Philippines

Nokia 8.1 review: What took you so long?

Solid but feels dated

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There’s a Filipino song called “Bakit ngayon ka lang?”. Loosely translated, it means “what took you so long?”. The song talks about a missed romantic opportunity — of someone else coming along while you’re already committed to another. That’s almost exactly how I feel about the Nokia 8.1.

The phone — known in other markets as the Nokia 7X — was first announced in December 2018. A full seven months later, it arrived in the Philippines. And a lot has happened in those seven months.

Performance on par with midrangers today

Before I proceed, let’s get some of the specs talk out of the way. The device is powered by the Snapdragon 710 SoC along with 6GB of RAM with 128GB of internal storage which is expandable via a microSD card. That’s not bad. At all. It’s even near-flagship territory… in 2018.

One thing about the Nokia 8.1 though that will never feel dated is its OS. The phone is part of Google’s Android One program which means this is running Stock Android. If you like it vanilla — like a lot of purists do — then this is one of the phones that offer that clean experience. Right now it’s still on Android P, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can side load Android Q beta as it is a partner device for Android’s developer preview.

Google cards are quite useful

The chip together with vanilla Android makes for a smooth and snappy experience. Most of the time I’m either just browsing or working on my phone and doing so on the Nokia 8.1 one was a very pleasant experience.

I have said this countless times but in case you’re new here, I don’t really play mobile games. The only time I ever really do so is when I have to test phones. On the Nokia 8.1 I only played Honkai Impact 3, which is a pretty graphics heavy game. The phone had zero trouble running the game and it looked especially stunning on the phone’s 6.18-inch PureDisplay screen (which we’ll get to shortly).

This means the phone will likely have zero problems running some of the most played games today like PUBG and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. If you play these games with this phone and don’t get that Chicken Dinner or that MVP, then you only have yourself to blame.

A display sent from the heavens

The PureDisplay screen technology is really pulling its own weight. When Nokia said this phone offers a higher contrast ratio and sharper output, it felt like it was even underselling it. The screen is vibrant and the colors and images look sharp all without looking too saturated.

It doesn’t have any of that crazy 90hz or 120hz display that we’ll find on 2019 flagships, but dare I say, the Nokia 8.1 probably has the best display in its price point.

I hid that notch eventually

I’ve often found myself happily watching on this phone while slowly being sucked into the YouTube rabbit hole. Speaking of watching videos on this display, I opted to turn the notch off altogether. The notch still looks like the one present on the iPhone X which came out in 2017. It’s 2019 and personally, I’d rather have a full bezel than be bothered looking at that kind of a notch.

Watching vertical FanCams is great on this thing

That said audio on this thing is far from perfect but it’s passable. The sound it produces isn’t as full as I hope to hear from phones when in speaker mode, but you can remedy all that by plugging in headphones because our good friend jack is still present on this device. Listening on wireless earbuds also offer a nice experience.

The build screams premium

One of the first things I noticed about the Nokia 8.1 is its build. The body is built with 6000-series aluminum with an all-glass back. And it feels pretty darn expensive. So much so that I was wondering why it didn’t come with any case in the packaging.

At first I was really hesitant to bring this around due to the lack of a case, but over time, my hands have grown accustomed to the glass finish. And I feel blessed every single time I touch it. There’s something about the build in finish that just screams premium.

The fingerprint sensor is at the back. And it feels like a blessing every time I touch this thing

It’s not fragile at all though. Being the clumsy oaf that I am, I may have accidentally dropped this phone twice already. The phone sustained zero scratches and zero damages. This is one tough cookie.

Pretty darn good cameras

I have to come clean and say I never really had too many chances to take photos during the testing phase. I’ve mostly just been at my desk or in a conference room which aren’t really ideal for taking photos.

The second lens acts as a depth sensor

So for samples I just took some quick shots around my place using the ZEISS-powered 12- and 13-megapixel dual-cameras. Hopefully I find some time to get a life outside of work for the next review. If you know a girl looking for a date, feel free to hit me up. I don’t bite… unless? Anyway, check out the samples below.

Quick note, features like Pro mode and Bokeh are also present on the 20MP front-facing camera.

Is the Nokia 8.1 your GadgetMatch?

And so, here we are. I’ve had nothing but mostly nice things to say about the Nokia 8.1. For a phone that was launched in late 2018, it can still square up with several midrangers in 2019. But the price, therein lies the rub.

At PhP 19,999, it’s not crazy expensive. It’s just that for a few thousand pesos less, there are actually better options. It’s hard to justify this purchase when  phones like the Realme 3 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 9T exist — both of which came within the seven months that the Nokia 8.1 was nowhere to be found on the archipelago.

Calling the folks at Nokia to bring their phones to the Philippines faster next time

Sure, those don’t have the build that the Nokia 8.1 has but the Realme 3 Pro offers much of the same performance for a more affordable price. And the Xiaomi Mi 9T actually feels like a 2019 phone with its triple-camera setup and a pop-up camera that makes way for an actual full screen display.

If you’re a Nokia stan — and I know there’s a lot of you out there — I can’t fault you for wanting this device. I get it. It’s pretty nice. But it’s really just a little too late. Timing is everything. Both in love and in smartphone releases.

*plays “Bakit ngayon ka lang?

Enterprise

Globe launches network upgrade to improve connectivity by 2021

The telco is building more cell sites and rolling out fiber cable upgrades

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During the 2020 State of the Nation Address, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte urged telcos to improve their service as most Filipinos work or learn from home. Now, Globe is embarking on its largest network upgrade to keep up with growing demands for a reliable and faster Internet connection.

