Features

God of War, Lost in Space, This is America: Now Playing

This is what we’re up to when we’re not creating tech features and reviews!

Published

on

Everyone’s watching, playing, or listening to something at any given moment. That includes us here at GadgetMatch, so we thought we would pull everyone together to share what we’re now playing.

Games to play

God of War
Rodneil: This is the game that all gamers are talking about. Yes, even those who don’t own a PlayStation 4 console are intrigued by this PS4-exclusive. The moment the embargo lifted on the reviews, the game was getting praises left and right. The story is compelling, gameplay is challenging, and boy, it looks hella good.

Wordscapes
Rodneil: Wordscapes isn’t new but between work and playing on my PS4, this is what gets me through down times when I need something casual to play with on my phone. I haven’t really bought into the more demanding iterations of mobile gaming and to be honest, I might never. So for those of you who like to keep it casual, this game does just that.

Movies to see

Love, Simon
MJ: I don’t know why I hesitated watching a movie I’ve been wanting to see for months. Rodneil and Chay had to convince me to watch Love, Simon on a late Friday night and god, I’m so happy I decided to go. Love, Simon is not just an ordinary coming-out film; it’s a masterpiece that will make your heart cry. It will resonate with experiences back in your teenage years, and remind you of the lessons you’ve learned. It’s a story of accepting yourself and the people around you.

Deadpool 2
Marvin: Deadpool 2 is both bloody and funny — it’s bloody funny! While it’s a lot like the first film in terms of crude humor and non-stop gore, the characters are more memorable this time, the plot’s much richer (and sometimes more emotional), and there are loads more silly meta references thrown at you. This sequel is a nice change of pace after the tear fest that was Avengers: Infinity War. Tip: You must stay for the post-credit scenes. Those alone make the price of admission worth it!

TV shows to binge watch

Santa Clarita Diet
Chay: I gave Santa Clarita Diet a chance after seeing countless ads and tweets about how underrated it is. I honestly wasn’t hooked until probably episode seven, but I found myself finishing two seasons in one week. Each episode is only 30 minutes long, and there are only 10 episodes per season, so it’s one of the easiest shows to binge watch. And in case it’s not obvious in the posters and trailers: No, it’s not a show about dieting and food, although there is a lot of eating involved.

Terrace House: Opening New Doors
Chay: For the uninitiated, Terrace House is a Japanese reality show about six strangers who live inside the same house. It’s like Big Brother without the scheming and games. So really it’s a show about nothing. It’s like watching Japanese people be themselves. For us unfortunate souls who don’t live in Japan, waiting for the new season can be excruciating, but I was lucky enough to watch all of Season 2 of Opening New Doors while I was in Osaka, and all I can say is you need to watch it and I need more episodes! It’s set in the woods of Karuizawa, Nagano, around two hours from Tokyo. The house is more beautiful than ever, and the housemates are so pure and genuine, sometimes to a fault.

Lost in Space
Dan: If you’re into sci-fi stories, you should check out Lost in Space on Netflix. It’s set 30 years in the future and chosen humans are on their journey to an Earth-like planet, but things go astray, hence the title. The story mainly revolves around the Robinson family and the peculiar robot. The first episode is a bit lacking, so you shouldn’t quickly judge the series by its pilot. The production value alone is enough to attract sci-fi adventure fans, and it’s one of the few sci-fi series that you can watch with your family.

My Hero Academia
Rodneil: Titled Boku No Hero Academia in Japanese, I will argue that this is probably the best ongoing shonen anime at the moment. Shonen is a genre primarily aimed at teenage boys that revolves around fighting in squads and camaraderie. My Hero Academia is about a boy born into a world where super powers or, as the show calls it, quirks, is a norm to a point that people actually go to school to get a job as a hero. Protagonist Izuku Midoriya has all the qualities of a zero, except he was born without a quirk, but this does not stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming the world’s best hero.

