News

Pixel or Nexus? Everything we know about Google’s rumored phones so far [Updated]

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A week before a major product’s unveiling, we normally have a good idea of what to expect from the day of launch. Things are a little different now, with Google keeping its highly anticipated smartphones closely guarded until their official reveal on October 4. Still, this isn’t stopping everyone from following all the rumors and leaks. Here’s what we know so far.

There might be two phones named Pixel and Pixel XL


While Google hasn’t plain said they’re letting go of the long-running Nexus series, tons of rumors are pointing to the company scrapping the name in favor of the Pixel branding. As of now, there are only two Pixel devices under Google, and those are the Android-powered Pixel C tablet and Chrome OS-equipped Chromebook Pixel laptop.

How this unifies Google’s hardware lineups is still a mystery, but this could mean that the Nexus 6P and 5X smartphones are the last of their kind. In their place, we expect a 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL to take over as the search giant’s flagship offerings.

They’re going to be rectangular and made by HTC

google-pixel-leak

Although the line “Made by Google” has been attached to the Pixel handsets, HTC has been tagged to be the manufacturer of both phones. This isn’t the company’s first involvement, however; HTC made the very first Nexus smartphone called the Nexus One, and Google’s latest Nexus tablet, the Nexus 9, was also developed by the Taiwan-based brand.

Google has barely shown us anything so far, but if the leaked photos courtesy of Android Police have anything to say, there’s nothing out of the ordinary in terms of design. We’re looking at an all-metal body with a fingerprint scanner and single camera lens at the back.

Somehow, one of the phones also made its way into a commercial by Nest Netherlands. It matches quite well to the photos above, so there seems to be some legitimacy in the sources. Whether it was accidental or on purpose is the question, but that applies to practically every leak we’ve ever encountered.

Update: We now have what looks like finalized renders of the Pixel and Pixel XL, thanks to leakster Evan Blass. They once again match earlier leaked images, and prove that a new version of Android is coming along. The two phones look exactly the same, though.

Update #2: OnLeaks uncovered a clear 3D render video of the Pixel XL. Additionally, the source claims that the dimensions are 154.7 x 75.7 x 7.3mm (bottom) and 8.5mm (top). This means the camera hump adds a little more bulk to the frame.

Specs are what you’d expect

We’re nearing the end of the calendar year, and that means flagship phones will more or less have the same chipsets by now. We’ll most likely see Qualcomm’s top processor, the Snapdragon 821, inside both handsets, along with 4GB of memory, Full to Quad HD resolutions for the displays, and USB Type-C ports with fast charging capabilities. The IP rating, which is the gadget’s resistance to dust and water, is still unclear.

The bigger news is the possibility of Android 7.1 being on board. It hasn’t been too long since the original Android 7.0 Nougat version came out, but bug fixes and minor tweaks are always welcome. So far, the only upgrade version 7.1 is noted to have is the option to restart your phone directly from the “Power off” menu. It may sound really basic, but no stock Android phone has had it since the OS was conceived.

google-pixel-launcher

In addition, it looks like there’ll be a new launcher to accompany Google’s new phones. Aptly named Pixel Launcher, it’s just like the interface you’re accustomed to in other stock Android handsets, but there’s some much-needed design changes: The app drawer button is gone, the Google search bar has been replaced by a search tab and calendar widget, and the navigation buttons might be redone. You can actually install it now and see some of the features for yourself.

They’ll be priced like rival flagships

The Nexus brand has always been positioned as Google’s way of showing manufacturers how to do Android devices right. With Google having a close eye on the development process of its partners, the hardware maximizes the full potential of the software, and vice versa. To the joy of customers, some Nexus devices were even priced below its competitors despite having flagship-level parts.

Sadly, this might change with the arrival of the Pixel brand. Reports say that the smaller handset’s price will start at $649, and the bigger one at around $750. This would put the duo in direct competition against Samsung and Apple’s best. This rumor seems highly likely, since the two Pixel devices we mentioned earlier, the Pixel C and Chromebook Pixel, have eye-popping prices themselves. We don’t like where this is going.

