Her GadgetMatch

Samsung Galaxy S9: An honest review of AR Emoji and more

Find a phone that gives you both

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The Galaxy S9 is here and as the excitement over AR Emoji settles, I ask the questions: Is Samsung’s latest flagship worth it? What can AR Emoji do? Does camera performance justify this new release?

If you’re not so techie, like me, and you’re thinking of getting this new phone, read on. I try out all the key features and answer all those questions (and play with more emoji!) in this article.


Look and feel

The Samsung Galaxy S9 looks almost exactly like the S8 — from the curved Infinity Display to the sleek smooth body, this handset is a Samsung déjà vu.

This is, perhaps, the biggest criticism that the S9 has gotten. But I say: It’s what’s on the inside that counts (more on this later) — and if anything, new colors make up for it looking like its predecessor.

Yes, there’s a purple S9 that matches my hair and it’s looking gorgeous. I mean, we hold phones more than we hold hands — these things might as well be your best accessory.

Having the same look as the S8, it follows; I still love the feel of this phone, it fits my teeny hands well, and its curved display is still an enjoyable experience. It’s all glass, though, so it can be a little slippery.

There’s one noticeable change on the S9. Samsung moved the fingerprint reader below the camera. This should mean less accidental smudges on the shooter.

It must also be pointed out: At a time when most brands are shamelessly copying the notch (which isn’t really a look that’s all that, TBH), Samsung stands firmly behind their design. I believe that’s something they should be applauded for.

AR Emoji

Let’s get this out of the way first: My emoji looks nothing like me, even my mother won’t recognize that pink-haired emoji. It’s an absolute shame.

And although there are some emoji that look like the people they’re supposed to be, I’m not lucky enough to be one of them. Again, see:

The idea of having this tiny avatar on my phone excited me so much but trying it out was a different experience. For all its cuteness, tracking wasn’t really very good. A lot of times, the AR Emoji couldn’t even catch up with what I was doing. It doesn’t even track my tongue when I stick it out like this 😛 — the emoji just gives me a weird face.

What I did enjoy playing with were the preset AR Emoji GIFs. Creating your emoji produces a whole line of GIFs from that likeness — ones you can send out via different platforms! To make it easier, Samsung has also integrated the GIF sending on the Samsung keyboard. Oh, what fun! Above photo is an account of an actual conversation between me and Chay soon after we discovered this feature.

Selfie shooter

The S9’s front-facing shooter has a Selfie Focus mode which allows for the bokeh effect. It also has an adjustable beauty mode, which should really be on every phone, if you ask me. Airbrushing doesn’t look too overwhelming but I did wish they didn’t whiten my face as much.

From my tests (that means a lot of selfies), the bokeh cutout is more or less accurate, but it still isn’t perfect. Selfie shots also seem like they’re automatically brightened overall which is good because it makes you fresh; however, this sometimes makes for overexposed backgrounds.

But, what I totally love about the S9’s built-in camera app is a feature you can find on the separate Selfie mode: makeup filters. To test it out, I shot with literally no makeup and this was the effect. I look ready for a night out!

I didn’t even have powder on when I shot this

There are a number of preset looks, plus the option to toggle the intensity of each filter. You can even isolate each part of your face — eyebrows, eyelashes, lips, cheeks, contouring, blush, and more — then adjust accordingly.

This photo below, which showcases a more subtle makeup look, was taken five seconds after the photo above. Listen, boys, this is what #nomakeup is, but not what it looks like. 😂

Those virtual eyelashes, though!

The filters work well even with glasses, on boys, and in groups. Proof:

Joshua would make a cute girl

What’s sorely missing, however, is the bokeh effect on the Selfie mode. If you choose to virtually paint your face, this means no more blurred background as this is only doable through the Selfie Focus mode where makeup isn’t available.

And sure, you can download any beauty app and get similar results with filters or editing, but that’s not the point. Aside from the possibility of great, on fleek looks 24/7 without moving an actual makeup brush, I just honestly love that this feature was built into a flagship phone. Push comes to shove, premium devices will usually have the same level of phone specs. It’s the little features like this that become the tie-breaker for me.

Rear cameras

The Galaxy S9 (and S9+) rear cameras are said to be groundbreaking as they house the world’s first dual aperture smartphone cameras. But, I won’t deal with that because of too many technicalities. What you need to know is that this feature, which allows the tiny camera to adjust to allow more or less light come in, is automatically activated when you shoot on Auto.

That being said; on Auto, the camera performs well.

It was already evening when this photo was taken!

