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”]
Huawei’s Nova is the brand for the rising youth
And the Nova 5T the perfect companion
Google “Gen Z self expression” and you’ll come up with several results on how the youth of today values self-belief. Technology and innovation sit comfortably in the middle of a contextual generation: Generation Z. It’s the generation that knows little to nothing outside the digital age — which isn’t to say it’s a bad thing.
Technology and the digital space are the contexts our lifestyles adapt to. From the accessibility of online shopping, various news platforms to diverse online friendships, it’s not that difficult to see how this generation, our generation, has unique views and perspectives: self-belief.
Nova and self belief
Huawei’s Nova brand is stepping up to the plate to cater to this advocacy of self-belief and self-expression instead of a uniform marketed identity. Huawei is bringing cutting-edge technology worthy of flagship titles while decking out phones with stunning and exquisite designs.
This is meant to give people the chance to work, express and discover themselves through optimal technology customization and innovation. The goal is essentially to allow users to not just integrate their tech-savvy lifestyle through the Nova series, but also foster the core values of individuality and collaboration.
Want to keep track of your creative progress and teetering your interest into making a daily vlog? Huawei is way ahead of you. With the fundamental significance of self-expression, Huawei equipped the Nova 5T with five AI cameras for users to take drop-dead gorgeous shots of themselves and the view.
Cameras that empower your self expression
If you want to test out your photography skills, take photo proof, or a photo and video journal of your creative progress, the Nova 5T is your best companion. It has you covered from quality super-wide angles, bokeh, and macro shots.
The phone has one camera for super-wide angles, a main 48-megapixel camera, one for macro shots and lastly, depth assists. If you’re worried about how shots of other people and everything else around you will look more stunning than your selfies, drop the silly worrying. The front camera will make sure you step up your selfie game. It’s a 32-megapixel selfie camera with portrait lighting.
Huawei didn’t quite stop there with the Nova 5T. They cased this photography powerhouse into a 3-dimensional holographic design that just makes anyone strut with confidence.
A design that stands-out
And, you might wonder, “what’s the holographic casing got to do with catering to our philosophy?” We honestly thought it was a bit of a pain to figure it out and make something up, but you’ve got to give it to Huawei for sticking to purposeful design.
If you isolate the elements of how it looks — and forgive us if this is a bit of a silly stretch, the holographic design depicts an intention to represent collaborative diversity.
Holographic designs reflect different colors. Sounds a bit familiar? Well, it sounds like the perfect casing to represent the philosophy of individuality, self-expression, and collaboration.
Nova is a brand for the rising youth
The idea of self and embracing individuality doesn’t mean stomping over everyone else. It allows for a deeper understanding for other people. It fosters a community with depth and character and that’s exactly what this holographic designs emulate. Lastly, it also shows movement in its rigidity all while looking beautifully futuristic. This makes sure you and everyone else don’t feel apologetic about being yourselves.
Huawei’s Nova 5T enables people to play around and be creative on their journey towards self-discovery, self-identity, and inevitably, self-expression through its specifications down to it’s thought-out striking design.
This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.
2019 Kona 2.0 GLS: Mr. Extrovert
Is it a crossover? Is it a hatchback? Is it an APV? I, too, was confused when I first laid eyes on the 2019 Hyundai Kona. It was one of a kind, unique from any segment I was familiar with.
In line with the Mazda CX3 and Honda HRV, the Kona is a subcompact crossover SUV.
This vehicle is a true head-turner. I highly appreciate car companies whose designs are bold and thought of outside the box. In short, designs that make a statement.
The sleek and futuristic look of the Kona is best complemented in the flagship color Acid Yellow that gave my child-like imagination the impression of a glowing radioactive spaceship.
From the front, its fascia is exciting and modern in style with the growing trend of separated headlight design (like the Nissan Juke), streamlined daytime running lights, and low set fog lamps all go together with Hyundai’s trademark grille design.
Side profiles are matched with dynamic character lines as well as accents of matte black plastic cladding around the wheel arches and rocker panels.
Walking around to the back, you will find a design that is very consistent with the front. It’s almost identical and probably has one of the best looking rear-ends in its segment.
If we were to personify this Kona, it would undoubtedly be an extrovert. He’d be that kind of guy who’s not afraid of being a little flashy and would confidently come up to you to get your attention.
What I’m not a big fan of is the unnecessary amount of plastic cladding. Anyone who has ever owned a vehicle with this type of material will agree when I say it demands high maintenance since it tends to fade quickly.
