Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy S9: Four fun new features

AR emoji and a very, very detailed beauty mode!

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The Galaxy S9 has just been announced at MWC! (Yes, like, just now! Visit our MWC 2018 microsite to see what other devices have been announced.)

One very obvious observation: The Samsung Galaxy S9 looks almost exactly like the Galaxy S8, and though this might seem like an anti-climactic move, it’s probably for good reason.

Those are not Samsung Galaxy S8’s!

It’s been almost a year since the Samsung Galaxy S8 was released and I still remember being very impressed with that particular phone’s design. For my tiny, girly hands, the narrow phone fit perfectly and the Infinity Display looked impressively big despite this.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Samsung Galaxy S9+

This year, it seems Samsung has decided to stay with a formula that works. Of course, there were a few tweaks. The fingerprint scanner has been relocated below the camera instead of beside it which will, hopefully, mean less accidental fingerprint smudges on the lenses.

There’s also a new color — it matches Pantone Color of the Year Ultra Violet, and my hair!

The S9 in purple!

Another photo because it’s just so pretty

Another notable change comes to the cameras. The Galaxy S9+ has dual-camera rear shooters (finally) — this means you get Live Focus, which allows you to adjust the bokeh during and even after taking the photo, and a zoom feature on the device. It also has a Dual Aperture function which allows the phone to switch to the camera with a wider aperture when more light is needed in the photo. These additions are limited to the Plus version, however, which leave my small phone-loving self a little disappointed.

Shooting with this beaut! Of course, no live focus on this thing because this is an S9.

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S9 Hands-On: Same but better

Those aren’t the only improvements on Samsung’s newest premium phones, though. Here are my favorite new functions on the Galaxy S9 and S9+.

AR Emoji!

Samsung decided to take emoji to a whole new level with this phone release. In what I consider the biggest tech development since Animojis (no, really! Ha ha ha!), the Galaxy S9 now offers you the chance to turn yourself into emoji.

It me 🙃

Yes folks, that just means you don’t only animate the emoji, you are the emoji!

If you’re a little shy, you can also animate pre-set characters on the phone.

Animojis are so last year. Karaoke AR emoji, anyone?

Super Slow-mo and video background music

Your videos will never be the same with this new feature. There’s a super slow-mo feature now, and it allows you to shoot at 960 frames per second!

Okay, those numbers don’t really mean anything to me but just know that it can capture videos like this:

As if that isn’t great enough, you can even edit background music in using your phone.

Background music for added effect; you can even choose music from your playlist!

Imagine the cinematic possibilities!

Beauty mode and makeup mode

The S9 is stepping up the selfie game. Despite the single front shooter, the bokeh feature is available on the Selfie Focus mode.

Artificial bokeh on the single front-facing camera

But that’s not all!

All photos from the Galaxy S9’s built-in camera app

These handsets offer a very, very detailed beauty mode — one that even includes makeup filters that you can edit all the way to your eyelashes.

There’s a number of different makeup looks you can achieve without lifting a single makeup brush.

Food mode

A camera feature made especially for Instagram foodies!

This mode is designed to enhance your food shots to make them look as good in your photographs as they are on your plate.

Notice how the pizza on the right looks yummier. The photos come out a little more saturated and there’s background blur that allows for more focus on whatever gastronomical delight you’re taking a photo of.

Bonus: Beautiful Bokeh

This feature can only be found on the Galaxy S9+. Though I personally haven’t been able to try it, I still feel this is worth mentioning. This feature supposedly allows for different bokeh shapes and effects.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know

SEE ALSO: I’ve used the Samsung Galaxy S8, and I’m now doubting my iPhone loyalty

Hands-On

Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus hands-on: A step-up

The company’s greatest contender

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Cherry Mobile recently launched their new Flare S7 series, which is essentially their main smartphone lineup for the year. The greatest offering among the bunch is the Flare S7 Plus, a device with all the specifications and features you’d expect from a 2018 phone.

