Smartphones have already progressed far beyond expectations over the last few years. Our devices can now control a lot of facets in our lives. However, there’s one feature that hasn’t taken off quite yet: digital car keys. Samsung wants to push the feature more. The company is adding a digital car key feature to its smartphones.
Announced with the Galaxy S21 launch, Samsung promised to roll out the feature soon. The digital car key will be based on ultra-wideband and NFC technology. Naturally, it will require compatible cars to work. For now, Samsung is rolling it out in only one country and for only one car: the Genesis GV60 in South Korea. Additionally, it will roll out for the brand’s newer phones: Galaxy S21 Plus, S21 Ultra, Note 20 Ultra, Z Fold 2, and Z Fold 3.
With the feature, users can unlock their cars without pulling out a key or a phone. Users will also be able to control some aspects of their vehicles (like their mirrors) and find where they parked their cars. While protected with eSE (or embedded Secure Element) technology, users can also share their keys with anyone else who has Android 11, creating a new way to share car keys.
Unfortunately, it will take a while before the feature rolls out to more cars. If anything, Samsung has already promised partnerships with Audi, BMW, and Ford.
First Xiaomi car set for a 2024 launch
Promised by a Xiaomi exec
Earlier this year, Xiaomi confirmed that the tech company will officially enter the smart vehicle industry soon. The new market isn’t a huge surprise for Xiaomi. The Chinese company is already known for expanding to different industries outside of its home in the smartphone market. Now, adding more news to its announcement earlier this year, Xiaomi has confirmed a timeline for the first Xiaomi car.
Reported by Reuters, Xiaomi chief executive Lei Jun has pegged the mass production for the first Xiaomi car sometime in the first half of 2024. However, amid multiple developments towards the new branch, Xiaomi has not announced whether they are producing the car themselves or partnering up with an existing player in the industry.
Soon after the initial announcement, Xiaomi registered its electric vehicle arm, officially confirming the company’s strides towards its automotive goals. Xiaomi has also recently acquired a self-driving development company called DeepMotion this year.
Xiaomi’s automotive efforts are still in its infancy stages. The company already obtained an initial RMB 10 billion investment set for a 10-year push in the industry.
Of course, creating a smart car is only the first step towards becoming a player in the smart car industry. Xiaomi will face heady competition when it finally releases its first product. Tesla is already a formidable player, and more players are already set to launch their own entries soon.
SEE ALSO: Xiaomi has Smart Glasses too
CyberSoul X3 Pro review: Coasting just fine
For commuters who don’t want to use their last three brain cells
Electric kick scooters (EKS) are flocking the streets more than ever. The advent of a personal mobility solution has caught the attention of commuters looking for an alternative form of transportation.
Presently, there is a myriad of electric kick scooters you can find. Several of which are costly to one’s pocket. We’ve driven some EKS in the past and recently, we’ve discovered a new gem unbeknownst to many.
Meet the CyberSoul X3 Pro — an electric kick scooter from CyberSoul, a young transport brand focused on safe, eco-friendly, and effective mobility.
Oh, it’s new! The shape of your body, it’s blue~
The CyberSoul X3 Pro, which we’ll call X3 Pro for brevity, looks like your typical electric kick scooter. The resemblance is uncanny to most EKS found on the streets.
What sets it apart are the intricate details and thoughtful design to make it functional. And of course, a user experience that’s enjoyable when going in on a ride.
Forgive me for the dust and dirt that you’ll find in the visuals. I’ve been using the X3 Pro for more than a month and even though I’ve been cleaning it regularly, I accidentally took photos and videos outdoors when it rained torrentially.
Granted, the dust, dirt, and wet deck and wheels are inevitable. And it’s something we’ll be talking about later on.
Locked me out and threw a feast
Out of the box, you’ll find the X3 Pro unfolded. It weighs 16.9kg, so lifting the electric kick scooter would be a piece of cake — if you’re a lifter, that is.
The material’s made of aluminum alloy — a strong yet light component commonly used in aeronautics.
The stem is easy to grip, and you can lock it firmly on a special hook to ensure it stays in its position when folded.
Upfront, you can find the shackle with two locking systems. The inner one automatically locks when you raise the stem, while the other one is a folding shackle familiar to most electric kick scooters.
This type of shackle needs extra pressure for both locking and unlocking the scooter’s stem. Frankly, I always find it difficult to apply pressure on the shackle since it requires strength from your fingers.
Though it’s hard and extremely tight, the process gave me peace of mind knowing that my electric kick scooter is firmly functional and secure.