A three-pronged strategy for Globe network upgrade

As part of its upgrade, the telco has laid out a three-pronged strategy to improve connectivity for customers. The first part of the strategy is building more cell sites throughout the Philippines. The telco is working with different government sectors to make this possible. Through the support of the Anti-Red Tape Authority and Bayanihan 2, the process of obtaining permits to build cell sites is much faster and simplified.

This simplified process enabled Globe to construct 900 cell sites alone in 2020. The telco obtained 190 permits from 80 local government units, making key upgrades in several areas of Visayas and Mindanao possible. It has also built 32 new towers in several barangays across Quezon City.

The second part of Globe’s strategy is diversifying 4G frequencies for increased frequency and speed. Through this, more Filipinos can now enjoy faster 4G speeds and coverage anywhere in the country.

The final part of Globe’s strategy is intensifying its fiberization efforts nationwide. The telco is upgrading its old copper cables to newer fiber optic cables. A rollout of fiber lines happened in key areas of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Batangas, Cebu, and Davao del Sur within the span of eight months.

Overall, the rollout represented a full 51.4% increase over its 2019 fiberization efforts. By now, the telco is in the process of migrating customers from copper lines to fiber.

Moving to 5G

Globe is also busy rolling out next-generation 5G networks across the country. Recently, it expanded the reach of its 5G network to nine more cities within Metro Manila. The network expansion follows the initial rollout that happened in busy commercial districts such as Makati, Ortigas, and Bonifacio Global City.

Globe hopes to complete its network upgrade by 2021. It has already spent a considerable amount of money on undertaking this huge initiative. Hopefully, the promise of the better connection surfaces as the new year begins. After all, the Internet in the Philippines remains one of the slowest in Asia.

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News

Globe will replace Huawei-supplied equipment

80% of Globe’s equipment comes from Huawei

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The US ban on Huawei has several implications for the embattled company. In the Philippines, Globe revealed that it is moving away from Huawei-supplied equipment to other non-Huawei devices due to concerns brought about by the ban.

During a Senate hearing, Globe’s general counsel Froilan Castelo told the Senate committee on public services that the telco has started negotiations on Huawei regarding its plans. Castelo said the negotiations are about replacing all Huawei equipment given the situation happening in America.

When pressed about the security concerns, Castelo reassured the Senate committee that it regularly audits its network for lapses and leakages. He said that their telco has security advisers from Israel and the US that do these audits. He added that Globe had already assured the US Embassy about Huawei’s only role as providing equipment for the telco.

Reliance on Huawei for its 5G network

However, the Senate hearing also revealed the full extent of Globe’s reliance on Huawei for its 5G network rollout.

Castelo admitted that 80% of the equipment that Globe uses today is from Huawei. The remaining 20% are from other providers like Ericsson and Nokia. Huawei is a leading 5G equipment provider, so it makes sense for Globe to rely on the company.

Froilan, on behalf of Globe, assured the Senate that “locally grown” companies will continue supplying equipment for them.  This assurance comes after Senator Ralph Recto questioned him if the telco is aware of the impending supply ban for Huawei.

It is unclear how Globe’s shift from Huawei will affect its subscribers. The telco has not yet announced any plans to the public regarding this move. Also, it remains unclear if such a shift will affect the broader rollout of the telco’s 5G network.

Source: Philstar

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Apps

How to get NBA League Pass with your telco provider

There are two package options

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NBA action is in full swing. In fact, it has been since August when the season restarted following a shut down that was caused by the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic. As of writing, we’re in the thick of the Conference Finals series. If you want to catch all the action, here’s how you can get NBA League Pass through different telecomm providers in the Philippines.

It’s now easier than ever to get access to the games legally. All of Smart, PLDT, and Globe are offering the same price packages.

PhP 85 — Watch any three games of your choice
PhP 485 — 30-day pass for all games including live and on-demand

Here’s how to get the subscription for each provider.

Smart Postpaid and Prepaid
(Also works with TNT and SUN Postpaid)

  • Download the NBA app (iOS / Android /APKPure)
  • On the app, click on the icon at the top-right corner
  • Click sign-in
  • A banner on top of the page will appear for Smart, Sun and TNT subscribers
  • Click ‘Get Started’
  • Enter mobile number for verification and a one-time PIN which will be sent to your mobile number
  • Choose your provider: Smart, TNT or Sun.
  • Choose your NBA League Pass Package (3-game or 30-days) and enter mobile number
  • Confirm your payment by entering the one-time PIN sent to your mobile number
  • Click NBA logo and start watching

PLDT Home

  • Go to pldthome.com/nbaleaguepass
  • Select your preferred package
  • The amount will be added to your next bill
  • PLDT will give a voucher
  • Download and sign-in to the NBA app
  • Enter the voucher in the promotion code field
  • Click NBA logo and start watching

Globe

  • Open the GCash app
  • Go to Buy Load
  • Look for the PayTV tab
  • Choose your preferred package. (Note: The chosen package is valid for 90 days).
  • Confirm payment
  • Open the NBA app and enjoy!

As mentioned earlier, we’re no in the Conference Finals with four teams remaining. Dueling in the West are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. Meanwhile in the East, it’s a battle between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics.

A new NBA champion will likely be crowned in the next 30 days so now is the best time to subscribe!

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