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Oops! OnePlus, Samsung figure in blunders: Weekend Rewind

They had a rough week

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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.

Best Smartphones

Best Premium Smartphones above $600

March 2020 Edition

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If you’re looking for the very best high-end smartphones available, you’ve come to the right place! Every month, GadgetMatch updates this list with the finest devices money can buy, no matter how much they cost.

Updated monthly, this list takes every newly launched flagship costing more than US$ 600 into consideration, but doesn’t discount the smartphones that continue to make an impact since their launch last year.

Here they are in no particular order:

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (US$ 1399)

All of Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 series belong in this price range. If you’re going to spend north of $600, might as well get the one with maxed-out specs, right? That’s exactly what the Galaxy S20 Ultra — the absolute best that Samsung has to offer right now in this form-factor. The numbers on the hardware are there but Samsung made sure to add key software features to appropriately take advantage of everything it has to offer.

WATCH HANDS-ON: Samsung Galaxy S20 series

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (US$ 1100)

The Samsung Galaxy Note series continues to set itself apart by being the premier smartphone that comes with a stylus. It doesn’t hurt that the smartphone is also pretty darn good at pretty much any other thing you might think of doing on a smartphone. While it’s not necessarily elite at one thing, it’s pretty darn good at everything.

HANDS-ON: Samsung Galaxy Note 10

ASUS ROG Phone 2 (Starts at US$ 500)

Nobody asked but ASUS followed up their gaming smartphone. The ROG Phone 2 maxes out every imaginable spec all while maintaining the design language of its predecessor. While the older accessories work, ASUS still introduced a few new ones. Most notably the Kunai gamepad that makes the gaming phone look almost like a Nintendo Switch.

REVIEW: ROG Phone 2

Google Pixel 4 XL (US$ 899)

Reluctantly adding this to the list due to how it feels like a stepback from the Pixel 3. In reality though, it’s still better than its predecessor, it just didn’t meet most people’s expectations. Google’s computational photography is still second to none and that’s still enough to make this list.

HANDS-ON: Google Pixel 4 XL

iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max (US$ 999)

The iPhone 11 Pro made no leaps in design which is why it somewhat feels underwhelming. It does, however, make up for it with yet another faster than ever processor, and a much-improved camera system. No, Apple didn’t exactly “innovate” but the iPhone is still what you expect it to be — a smartphone who’s hardware and software just works.

UNBOXING: iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max

Photo from @oneplus on Twitter

OnePlus 7T Pro (GBP 699)

The OnePlust 7T Pro didn’t get hyped as much because it was — in the words of many reviewers — only an incremental update from its predecessor. Make no mistake though, this is still a powerhouse of an Android phone is the owner of perhaps the smoothest, fastest Android UI today.

REVIEW: OnePlus 7T Pro

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip (US$ 1380)

The Galaxy Z Flip compares directly to the Motorola razr because of the way they fold. But on paper, the Galaxy Z Flip blows the Moto razr out of the water. There have also been plenty of reports that the Galaxy Z Flip has sold out in many markets (but lacking any actual figures). Regardless, this is easily the foldable smartphone that might actually serve well as your main phone.

WATCH: Galaxy Z Flip vs Moto razr

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Best Smartphones

Best Upper-Midrange Smartphones from $400 to $600

March 2020 Edition

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When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best upper-midrange smartphones retailing from US$ 400 to US$ 600.

Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our other lists for best budget, midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

Samsung Galaxy A71 (US$ 500)

Awesome screen, awesome camera, long-lasting battery life — that’s the LSS-inducing theme of the Galaxy A71 as it was being teased. Lo and behold, Samsung wasn’t lying. The phone certainly lives up to the hype and while specs-wise there may be cheaper options out there, the package that Samsung has put together is quite enticing.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A71

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite (US$ 449)

Finally. A Galaxy Note sans the gimmicks. The Galaxy Note line has always been a premium offering. And while this isn’t exactly budget, it’s still a lot more affordable than the usual stylus-paired smartphone from Samsung.

