News

Pixel and Pixel XL make you care about photography and Google’s new Assistant

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Google Pixel views

Google’s highly anticipated, and heavily leaked, smartphones are now official. They’re high-end, strong on software, and effectively replace the Nexus series as Google’s flagship smartphone lineup. Without further ado, here are the Pixel and Pixel XL.

It seems like all the Google Pixel leaks we’ve seen in the past week were indeed legit. If you’ve been following our coverage, you would’ve already had a clear look at the design and specifications of the internet giant’s latest smartphones.


Google Pixel main photo

As expected, the only difference between the two handsets is size: The Pixel has a 5.2-inch AMOLED screen with a Full HD resolution, while the 5.5-inch Pixel XL has a noticeably better Quad HD AMOLED panel. The difference in measurements extends to the batteries, wherein the Pixel and Pixel XL have 2770mAh and 3450mAh capacities, respectively.

The lack of major differences is a big deal, because you aren’t forced to choose a larger phone just for its beefed-up features. This is something Google failed at with the Nexus 6P and 5X; the former was equipped with flagship-level specs, but the latter had the pocketable size nearly everyone wanted at the time.

Whether you go big or small, you’re treated to a metal unibody with a glass coating around the fingerprint scanner mounted at the back. With a thickness of 7.3mm for both handsets, they won’t win any style awards, but the inclusion of a 3.5mm audio jack will delight a lot of traditional audiophiles.

The shared internals include a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of memory, storage options of 32GB and 128GB, and fast charging through a USB Type-C port, but what really stands out is the camera. Having a 12.3-megapixel main shooter and 8-megapixel selfie camera with no optical image stabilization whatsoever may not seem special, but the real-world performance says otherwise.

Google Pixel angles

If you recall our recent article on the iPhone 7’s DxOMark rating, you’d know that the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge’s camera is the benchmark’s king with 88 points. Well, with the release of the new Google phones, the Galaxy has been unseated by the Pixels’ 89 points — the highest ever recorded in DxOMark’s mobile phone database. Impressive!

In case you’re wondering, the phones are manufactured by HTC, but Google is keeping this piece of information under the rug. The company wants Pixel to feel like a fully integrated Google product. To do that, the brand’s new virtual assistant is at the forefront of the Pixel phones.

Along with Android 7.1 Nougat, the Pixel phones are the first to come with Google Assistant, which is the company’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. Google spent a ton of time explaining all the core functions at the event, but in a nutshell, the virtual assistant is really efficient at catering to your personal requests. The more you use it, the smarter it gets.

With the improved artificial intelligence, you can search through photos with ease and listen to your favorite music on the fly, all done by voice command. Google Assistant is pretty much the replacement of Google Now, the now obsolete assistant of every other Android device.

Google Pixel colors

The color options are quite humorous; you have Quite Black, Very Silver, and Really Blue. What isn’t funny, however, is the pricing. Prices begin at $649 for the smaller Pixel — as much as you’d spend on a brand-new iPhone 7. The 128GB variant costs $749, while the larger Pixel XL goes for either $769 or $869 for the 32GB and 128GB storage options, respectively.

On the bright side, the phones come with unlimited cloud storage on Google Photos at original quality and full resolution. That’s great value, and might make the 32GB storage option enough if you have a reliable internet connection on hand.

You can pre-order as early as today if you live in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, or Germany. Fans in India will have to wait until October 13 to begin ordering.

[irp posts=”11910" name=”OnePlus 3 and 3T imitate Pixel in latest update”]

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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