Nonetheless, there’s a stand on its left side so you can park it while you fold and unfold, or just when you need to step away from your EKS for a moment.
Devil’s in the details, babe
The CyberSoul X3 Pro comes with a striking design adorned with intricate details that are both astonishing and bothersome. For one, the engraved style in its wheels and deck accumulate dust and dirt that are grueling to remove.
Unlike the Lenovo M2 Electric Scooter I test drove early this year, the X3 Pro uses a pair of tubeless tires. It’s the same tire you commonly see on automobiles.
A good thing about tubeless tires is that they’re more heavy-duty, and can keep up with your electric kick scooter’s performance. Tubeless tires are also puncture-resistant so you won’t have to worry about debris puncturing your beloved wheels.
It’s also undoubtedly stronger and can handle heavier load — both the deck and the tires. The X3 Pro has a maximum load of 120kg, so trust that it can carry you wherever you want to go.
The only con I would think about having a tubeless tire is how it can be a pain to have it repaired if it became flat or it badly needs to be changed.
But it shouldn’t be a big deal if you love riding on bicycles, scooters, and motorbikes. Or if you own one. The amount of love and care you’ll tend to those babies will be the same if you have the X3 Pro.
On its back, you can find the X3 Pro sporting a tail light that activates whenever you use the brakes. Speaking of brakes, the X3 Pro uses a double-brake system: an electronic brake on the front wheel and a disc brake on its rear.
Easy as knowing all the words to your old favorite song
Since we’re talking about brakes, the brake lever can be found upfront, situated on the left side of the handlebar. There’s also a headlight — which lights up decently when used in a dark alley.
Further, there’s a bell that I rarely use because I end up sounding like an ice cream delivery guy. But it’s loud enough to warrant attention from commuters and people on the sidewalk.
In the middle, you can find the multi-functional power button and the control panel with a simple interface. The display isn’t that legible under extreme sunlight, so you might need to cover it up when you want to preview the panel. Or you can just find a shaded area.
You can also just download the CyberSoul app and connect the X3 Pro through Bluetooth. The app houses important information such as your total mileage, its battery state, a light switch just in case you don’t want to press the button, and an option to lock your scooter for security.
Just a heads-up, having the X3 Pro locked via the app doesn’t mean the EKS will be immovable. You can still move it and let its wheels roll, but you won’t be able to speed up and use the throttle. So, consider having a chain and padlock for security.
On the right side, you can find the hook that lets you lock the handlebar when folded and the throttle that lets you navigate the electric kick scooter.
Unlike other EKS, the X3 Pro doesn’t use gears. Rather, it has two speed modes to choose from: Relaxing mode and Sports mode. Relaxing mode limits the speed up to 5km/h only, perfect for strolling.
If you want to move faster, you just need to double press the power button to switch modes. Riding while in Sports mode increases the maximum speed up to 25 km/h.
Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes
Riding the X3 Pro was blissful and liberating. The electric kick scooter felt durable, safe, and stable every time I step on it. Its deck is larger than the decks from previous electric kick scooters I’ve used before.
Surprisingly, it feels lighter when I was riding it. It was easy steering the handlebar, which I deem essential when navigating curves, slopes, and uneven roads. The performance is impeccable and smooth, thanks to its 300W motor power (which has a maximum output of 600W).
To fully test the electric kick scooter’s capabilities, I went around my village where there are 40- to 60-degree slopes, along with uneven, cracked, and bumpy roads.
It’s the perfect spot for my test drives and I did it gracefully even when the roads are wet caused by torrential rains.
I’ve been an adventurous soul and despite the warnings that electric kick scooters shouldn’t be used on a slippery road, I still did it anyway.
The tubeless tires made a screeching noise, or what I call ‘the sounds of horror’ since the roads were too slippery for the wheels to handle. Despite that, I went downhill on a 40-degree slope.
We were flyin’, but we’d never get far
Riding down like a daredevil, the maximum speed went beyond 25 km/h — capping at 28 km/h. This made the lights flash a warning sign of overspeeding. But I still ignored it. At that time, I was the only one on the road and there were no pedestrians on sight.
But going uphill is another story. With a maximum of 24-degree incline, the X3 Pro struggled driving upwards. Its velocity deteriorated the higher I went — from 23 km/h on a 20-30 degree slope to 19 km/h as I move higher. Then, it alternated between 14 to 15 km/h while I was moving up around 50- to 60-degree slope.
If you didn’t build any momentum, the max velocity would play between 10 km/h to 11 km/h. Riders were laughing at how slow I’ve been going up when they pass by me, and some were even worried if the EKS’s motor can handle the drive.