Happy!
Kevin: An alcoholic ex-detective turned hitman, Nick Sax is on a Christmas quest to save his daughter from a kidnapper junkie dressed as Santa Claus. Accompanying him on this mission is his daughter’s imaginary friend, an animated unicorn named Happy. This dark comedy goes for a different approach in storytelling. It also shows the unique relationship between a man who’s almost out of his mind and an imaginary friend who only cares for the kid. Don’t let the animated unicorn fool you, though, as the show gets really graphic. Better to watch it when the kids are asleep!

Music to listen to

Childish Gambino: This is America
Kevin: We’re pretty sure you’ve heard of this song. Childish Gambino’s new single that became an instant success overnight is chock full of hidden messages that reflect the current state of their country. From the lyrics to the music video, it might shock you as it did us and you’ll surely hit that replay button right after watching it.

Arctic Monkeys: Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Kevin: A recent release from the English rock band, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is far from the previous 2013 album AM. I feel like the band went back closer to their older albums in terms of sound and sprinkled a vibe of David Bowie into the mix. The result is soulful, almost laid-back — the kind that grows more and more in you after a few times of listening to the songs. And yes, there’s the staple Alex Turner appeal with the way he drops each word.

John Mayer: New Light
Alven: When it comes to our favorite artists, sometimes we want them to just stick to what they do best. When it comes to John Mayer, for a lot of people that means John sitting on a stool, acoustic guitar in hand, serenading you with a ballad. “New Light” is a great departure from that vibe, and I gotta say that I ain’t complaining. An upbeat tune with a funky beat and a bit of an 80s feel to it. this song will indeed make you see John in a new light.

Cities to visit

Krakow, Poland
Josh: Krakow isn’t usually top of mind when one thinks about cities to visit in Europe, but I found myself enthralled by the Polish city’s old world charm during a last minute trip this week. Follow the Royal Road route through its historic gates and medieval walls to reach Main Market Square, a sprawling space with cobblestone streets, renaissance architecture, and rows of cafes and shops. Continue further up a hill to the Royal Castle and Wawel Cathedral where the late Pope Saint John Paul II celebrated his first mass as a priest in 1946, then end the day with a scenic cruise along the Vistula River for breathtaking views of the city.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Chay: If you ask me what my favorite Southeast Asian destination is, my answer always changes depending on which city I last visited. So this month, it’s Vietnam’s biggest city: Ho Chi Minh. What’s not to like? Food is cheap, delicious, and healthy; internet is fast; coffee is great, and everything is just a scooter ride away.

Osaka, Japan
Chay: Tokyo is my favorite city in Japan but Osaka is still a good idea, and not just because of the food. Kyoto is only a 30-minute train ride away, if you want to explore old Japanese architecture and Shinto shrines. And if Japanese video games are your thing, especially those from the 90s (Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong!), you will go gaga in Osaka.

Apps to download

Unfold
Mj: There’s a new craze in the Instagram space, and it involves Unfold. I downloaded the app, and I’ve been using it on Instagram Stories a lot lately. It has a simple approach like creating a postcard of moments you cherish, but with lots of templates and fonts to choose from. I can finally make my snaps memorable and beautiful!

Plant Nanny
Mj: Plant Nanny is a fun way to remind yourself to drink some water. In the app, you take care of plants as if they’re yourself. Once you drink your glass of water, you log that activity in the app by pouring water on your plant, or else it dies if left unattended.

Did you like any of our picks or have suggestions of your own? Feel free to let us know in the comments section!


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!

Features

Here’s why OPPO created a new brand called Realme

Will a new brand help them take back the budget segment?

Published

on

2018 has been one of the most intense years for smartphones with brands launching new phones every other month. In developing markets, the budget and midrange segments account for a majority of the sales, and in an attempt to establish supremacy, companies have pumped in all their resources.

