Her GadgetMatch

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

I left all my other gadgets behind!

Published

on

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Her GadgetMatch

Emoji documentary to show at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival

Tracing the history

Published

on

Linguist Tyler Schnoebelen with the San Francisco emoji poop rock

Have you ever wondered where emoji came from? Are they connected to symbols as ancient as Hieroglyphics? Were they simply evolved from our lazy typing as a product of cellphones? A documentary will finally explain all that and more.

Picture Character is an 81-minute film that explores all this. Directed by Martha Shane and Ian Cheney, the documentary explores the rise of the emoji, roughly translated from Japanese: picture character.


Emoji inventor Shigetaka Kurita drawing his original smiley face emoji

The visual narrative looks at the history, evolution, and present purposes of these cute but meaningful characters. It also looks at the process of how emoji came to be — from their journey to being lobbied up until being passed by the Unicode Consortium.

Rayouf Alhumedhi, the creator of the hijab emoji

The documentary looks at the rise and fall of the biggest text symbols in today’s time, putting into perspective the meaning of each one and just how exactly they came to be.

You can catch Picture Character at the Tribeca Film Festival happening in New York from April 24 to May 5.

Continue Reading

Hands-On

Huawei P30 hands-on: All the cool features applied in real life

How zoomed in is zoomed in?

Published

on

After all the “oohs” and “ahhs,” and as the dust settles from Huawei’s flagship launch, the question is: What’s so great about the Huawei P30? And no, I don’t want to hear any specs.

To answer this question, I road tested the Huawei P30 to see just what it can do and how I can use those features in real life.


In case you’re having trouble viewing, watch HERE.

SEE ALSO: Selfie and posing tips from Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach

Continue Reading

Her GadgetMatch

Meitu ventures into AI skincare with MeituSpa

Personalized skincare treatments at home!

Published

on

Remember Meitu? Yes the Chinese selfie phone brand. Also, yes, the same company behind that awesome makeup app MakeUpPlus. Well, they have more stuff coming your way.

Meitu just announced the MeituSpa, an AI cleansing brush that checks your skin quality and uses tech to cater a specific cleansing routine to your face. To work, the device connects to MeituSkin, a corresponding app, to offer users a personalized AI-based spa cleansing experience.


The MeituSpa is compatible with all skin types and offers four different modes: sonic cleansing, deep extraction, nourishing, and warm massage. It uses sonic pulsations with 12 different settings that adjusts according to your skin readings.

“Though Meitu has always been a major provider of beauty services through photo editing, style recommendations, and virtual makeup looks, we are also working to bring Meitu’s brand of beauty out of the virtual world and into the real one,” explains Meitu CEO Xinhong Wu.

The MeituSkin is available in Coral Pink and Aqua Green. Starting April 23, they’ll be available online for CNY 589. Unfortunately, it will only be in mainland China and there’s no news regarding global availability.

Continue Reading

Trending