Move to me like I’m a Motown beat
Moving forward, you need to find a sweet spot when using the throttle. Pressing hard would result in the electric kick scooter speeding up uncontrollably.
When you’re speeding up, especially on a flat surface, removing the pressure on the throttle won’t slow you down. However, putting light pressure on the brake lever would signal the brakes that you’re about to slow down.
Just don’t hit the brake suddenly lest you’ll slip up and possibly crash on a wall. It’s common sense for most motorists, but if you’re a beginner, consider this a heads-up.
On another note, your brake lever is your friend on a downhill ride. The electric kick scooter automatically speeds up when it detects movement on a downward slope, so you don’t need to use the throttle anymore. All you have to do is find the sweet spot for the brake as you slow down sliding on a slope.
Can I go where you go?
I had the CyberSoul X3 Pro for more than a month now, and it has been an excellent companion for short-distance trips. Whether it’s picking up an order at the entrance of our subdivision, or going on a stroll to visit neighborhood cafes.
But for what it’s worth, the X3 Pro can be your solution to the never-ending traffic and unstable transportation system. That is if you live in third-world countries.
Surprisingly, major roads have been adding designated bicycle lanes. The government has regulated electric kick scooters, too, as personal transportation for the average commuter.
My office is situated seven to eight kilometers away. A back-and-forth trip can accumulate a 16-kilometer range — still enough since the X3 Pro has a total range of 55km on a single charge. I’ve never fully drained the battery; the closest I get was having it down to 12 percent in which I realized I need to charge it.
You can fully amp up its juice by charging it for seven hours. I find that a bit slow for an electric kick scooter with only a 12,000mAh battery since most EKS has more. Nonetheless, the X3 Pro doesn’t have a lot of functions to tinker with or background processes that might drain the battery quickly.
It’s still a win for some, especially when you can last two days or more without constantly having your rideable plugged near a wall socket.
Take the long way home
Aside from having an aerospace-graded material, there’s also one feature that the CyberSoul X3 Pro gives me peace of mind: an IP rating.
With an IP55 rating for dust and water protection, the X3 Pro can handle the usual dust, dirt, mud, and drizzle of rain. But not enough to ride offroad and during heavy rains.
Of course, it’s ‘kwazy’ to even do that. The right thing to do is wait under a roof to protect you and your electric kick scooter. Case in point: motorists hiding under a footbridge during a sudden barrage of rain.
Having an IP rating gives comfort and security that the circuitry inside your rideable won’t unexpectedly shut down because it drizzled one day when you’re out riding on the streets.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
What I like the most about the CyberSoul X3 Pro is how it exudes an all-arounder vibe. It’s simple, easy to operate, functional, and a bit snazzy. The experience is dedicated to commuters who don’t want to use their last brain cells trying to figure out how to drive from one point to another. Which is remarkable, honestly. Especially for simpletons like yours truly.
It could very well be my GadgetMatch. And anyone who needs a personal mobility solution because they just need to take the matter of transportation into their very own hands. Or feet.
Of course, there are other options to choose from since we all have different needs and lifestyles. But whatever you choose, make sure you wear a decent helmet. And don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road. Lastly, drive safely.
The CyberSoul X3 Pro retails for PhP 26,990. In the Philippines, it’s distributed by Xiaomi Zone — a global authorized reseller available in Lazada.
A virtual bike ride with the Galaxy S21 Ultra
Its cameras made me miss it even more
While I already knew how to ride a simple bike when I was in fifth grade (2008), I became interested in biking just recently — February 2021 to be exact. From my first ride up until I purchased my own bike, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra witnessed all of those precious memories.
At first, I thought I wanted to document my slow weight loss journey by capturing series of mirror selfies each day with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but the smartphone deserves more than that. Little did I know, I became used to the phone’s cameras that I had to stop in a middle of a ride just to capture eye-catching subjects I saw along the way.
As of this writing, the Galaxy S21 Ultra isn’t with me anymore. The nature of phone reviews most people don’t realize is that we don’t even keep the phones with us permanently — no matter how bad we want them.
However, in order to relive the memories (just like how I badly miss the pre-pandemic life), I’m compiling dozens of my favorite shots so you can see that the Galaxy S21 Ultra takes astounding photos even if there are newer flagship phones around.
Let’s start with my current location. As someone who’s less known in this team, I’m not really sensitive when it comes to disclosing some information about myself. While I wasn’t born here, this is the town where I actually grew up.
While there’s nothing super interesting about my current location, it’s actually home to industrial parks or big factories including the Jollibee food factory and other notable brands such as Samsung, Toshiba, Suzuki, among others. Also, it’s the biggest barangay of our city — Calamba to be specific.