The markets have reacted positively and sales are steadily rising thanks to improving standards of living, technological advancements, and aggressive competition among brands. Pricing is always the primary factor of differentiation and companies want to offer as much as they can, this means the profit margin is often meager.

Behemoth companies like Huawei want dominance in the high-end as well as the price-sensitive segment. But, it gets increasingly difficult to establish a brand image when you have products in all price brackets. With rising sales, Huawei could’ve been associated with budget phones, and this would make launching flagship phones a challenge, especially when they demand a premium.

To counter this brand recognition issue, Huawei launched the Honor brand a few years back. Honor is known to make feature-packed phones that belong in the price-sensitive bracket. Now, the Huawei brand targets the upscale flagship segment with the P and Mate series.

OPPO is trying to pursue a similar strategy with the Realme brand. Realme made its debut in May this year and has launched a handful of phones since then. Its marketing efforts purely target the budget and lower-midrange segment, as well as the youth.

Realme launched as a sub-brand of OPPO but has since parted ways from the parent in terms of management, product design, and operations. This means, even though OPPO owns and strategically helps out Realme by leveraging its supply chain and research, the brand takes its own independent decisions. Design elements and ColorOS are a few things that are being shared by the two brands for now.

This division enables OPPO to concentrate on its high-end flagship phones like the Find X and R17 Pro. OPPO has taken a massive beating in terms of brand recognition even after spending millions on marketing. According to IDC, sales in Q3 2018 have slumped by 2.1 percent year over year while Xiaomi and Huawei have clocked a staggering 21 percent and 32 percent growth, respectively.

The dip in sales is because of two reasons. Firstly, OPPO intends to concentrate on the high-end segment and not get their brand value saturated further. Secondly, it has slowly taken a step back from the budget segment and handed over the reins to Realme. Though, this doesn’t mean OPPO is out of the race; it continues to launch new budget phones, but it’s clear no intensive marketing efforts are being taken up.

Realme’s strategy has worked out positively in the short term and the company has registered a nine percent market share in India’s Diwali festive season. Realme has been targeting online-only sales for now and being a smaller company lets it be more dynamic.

The dynamic nature means it can make a wider range of products quickly, even strategically launching them to undermine the competition. While the brand was hastily launched in May, the recent branding change already matured and was built with a long-term plan in mind.

In the beginning, Realme seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to Xiaomi’s increasing dominance. We’ve seen the brand rapidly launch new phones in the last few months and they genuinely pack some unique offerings instead of just trying to undercut the competition based on pricing.

Only time will tell whether the division of segments among the two brands have paid off, but for now, it’s a strategy worth investing in.

Continue Reading

Features

GadgetMatch Awards: Best Products of 2018

It’s been a long year

Published

on

What a year 2018 has been! The number of outstanding products has been jaw-dropping, so it’s only right for us to create an extensive list to award the ones that wowed us the most.

Truth be told, we have a lot of categories to cover, so let’s get right to it.

Best Premium Smartphone: Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Apple iPhone XS Max

Yes, it’s a tie! For the Android side, the Mate 20 Pro edges out the competition with its smooth blend of performance and unique design. On the other hand, the iPhone XS Max is not just Apple’s biggest phone to date, but also an all-around beast.

Best Midrange Smartphone: Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

With smartphone prices increasing every year, it’s such a breath of fresh air to see Xiaomi keep margins low while producing excellent handsets. The Mi Mix 3 is a testament to that with an incredible form and unmatched performance in this segment.

Best Budget Smartphone: Honor 8X

2018 has been the year of fantastic budget smartphones, and the Honor 8X comes out on top as the best overall. We love everything about it, from the sleek exterior to the fluid interface and long-lasting battery.

Best Bang-for-Buck Smartphone: Pocophone F1

Without a doubt, no smartphone disrupted the market as much as the Pocophone F1 has. The performance you get for the price you pay is mind-blowing, making this the biggest steal of a deal in 2018.

