Before the exhibition doors of Mobile World Congress open to the public, for most journalists, half the job is already done.
48 hours prior, my team and I had scuttled across the beautiful Mediterranean city hopping from one launch event to another.
We were at a total of eight during this year’s show; overall one of the best in recent years.
Credit Samsung, if you will. Them pushing back the Galaxy S8 launch to later in March, allowed other brands to collectively bask in the spotlight it once monopolized. Credit Nokia for its nostalgia-fueled comeback. Or credit every other smartphone brand that stepped it up and gave us, not only something to talk about, but also more wows than disappointment.
If MWC 2017 is any indication of what the rest of the year will look like in terms of smartphones. We’re pretty darn excited!
After a two-year absence, BlackBerry is back!
This time via a lifeline from Chinese tech company TCL (also known for its midrange TVs and Alcatel smartphones).
The KEYOne is only the second truly BlackBerry phone to run Android, and is perfect for those wanting both a 2017 smartphone experience and the familiarity of the full keypad BlackBerry is known for.
In the short time we spent with the KEYOne, it felt exactly like what you’d expect from a BlackBerry – metal frame, rubber back, and that keypad which it gets its name from. The new, old keypad doubles as a touchpad and comes with a fingerprint sensor built into its space bar.
While LG has pulled the plug on its modular smartphone concept, the new G6 leaves plenty more to be excited about.
LG’s biggest talking point is big screen, small phone. And while size is relative, you’ve got to hand it to them; despite having 0.2 inches more screen real estate than the iPhone 7 Plus, the G6 is indeed a much smaller phone that fits in the hand better.
What I like most about the G6 is its design. The phone is solidly built, much more than last year’s model. It’s a difference you can see and feel. And I’m lusting over the ice platinum one as I write this piece.
LG’s made sure the G6 satisfies by all accounts. It’s got a beautiful display, water and dust resistance, and a great camera. LG also says it’s given the G6 a heat pipe to protect it from unexpected situations — their subtle way of saying it won’t explode, if you note what I’m saying.
Following a very successful year, Huawei didn’t dramatically change much about the P10. Instead, it improved on the already good product.
The company is working together with color experts Pantone to release its new smartphone in two unique new shades, including 2017 Color of the Year, Greenery.
A Huawei executive told GagetMatch, the new color symbolizes new beginnings, and it hopes that these little touches contribute to how users feel about their phones and life in general.
Like its predecessor, the camera on the P10 is co-engineered with Leica. We had the pleasure of shooting with the phone around Barcelona, and have been blown away by its excellent camera.
Nokia 6 / Nokia 3310
Nokia is back, too! Like a phoenix from the ashes, the phone brand that many of us grew up with is given new life by Finnish startup HMD Global.
The new company hopes to leverage its pool of Nokia old-timers and new talent to deliver the core qualities that we expect from Nokia with a fresh flavor that makes it relevant to millennials who have never used a Nokia before.
The new Android-powered Nokia 6 flagship is just that. Carved from a solid block of aluminum and with a pure Android experience — just how all smartphones should be.
Nokia also announced the new 3310 — a revival retro phone that’s just as you remember it: Snake, Symbian OS, removable battery, one-month standby time, and the Nokia ringtone. And because it’s the question I’ve been asked most this week: The 3310 will retail for €49 when it goes on sale in the 2Q of 2017.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Sony loyalists will love the new Xperia XZ Premium, a phone that’s way too beautiful to be used. Fingerprints will ruin the aesthetics of it, and so will need a much-needed protective case. But I guess that’s the point; the XZ Premium is meant to be a phone of excesses.
Take for example its 4K HDR display — simply put, the new phone has as good a display as a top-of-the-line TV. Sony is also working with Amazon Prime Video to guarantee a list of original content that will benefit such a smartphone when it launches later this year.
Film makers will also love the new super-slow-mo feature, 960 frames per second in total! This will let you freeze the exact moment a water drop drips from a kitchen faucet.
OPPO didn’t have a new smartphone to announce at MWC; just a promise of what future phones could be like.
The company debuted new camera technology that utilizes a dual-camera setup to zoom in on subjects up to 5X. Previously to achieve such a feat, you’d need bigger lenses that protrude from the phone.
OPPO’s been able to shrink that technology into a lens element that’s only a few millimeters thin. My iPhone 7 Plus can zoom up to two times without relying on digital zoom; five times would be such a game-changer when you’re trying to steal a shot of that attractive person two tables away.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 / Galaxy Book
There weren’t a lot of new tablets announced at MWC, but Samsung, in lieu of its S8 announcement, had two to show off.
The most important thing about both the Galaxy Tab S3 and Galaxy Book is that they come bundled with an S Pen, unlike Apple’s iPad Pro that requires you to buy it separately. There’s even a special edition Staedtler that looks like an actual pencil.
[irp posts=”11072″ name=”Samsung responds to protest incident at MWC”]
These aren’t your typical Christmas decorations
But they’re pretty cool!