Since it’s from Cherry Mobile, you’d expect the phone to be cheap, right? Price-wise, it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s just another affordable phone.

Here’s what I got to say about the Flare S7 Plus.

Cherry Mobile has officially joined the notch wagon with a borderless 6.18-inch display. It’s a Full HD+ panel with a 19:9 aspect ratio, and it’s Cherry Mobile’s best display yet.

It’s vibrant and produces vivid colors, but the user interface kind of ruins the beauty of the display. It’s best to download your preferred third-party launcher and customize to your heart’s content.

Unlike with other midrange phones, the Flare S7 Plus’ notch is pretty wide and there’s a reason for it. The phone is equipped with more advanced facial recognition hardware including an IR camera. This ensures higher accuracy, faster unlocking, and even better face detection in low-light.

If you’re not a fan of face unlock, you can always resort to the fingerprint sensor placed on the back of the phone. Based on my usage, the fingerprint reader is faster most of the time than the face unlock. Good thing you have the best of both worlds.

Now that we’re on the back of the phone, let’s talk about another special feature of the Flare S7 Plus. Finally, Cherry Mobile embraces a more elegant design using a glass back and metal frame. I was told that they used Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides, so it won’t scratch easily in your pocket or on the table.

Since we we have a glass back, it’s possible to put in wireless charging and the company did just that. Simply place the phone on any Qi standard wireless charger, and let the magic happen.

It’s not exactly magic per se, but it’s amazing to have your phone charge by placing it on a table. This phone costs less than half of most flagships that don’t even support wireless charging.

Of course, you can always charge this phone’s 3050mAh battery through the reversible USB-C port, which also doubles as the audio port because, sadly, the Flare S7 Plus doesn’t have a 3.5 headphone jack. Cherry Mobile bundles a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter inside the box, so you can still use your legacy headphones as you please.

Powering the Flare S7 Plus is a MediaTek Helio P60 processor. We have already tried the capabilities of this chipset with the OPPO F9, and it definitely delivers great performance. If you’re into benchmarking, you’ll be glad to know the Helio P60 scores higher than its competitors.

The phone also comes with 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage which is pretty standard nowadays. It boots Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but there’s no word when Android 9 Pie is coming.

The gaming performance of the Flare S7 Plus is above average, which is what you can expect from the Helio P60. The Mali-G72 MP3 GPU works well with intensive games, but you must reduce the graphics quality a bit to get consistently high frame rates.

As for the cameras, the Flare S7 Plus has capable shooters that are probably the fruit of Cherry Mobile’s investment in improving their R&D when it comes to picture quality. The phone has dual rear shooters using a main 16-megapixel RGB sensor and a secondary 5-megapixel depth sensor. In the front, there’s another 16-megapixel selfie camera that’s paired with the IR sensor when needed. Check out the samples below:

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An additional feature of the front sensors is FlareMoji. Using the IR sensor and facial recognition, you can animate cutesy characters. Check this out:

It’s essentially like Apple’s Animoji, but the tracking is nowhere near as smooth as with the iPhone. Anyhow, it’s still enjoyable to use.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For just PhP 11,999 (US$ 225), the Flare S7 Plus offers a lot. You get a great premium phone with midrange power, beautiful display, and a plethora of extra features like wireless charging and an IR face scanner. The software UI is quite a letdown, but you can always download a launcher from the Play Store.

If you’re wondering what the Flare S7 Plus is in other markets, it’s also called the BLU VIVO XI+ and they share similar specifications and design.

SEE ALSO: Cherry Mobile announces Flare S7 series with three new smartphones

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Hands-On

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Hands-on: Best phone of 2018?

Huawei outdoes itself again

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In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.

In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.

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Hands-On

Razer Phone 2 Hands-on

A pocketable gaming rig with flagship features

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Razer has improved last year’s model, and from the looks of it, we might just have a phone that not only gamers would want to use. This is our Razer Phone 2 hands-on.

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