Features

10 new features you’ll enjoy on Android 9 Pie

The newest and sweetest Android dessert, yet!

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Android P is finally official and its dessert name is Pie. Only a few phones have the update so far which include the Pixel and Pixel XL (both first- and second-generation) and the Essential Phone PH-1. Having Android 9 Pie is quite special at the moment.

What’s new in Android 9 Pie? Here are ten of the new features we’re already enjoying on our own Pixel and Essential phones.

New navigational features

This is one of the major changes in Pie. Since the release of the iPhone X, we’ve seen more phones attempting to implement with gestures and this is Android’s native way.

In Android Pie, you can let go of the traditional navigational buttons and opt for a little pill-shaped nub at the bottom of the screen. You tap it to go Home from anywhere, hold down for the Google Assistant, and swipe up or right for the new Recent Apps screen.

Revamped recent apps screen

Another major UI change is found in the Recent Apps screen which is now called Overview. From a vertical stack of cards, Android Pie now shows your recent apps horizontally.

If you have the new gestures enabled, you can simply swipe up from the navigation bar to see this. You can also swipe the navigation bar to the far right to scroll through your most recent apps.

Redesigned quick settings

The redesigned Quick Settings Panel is another notable UI change. It’s now minimal and has rounded icons. It’s also more spacious and easier on the eyes. You can still customize it and scroll through more shortcuts on the next page.

Depending on your wallpaper (Pie adapts automatically, but you can choose manually in the Settings), you’ll either get a white or dark panel with blue circles to show active toggles and grayed-out ones for those that are off.

App actions

Thanks to better AI implementation, Android Pie can now pre-empt what it thinks you’re likely to do in an app. It knows when to suggest things depending on your location and what you’re currently doing.

It’s pretty cool and creepy at the same time. For example, based on your usage, it’ll suggest to message someone specifically first thing in the morning and check on certain activities in productivity apps.

Digital Wellbeing

Tech companies are making a big deal about managing screen time. As much as apps and devices are designed to keep us glued to the screen, there are also concerns about our “Digital Wellbeing.” As the name implies, it helps you manage your phone usage.

It’s still in beta but when you get to join the program, it’ll be integrated to your phone. It has a Dashboard which gives you an overview of your device usage. It also has an App Timer to let you set time limits for addictive apps (*ahem* Facebook) and such. There’s also Wind Down to cut down your device’s activity as you get to bed.

Smarter battery use

Another AI-enabled feature is “Adaptive Battery” which lets you have longer battery life. It limits the battery consumption of apps that are not so important based on your usage. It’s basically a new battery saver mode but it only targets specific apps.

Like other battery-saving options, there’s a catch to this like delayed notifications. Of course, you can always turn it off when it’s hampering the functionality of your phone.

Better volume controls

Oreo already has some improved volume controls, but Pie makes it better. By default, the volume buttons now adjust media volume rather than ringer volume. Also, the volume menu has been moved closer to the physical volume buttons, plus it has an instant toggle for mute and vibrate-only.

Hitting the Sound Settings menu will bring you to more volume controls. The menu includes adjustments for media, ring, and alarm volume. There are also advanced settings for dial pad tones, screen locking sound, and touch vibration available in the menu.

New Do Not Disturb mode

Do Not Disturb mode has been modified in Android Pie. You can now select what you want to see when this is turned on. You can add exceptions, adjust notification handling, remove visual disturbances when the screen is off, and so on.

Gone are the priority mode and alarms only, so if you’ve learned to love those two, you might have a hard time adjusting to the new simplified yet customizable DND mode.

Screenshot actions

Here’s a simple change that’ll make a big impact. You can now edit a screenshot via the notification shade. If you’ve been using pure Android phones, this is heaven-sent.

The controls are still pretty limited compared to skinned-Android like EMUI, MIUI, and Samsung Experience, but if you want to crop, circle something, or highlight a section, this will do for now. Hopefully, we’ll have scrolling screenshots soon.

Instant rotation control

Lastly, there’s Instant Rotation Control. The new smart rotation button will appear in the navigation bar when the phone knows that you might want to rotate the screen’s orientation even if you have auto-rotation disabled.

The feature works great in the gallery app when viewing photos. It’ll save a trip to the Quick Settings when you want to watch a video or view a photo in full screen.

These are just some of the new features available in Android Pie. There are more to be discovered and tested. There are also under-the-hood improvements that only time will tell if they’re worth the update.

Android Pie might get additional features on the upcoming Google Pixel 3 phones which are arriving — based on inside info — in early October.

SEE ALSO: Android 9.0 is officially Pie!

Camera Shootouts

vivo V25 vs V23 5G: Camera Shootout

Are there even significant improvements?

