whether it’s an action cam, drone, or mirrorless camera, there’s a specific shooter out there for your unique needs.

Let your photos tell a story

MJ captured this photo of a girl walking on the streets of Puerto Galera under the scorching sun, while Vincenz photographed a passing taho vendor during a late afternoon in Boracay

Be in touch with your surroundings and capture the moments you find yourself in. Give your followers a glimpse of what’s happening by including people, actions, scenery, and events in your photos. Invoke emotions and make your audience feel like they’re a part of your narrative. A caption would help to support your post, but your photograph should be able to tell a story on its own.

Adjust and tweak for the best results

Chay visited an Instagram-worthy cafe in Shanghai; the raw image is beautiful enough, but to keep her style, she adjusted the brightness and temperature slightly to make it warmer

Our smartphones may not capture the exact moment we see with our own eyes, but we can always accentuate how beautiful our photos are through editing. There are numerous photo-editing apps but remember to not overdo it! Just tweak and adjust these main points: brightness, contrast, alignment, and temperature. Do so, and you’ll look like a pro.

Keep it authentic from the start

MJ upped the vibrancy a little bit to accentuate Mt. Pinatubo’s aquamarine-colored lake, and Dan tweaked the highlights to feature the skyscrapers of Singapore

Good editing is the kind wherein you don’t notice it was even edited. A lot of people overdo their editing to the point of looking artificial. Some can actually pull it off, but others try so hard to copy styles and presets that the image loses its authenticity.

Be consistent and learn how to commit

Dan’s feed consists of his daily grind showcasing urban life and architecture, while Isa’s feed features her travels and OOTDs.

This generation has a lot of commitment issues *ehem* but being uncommitted when you badly want something isn’t going to get you anywhere. Once you’ve decided to up your Instagram game, you have to continue doing so to achieve the feed that you’ve always wanted.  Be consistent in posting a single style to make it cohesive.

Don’t take it too seriously

Isa, Alven, and Michael Josh uploaded their fun and memorable moments on their respective Instagram profiles.

And lastly, enjoy and have fun! Taking it seriously kills your creativity. Get in touch with your inner child and be playful. There’s so much more to life than your Instagram feed.

Curating your feed might seem daunting, and from your perspective, it could be a thing only brands, influencers, and creative people do. You might even downplay yourself because you don’t have talent in photography, but guess what, you don’t need to be a pro to take nice photographs. Your eyes can be trained to see the beauty in everything; you just have to believe that there’s an artist inside you.

Features

9 Best Gaming Smartphones (Q2 2018)

Choose your weapon for mobile gaming!

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We’re almost midway through the year, so it’s time to update our Best Gaming Smartphones list! Our initial list during the first quarter of 2018 included six suggested phones, but for the second quarter, we now have nine. Some have stayed, and there are definitely new entries.

Without further ado, here are our top picks for the best gaming smartphones:

Apple iPhone 8

Whether you like iOS or not, you can’t deny that iPhones (especially the latest releases) are one of, if not the best mobile gaming platform. Apple’s devices run smoothly and are favored by developers so it’s a no-brainer that games released for iOS are guaranteed to be in tip-top shape. We chose the iPhone 8 Plus here because of its larger display at 5.5 inches and bigger battery compared to the iPhone 8’s, and it doesn’t have a notch that gets in the way like with the iPhone X.

SEE ALSO: Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus Review

Motorola Moto Z2 Play

Motorola’s game-changing Moto Mod accessories make their Moto Z series special. If you pair the Moto Z2 Play with the Gamepad Moto Mod, it’ll be an instant portable console. The Gamepad adds dual control sticks, a D-pad, and four tactile action buttons which mean you don’t have to rely on touch controls anymore. Also, the Moto Mod magnetically attaches to the phone with no wireless pairing required and has its own built-in battery. The gaming accessory works with the powerful Moto Z2 Force, as well. The phone is already due for an update, and the Moto Z3 Play’s announcement is just around the corner.

SEE ALSO: Moto Z2 Play Review: To mod or not to mod

Nokia 7 Plus

Nokia is definitely back in the game and the Nokia 7 Plus is our choice from their arsenal. Why? It’s got a flagship-grade processor and it runs pure Android. It’s like having a Pixel-like device but at a fraction of the cost. The tall aspect ratio is also a good feature for better gaming.

