Without a doubt, the biggest stars in the consumer tech world these past two weeks have been the Mate X and Galaxy Fold. Not only are they ushering in a new era of folding smartphones, but they’re made by the top-two phone manufacturers, as well.
As the pioneers of this new category, it goes without saying that Huawei and Samsung will go at each other for foldable supremacy for months — or years — to come. Neither of the products has been rolled out to the consumer market yet, but some choice words by Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s mobile division, have already been spoken.
In an interview with Business Insider, he said, “I feel having two screens, a front screen, and a back screen makes the phone too heavy,” when referring to the Galaxy Fold of Samsung.
Yu claims that Huawei had a prototype similar to the Galaxy Fold’s design which he deemed “not good” and subsequently canceled. “We had several solutions, but we canceled them. We had three projects simultaneously. We had something even better than that, killed by me,” he added.
Clearly, the final executions these two brands chose to use are largely different from one another and offer solutions to different problems.
For Huawei, the Mate X has the slimmer, more intuitive design with a single large display that folds outward to create two smaller screens. You can see it in action here:
According to those who have tried out the device, the cons here are in the lack of protection for that one screen, as well as the absence of a dedicated front camera while unfolded.
Coincidentally, those are issues that the Galaxy Fold addresses. Because Samsung’s smartphone-tablet hybrid folds inward, the primary display is protected by the outer shell and its secondary screen. In addition, there’s a pair of cameras on the larger screen’s notch for better video calls.
However, that total of six cameras and the additional display lead to a much thicker form for the Galaxy Fold. These are what Yu was referring to earlier, leading to the final design of the Mate X.
Of course, Huawei’s product is also much more expensive than the already-pricey Samsung foldable — about US$ 600 more to be exact, or the cost of a premium midrange smartphone.
Until both products hit the market and we get to use them side by side, there’s no way fair way of concluding which one is better. Not to be forgotten, Xiaomi and OPPO’s foldable concepts are also on the horizon, providing either more innovative or less pricey alternatives to the two top players.
Ever since Huawei began alternating with Apple for the world’s number two spot in smartphone market share, the Chinese company has been trading jabs with Samsung with every flagship release, and this case is no different.
Besides the foldable battle we have going on, Samsung and Huawei have gone as far as having opposite placements for the hole-punch camera. Here’s how it looks on the recently launched Galaxy S10 series:
In case you haven’t noticed, Huawei had done the exact opposite with the Nova 4, setting the in-display camera on the upper-left part of the phone. Which implementation is more practical ultimately comes down to personal preference, although Huawei’s sub-brand Honor does have a well-researched explanation for its placement.
Here’s an except from my review of the Honor View 20, which also chose the upper-left location:
The basis is the Gutenberg Diagram, which says that eyes naturally fall to the top-left corner of an area called the primary optical area (POA). Eye motion then goes across and down to other sections.
On the other hand, Samsung’s top-right hole punch makes more sense for right-handed people who want to take a quick selfie. As selfie experts always advise, having the camera point downward is more flattering than one that looks up your nose.
The point here is that Huawei and Samsung are targeting different audiences: those who want their hole-punch camera on the left or right; professionals who prefer three or six cameras; media junkies who wish for two screens or one primary folding display.
Everyone who complained that smartphone innovation came to a halt in the past two years have far less to complain about now. This new form factor manufacturers have been dubbing “foldables” is leading the way for how brands innovate and what consumers believe they need.
But before we start throwing money at these shiny gadgets, we have to wonder: Are foldables providing solutions to problems that don’t actually exist? That’s possible, too. However, as long as companies are trying something different and letting this new category occupy the ultra-premium segment while existing tech goes cheaper in price, consumers win here.
Honestly, anything’s better than the megapixel or screen density race from a few years back. Smartphones are beginning to feel fresh again.
ROG Phone II Hands-on
Is there a place for gaming phones in 2019? ASUS believes so. In fact they’re so bullish about the mobile gaming industry that they’re giving their gaming phone an update!
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Special thanks to The Unlockr David Cogen for helping create this video.
ASUS ROG Phone II Hands-On: The ultimate in mobile gaming
With new and improved accessories too
Is there a place for gaming phones in 2019? ASUS believes so. In fact they’re so bullish about the mobile gaming industry that they’re giving their gaming phone an update. This is our ROG Phone II hands-on.
At first glance, it’s not very different from last year’s model and that’s intentional. Their focus hasn’t been to rework the wheel but to make the original even better.
The phone is now taller, giving it that now popular 19.5: 9 aspect ratio. It’s built tough with a Gorilla Glass 6 display and is intentionally flashy with RGB lighting baked into the logo on its back with ROG’s trademark styling.
Best display on a smartphone today
The flat all screen display is edge-to-edge except for its top and bottom. ASUS said this is a design decision so that gripping the phone doesn’t get in the way of gameplay.
It also leaves room for the dual front firing speakers and a selfie camera. It’s strategically placed so game streamers can play and stream at the same time.
The panel itself is impressive possibly the best we’ve seen on a smartphone today. It’s the world’s first 120Hz AMOLED display on a smartphone with a super fast one millisecond response time.