[irp posts=”7034" name=”Google’s Pixel strategy is doing exceedingly well, at a cost”]

Image credit: Android Police

Automotive

Nissan Navara VL gets an updated infotainment display

For easier access and better viewing

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Nissan Philippines, Inc. has just updated its best-selling pickup truck with a brand new infotainment display and maximizes its features for safety.

The company calls it Advanced Display Audio but is basically a bigger version of its previous touchscreen system with added features. Spanning eight inches across, Nissan says operating it is now easier and it now enjoys better range when it comes to features like its Around View Monitor. This is the same technology we previously enjoyed as it gives the driver a bird’s eye view of the truck, helpful in tight spaces.


Not only that, the new update now allows smartphone mirroring using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This way, drivers can extend the use of their smartphones to the vehicle and listen to messages and voice calls without needing to take your eyes off the road.

This also allows access to apps like Waze for navigation and Spotify to listen to your favorite tunes while driving.

The Advanced Display Audio is only available for the 4×4 VL model of Navara. For more information, you may visit any Nissan dealership in the Philippines or head straight to their website.

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Gaming

ASUS ROG Phone II Hands-On: The ultimate in mobile gaming

With new and improved accessories too

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Is there a place for gaming phones in 2019? ASUS believes so. In fact they’re so bullish about the mobile gaming industry that they’re giving their gaming phone an update. This is our ROG Phone II hands-on.

At first glance, it’s not very different from last year’s model and that’s intentional. Their focus hasn’t been to rework the wheel but to make the original even better.


The phone is now taller, giving it that now popular 19.5: 9 aspect ratio. It’s built tough with a Gorilla Glass 6 display and is intentionally flashy with RGB lighting baked into the logo on its back with ROG’s trademark styling.

Best display on a smartphone today

The flat all screen display is edge-to-edge except for its top and bottom. ASUS said this is a design decision so that gripping the phone doesn’t get in the way of gameplay.

It also leaves room for the dual front firing speakers and a selfie camera. It’s strategically placed so game streamers can play and stream at the same time.

The panel itself is impressive possibly the best we’ve seen on a smartphone today. It’s the world’s first 120Hz AMOLED display on a smartphone with a super fast one millisecond response time.

It not only gives you buttery smooth transitions, but combined with ultra low touch latency, it’s supposedly also going to give you an advantage when pulling the trigger in a head-to-head shooting game. This HDR display is glorious. Colors pop and images are rich and vibrant. It’s my new favorite display and is perfect whether you’re watching videos or playing games.

Baked into the display is a fingerprint scanner which, based on our initial tests, is quick and snappy.

Performance fit for the most competitive gamers

When it launches, the ROG Phone II will also be one of the most powerful smartphones in the market today. Topping early benchmark tests versus other flagships including the Galaxy S10+ from Samsung and the OnePlus 7 Pro.

It’s powered by an updated version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 — the 855 Plus which is even faster. Coupled with an updated Adreno 640, it’s promising a 15 percent GPU performance.

A completely souped up model will have 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The phone promises to handle any power intensive game you throw at it with not only fast frame rates but also a commitment to sustained performance across long gaming sessions.

To keep its internals running at optimal condition the phone offers three steps of cooling: First with a 3D Vapor Chamber, second with a built-in heat sink and vents on its back cover, and third via an attachment called the Aero Active Cooler II. With all of these working together, ASUS promises unbeatable performance.

A battery that can handle all that power

So what about battery life? Surely all of this performance power will take a toll on battery life? Nope. The ROG Phone 2 will come with a massive 6000mAh battery. That’s 2000mAh more than most flagships these days.

ASUS is promising 7.1 hours of battery life when playing something like PUBG. What excites me the most is that non-gamers could potentially get two days of more than average use.