It’s that time of the year again: the time when everywhere you turn you’d probably see bright lights, and anywhere you go you’ll likely hear Mariah Carey serenading you. It’s time to bring out the trees, wreaths, and time for celebration. We thought it would be fun to check out some quirky, kind of extra Christmas decorations to maybe inspire your decoration game, so here we go!
Programmable Christmas lights
Lights are a pretty essential aspect of Christmas decorations, and commercial establishments tend to utilize more high-tech lights for their shows. But did you know that you could do this to your home, too? We found the Twinkly Starter Light Set which connects to your phone so you can program the lights on your Christmas tree (or wherever you decide to put it) to have your own personal indoor light show.
A laser show on your house exterior
This is probably the most discreet extra way you can share your excitement for the holidays with your entire neighborhood. The Star Shower Laser Magic has six designs (four Christmas, two Halloween) that you can put on your lawn to project onto your house. It’s a pretty easy and low-maintenance way to decorate the outside of your house.
A snow projector for inside the house
If you want to play in the snow but don’t really want to deal with the cold, or if it doesn’t snow where you live, you can pick up this snow light projector. It displays moving snow designs across whichever flat surface you point it at, and adds something techie but also kind of simple to your decorations.
Geeky tree toppers
Why put a regular star or angel on the top of your Christmas tree when you could channel your geekiness onto this particular decoration? We found these two “Stars” that would subtly but surely pay homage to your favorite game or movie. The first is the Power Star from Super Mario Bros., which is closer to the traditional tree topper but at least five times cuter. The second one is this Death Star tree topper which isn’t very festive but is definitely iconic.
Lastly, we have this general category of blow-up decorations. They come in many different designs and with different extra things, too. (I’ve seen one that’s a giant snow globe with “snow” blowing inside and one that rotates.). These will definitely put your lawn decorations on a whole new level. Some options are here, here, and here.
You probably already have your Christmas decorations up as you read this, but it’s never too early to start planning for next year. Or, you can always add more to what you already have. This season, there’s no such thing as too much, right? We hope this helps you if you’re wanting to change up your decorations but don’t know how to, or at least entertained you with these not-so-typical options.
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We don’t feel any December blues
There’s still so much going on before the year ends. Here’s what everyone’s up to while waiting for the holiday season!
Movies to see
Spider-Man into the Spider-verse
Rodneil: A lot of people are calling this the best animated flick of the year. The visuals are stunning and the story introduces mainstream audiences to a new Spider-Man, all while keeping the spirit of the character and the whole franchise firmly intact.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
Daniel: The newest adaptation to the beloved classic is a showcase of the latest and most impressive motion capture technology. The story is a bit on the dark side, but still has the elements of the classic. The best part is it’s available on Netflix and it’ll be a good film for everyone to watch, especially on a big screen.
TV shows to binge watch
Rodneil: This might just be one of the most messed up anime I’ve seen in awhile. It starts off as a seemingly regular shōnen series with a monster of the week but quickly turns into a depressing social commentary about how people can be the true monsters after all.
Rodneil: My growing mild obsession to K-pop led me to this clip on my YouTube recommendations. The actress prominently featured on the clip isn’t even the lead actress but after watching the pilot episode of the series, I instantly got hooked. Ms. Hammurabi tackles power balance and politics in the Korean judiciary but with a sprinkle of romance here and there.
Cooking on High
Marvin: You could describe this is a prestigious culinary competition on TV, but it’s essentially about guests getting high on cannabis-based dishes prepared by master chefs. The 15-minute format makes it perfect for in-between-work binge watching, and is ideal for red-eyed folks with short attention spans.
Games to play
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Marvin: Lara Croft’s third entry in the revived Tomb Raider series is one to remember. It’s not GOTY-worthy by any measure, but its refinements over the predecessors and gorgeous graphics make it a high-octane gaming experience over the holidays.
Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to
The Best Thing I Ever Did by TWICE
Vincenz: Their latest song feels “merry” enough to be considered a winter song, but diving deeper into the lyrics clearly leaves an impression among fans, as it wants to show how one’s love can change everything, even the coldness and emptiness we feel especially when it’s December. After all, that’s what the spirit of Christmas is all about: giving what you love and loving what you give.
Islands by Reese Lansangan
Vincenz: If you’ve been listening to Reese’s previous songs, you’d definitely know that her latest single sounds different. From the title of the track itself, it is a tropic-themed song that has electronic sounds and water drop synths, making it ethereal enough to listen to.
Tadow by FKJ & Masego
Kevin: Sexy, smooth, intimate — these are some of the first words that come to mind when describing this track. FKJ or French Kiwi Juice is a French multi-instrumentalist who makes tracks that will make you want to lie back and drift away. “Tadow” is no exception with its soulful sax, chill beats, and soothing vocals. Turn down the lights, hit play, and enjoy the night.
