Her GadgetMatch

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: Is a smartphone enough to document your vacation?

I left all my other gadgets behind!

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Since the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 came out, it’s been touted as a “powerhouse” phone that can do everything — but a lot of people say that to a number of phones. Put into real-life context (which is the context we all really need), what can it do? My main question: Is it good enough that I can ditch other devices like my point-and-shoot camera? Also, will I lose the S Pen? What real-life scenario can I use live messaging in?

Photo credit: Joshua Vergara

I brought the Note 9 on a trip and put it to the ultimate test: A millennial girl on a beach vacation. This is how it all went down.


En route to California

Like all stories, we start with the journey.

I flew to LA to catch the boyfriend, Joshua (who was also playing with the Note 9 on this trip so we get insight from him, too), before we jet set to the ocean paradise that is Cabo San Lucas, Mexico which is to be the final destination of this piece.

I’ve been on the Note 9 for four days and I had not lost the S Pen, yet (hooray for little victories!). The Note 9, which looks almost exactly like the Note 8 is not really a pocket-friendly device. With its 6.4-inch screen, I can tell you now that no woman pocket would fit this thing comfortably. You best believe you’re holding on to the phone for the most part, but for such a big phone, it feels good to hold (shocking). It’s sleek and solid, though the glass panels on my copper unit are pretty smudgy so the phone, unless I clean it up, can look dirty at times.

Pocket fitting reenactment because, as I said, I brought no other cameras with me on this trip

The novelty of the S Pen does not wear off easily. After almost a week, I still found myself navigation the phone with the pen. Scribbling on this thing is pretty fun and definitely a blast for my Instagram stories — you can get more detailed with what you’re writing on the S Pen! And yes, airport selfies are still a thing because the S Pen makes remote selfies way easier.

Now, it might be just me, my scribbling, and my tinkering with the phone but I was expecting way more from my standby battery time. My battery lasted me through my airport wait in Manila (on data), until my Taipei stopover (on Wi-Fi) but I had to charge once I was on the plane bound for LA. This is fine as I was on my phone a lot during this period. What I couldn’t explain, however, was how my battery drained while on Airplane Mode after charging it to full in the first few hours of my 12-hour flight to 79 percent when I landed.

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Nevertheless, got to California in one piece and had Ikea meatballs and The Hat so all was right in the world.

Barbecue Pitstop!

The next leg of this trip involves meat. We were flying to Cabo, but a Houston stop was in order: Joshua and I were heading to Texas and getting us some barbecue.

Now, remember when I said S Pen selfies were great? Let me demonstrate (again, because I never tire of how useful it is). Your photos can go from a close up to a wider view. All I did to take the wider photo was to prop it against a random wall at the airport and use the S Pen shutter.

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So yeah, I was still taking tons of airport selfies like nobody’s business but at some point, I had to stop because we had to catch the Apple keynote (#AlwaysHustling). I gotta tell you, I was pretty thankful for the wide Note 9 screen — we watched the whole announcement on the Note and I couldn’t have asked for a better big phone to watch it on. I was following updates and tweeting reactions via my phone as this was all going down, and this is when split-screen capabilities on a bigger screen factor in. The processing power on this phone is enough for all these things without it slowing down or lagging.

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An afternoon in Houston entails trying famed Texas Barbecue spots and you know what that means? More photos and IG stories!

I did notice, though, as one is prone to noticing when one’s hands are filled with barbecue and one wants to take more photos, that the combination face and/or iris scanner wasn’t as fast as other phones in the market. At the end of the day, I found myself swiping my pattern on the phone more — so much so that I was swiping even after I switched phones when the trip was over because I got so used to it.

Finally, Cabo

Another plane ride later, I was in Mexico for the first time and I was pretty excited. I was, at this point, vlogging and shooting stories of everything. As expected, photos with the rear cameras were great for Instagram (which is where most of my photos are going).