The phone also comes with fast charging support built in. A full charge will take one hour and 21 minutes.

More love for gamers

There is much more gamers will love about the new ROG Phone II. ASUS kept the Dual USB-C ports — one on the bottom of the phone and one on its side. This means you can charge the device and continue playing any which way you like.

I also particularly like the improved air triggers that let you control your game by tapping either top side of your phone in landscape mode. Along with an improved vibration motor, the phone feels more like a game controller than ever before.

It’s clear that this isn’t your average phone. It’s one built specifically for gamers. But having said all that ASUS says it’s not just the best gaming phone. It’s a great flagship too!

To ensure the experience is top notch. They gave the ROG Phone II the same impressive camera that’s on the Zenfone 6. Except for its flipping mechanism of course.

A 48MP main camera and a 13MP ultra wide secondary camera. Take a look at some sample photos.

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On the front of the phone is a 24MP selfie camera. Here are some selfie samples.

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The ROG Phone Ecosystem

Depending on how you like to play, ASUS attempted to cater to every game style with a range of accessories made specifically for the ROG Phone II.

The new Kunai gamepad comes with controllers that snap on to a bumper reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch. You can also attach the controllers to the Kunai Holder and use them as you would a gamepad.

The Twin View Dock from last year has also been updated making it lighter and easier to use. It can also be used in conjunction with the GamePad.

Other accessories include the Aero Active Cooler II, Aero Case, and the Lighting Armor Case. Older accessories like the desktop dock, Pro Dock, and the WiGig Display Dock Plus also support this new model.

Is the ROG Phone II your GadgetMatch?

Let me start by saying this phone isn’t for everyone. From the way it looks, to some of its standout feature, these are things that appeal to a very special kind of user.

If you’re the type who is serious about mobile gaming then it definitely is going to be a good investment. If you’re not a gamer but care about things like a great display and ultra long battery life this might be a phone worth considering also.

Representatives from ASUS tell me that once the phone rolls out globally this September there will also be an option to change its interface to the stock-like ZenUI for a more everyday smartphone feel. That’s good news too.

The ROG Phone II launches in China this week. The Global Version is coming first week of September – our review video will drop around the same time.

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India

OPPO K3 is a fancier looking Realme X at the same price

The design is also inspired by OPPO Reno

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Realme operates as an independent brand now, but when it first started last year, it was technically a sub-brand of OPPO. Since then, the Indian smartphone market has changed quite a lot. Realme has been successful in taking up a huge chunk of the market, Xiaomi is slowly inching forward, and Samsung is no longer sleeping.

In the midst of all the noise, OPPO and Vivo are treading cautiously. They’re focused on grabbing the offline market that relies on brick and mortar stores. Taking a step forward, OPPO has launched a new phone called the K3 in India, and it looks eerily similar to the Realme X. In fact, even the specs sheet is pretty much the same.


What sets it apart is that it shares the new design language OPPO’s Reno line first introduced, which OPPO said will serve as the catalyst for the company’s smartphone development for the next 10 years.

While OPPO and Realme are busy sharing resources, it’s the best time for a consumer to buy a new phone. There are simply too many options to choose from and pricing has never been this competitive.

To start with, the OPPO K3 sports a 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display that also integrates a fingerprint scanner. The phone ships with ColorOS out of the box and relies on a Snapdragon 710 chipset to chug along.

The rear has a 16-megapixel primary camera coupled with a 2-megapixel secondary lens. The front camera is housed in a pop-up sliding module and consists of a 16-megapixel lens. The software incorporates standard AI-backed scene recognition and Ultra Clear Night View 2.0 feature. Lastly, backing these internals is a 3765mAh battery with VOOC 3.0 fast charging technology.

The 6GB+128GB option is priced at INR 16,990 (US$ 245) and the 8GB+128GB variant costs 19,990 (US$ 290). It’ll be available in Aurora Blue and Jade Black from July 23 via Amazon.in and offline retail stores.

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