Overall, the exterior feels exciting and fun, but stepping inside is a different story.
The interior is, well, basic. Scratchy-hard and soft plastic, fabrics, and polyurethane are the main materials used for the interior. It doesn’t give you the same exhilaration as the exterior and sadly feels like it stepped out of character.
Mounted on the dashboard, you will find a somewhat unappealing infotainment system — A non-touchscreen mono LCD unit that’s initially confusing to use while underneath is its manual climate control. Oh, and its instrument panel didn’t help spice the interior up, either, as it seemed a little too straightforward for this car’s asking price.
On the up-side, cabin space and comfort are not lacking whatsoever. With head and legroom to spare and plenty of cargo space for everyone. Cup holders, USB ports, and 12V sockets also come as standard.
When it comes to safety, Hyundai didn’t skimp on this crossover as it earned a high safety rating in the United States. With a score of 9.8, it has been given the Top Safety Pick+ award. It has Anti-Lock Braking System, traction control, dual airbags, and side curtain airbags as standard.
The ride is decently high with a ground clearance of 170mm, nearly as much as its bigger brother, the Tucson. Firing up the engine via keyless push-start button, you hear a smooth running 2.0 DOHC engine.
This is then mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that produces 147hp and 179nm of torque. It’s not the most powerful but is definitely one of the most economical, giving you up to 20km per liter (at best) on highways.
The Kona has three different driving modes you can shift through with a push of a button. You have Normal, Eco and Sport modes which just basically times gear changes differently to give you better responsiveness.
Driving this vehicle is very simple with no unneeded drama. The ride felt smooth and quiet while steering felt properly firm. You do get a bit of body roll around the corners, though.
Lacking from this vehicle is a reverse camera and proximity sensors and, from its price point, you would expect these features as standard. A feature I didn’t find necessary was the hill descent control which would be useful on its AWD variant but not on the FWD version that we have.
For now, the 2.0 GLS is the only variant available here in the Philippines. A straightforward, rather basic but economical ride that would make a perfect daily driver. Although if I were to choose between the two Kona models, I would probably go for the higher AWD 1.6 turbo Ultimate trim model which is a better option than the GLS trim.
To sum it up, it’s a bit of a bummer that it lacks a reverse camera, proximity sensors, and still runs a sub-par infotainment system in this age of touchscreens and Android Auto. What I do like, though, is how it looks. This car unquestionably wins in the looks department. And factoring in its safety achievements and fuel economy, we can easily overlook its shortcomings.
Smartphone makers need to stop chasing numbers
How close are we to smartphone launch fatigue?
The year 2019 has to be one of the busiest for everyone in the mobile technology industry. A decade back, it was dominated by the likes of Nokia, BlackBerry, and Motorola. Samsung was just gaining momentum and Huawei simply existed in the consumer electronics space.
Back then, we saw one-year refresh cycles for phones. Apple would release a new iPhone every year, Samsung’s S and Note series were a huge hit and each got an upgrade every year, and all other brands started following a similar format. Then came a time when HTC, LG, and Samsung would compete to build the perfect flagship.
With the introduction of new players like Xiaomi, Vivo, OPPO, and Realme, strategies and product launches have drastically changed. These new players rule the affordable and midrange segments and have managed to dethrone Samsung in terms of market share.
But this quick rise to fame has been on the back of repetitive launches. Earlier, a year-long cycle was maintained for each series and this was slowly brought down to six months. Now, we see a new phone launching every one to three months. And each new offering undercuts the previous product. Basically, even if they belong to a different lineup, they end up killing the previous one.
In an attempt to cover every possible price bracket, each of these new launches is also accompanied by a host of configuration options and limited editions. While there is no doubt that this has made the buyer a king in terms of choices, the market is headed in stormy waters from a long-term point of view.
Each of the new offerings come with incremental upgrades. It’s something you can definitely live without for a long time, but your purchase is bound to age quickly. And this brings to an even more important question, are smartphone makers blindly chasing numbers?
Should smartphone makers give up or should they just keep chasing numbers?
A couple of years back, every brand wanted to offer as much RAM as possible. We’ve reached a point where a full-fledged Windows 10 laptop comes with 8GB RAM and a “mobile” operating system like Android needs 12GB.
2018 was all about chasing the screen-to-body ratio figure. Just to get a few more points, brands tested out pop-up cameras, water-drop notches, and even cut-outs. Now, thanks to the rise in popularity of mobile gaming, the processor is a crucial part of the phone.