Live Focus using the rear cameras (which is basically why you have dual cameras on the back) also looked awesome; it was a perfect way to add drama to my vacation photos. See example below:

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What’s great about the Note 9 is that it’s waterproof. What’s even greater is that the S Pen is waterproof. And yes, that means I was carrying my phone around in the water and forcing Joshua to take photos of me like this:

Excuse my hideous tan

Even dramatic beach photos like this:

But, even Joshua (who is the best IG boyfriend in the world) gets tired of shooting photos for me. When that happens, I just bust out the S Pen. Even in the water, I can take photos like this:

And since they said the S Pen can take photos from up to 10 meters, I put it to the test. And yes folks, the picture below was taken with the S Pen.

Of course, that last photo was just showing off. A more reasonable scenario with the S Pen would be for great group selfies.

The Note 9’s camera did not disappoint at all. Colors were vibrant, the details were crisp, selfies were flattering (the beauty mode set in low didn’t erase my face), and most photos would totally pass for IG.

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Video looks pretty good on this phone, too. I especially love how smooth the built-in stabilization is. This thing’s camera can shoot in 4K at 60fps, or in 1080p at 240fps which makes for some sweet slow-mo footage. This phone is a quick and easy way to vlog, though don’t expect to get crazy with the camera settings. The video shooting mode doesn’t really give you a lot to work with, but that’s to be expected with most smartphones.

Flying back

The flight back to California was spent on our phones. I discovered the wonders of Alphabear and Joshua was busy (way too busy 🙄) playing Shadow Fight 3 on his Note 9. Suffice to say, there were no hitches when it comes to mobile games on these devices.

I also caught up with my Bojack Horseman episodes on that flight. Say what you want but I still like my audio jacks, despite being recently converted to wireless headphones, and I’m pretty glad the Note 9 still has it.

So, is this smartphone enough? Will it suffice for a whole trip? Well, it was enough for me and that says a lot. A quick look at all the things I’ve been doing on and with my phone just goes to show that I’m a pretty heavy media user, and the Note 9 definitely kept up. This is the first time in a while that I traveled without a dedicated camera and I’m still very happy with the photos and videos I came home with.

And though I realized (probably way too late) that there really isn’t any practical use for Live Messages or AR Emoji (because honestly, they haven’t gotten better), the bottom line is that all you really need is a phone that can cover the basics and do it well. The Note 9 is a definite candidate in that department.

Oh, and I never lost the S Pen.

*Joshua uses a Snapdragon 845-powered Note 9, while I have been rocking the Exynos 9810 variant.

SEE ALSO: How to be productive with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Automotive

This lady ‘made’ the first-ever Tesla pickup truck

It actually looks nice

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Simone Giertz, a YouTuber and engineer, converted her Tesla Model 3 into a fully-functioning pickup truck. People have been anticipating the upcoming futuristic electric truck from Tesla but this lady has beaten Elon Musk to the punch…technically.

Giertz has always wanted a pickup truck and she likes Tesla vehicles as well. Not being able to wait for the official introduction of Musk’s truck, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Literally.


With the help of her friends, they stripped the Tesla Model 3 of its interior, tore the rear portion of the car, and loaded a truck bed on its back. An entertaining documentation is available on her channel and it shows the planning and actual process of turning a brand new Model 3 into what they now call Truckla — derived from “truck” and “Tesla”.

It’s even complete with its own promotional video set in the countryside complete with farm animals and Giertz whipping up a lasso. Pretty entertaining stuff.

Since it’s “available nowhere”, we still have to wait for Elon’s official Tesla truck. If you ask us, though, we wouldn’t mind having a compact version like Truckla if it had the capabilities of a truck in that sleek body.

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Her GadgetMatch

Xiaomi confirms the Mi CC series, announces the meaning behind its name

Not just a selfie-centric lineup

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Image credit: Xiaomi

Following Meitu’s acquisition and Redmi’s independence, Xiaomi announced the Mi CC series. It’s a new smartphone lineup dedicated towards selfies, aesthetics, and beauty. Through the Xiaomi x Meitu AI Aesthetics Lab, the Chinese company will combine advanced camera equipment and beauty technology.