Line by Line by PREP
Kevin: “Line by Line” is the latest of two EPs released in 2018 by British pop band PREP. Their songs are a mix of funk, R&B, and a bit of electronic music that go together to create a an easy-listening experience to make you feel good and dance when no one is looking. Their older EPs (like “Futures”) are golden, as well.
Cities/Places to visit
El Nido, Palawan
MJ: White sand beaches, crystal-clear water, towering palm trees, and amazing lagoons behind limestone rock formations. El Nido is indeed a tropical paradise, one that you should visit at least once in your lifetime.
DIY/Trends to try
Brown sugar milk tea
Marvin: It’s nothing new, but certainly one to enjoy. Milk tea stores have been ramping up brown sugar production lately, and each one has its own signature flavor. Whether you try it in Taipei or your own neighborhood, it’s a sweet alternative to the tried-and-tested formula.
Apps to download
MJ: PackPoint is a very useful app to help you pack your essentials for an upcoming trip — whether it’s for business or leisure. It has local weather forecasts and comes up with a checklist that you can customize depending on the activities of your trip.
Books to read
What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
MJ: Personally, I believe the universe brings us the people we need in our lives. If you think the same, then you need to read What If It’s Us. It’s a love story between Ben and Arthur and yes, it’s gay fiction, but it’s a book anyone can read this holiday season. After all, it’s about love and the universe. This book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and probably your local bookstores.
Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!
9 Best Gaming Smartphones (Q4 2018)
Before 2018 ends, let’s have our final Best Gaming Smartphones list for the year! A number of great smartphones came out recently, making this list the most exciting.
Without further ado, here are our top gaming phones:
Apple iPhone XR
Replacing the iPhone XS Max is the iPhone XR. Both 2018 iPhones were announced on the same day, but the XR was made available a bit later. It’s using the same powerful A12 Bionic chip but has a lower-resolution display which is not bad for gaming. With fewer pixels to render, it can run games smoother. Plus, iOS is known to have a better selection of mobile games compared to Android.
ASUS ROG Phone
When we first saw the ROG Phone during Computex 2018, we knew it would be the best Android gaming phone. ASUS took their time to release it, but we can finally buy the ROG Phone plus all of its accessories, which are kind of overkill for mobile gaming. It’s rocking an overclocked and liquid-cooled Snapdragon 845 chip, 90Hz AMOLED display, stereo speakers, and RGB lighting. What more do you need from a gaming phone?
From its name, you’d already know that it’s meant for playing games. The Honor Play is currently one of the cheapest flagship-grade smartphones you could buy. It’s just as cheap as midrange phones, but its specs are in the same league as its more expensive cousins like the Huawei P20. With a Kirin 970 processor and 6GB of memory, you’re sure to play well on this phone. GPU Turbo gives the phone extra oomph, too!
Huawei Mate 20 X
The Mate 20 X is Huawei’s most powerful phone and it’s designed to be used for gaming. Huawei went a little over the top when they compared it to the Nintendo Switch, but it’s almost as big as Nintendo’s due to its 7.2-inch display. It does come with a gaming accessory and is equipped with an impressive cooling system. It can also last long on a single charge with its 5000mAh battery.
OnePlus updated its flagship model and made it even better. The upgrade to the OnePlus 6T from the OnePlus 6 is just incremental, but if you’re about to buy one, you should get the former already. It’s still powered by a Snapdragon 845 chip, but now has a smaller display notch to get you more immersed in the action. It’s also one of the cheapest flagship phones.
The Pocophone F1 is probably the best smartphone to come out lately. It’s a game changer in the midrange segment, although the Honor Play should also have some credit. I consider the Pocophone F1 to be Xiaomi’s gift to its fans. It’s a blazingly fast phone thanks to the best-in-class Snapdragon 845 processor and the special liquid-cooling system. You can play all you want and the phone will not heat up, or at least not easily.
Razer Phone 2
The Razer Phone 2 may not look any different from its predecessor, but it has the latest specs a gaming phone should have. Razer’s gaming smartphone has the fastest display refresh rate on the list at 120Hz, placing it on par with desktop gaming monitors. Complemented with a triple-headed snake logo that lights up in 16.8 million colors, Razer fans will love to have this in their collection.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
The top-of-the-line Galaxy Note 9 comes with the latest specifications — may it be the Snapdragon or Exynos variant. It has a large and beautiful display with curved edges that’ll make gaming more immersive. Additionally, the phone doesn’t have a notch that gets in the way. It’s also the only one on this list to have a built-in stylus, making it ideal for games that have too many small icons.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
If you want a gaming phone that’s truly borderless, get the Mi Mix 3. The availability of the phone is still pretty limited to China, but it’ll go global soon. Like with any other premium phone on the list, Xiaomi’s latest Mix has a flagship Snapdragon 845 processor and up to 10GB of memory. Its battery capacity is on the small side, though.
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