Recently, Realme’s CEO, Madhav Seth had an interview with the folks over at GSMArena and when asked about the quick update cycle between the Realme 3 and Realme 5 Pro, this is what he had to add:
Now if I say for 3 Pro and between 5 Pro, what would be the difference, mainly? I’d say there are two differences: the performance doesn’t compromise much because I don’t play this game of this processor – the 710 and 712. There isn’t much of a difference between your day-to-day usage. Even while you are gaming, there’s not much of a difference. There is a difference, but not that drastic.
Yes, the executive agrees there’s “not much difference”, but there is a difference. And the brands are able to cash-in on this. A difference of just two digits between the 710 and 712 has given brands an opportunity to launch a brand new product within just four months.
How many megapixels do we really need?
Similarly, another department where brands are going nuts is the camera. How many megapixels do you need? Apparently, as many as possible. You’ll always end up clicking a 12-megapixel picture with a 48-megapixel sensor on a normal basis unless you start the dedicated mode. But, on-paper, 48 is a larger value than 12. We’ll also ignore the fact that pixel size or software processing also matters. There’s a reason why Pixel 3 is the best camera phone with just a single 12-megapixel sensor.
While this thought process of amping up numbers has been fairly common in the Android ecosystem, OnePlus has been able to carve out a different niche for itself. Sure, it packs all the latest hardware. However, this doesn’t force it to focus just on specs and launch a new phone every now and then. They have a fixed six-month cycle for years and a secret weapon — their Android skin.
What sets a phone apart from the pack?
OxygenOS is a well-carved product that perfectly compliments the hardware. This is assuring for the user because they know a T-series phone will not practically affect them and the brand won’t forget about software updates after a few months.
Similarly, even Apple relies on a year-long refresh cycle. Their weapon is iOS. This single piece of software lets them completely omit figures like RAM, battery size, and even camera lens details. They don’t reveal the nitty-gritty details because the end-user doesn’t care. It’s an iPhone.
On the other end, even Android players are proud of their software. Xiaomi has MIUI, Realme has ColorOS, and Vivo has Funtouch OS. But the main question is, how long do they last? Software updates are quite often delayed, the UI is bug-ridden, and simply lacks a polishing touch. Not to forget, a few brands like Honor literally forget they’ve launched quite expensive phones and should ideally provide support.
From a long-term perspective, this confidence in products is what makes Apple a “brand”. Even OnePlus and Samsung have achieved a similar status among the masses and consistency and commitment should be the key focus. Samsung has transformed itself from being a TouchWiz meme master to deploying OneUI on every possible new phone.
In the affordable segment, Nokia-branded phones have done a fairly good job. They stick to stock Android and deliver on their promise of consistently supporting older phones. A reputation is formed, something that’ll last.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not favoring stock Android. I’m personally not a big fan. However, I’m stressing that brands keep aside the numbers game and focus on delivering an experience. If you’re just going to assemble hardware, there’s no difference between you and defunct players like Micromax and Karbonn.
Lenovo IdeaPad L340 Gaming Laptop Review: Flaming hot productivity and gaming
Blue, truly is the warmest color
ASUS ROG Strix Scar III: Falling in love with a gaming laptop
This, coming from a Mac user
NBA 2K20 Review: A Worrisome Upgrade
Welcome to the next… best thing to an update
Google wants to assists users without depending on the Internet
India is banning the consumption of e-cigarettes
Lenovo IdeaPad L340 Gaming Laptop Review: Flaming hot productivity and gaming
Apple is trademarking the slofie
ASUS ROG Strix Scar III: Falling in love with a gaming laptop
Best Midrange Smartphones in the Philippines from P10,000 to P20,000
Best Budget Smartphones in the Philippines below P10,000
Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400
Best Upper-Midrange Smartphones in the Philippines from P20,000 to P30,000
Best Premium Smartphones in the Philippines above P30,000
Hands-On2 weeks ago
Nokia 2720 Hands-On: Flip phone makes a comeback!
Hands-On5 days ago
Nokia 3.2 Hands-On: Basic but classy
IFA 20192 weeks ago
Sony launches the Xperia 5
Deals2 weeks ago
Our favorite smartphones on 9.9 sale
News1 week ago
iPhone XR is the top-selling phone around the world
IFA 20192 weeks ago
Huawei announces flagship Kirin 990 processor
Enterprise2 weeks ago
Huawei in talks with Swiss-based ProtonMail for Gmail substitute
News3 days ago
Detailed renders of Huawei Mate 30 series leak