Earlier this week, there were plenty of rumors that Xiaomi will introduce the Mi CC9 and Mi CC9e. The former is said to be the company’s first Meitu-branded smartphone aimed at the female market.


Codenamed “Little Fairy”, its design caters to women with its pearl finish and pink accents. In addition, the Mi CC9 looks similar to the ASUS ZenFone 6 with its motorized flip camera design, offering a 48-megapixel main camera, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses.

Image credit: TENAA

On the flip side, the Mi CC9e looks similar to the Mi 9, retaining the company’s aesthetics. It’s powered by Snapdragon 712 and packed with 4,000mAh battery capable of 18W fast charging. Selfie-wise, the phone offers a 32-megapixel front camera. Moreover, it features a triple lens design on its back, carrying a 48-megapixel main camera with ultra-wide and telephoto units, too.

However, no smartphone was actually launched and instead, the company announces the name of its new lineup and the meaning behind.

CC stands for “Colorful & Creative”, while “9” signifies the company’s ninth year anniversary. It’s developed by the Chic & Cool 90, Xiaomi’s youngest development team comprised of art students.

Xiaomi is yet to reveal the launch dates for its new smartphones.

Source: GSMArena, Xiaomishka

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Accessories

How to wear red: 3 stylish pairings to try

Those red pieces shouldn’t be gathering dust

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It’s easy to think that red is best worn sparingly or just as an accent. It is after all, such a bold, eye-catching color. We normally wear a pair of red heels to add a pop of color to an all-black ensemble, or a cute red top to go with neutral colored bottoms. We rarely buy something red for every day use, whether that’s a purse or a phone, because it just won’t go well with most of our outfits.

This is exactly why we sometimes feel like we have nothing to wear — when we build a wardrobe without considering new color pairings and when we reserve certain colors for special occasions. Here are three new combinations to try with those red pieces that don’t see the light of day (or night) as often as they should:


Red + blush pink: spring to summer

Hybrid smartwatch, Fossil Q Jacqueline; blazer, Stradivarius; slip dress, Fleur du Mal; belt bag, Mango; heels, Mint & Rose.

This color combination will give you an instant flirty, feminine look especially when you do it with a silk slip dress and strappy sandals. Give it a little bit more structure by throwing on a red blazer, and stick to the same tonal colors when accessorizing to look more put together. You can dress it up with taller heels, or down with flats.

Red + tan: end of summer to fall

Smartphone, Honor View 20 Moschino Edition; crop top and pants, Aritzia; bag, J. Crew; mules, Madewell; coin necklace, myartisanstore on Etsy; hair clips, Machete.

Be a wee bit more unpredictable by pairing red with the brown pieces in your closet. A red crop top worn with tan high waist pants and mules is a good departure from the light, breezy looks you’re used to wearing during summer. When temperatures dip, add a coat in similar brown tones to stay warm. I used to be so averse to wearing this color combination but it’s now one of my favorites!

Red + red: winter to early spring

Sunglasses, Spectacles 2 Veronica by Snapchat; sweater, Everlane; shorts, Aritzia; boots, Mango; 3-in-1 laptop tote, Parfois; earrings, Machete.

Tonal dressing is my go-to when I’m in a hurry to get ready in the morning and it doesn’t just apply to neutrals. Try wearing red on red with your thigh-high boots especially during winter when everyone else is sporting the same black coat. If you’re feeling feisty, go all-red even down to your shoes and purse and you’ll be surprised how powerful it will make you feel. Otherwise, you’re welcome to tone it down with the black staples you already have.

From these three looks alone, you can create more: turn the slip dress into a skirt by wearing the red sweater over it, or pair the crop top with the shorts and nude heels when the weather is scorching and unforgiving. The possibilities are endless! As long as you see red to be the versatile color that it actually is, you’ll never run out of looks to try, and that red phone you carry every day will never clash with your look again.

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