Here are more low-light photo samples taken by Michael Josh (most of my low-light photo samples were taken in Amsterdam; my apologies for not being able to show them as they’re x-rated 😅).

The S9 only has one camera on the back, unlike the S9+. This means there is no Live Focus function on this thing. There is, however, a Selective Focus function which allows you to blur our either the background or the foreground of the photo which results in pictures like this.

Look at that creamy background blur!

There is also a Food Mode built-into the camera app, for all your food flat lay needs.

Chay’s homemade one pot pasta

Samsung shooters are already known to saturate photos. As you can see, this mode does that even more to make yummy food look even more enticing. There’s also a radial blur effect happening, reminiscent of Instagram’s blur option where you pick a certain point to focus on, and the rest of the photo is just blurred out.

As pretty as this mode can make the food look, it still doesn’t change the fact that it will all end up in my tummy.

Word of caution though; the saturation can sometimes be too much and there’s no intensity toggle for this mode. On the off chance that it is too much, I just switch to Auto which brings me back to normal shooting.

Slow-mo

This phone can shoot in slow-mo at 960 frames per second — which is all a bunch of numbers to me until I see what that means:

I have to be honest: Everything looks better in slow-mo. Even crappy birds look pretty cool.

Me making a mess look almost artsy:

And did you notice the background music? These samples were fresh off the S9, no need for editing as the device allows you to cut up video, and even edit music in.

Shooting slow-mo can be tricky, however — I had one too many failed attempts because I kept pressing the slow-mo button too early, or too late. But, once you get used to it and the proper timing, it gets waaaay more fun. Just make sure to do it in a well-lit area, and I mean full on studio lights well-lit or a bright, sunny day well-lit. Otherwise, video comes out grainy.

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S9 Review: Brilliant but underwhelming

Verdict

Considering that this is a flagship, I expected top-of-the-line specs on this device and the S9 delivered in that aspect. Just know that the technology on this handset is on par with most flagships out now and this phone will be able to handle your everyday smartphone needs — from social media, to AR Bitmoji Snaps, to everyday work productivity. But, that was to be expected from any Samsung headliner.

As for the camera, it’s definitely capable, with low-light photography as a big strength. If you’re looking for a phone with a great camera, this should be on your list of choices. But that’s the thing: There are still a number of other great camera phones out there and though the S9 performed, I can’t for sure say it’s the absolute best. At the end of the day, it all boils down to aesthetics and preference.

That being said, what I love about this device are the add-on features which gave this handset enough points for me to consider getting it. 

Although I was a little disappointed with AR Emoji, I find that the makeup beauty mode isn’t getting old — in fact, I’ve gone three days without real makeup but my online persona has managed to look on fleek. The slow-mo capabilities are impressive and the fact that it comes in stunning purple just makes me want to rock this phone daily.

With this device, Samsung seems to consider a demographic (*ehem ehem*) that most tech companies ignore when releasing flagships. On top of quality performance, these add-ons are a definite delight for users like me.

Find a phone that gives you both: Fun and functionality are two things that I look for in phones, and more often than not, I’ve had to compromise. If the release of the S9 is any indication, it seems that’s all about to change.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9: Four fun new features

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ vs Google Pixel 2: Camera Shootout

Accessories

5 accessories to protect yourself and your gadgets from the elements

Don’t just get an umbrella, duh!

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I hate changes in weather. One minute it’s hot and sunny like a perfect summer day, next minute, it’s raining as if Zeus and Poseidon are having the war of their lives. Monsoons got worse thanks to climate change, especially in tropical countries. It’s now even more impossible to predict the weather so you need to stay ready for all kinds of elements.

So we scoured the internet to help you prepare. Here are the accessories you need to protect you and your gadgets, of course, without getting out of style.


Dress your phone with a pouch and a case

Ready to brave the storm? Make sure you put your phone on a waterproof pouch. I know, I know. The thought of using a waterproof pouch sounds cringey. But of course, you don’t have to sacrifice style with this one. Most waterproof pouches let you change their straps to something fancier.

In particular, Travelon’s Clear View Waterproof Pouch comes in five colors and you can still tailor the strap to your preference. For something clearer and more transparent, Anker has a pouch but it looks a little bit tacky.

For those who’d want a case instead, LifeProof offers one of the best waterproof cases in the market. Most cases look bulky and sturdy, but LifeProof made it more fashionable with its bright and popping colors.

