Features

Phablet Wars: Galaxy Note 5 vs iPhone 6S Plus

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Samsung vs Apple.

These two gigantic tech brands continue to rival each other in the smartphone arena. It’s a battle that will likely persist in the foreseeable future. The contest continues in their flagship phablets. A beast from the East, Samsung essentially gave life to the phablet category with its Galaxy Note line. It has also improved significantly in terms of design ditching its usual plastic and faux leather exterior for the more premium metal and glass. While the best of the West, Apple champions solidarity. Its iPhone boasts of the perfect marriage between hardware and software resulting in a device that works seamlessly.

As its phablets brace for a clash, we take a look at the tale of the tape between the Galaxy Note 5 and the iPhone 6S Plus.

 

Hands-On

Huawei Nova 3i is a beautiful phone with quad-camera goodness

The newest midrange contender

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Huawei just unveiled the Nova 3i and it looks good. Allow me a minute to gush about its looks.

This new midrange smartphone sports a glass back with a premium feel and a beautiful gradient back reminiscent of the Twilight P20. Let’s look at that closely.

As if this phone couldn’t get more extra looks-wise, there’s also a what Huawei reps call the “shining curve effect” which gives it that oomph when light hits the handset.

Now, on to what it can do.

This thing has a quad-camera setup: A 24- and 2-megapixel combo in front and a 16- and 2-megapixel setup on its back.

This phone makes you look good not just in selfies, but also while doing selfies. Take it from Chay.

Different scenes mean different adjustments to get the perfect shot. The cameras are equipped with AI, meaning they can intelligently detect scenes and automatically improve your photos. And, it’s not only the rear cameras with this technology; the selfie cams also have AI capabilities and an improved AI beauty mode.

The fingerprint scanner is found on the phone’s back, which usually means a more bezel-less screen. The 6.3-inch display features tiny bezels and a smaller chin plus, surprise, a notch!

There’s also a facial unlock feature and AI 3D Qmoji, which is basically Huawei’s version of Apple’s Animoji. 

The Nova 3i runs on Huawei’s brand-new Kirin 710 with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It has 3340mAh battery capacity and runs Android Oreo out of the box. 

Aside from this pretty gradient, the Nova 3i is also available in white or black.

Will this smartphone be as good as it looks? You’ll have to wait for the full review. Meanwhile, you can check price and availability here.

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Hands-On

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Hands-on: Feels cheaper now

It’s missing the premium build

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Currently, Xiaomi is leading in the budget smartphone segment. The uber-cheap Redmi 5A is still selling like hotcakes, making it the number one budget phone in the world. Just last month, the Chinese company announced the next in the Redmi series and what we have here is the base model: the Redmi 6.

Will the Redmi 6 be able to do better than its predecessors? Future sales numbers will be able to tell us that, but for now, let’s have a quick look at what the phone has to offer.

Following the footsteps of the Redmi 5, which is the Redmi 6’s direct predecessor, the IPS display of the phone has an 18:9 aspect ratio and HD+ resolution, although the Redmi 6 has a slightly smaller display at 5.45 inches versus the 5.7 inches of the older model. Despite having a taller aspect ratio, the bezels don’t qualify as near-borderless, but it’s still better than having a traditional 16:9 ratio.

On top of the display is the 5-megapixel front-facing camera along with the earpiece and sensors. As you can see below, the Redmi 6 has two card trays: one for the main nano-SIM card and another for the second one and a microSD card. The phone is a great budget option for those who have two SIM cards and a microSD card lying around.

We usually get a long triple-card tray, but this option is more ideal for users who keep on switching microSD cards. It keeps your main SIM card working while you swap your external storage. It’s similar to how Samsung designs their budget-midrange phones like the Galaxy J6 and Galaxy J8.

Moving to the right side, we have a couple of physical buttons for volume (the long one) and power/lock (the short one). Both are tactile and responsive, but they’re made of plastic just like the rest of the body of the phone.

If you’re coming from the previous Redmi series, you might be disappointed about that fact, but we’ll get to that later.

The bottom side houses the micro-USB port for charging and wired data transfer. Beside it is the main microphone that works alongside the secondary mic found on top of the phone. The 3.5mm audio port is also positioned on the top side.

I’m already accustomed to having the loudspeaker at the bottom, but Xiaomi decided to place the Redmi 6’s on the back. Sadly, the rear-firing loudspeaker gets muffled when placed flat on a table. There’s usually a raised dot beside the speaker grilles to lift the phone a bit, but Xiaomi missed out on that.

Now that’s we’re already checking out the rear of the Redmi 6, I’ll talk about the material choice for the phone’s body. Both the Redmi 4 and the Redmi 5 have aluminum back panels which add premium touches. The top and bottom portions are plastic, but that’s understandable to let in radio signals.

With the Redmi 6 though, we now have a full-plastic phone instead of maintaining a metal body (just like my favorite, the Redmi 4 Prime). The material downgrade makes the phone feel cheaper on hand and levels it with the more affordable Redmi models.