It not only gives you buttery smooth transitions, but combined with ultra low touch latency, it’s supposedly also going to give you an advantage when pulling the trigger in a head-to-head shooting game. This HDR display is glorious. Colors pop and images are rich and vibrant. It’s my new favorite display and is perfect whether you’re watching videos or playing games.
Baked into the display is a fingerprint scanner which, based on our initial tests, is quick and snappy.
Performance fit for the most competitive gamers
When it launches, the ROG Phone II will also be one of the most powerful smartphones in the market today. Topping early benchmark tests versus other flagships including the Galaxy S10+ from Samsung and the OnePlus 7 Pro.
It’s powered by an updated version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 — the 855 Plus which is even faster. Coupled with an updated Adreno 640, it’s promising a 15 percent GPU performance.
A completely souped up model will have 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The phone promises to handle any power intensive game you throw at it with not only fast frame rates but also a commitment to sustained performance across long gaming sessions.
To keep its internals running at optimal condition the phone offers three steps of cooling: First with a 3D Vapor Chamber, second with a built-in heat sink and vents on its back cover, and third via an attachment called the Aero Active Cooler II. With all of these working together, ASUS promises unbeatable performance.
A battery that can handle all that power
So what about battery life? Surely all of this performance power will take a toll on battery life? Nope. The ROG Phone 2 will come with a massive 6000mAh battery. That’s 2000mAh more than most flagships these days.
ASUS is promising 7.1 hours of battery life when playing something like PUBG. What excites me the most is that non-gamers could potentially get two days of more than average use.
The phone also comes with fast charging support built in. A full charge will take one hour and 21 minutes.
More love for gamers
There is much more gamers will love about the new ROG Phone II. ASUS kept the Dual USB-C ports — one on the bottom of the phone and one on its side. This means you can charge the device and continue playing any which way you like.
I also particularly like the improved air triggers that let you control your game by tapping either top side of your phone in landscape mode. Along with an improved vibration motor, the phone feels more like a game controller than ever before.
It’s clear that this isn’t your average phone. It’s one built specifically for gamers. But having said all that ASUS says it’s not just the best gaming phone. It’s a great flagship too!
To ensure the experience is top notch. They gave the ROG Phone II the same impressive camera that’s on the Zenfone 6. Except for its flipping mechanism of course.
A 48MP main camera and a 13MP ultra wide secondary camera. Take a look at some sample photos.
On the front of the phone is a 24MP selfie camera. Here are some selfie samples.
The ROG Phone Ecosystem
Depending on how you like to play, ASUS attempted to cater to every game style with a range of accessories made specifically for the ROG Phone II.
The new Kunai gamepad comes with controllers that snap on to a bumper reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch. You can also attach the controllers to the Kunai Holder and use them as you would a gamepad.
The Twin View Dock from last year has also been updated making it lighter and easier to use. It can also be used in conjunction with the GamePad.
Other accessories include the Aero Active Cooler II, Aero Case, and the Lighting Armor Case. Older accessories like the desktop dock, Pro Dock, and the WiGig Display Dock Plus also support this new model.
Is the ROG Phone II your GadgetMatch?
Let me start by saying this phone isn’t for everyone. From the way it looks, to some of its standout feature, these are things that appeal to a very special kind of user.
If you’re the type who is serious about mobile gaming then it definitely is going to be a good investment. If you’re not a gamer but care about things like a great display and ultra long battery life this might be a phone worth considering also.
Representatives from ASUS tell me that once the phone rolls out globally this September there will also be an option to change its interface to the stock-like ZenUI for a more everyday smartphone feel. That’s good news too.
The ROG Phone II launches in China this week. The Global Version is coming first week of September – our review video will drop around the same time.
BLACKPINK unboxes their own edition of the Samsung Galaxy A80
Spoiler alert: It has a different content inside
In case you missed it, BLACKPINK members were chosen as Samsung’s A-series ambassadors, thus the reason for the spectacular performance at the Galaxy A event last April.
Samsung and TikTok then partnered up and made the Galaxy A80’s slide and swiveling camera movement a dance challenge, giving BLINKs the chance to win the phone with the BLACKPINK branding.
The serious endorsement makes sense especially because Samsung and BLACKPINK are both considered icons of Hallyu (한류) or K-Wave.
All BLACKPINK members were excited to unbox their special edition phone.
As you can see, the boxes are different. BLACKPINK has their own special pink box with a fancier design.
For clarification, the usual pink box consists of the BLACKPINK charging stand, case, and a random photo card.
Meanwhile, BLACKPINK’s Special Edition Box includes not just the Galaxy A80, but also the BLACKPINK-branded Galaxy Watch Active and Galaxy Buds.
The BLACKPINK logo can be found at the phone’s back and during its initial boot up.
The members were astounded when they saw themselves on the phone’s lock and home screens. The BLACKPINK theme was already set upon turning on the phone.
The BLACKPINK Galaxy Buds is something you can’t get from the other package. It stands out with its black and pink-colored buds (BLINKs would definitely flex this!). The AirPods could never. 👀
Aside from Jisoo wearing the watch, it’s more special because the strap is in BLACKPINK’s official pink color.
Whether that may just be the case or the special Galaxy Buds, BLINKs (including me) would still spoil ourselves with goodies related to BLACKPINK.
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ROG Phone II Hands-on
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