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#PlayApartTogether: Embracing lockdowns and social distancing

Stuck indoors? Well, time to play video games.

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Video games have always been a great way to pass time on any boring day at home. In any normal circumstance, you just need your healthy amount of online play each day before doing anything else. But obviously, you’d rather be out of the house and embracing the outside world with all your errands and meetups. A perfect balance, as all things should be.

And then, the entire world was hit with a virus that you could contract by touching anything. Your home country restricted travel to your dream destination for fear of contracting the virus. Furthermore, you can’t even leave your own home without putting yourself in danger of contracting it too.

Suddenly: classes are suspended, people are now on work-from-home arrangements, malls are closed. Next thing you know, the entire metro is under quarantine and you are forced to stay indoors unless you absolutely need to be outside.

When the coronavirus stepped in to plague the outside world, all you could do was wait. And in waiting for this virus to be handled, you’re looking for something to do to pass the time. All while getting some interaction with your friends who are also stuck indoors. Luckily, if Zoom meetings are not enough, the World Health Organization suggests something even I thought was unthinkable:

Play Apart, Together

In essence, the World Health Organization wants everyone to find something to pass the time while you’re indoors. Because of the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the WHO backs an initiative from the gaming industry to #PlayApartTogether. The purpose of this initiative was to encourage people to play video games while practicing social distancing to slow the spread of the virus. When I first heard about this, I thought, “wait, really? The WHO wants us to play video games now?”

That’s because a year ago, the WHO had deemed video gaming addiction as a mental disorder. They deemed people who are addicted to video games as people who can’t control how long they play, that it takes over their life completely. A lot of people older than most millennials think that playing video games is just a waste of time — when you can just play basketball outdoors instead of NBA 2K20. It makes sense, but it’s an extreme way of looking at it considering you can count the number of news reports citing video game-related casualties.

But because the world is experiencing a pandemic of epic proportions, they suggest that it’s one good way to pass the time. So how have people dealt with lockdowns and social distancing through video games?

Tom Nook has had a field day since launch

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released last March 20 for the Nintendo Switch. Even before the world plunged into the COVID-19 madness, the game already received a ton of buzz before its launch date. As soon as the game dropped, people went crazy and started buying it online (at least for people in countries already under lockdown) and started groundwork on their lovely islands.

It didn’t take long before people start to craft amazing houses, beautiful island landscapes, and catching sharks. Yes, you read that right: SHARKS; you can catch sharks in the game.

(c) Nintendo

What made it extra special was how people and used the game to interact with their friends and customers alike. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen people post in-game tributes of their loved ones and idols who have passed away.

Others used the game’s online features to visit their friends’ islands and engaging in many activities like watching the meteor shower. If that wasn’t enough, we even had the Ayala Museum and 100 Thieves drop designs for apparel for everyone to use for free.

TWICE RUN 20X20 Navy Blue – Dahyun

I even got to the point of replicating some TWICE and BTS merchandise as designs for my sweaters and hoodies. This game opened its doors to an audience for all ages, bringing the world closer than ever. That is, of course if you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to do all of these.

Sports at a standstill? Not on 2K’s watch

When Utah Jazz center and reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, things weren’t the same. At that moment in time, the NBA had already suspended the games scheduled for that day, provided that the game didn’t tip-off yet. It then escalated into talks of suspending the NBA season indefinitely or possibly cancelling it all together.

Several other major sports leagues in the United States, and even across the world decided to suspend tournaments. Sports was at a standstill, and the void must be filled in somehow.

And then, the Phoenix Suns decided to simulate their postponed games on NBA 2K20. Obviously, these were far from how the actual players played for their teams, but everybody was having fun with it.

It came to a point that NBA 2K decided to host a Players-Only Tournament as a way to generate donations for a charity of their choosing. Other than that, they even decided to simulate the remaining games and provide scores at the end of each playing day.

You know what they say, “ball is life.”


As general rules, the CDC or The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed these to help with preventing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home when sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces

Hands-On

realme 9i Hands-On

Solid as usual
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The realme 9i is the “little brother” in the realme 9 series. And while it doesn’t pack the same punch as its pro siblings – the realme 9 Pro and realme 9 pro+ – there’s enough here for anyone who just needs a reliable daily smartphone.

Here’s a quick look at the specs before we dive in deeper: 

Performance

  • 6.6-inch IPS LCD display with 90Hz refresh rate 
  • Qualcomm SM6225 Snapdragon 680 4G processor
  • 6GB RAM with Dynamic RAM expansion feature up to 5GB 
  • 128GB Internal Storage 
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 33W Dart Charge tech

Cameras

  • 50MP main camera
  • 2MP macro lens
  • 2MP depth lens
  • 16MP selfie shooter

Here are some samples for your appreciation.