Best Selfie Smartphone: Vivo NEX S

Not only is Vivo’s NEX S the best at taking selfies, it also has the coolest implementation. We’ve been using it since its launch, and we still can’t get enough of its pop-up camera. There’s nothing like it!

Best Special Edition Phone: Porsche Edition Huawei Mate 20 RS

It doesn’t get much classier than this. The Porsche Edition Mate 20 RS takes everything that makes the Mate 20 Pro so great and adds a smooth touch of leather on the rear and signature styling on the interface.

Best Gaming Smartphone: ASUS ROG Phone

It was in 2018 when gaming smartphones truly matured, and none have done it better than the ROG Phone. You can’t find a better mix of performance and cooling than this, and the variety of accessories simply sweeten the deal.

Best Smartphone Feature: SuperVOOC

Who wouldn’t want the fastest charging technology in existence? While manufacturers kept upping battery capacities, OPPO focused on speeding up the already-fast VOOC to create SuperVOOC, which can fully charge a phone in less than an hour!

Best Tablet: Apple iPad Pro (2018)

At this point, the iPad Pro isn’t just a tablet anymore — it’s pretty much an alternative to the traditional laptop. This year’s iPad Pro is so fast, so well-designed, that it stands above all competitors by a mile.

Best Laptop: Huawei MateBook X Pro

The MateBook X Pro is a Windows laptop we never thought we’d see: It has an unparalleled screen-to-body ratio, gaming-level performance, and superb battery life. Why are we seeing a notebook this great only now?

Best Convertible: Lenovo Yoga Book C930

The Yoga Book is back, and it’s better than ever! The C930 follows up on the original Yoga Book with an improved dual-screen form and all the power and battery life you need out of a thin-and-light convertible.

Best Gaming Machine: ASUS ROG Strix Scar II

There have been lots of awe-inspiring gaming devices this year, but the ROG Strix Scar II takes the cake as the most well-rounded product. We’re in love with its near-borderless display, and how the rugged look matches the top-grade hardware.

Best Wearable: Apple Watch Series 4

When choosing a smartwatch, an Apple Watch is always a serious consideration with its sharp looks and buttery-smooth interface. The Series 4 is the lineup’s most daring entry yet, and is what we want most on our wrists.

Best Professional Camera: Sony A7 III

The Sony A7 III achieved the holy grail: placing a full-frame sensor and interchangeable-lens mount inside a relatively affordable body. It does everything we ask of it, whether for low-light photography or smooth video recording.

Best Compact Camera: Sony RX100 VA

Sony’s RX100 VA made an already-incredible pocketable camera even better. It’s been our go-to compact shooter this year, thanks to its impeccable image quality and ease of use.

Best Action Camera: GoPro Hero 7 Black

This was a no-brainer: The Hero 7 Black is the culmination of GoPro’s constant drive to create the best-performing, most user-friendly action camera in the market. Shaky video is definitely dead here.

Best Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM3

Now in its third generation, the WH-1000XM3 delivers some of the best noise canceling and sound quality we’ve ever experienced in mainstream headphones. We can’t get enough of these cans!

Best VR/AR Experience: HomeCourt

When we want to up our basketball game, we look to HomeCourt to monitor our progress and improve our skills. It works flawlessly with our iPhones, and its straightforward interface simply makes us want to shoot more hoops.

Best Drone: DJI Mavic 2 Pro

It was a tall order, but DJI managed to make the hottest drone even more desirable. The Mavic 2 Pro ups the ante in every single aspect, from image quality to flying performance, while making all other drones in its class seem inferior.

Best Vehicle: Honda CR-V 2018

Out of the all the cars we drove this year, Honda’s 2018 CR-V impressed us the most. The way it presents a high-tech interior while maintaining the power and fuel efficiency of its diesel engine is unheard of at this price point.