SEE ALSO: Nokia 7 Plus: The Android One midranger

OnePlus 6

The latest OnePlus 6 phone is now out and it’s definitely one of the best smartphones you can buy for gaming. It’s powered by the latest Snapdragon 845 processor and comes with 6GB of memory — a combo that’ll surely deliver without hiccups and lags. The display notch can get in the way of your game though, but that can easily be fixed in the Settings menu.

SEE ALSO: OnePlus 6 is officially a complete Android flagship phone

Razer Phone

When we were shortlisting our gaming smartphones, the Razer Phone was already on the top of the list. The phone is focused on being a true gaming smartphone since it’s made by Razer. It’s got the latest specifications to play popular and demanding games, a 5.7-inch IGZO panel with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, front-facing stereo speakers, and a long-lasting battery. It also has other features to make it a daily driver, but you can immediately tell that the Razer Phone is built for gaming.

SEE ALSO: Razer Phone Review: Best smartphone for gaming?

Samsung Galaxy S9+

We’re replacing the Galaxy Note 8 with the latest Galaxy S9+. The premium Galaxy phone comes with the latest specifications — may it be the Snapdragon or Exynos variant. It also has one of the most beautiful phone displays with curved edges that make gaming more immersive.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ Hands-On: AR Emoji and super slow-mo

Sony Xperia XZ2

Another fresh entry on the list is Sony with the Xperia XZ2. It has powerful specifications and a gorgeous HDR display just like the other phones here, but it has something that makes it standout: the Dynamic Vibration System. You can feel the game (or even video) on the Xperia XZ2 thanks to its DualShock-like vibration system that mimics a similar experience on PlayStation controllers.

SEE ALSO: Sony Xperia XZ2 Review: Flexing more camera muscles

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S

When Xiaomi launched their latest borderless flagship phone earlier this year, it was the fastest Android phone on AnTuTu’s test and even in real-world usage! Packed with the latest Snapdragon 845 processor and up to 8GB of memory, the Mi Mix 2S will be able to run even the most demanding mobile games. It’s also priced competitively just like the OnePlus 6, but this one doesn’t have a notch. 😉

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S Review: Faster, smarter

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 (AI)

We’re putting two Xiaomi phones on the list, because why not? While we wait for the successor to the Mi Max 2, the best budget-midrange phone from Xiaomi is the Redmi Note 5. It can handle the latest titles, although they might not be at the highest settings. For a budget phone, it’s already an impressive feat to be able to run popular titles, so no complaints here.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Hands-on: The new budget smartphone king?

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Accessories

Xiaomi Haul: Spring Edition

Xiaomi is not just about smartphones

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Xiaomi is primarily known for their value-for-money smartphones that sell like hotcakes during online flash sales. But like CEO Lei Jun said in an open letter recently, Xiaomi is more than a hardware company; they are an innovation-driven internet company.

Much to my excitement, the Chinese company started opening physical Mi stores all around Asia in recent years selling not just smartphones, but also products ranging from smart home tech to toys to fashion items.

Fast forward to 2018, Xiaomi now has a whole ecosystem of products from startups and companies that they funded. In the last few months, I’ve acquired a few of them from trips abroad and the mall so now it’s time to unbox and start using them.

Amazfit Pace, CNY 799 / PhP 6,200

Xiaomi produces its own fitness trackers but they look like, well, a fitness tracker that doesn’t look good on most people’s wrists. Amazfit Pace is also one of the smartwatches available at Mi stores, and arguably one of the better looking ones. It has a heart rate sensor and GPS built-in, modes for running, walking, biking, and more. It promises 5 days of battery life, and you can even sync your data through the Strava app.

The box comes with the watch, user guide and warranty information, a micro-USB cable (sigh), and a charging dock.

Functions are honestly quite limited for it to be a full-fledged smartwatch; there are no other apps available for download right now since it runs on its own OS. And, it still looks very much like a sports watch so it’s not something I would wear everyday to work or to my brother’s wedding. But if I were to get really serious about tracking my activities and fitness goals, I’d still rather wear something that looks like a watch and not a hideous band of rubber.

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Reviews

ASUS ZenFone Max (M1) Unboxing and Review

The battery prince

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These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find a smartphone with really poor battery life even if devices are getting smaller and slimmer.

Although every now and then, big-battery devices come along and make our super-slim phones feel inadequate. The latest smartphone to do so is ASUS’ budget smartphone, the ZenFone Max (M1). Is this your GadgetMatch?

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