Canlubang is also home to one of the biggest golf courses around. Thanks to the S21 Ultra, I was able to squeeze in more details in the shot.
Here are shots of the rainbow I was lucky to see and shoot up close with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. This is a friendly life reminder that there is rainbow always after the rain. We shouldn’t always sulk to the gloomy weather we’re used to having every now and then.
And while we’re at it, here’s how it looks like whenever I go home from a late afternoon ride. In the eyes of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, night time needs more tuning using Night Mode — and it works wonders.
Nuvali (Canlubang area)
This is actually my go-to place when biking. One of the perks of living in this town is that it’s also home to other exclusive residential areas with less traffic — which gives me the reason to bike even more.
Not only the roads are well-managed, the air is cleaner and less-polluted too. Most of all, the views are all breathtaking. From the peak of Tagaytay to the silhouettes of the volcanoes Mt. Makiling and Mt. Banahaw in Quezon, I just can’t get enough.
With the camera prowess of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, I was able to take the shots above using its telephoto lenses.
These zoomed photos show how close an area is in the eyes of many, even if they’re not in real life.
Solenad, Nuvali (Santa Rosa area)
Solenad is still part of the growing community of Nuvali, but it’s located in another city in Laguna called ‘Santa Rosa’ — more on that later.
Let me just talk about how peaceful and quiet it is here. The man-made lake sure knows how to make me calm after a quick ride from Nuvali.
But with the ongoing lockdown restrictions, hanging out around this place is prohibited. But hey, here’s a dark chocolate cranberry cookie to cheer myself up a li’l bit.
If ever it’s possible to stay in this place again, I surely wouldn’t miss another sunset — even if the Galaxy S21 Ultra isn’t with me anymore 😭.
Marcos Twin Mansion
This is actually where it all started. I was persuaded to start biking by my friend, Ange (who did the amazing artworks in our virtual assistants turned into animé characters piece by the way). I just asked her if the old and unused mountain bike would be enough. She, together with her younger brother, told me it’d suffice and asked me to join them in their future bike rides.
Since it was my first time going out of the village (my last bike ride was in high school, and that wasn’t even far), I thought biking there would be easy-peasy. Oh boy, I was wrong. The steep, uphill part is hard especially if you don’t know how to shift gears when using a mountain bike. I just carried my bike with me while walking along that hilly road.
But once you reach the higher part, you’ll be greeted by the old Twin Mansion of the late Ferdinand Marcos — a dictator who held power as the Philippine president for 20 years.
After several tries and rides, I was able to reach this part with less body and leg strain. But this was just the beginning.
I wasn’t joking when I told you there are more steep rides going up the hill. After that mansion, you simply wouldn’t miss going to Kambal Ahon. In a rough English translation, you’ll need to “ascend twice” before you reach the peak.
And with the powerful cameras of the S21 Ultra, I was able to capture both 3x and 10x zoomed photos that show the overlooking of Metro Manila (I suppose a part of Alabang) even if the location was several kilometers away from the heart of the Philippines.
RevPal – Tagaytay
If one surpasses the bloody, uphill rides of the Kambal Ahon in Casile, your next destination would be RevPal (Reverse/Palace) — or that peak of Tagaytay you see from afar.
Not only it’s my first time to reach RevPal, I was also able to see People’s Park in the Sky up close for the first time, too.
Admittedly, this has got to be one of (if not) the most memorable bike rides ever. A day after we went here, the government announced another lockdown due to the continuous rise of COVID-19 cases last March 2021. Also, don’t be like me, but I went here energized even if I barely had any sleep.
To make it even better, it was cold and gloomy — a weather I like so much. I even had some time to pass by Tagaytay City proper and reach as far as Sky Ranch — a theme park in Tagaytay.
This is, by far, the highest bike ride I’ve ever achieved. It also best represents our life: While the process in-between is long and hard to achieve, you’ll be happy to see the result once you reach the peak.
Santa Rosa, Laguna
If you go down South of Tagaytay, the municipality of Santa Rosa in the province of Laguna greets you (which is also popular not just because of Nuvali, but also because of the theme park Enchanted Kingdom).
It was an unlocked achievement for me as I managed to brace the wreckless Filipino drivers as well as heavy traffic. To make it worse, heavy rains poured but the food was all worth it.
In the southern part of Santa Rosa is none other than the city of Cabuyao.
Not only is this where my college alma mater is located, this is also where my friend lives — so I usually pass by the area if ever she wants me to go to their house first before we initiate a bike ride. I’m not complaining though. That’s more calories burned for me.