Best Toy: PlayStation Classic

The classics are back in a complete yet portable package! The PlayStation Classic offers a solid roster that not only produces strong nostalgia, but also introduces now-retro games to a whole new generation of gamers.

Best Smart Speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

Every smart home needs a matching smart speaker, and nothing has been more fitting this year than the third-generation Echo Dot. It’s louder, more robust, and listens way better than models before it — absolutely essential for homebodies.

Continue Reading

Features

Oops! OnePlus, Samsung figure in blunders: Weekend Rewind

They had a rough week

Published

on

Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.

1. OnePlus won’t have first phone with latest Qualcomm chip after all

So about OnePlus getting first dibs on the Snapdragon 855 SoC, well, it’s not accurate. The announcement was just lost in translation.

In a report by Engadget, it appears there were two sets of slides for OnePlus’ presentation at the Snapdragon Summit in Maui. One is in English while the other is in Chinese. It was the English version that said OnePlus will be the first to get the Snapdragon 855 but it was mistranslated from Chinese which apparently said “among the first” and not the first.

Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 855 SoC in Hawaii which is a 5G-enabled chip among other things. Earlier this week, Samsung and Verizon also announced plans to release a 5G phone in the US in the first half of 2019.

2. Samsung caught using DSLR to promote live focus feature

Speaking of Samsung, the company also starred in their own blunder this week when they were caught using a photo taken with a DSLR to promote the live focus feature of the Galaxy A8 Star.

It was Dunja Djudjic of DIYPhotography who spotted her work — something she licensed on photo site EyeEm — on Samsung Malaysia’s website that implies it was taken with the Samsung phone. However, this was not the case as Djudjic says a DSLR was used to take the photo.

It’s common practice for advertising materials to be sourced from stock image sites. However, it shouldn’t be the case when promoting a smartphone camera’s capabilities. Samsung phones do take good photos so it’s a little puzzling why Samsung Malaysia went with this direction.

3. Samsung and Huawei will come out with holed phones in December

More on Samsung but on a less controversial note. The Korean company is set to announce their first holed smartphone on December 10 — the Samsung Galaxy A8s.

The date will be historic as Samsung looks to beat everyone to the punch by launching the first official smartphone to have a selfie camera within the display. Nothing is confirmed yet, but specs-wise the Galaxy A8s could have a 6.3-inch display with a Full HD+ resolution, Snapdragon 710 chipset, up to 6GB of RAM, and a 24MP selfie camera.

Huawei won’t be too far behind as they’re also announcing a phone with a similar front-facing camera setup on December 17.  The phone will be called the Nova 4.

The main Nova series always sports the top Kirin chipset despite not being part of the premium P or Mate series. When the Nova 3 was announced, it was rocking the Kirin 970; this means the Nova 4 might have the new Kirin 980.

4. iPhone XR has the best single-lens camera

Apple’s decision to stick to one has been validated. In a smartphone market filled with at least dual-camera setups, Apple still opted to go with just one on the more “affordable” iPhone XR.

DxOMark finds the iPhone XR’s camera to be a great performer scoring 101 points overall. This makes the iPhone XR the highest-rated single-cam device tested by DxOMark.

Question is, can the iPhone XR keep the throne for long? DxOMark has yet to put the Google Pixel 3 to test. It will be interesting to see once the result for Google’s latest smartphones comes out since the Pixel 3 has been killing it in smartphone photography — single lens or otherwise.

5. God of War is Game of the Year

God of War wins big at The Game Awards 2018 — the biggest awards show in gaming. The PlayStation 4 exclusive topped other interesting titles for Game of The Year including fellow PS4 exclusive Marvel’s Spider-Man, Celeste, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Monster Hunter: World.

God of War also won Best Direction and Best Action/Adventure Game. Other notable games that got wins are Florence for Best Mobile Game, Dragon Ball FighterZ for Best Fighting Game, Fortnite for Best Multiplayer Game.


Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

Continue Reading

Trending