Neat, simple, and elegant

The realme 9i is pretty understated in the looks department. The variant we got comes in blue and depending on how the light hits, you’ll see some lines to accentuate its back.

As for button and port placements, at the bottom you’ll find the usuas: speaker grille, USB-C  port, and 3.5mm jack. 

On the right side is the power button/fingerprint scanner. 

And on the left hand side are the two, tiny volume buttons. 

Overall, the realme 9i  looks neat. Simple yet elegant. The camera stands out, obviously. But you can say that for most phones these days. It’s light for its size and appearance. It’s already easy to hold as is, but it’s even easier if you’re the phone-case-and-pop-up socket type of person.

General usage

Switching from one app to the other, or going back to the home screen for that matter is seamless and fast. There’s no trouble opening or loading apps so far. 

The apps load from where I last left it, provided I haven’t closed all apps, cleared RAM, or optimized phone usage.

Media consumption and gaming

We enjoyed more than our fair share of watching sports highlights  on the realme 9i. It pays to have a great-performing phone to not miss any action. We didn’t have any problems watching on YouTube at the highest resolution settings and at 60 fps. 

Same is true for other types of content. The viewing experience was likewise seamless.

The speaker is really loud and complements the video. You don’t have to put it on max volume although it’s still of the best quality when put to max. It doesn’t break.

Playing Mobile Legends with friends and relatives on this phone is perfect even if it’s “only” a mid-level phone. The game’s graphics settings were set on default when opening from the phone. I tinkered it to HD mode with a high refresh rate and “Ultra” graphics, and it didn’t have problems throughout the game like lagging when I played.

Battery life

On full standby in power saving mode without having to connect it to Wi-Fi or turn on mobile data, the phone consumes just about 5 to 10 percent of its battery power in one whole day.

When charging, it takes less than an hour to charge from 30 percent to full with its 33W fast charging.

Solid as usual

realme 9i

 

The “i” variants in realme’s numbered series phones have consistently been steady performers and the realme 9i is no different. It’s not gonna wow you with raw specs, but the overall package and performance makes it worthwhile.

The realme 9i retails for PhP 11,990. Buy it here.

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Reviews

vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review

vivo’s best smartphone just got even better!

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The vivo X70 Pro+ was launched just several months ago. However, we’re already having a follow-up!

Unlike the X50, X60, and X70 series, the X80 series only consists of two models this time around.

Namely the X80 and X80 Pro — with the latter being vivo’s latest flagship smartphone.

But what makes it different from its predecessor? And what makes the successor a lot more exciting?

Watch our vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review now to find out more!

 

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Unboxing

Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro Unboxing and First Impressions

Premium, smart timepiece

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Watch GT 3 Pro

Huawei has been giving us the best choices for stylish timepieces to help us reach our health and fitness goals. And they’re taking the stage again with their new flagship smartwatch — the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro. 

Now let’s take a closer look at this device and check what Huawei has in store for us this time. 

Unboxing

The GT 3 Pro comes in this sleek black box with the name of the device in gold. Through the box, we also get to know that it is powered by HarmonyOS. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

Lifting the cover, you’re immediately greeted by the GT 3 Pro Titanium Edition looking classy beside a gold Huawei logo. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

Pulling the tab on the right, you’ll see a smaller enclosure. Opening it up, you’ll see some paperwork, a USB-C cable and a wireless charging cradle. 

 

Watch GT 3 Pro

Now here’s the GT 3 Pro taken out of the box. Looks premium, doesn’t it? 

Watch GT 3 Pro

By examining the watch strap, you can easily tell that it’s made of genuine high-quality leather. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

The Huawei branding is not seen on the strap. It’s instead engraved on the buckle. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

Also unlike the previous GT 2 Pro that has the usual double crown design, the GT 3 Pro has a watch crown and a button. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

The rotating crown serves as its power button and scroll and zoom wheel. Rotating it feels smooth without much resistance. But it does have haptic feedback, mimicking a mechanical feel. 

Powering it up, you’re notified to get the Huawei Health app and pair it with your phone. 

 

Once paired, you can tinker with the settings and apply customizations based on your preference and liking. 

First impressions 

What I immediately liked with the GT 3 Pro is how classy it looks. And despite it being a big smartwatch compared to what I usually use, it feels light on my wrist. 

I also can’t help but admire how clean and clear it looks with its 1.43-inch AMOLED display and sapphire glass lens. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

 

Its body, on the other hand, is made of titanium and it has a ceramic back case to complete the premium package. 

Using it for a few days, it looks like this timepiece will definitely level up my expectations for smartwatches. But I have yet to fully explore and experience everything about the GT 3 Pro that I’ll share on my hands-on review so don’t forget to also check that out. 

Pricing and availability 

The Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro retails for PhP 16,999 and is available in Titanium and Ceramic Edition. 

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