At least the camera department of the Redmi 6 gets an upgrade: From one, it now has two rear shooters. The main 12-megapixel sensor, which is the same as the Redmi 5’s, is now accompanied by a secondary 5-megapixel sensor for measuring depth. The phone can shoot portrait photos with bokeh effects.

The rounded fingerprint reader is still where most Xiaomi phones have it. It’s easily reachable by the index finger and can unlock your phone quickly.

As for the specs of the phone, it’s powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 processor with up to 3GB of memory and up to 64GB of storage. The graphics unit of the chipset is the PowerVR GE8320. It’s quite surprising that Xiaomi went back to MediaTek, but the Helio P22 is a good-performing midrange-class processor.

I wasn’t able to spend much time with the phone, but my initial gaming tests with Asphalt Xtreme and PUBG Mobile were pretty okay. The phone is not able to run the games smoothly on the highest-possible settings, but if I take it down a notch, I get better frame rates.

The phone runs MIUI 9.6 out of the box which is already based on Android 8.1 Oreo. The official stable update to MIUI 10 should come in the coming months. A 3000mAh battery keeps the lights on, but there’s no support for quick charging.

The Redmi 6 is already available in China starting at CNY 799 (US$ 120) for the 3GB/32GB variant while the beefed-up 4GB/64GB model is priced at CNY 999 (US$ 150). The phone is also making its way outside the Chinese market as part of its global rollout. In the Philippines, it’s priced at PhP 7,490 for the 3GB/32GB variant and PhP 8,990 for the 4GB/64GB.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro makes its debut with notch and affordable price

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What is PLDT doing about its recent internet service issues?

Internal struggles lead to disgruntled customers

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It’s needless to say, but the internet service in the Philippines leaves a lot to be desired. Not only have hard numbers shown poor internet performance in the archipelago, social media has been seeing a never-ending eruption of complaints about every provider, as well.

While steps have been taken to bring the Philippines up to speed with other countries through the use of next-generation 5G mobile networks by next year, citizens aren’t convinced, and internet in the country is still facing a slippery slope.

One incident that has been affecting local provider PLDT (Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company), in particular, is causing a lot of turbulence to both its workers and customers.

Reports have circulated that PLDT had recently terminated over 7,000 contracts from its workforce, causing many homes and offices with internet problems to be put on an indefinite hold. PLDT denied the allegations, citing that the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) was the one that ordered these contractual workers to halt their service to the company.

DOLE fired back by stating that PLDT’s workers are “employed by unqualified service providers” and PLDT has been warned months in advance. At the same time, disgruntled PLDT employees took to the streets in a recent protest.

Whatever the case, these employees aren’t the only victims here, as customers are experiencing the harsh aftereffects, too.

My own team has been a victim of this ongoing debacle. After having absolutely no Fiber connection for nearly two months, it was only yesterday when our situation was dealt with and a service crew paid a visit to our home office to bring our internet back.

This came after we had to sit through hours and hours of being put on hold by PLDT’s customer service. We simply wanted to know what was wrong and when we’d get our connection back; all we were told was that they’ll look into it, but nothing came of it until someone finally arrived yesterday. They have yet to offer any rebate for the weeks of service loss.

A friend of mine has been on PLDT’s hotline for over a month now, trying to figure out why his DSL speeds are way, way below the advertised 5Mbps. “When I’m lucky, it becomes as fast as 1Mbps, but I usually deal with speeds of around 0.1Mbps,” Mr. Iglesias told me in a chat. “Whenever I’d call the hotline to complain, I’m either put on hold for an hour or get no response at all.”

A PLDT customer who requested to be kept anonymous mentioned that his service “truly sucks” after the first 12 months of his 24-month contract were completed. “With regards to our internet, there are times we have no connection even though the LEDs of our modem are lit up,” he said. “We were requested to wait for seven to 30 minutes maximum just so we can speak to a ‘live’ agent and not an answering machine. Worse, from last night until now, our landline has no dial tone so we cannot call their hotline to report.”

Another source who works for PLDT (and also wishes to remain anonymous) was given an instant promotion to manager when most of her team was laid off at the end of June. “I had no choice. Now I’m handling all the customer complaints on my own,” she said.

And these are just a handful of cases. Social media is littered with angry posts about PLDT’s unsatisfactory — and sometimes non-existent — service.

Wanting to dig deeper, I reached out to Ramon Isberto, Head of Public Affairs at PLDT, for answers.

Isberto explains that the DOLE’s order to regularize these 7,300 workers is “inconsistent with applicable law, jurisprudence, and the documentary and testimonial evidence.” And even though PLDT was issued a cease and desist order, call center and BPO companies have been exempted from similar regulations related to the coverage of labor contracting restrictions.

Referencing to allegations that PLDT terminated thousands of contracts, Isberto reassures that “it simply does not make any sense for PLDT to terminate these contracts in this way.”

Finally, he says that they’re taking care of everyone’s welfare and the “duty to deliver quality services to customers.” That last bit is what I’m least confident about.

PLDT’s Twitter handle is “PLDT_Cares” and while they do care a whole lot about becoming the country’s go-to source for everything internet, I wonder what’s being done to take care of the ever-increasing number of complaints being filed each day.

We currently have this to hold on to.

Not much, but it’s all we have.

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