Stay fashionable while you protect yourself from the elements

Of course, nothing beats a good old umbrella when it comes to protection against the rain but you can up your style by picking one that’s clear and transparent. Even better if it’s a bubble or a dome-shaped one.

Additionally, you can keep your gadgets and makeup safe with a waterproof bag. Fjällräven has an array of water-resistant and waterproof backpacks that don’t compromise style. Brands like Doughnut and Pacsafe have a set of stylish yet functional waterproof bags, too.

Lastly, cap off your style with a water-repellent raincoat or parka. This particular blush pink raincoat by Cole Haan should be a part of your ensemble, especially when it’s raining. Avoid using black, neutral, and earthy-tone since most people would prefer using a darker hue when it’s raining, and you won’t stand out if you wear the same colors.

For those who don’t feel like wearing a raincoat, Uniqlo has a Blocktech line of water-repellent parkas that you can use casually or for your outdoor needs. NikeLabs has a longer parka as well if you prefer using one!

If you want the world to see your OOTD, you can opt for a transparent raincoat so people can see what’s underneath.

Bonus: Get a water-resistant watch!

If it’s raining while on your way to an important meeting, chances are you’ll be keeping your gadgets inside your bag to prevent it from getting wet. This might keep you from tracking time. Thus, you need a watch that can handle these kinds of elements. Apple and Samsung both have smartwatches that are water-resistant yet stylish at the same time.

Now, who told you rain can’t be fun?

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#GetWellSoonMina trends, fans show support for TWICE member

The idol is taking a break due to anxiety

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Photo credit: @lovemenow_324

Fans of K-Pop girl group TWICE received sad news on Thursday, July 11 after the company announced that one of its members — Mina Myoui — will miss the rest of the group’s world tour called TWICELIGHTS as the member “is currently struggling with sudden extreme anxiety and insecurity towards performing on stage.”

 

Soon after finding out the news, TWICE’s fans officially known as ONCEs poured out support for the idol through encouraging messages on Twitter.


It didn’t take long for the hashtag #GetWellSoonMina to trend on Twitter.

ONCEs showed solidarity by changing their Twitter display photos to that of a Candy Bong Z — TWICE’s official light stick — showing Mina’s official color.

Currently, ONCEs shifted to using a Twibbon on their display photos and continue to show their support especially with the group flying to Singapore today for the next leg of their world tour.

TWICE was formed in 2015 and debuted with the song “Like Ooh-Ahh”. The group started gaining a massive following after the release of their second title track “Cheer Up”. Today, they are considered one of the top K-Pop groups and are actively promoting in Korea and Japan. This year, they launched their first world tour that include concert dates in the US.

SEE ALSO: Watching TWICELIGHTS on a 75″ Samsung 4K QLED TV

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What Ariel’s Instagram feed looks like in 2019

If she weren’t a mermaid

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Have you ever imagined what Ariel of The Little Mermaid fame would be like in the age of social media? No? Well, we have. She would, first and foremost, not be a sea creature with scales because let’s be honest, the internet won’t be a thing under the sea.

Ariel is a full-fledged human at the top of her Instagram game in 2019.

She is after all, the girl who has everything — including a major case of FOMO (fear of missing out, for those who live under a rock).

Like any modern woman of today, she’s also tech-savvy but having gadgets and gizmos aplenty isn’t what makes her happy.

Like most women our age, she longs to be wherever her friends say they are on social media.

Her mantra when traveling is to not leave any side street unexplored.

Unlike cartoon mermaid Ariel, modern woman Ariel ironically daydreams about the beach when she’s at work…

… even if she has access to a nice swimming pool because let’s be real, there’s nothing more relaxing than being at the beach.

She wants to be surrounded by bright young women like her — ready to stand to fight for their rights and freedom!

She uses her privilege to question things both online and offline.

Ariel is an empowered woman who just wants to feel like she belongs in this world.

She’s neither little nor a mermaid nor is she someone’s princess. She’s her own person fully capable of making her own decisions. Unlike cartoon mermaid Ariel, she will not give up her voice for a chance to be with a guy she just met. She’ll probably give up a few vacation days at most for a chance to get to know someone she finds promising.


Sure, she’s privileged, but she’s a strong, independent woman who wants the same fundamental rights as any other human — for herself and for other women — in a world that’s systematically oppressive to women. Sure, she has FOMO on Instagram, but her biggest fear is missing out on earning the same set of opportunities that are simply handed over to men.

Modern woman Ariel refuses to be silenced while pursuing her wants and needs, even if the world around her tries to stop her. Even when no man is there to help her.

All photos from Unsplash.com

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