WATCH HANDS-ON: Samsung Galaxy Note 10

Realme X2 Pro (CNY 3299)

The Realme X2 Pro has flagship killer written all over it. Equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ and a 64MP camera sensor along with three other cameras, this phone promises to be a powerhouse with a price tag that doesn’t require sacrificing any of your internal organs.

HANDS-ON: Realme X2 Pro

OnePlus 7T (US$ 599)

When the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro came out, the company wanted to clearly communicate that they’re competing in the premium space. Fast forward to the OnePlus 7T and it looks like they are back to their flagship killing ways offering premium-level specs at a price lower than most top-of-the-line flagships.

UNBOXING & HANDS-ON: OnePlus 7

OPPO Reno2 (EUR 449/ US$ 488)

Yes, the Reno3 is already out there in the wild but we’ve yet to truly put it through the paces. The Reno2 however, we’ve had our hands-on. It’s crazy how close the release dates of these phones are but we can say for sure that this is still a good purchase owing to its now more premium design and dedication to providing better camera performance.

REVIEW: OPPO Reno2

Black Shark 2 [8GB + 128GB] (GBP 449/ US$ 283)

Okay so we’re being very specific here. There is a pro version but that’s that what we’re talking about. There’s also a version of the Black Shark 2 but with 12GB of RAM which exceeds this price point by hair. Which is why we specifically put the 8GB+128GB variant. It’s still a phone with pretty obvious gaming aesthetic. If this appeals to you, it’s a worthwhile purchase.

READ: Black Shark 2

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Best Smartphones

Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400

March 2020 Edition

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When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best midrange smartphones retailing from US$ 200 to US$ 400.

Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our other lists for best budget, upper-midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

Realme XT (US$ 333)

The Realme XT is our choice for best smartphone with a 64MP camera. This smartphone produces flagship-level photos.

REVIEW: Realme XT

Xiaomi Mi 9 SE (US$ 300)

Xiaomi has always been a part of the list and the Mi 9 SE truly deserves its spot. It’s a flagship-grade phone from its design to its specs. It’s dubbed as a “compact flagship” thanks to its smaller-than-usual form factor. If you’re looking for a phone that won’t hurt your pockets both in size and price, check out the Mi 9 SE.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi 9 SE

Realme 5 Pro (US$ 232)

A quadruple-camera setup at this price point seems unlikely but Realme made it happen. And it’s not just the setup, the lenses actually take photos with good image quality. That would have been enough to recommend this but it also has a Snapdragon 712 AIE chip with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you’re looking for a great deal, this is it.

HANDS-ON: Realme 5 Pro

 

Pixel 3a (US$399)

The Pixel 3a barely makes this price range by being just a hair under $400. The camera alone easily makes this crème de la crème of this bunch. Add to that the vanilla Android experience and of course being in the priority list of Android updates, this is the Pixel to get for Android purists.

HANDS-ON: Pixel 3a

 

POCO X2 (INR 19,99/ US$ 279)

The future of Pocophone was up in the air for a while, but all of that was finally put to rest when the brand finally released the POCO X2. This isn’t exactly the successor to the POCO F1. In fact, this is just a rebranded Redmi K30 Pro. But it’s still a step in the right direction for a brand that quickly captured everyone’s attention only to go completely silent for over a year.

READ: POCO X2

Samsung Galaxy A51 (US$ 320)

Samsung’s on a roll with their Galaxy A-series. The Galaxy A51 builds on everything that was already great with the Galaxy A50 and A50s and just makes it even better. Much like everything on the Galaxy lineup this year, the Galaxy A51 sports a look that as of posting is still undeniably Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy M31 (INR 15,99/US$ 224)

This battery-powerhouse of a smartphone has never quite made it to more markets, but it has gotten a significant amount of attention thanks to its 6,000mAh battery. Something this long-lasting appears to still be one of the priorities of smartphone buyers.

 

 

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