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vivo V25

It hasn’t even been a year but vivo has already revealed the successor to the V23 5G that was launched earlier this 2022. But is it actually worth upgrading to the new vivo V25? Or should you save yourself some money and buy the older V23 5G instead?

vivo V25

Don’t let that new camera bump with bigger circular cutouts on the vivo V25 fool you. On paper, the cameras are close to one another but the V25 has the advantage of having a slightly wider aperture and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) that the V23 5G doesn’t have.

vivo V25 vivo V23 5G
Wide 64MP f/1.79
PDAF, OIS + EIS
64MP f/1.89
PDAF, EIS
Ultra-WIde 8MP 120º f/2.2
Macro 2MP f/2.4
Selfie 50MP f/2.0 wide

 

50MP f/2.0 wide
8MP f/2.28 ultra-wide
+ Dual-tone Spotlight

The sad news though is that, vivo has decided to remove the extra ultra-wide selfie camera and dual flash system on the new V25.

vivo V23 with the Dual-tone Spotlight Flash feature

But how do these phones perform side-by-side knowing the new V25 also has a slightly less-powerful MediaTek Dimensity 900 chipset over V23 5G’s Dimensity 920? Are there enough convincing differences or is the older model actually better? Feed yourself some photo sample comparisons below.

Daylight

In any given circumstance, a valuable Android midranger should take at least a decent photo with natural light around — thus me taking lesser photos to compare.
Still, your judgment matters.

#1A (Ultra-wide)

vivo V25

#1B (Wide)

vivo V25

#2

#3A (Wide)

#3B (Zoom)

Food

Taking food shots (mostly with indoor lighting) is a better way to test which phone camera is capable of producing the better image output with the right amount of highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness, temperature, as well as Dynamic Range.

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

#11

*Left photo was taken multiple times with the focus tapped on the baked roll. Lens coating was also cleaned several times but still resulted to the same output.

#12

Night Mode

Low-light photos can either make or break the capabilities of a smartphone’s camera.
While it’s a mixed bag of outputs, it still depends on the user if Night Mode photos are important in a midranger or not.

#13A (Wide)

#13B (Ultra-wide)

#14

#15

#16

#17

#18

vivo V25

#19

vivo V25

#20

vivo V25

BONUS: Low-Light Selfie

For users who love taking selfies even in the dark, both phones can take fill-in flash (using the display) to brighten up your faces.

Without Flash

vivo V25

However, the ultra-wide selfie and Dual-tone Spotlight feature were removed completely from the vivo V25. You just have to guess and pick which is which.

With Flash (Aura Fill, Dual-Tone Dual Spotlight Flash)

vivo V25

Results

No more confusions, the results are consistent all throughout the board:

Photo A — vivo V23 5G

Photo B — vivo V25

Conclusion

vivo V25

While it’s barely a big camera quality improvement, the vivo V25 has rendered some of the scenes quite well such as in Photos 1A, 11, and 12 which the V23 5G failed to display at least an acceptable output. Other times, the vivo V23 5G delivered better results like in Photos 1B, 2, 3A, 4, and 13A. Those images delivered overall better photos with a sufficient amount of HDR (High Dynamic Range) and AWB (Auto White Balance).

Overall, the V25 produced better images with decent amount of highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness. The newer model also has some slight edge on focusing and making shots brighter and more stable at night.

vivo V25

While only two selfies were provided, the V23 5G obviously has the edge — especially with its extra selfie lens and dual-flash feature.

vivo V25

If you’re coming from the V23 5G, you don’t need to upgrade to the vivo V25. Period. But, if you’re looking for a phone to replace your old vivo smartphone (or pretty much any old budget phone or midranger for that matter), buying the V25 won’t hurt.

vivo V25

Unless you’re looking for a used unit, a brand new vivo V23 5G is being sold at PhP 27,999. Whereas, a brand new V25 retails at a cheaper PhP 23,999 price tag.

vivo V25

Imho, choosing the V23 5G over the V25 is advantageous for some reasons: a more premium-looking design with metallic sides, slightly faster chipset, and the extra selfie camera.

vivo V25

But realizing how more capable the cameras of the V25 are, you can also choose it for its bigger battery and brighter display. Also, the OIS feature is very handy if you love taking photos in action or at night or just record stable-free videos without worrying about warping and jitters. At the end of the day, you should know what you value the most in buying a new smartphone.

SEE ALSO:

vivo V25 is a Night Portrait Master

Taking photos to the next level with the vivo V23 5G

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Camera Shootouts

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs 13 Pro Max vs S22 Ultra: Camera Shootout

A Very Different Camera Test

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The iPhone 14 Pro Max finally has an upgraded camera system — highlighted by its 48MP main camera sensor.

But does it really take better photos vs the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra?

Find out in our photo-walk style camera shootout with the pro-photographer and Apple’s #ShotoniPhone Macro Challenge Global Winner Tom Reeves.

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Accessories

Apple Watch Ultra Unboxing and Review (Part 1)

Is it really worth your hard-earned savings?

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After several years of waiting, an Apple Watch dedicated for explorers, adventure-seekers, and elite athletes is finally here!

Lo and behold, the new Apple Watch Ultra.

While just being a first product of its kind, it actually offers features that can rival its popular competitors.

But is it worth your hard-earned money considering its price tag starts at a whopping US$ 799 / S$ 1199 / ₱53,990?

Watch how Michael Josh unwraps the new watch in the latest Apple Watch Ultra Unboxing and First Review.

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