This city has a good blend of urban areas as well as fields. It’s also here where you’ll see a clearer view of Mt. Makiling.
Just some boring #HistoryFact, this city was derived from “Kalan-Banga” which is that big clay jar. Back then, a Spanish soldier asked for the name of the place but the woman thought it was about her belongings. She said the latter part.
What makes Calamba more interesting is that, it’s where the actual house of Philippine National Hero José P. Rizal is located. Other than that, there’s also a coliseum (still under construction) named after him.
At the farther part of Laguna is Pagsanjan — home to the popular Pagsanjan Falls. While I wasn’t able to reach that place, I’m happy enough to shoot a photo with this old Pagsanjan Arch that was built as early as 1878. That’s more than a century ago!
If you go on a bike from Pagsanjan, you should take the left road to be able to go to this area. Your area of landmark is the Church of Pagsanjan.
Don’t bike with full ease. The roads are actually going uphill — just a slow and steady one (banayad) so that you can feel the pain as you approach it.
Other than seeing the beautiful, naturesque views of the province, you also get to see Laguna de Bay (or Laguna Lake) on the side. For the record, that’s the biggest natural lake in the entire Philippines.
It’s several kilometers away from where I live (six expressway exits to be exact for better measure) but there are instances that I go here just to get a good bike race record with my friend that I barely do in uphill areas around our barangay.
Muntinlupa is just one town away from Biñan, just between them is San Pedro, Laguna.
Other than also being a city located near Laguna Lake, it’s also home to New Bilibid Prison, one of the biggest prison camps in the Philippines. The Jamboree Lake pictured above is actually found inside the area of Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) — or that one agency under the Department of Justice (DoJ) for security and reformation purposes. As if the Philippines has enough justice system for the actual criminals.
It wouldn’t be a bike ride without trying more food. This time, it’s the famous Taiyaki (鯛焼き) or the fish-shaped cakes filled with either red bean paste, custard or chocolate filling. If you pass by Muntinlupa, this is definitely a must try since it’s as authentic as its original Japanese owner.
This location is currently my farthest bike ride up north. It was in May 2021 when we went here after visiting our friend who lives around the area.
For people who barely know Philippine geography, it’s actually more of a prestigious and exclusive barangay in Muntinlupa City. It’s like the gateway of South Luzon towards Metro Manila — thus, the existence of larger and taller business and retail spaces. And if you were reading earlier, this was the part I shot from the overlooking of Kambal Ahon.
Daang Hari — Evia
Daang Hari and Evia are more of the pass-throughs between Muntinlupa, Laguna, and Cavite.
Unlike zoomed photos in the previous sections, I opted to use its Ultra-Wide this time to emphasize how wide the skies are.
I even let my friend take a photo of me in this openly-wide and vast Evia Football Field.
If you go past Evia and down south of Bacoor City, you’ll then pass by the City of Dasmariñas, now in Cavite again.
I honestly can’t believe the shots above were taken with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Not only do they have this particular Depth of Field (DoF) or background blur, they’re also sharp in detail.
Even if you apply certain photo filters, the cameras still delivered excellent levels of shadow all throughout.
If you turn left and are not thinking of going to Tagaytay, Carmona City is where you’ll end up.
Carmona is the bridge between Cavite and Laguna through the City of Biñan. This is one of Cavite’s less-populated towns which makes it more peaceful and quiet.
Santo Tomas, Batangas
This is where I held my third ride. It’s also where the famous St. Padre Pio Shrine is found. While this isn’t the last ride I’ve had with the phone, this goes last as it’s beyond my usual biking route.
Before going home, we tried their take on Lomi Batangas, but instead of crispy pork rind, they serve a healthier lomi with mushroom in it. Another yum on my biking bucket list!
BONUS: Celestial bodies
Some subjects I find astonishing to shoot whenever I’m having my bike rides are both the Sun and the moon.
I shot this moon as early as four in the morning just before my usual early ride. It’s surprising how sharp the 10x photo was that the 30x failed to achieve.
I also captured and preserved the lunar eclipse event last May 26, 2021. That’s thanks to the phone’s night and zoom capabilities.
While this looked like it was shot at night, I actually captured the Sun just hours before sunset. At first I thought it was just a dead camera pixel. Upon closer inspection, they’re a series of sunspots. Those are unusual to see especially with the naked eye.
All photos were taken using the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and were post-processed using Adobe Lightroom and VSCO.
Social distancing and health protocols such as wearing face masks were still followed when biking. The author also dislikes big crowds and always went with his close contacts for better safety and peace of mind.
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