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

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Huawei MateBook X (2020) + FreeBuds Pro + Watch GT 2 Pro Hands-On

Huawei ecosystem done right

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It seems like the pandemic isn’t stopping companies from announcing their newest tech. Today, Huawei announced not just new software features, but also their latest hardware in the annual Huawei Developers’ Conference (HDC).

Whether it’s the newly-updated MateBook X, Pro-rated iterations such as the FreeBuds Pro and the Watch GT 2 Pro.

Head over to our latest hands-on video as we talk about these devices and how Huawei’s seamless ecosystem can make your life meaningful.

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Hands-On

Poco X3 Unboxing and Hands-on: Killer Specs for $250?

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Ever since the Pocophone F1 was launched, Poco became silent for two years. Fast forward this 2020, they announced not just one, but two phones in a duration of just three months — namely the F2 Pro and X2.

Just after three months, Poco is back with a follow-up to the X2. The X3 NFC’s performance isn’t compromised: It has a smooth 120Hz display, newer Snapdragon 732G chipset paired with Adreno 618 GPU, massive battery, and fast charging out of the box.

With a base price of just EUR 229 / PhP 10,990 (approximately US$ 271), this might just be your best smartphone deal. Head over to our Poco X3 NFC unboxing and hands-on video here to know more.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 Hands-On

A quick look at Samsung’s new foldable

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Samsung has taken all the things we love about the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and applied it to the design language of the Galaxy Z Fold2, and not just with the Mystic Bronze color.

It’s more flat and angular in some places with a brushed metal finish on its frame and a frosted matte finish on its back. It’s Gorilla Glass Victus up front, Gorilla Glass 6 on the back, and UTG or Ultra Thin Glass on the inside.

I like how it feels in the hands. And how much more elegant it looks. But this form factor. Whether closed or unfolded takes some getting used to.

The crease is still there. It’s really just the nature of the material used for the inner screen. But it really doesn’t bother me as much.  Samsung offers the Fold 2 in Bronze and Black. In some markets, you can even customize the hinge with an accent color: Black, Silver, Gold, Red and Blue.

I’ve already pre-ordered mine in Black and Blue, of course.


Customization doesn’t add to the cost of the phone, but it adds a five week delay. So in case you want your phone on September 18th, don’t customize.

Original Fold vs Fold2 

The biggest, most obvious change from the Fold 1 to the Fold 2 is its larger Cover Display. Unlike on the original, the entire front panel is all-display, measuring 6.2 inches diagonally.

When used like a regular smartphone, it still feels narrower and thicker compared to your average smartphone. But things like texting, scrolling through Instagram, and even taking photos are totally doable now. You can now watch videos on it too. And If you start something on the cover display, you can pick up where you left off when you open it up.

When opened up, the weird selfie camera module is gone completely. All that’s left is a punch hole cutout for the selfie camera.

The Fold 2 is a tad bit shorter but wider. And the bezels have been reduced also.

This display is bigger too — 7.6 inches diagonally. Perfect for things like playing some games that support this aspect ratio, navigating using Google Map, or reading a book using the Kindle App.

Oh and like on the Z Flip,the hinge can now stay open at a 90 degree angle. It’s called Flex mode. So you can do things like prop it up for Google Duo calls, watch YouTube videos with only half the screen, and use it like you would a mini laptop.

Display differences

Apart from the obvious size, aspect ratio, and material differences, the cover display is Super AMOLED

While the main display is Dynamic AMOLED. This means it adds support for HDR10+ and also has lower blue light emissions.

In terms of resolution we’re looking at HD+ and QXGA+ respectively — it’s not called Quad HD due to its unique aspect ratio. But it’s definitely more high-res than Full HD.

The cover display has a 60Hz refresh rate while the main display has a 120Hz refresh rate at full resolution  with Adaptive Display adjusting it based on which app you’re in.

Over the course of the next few days I plan on testing both displays out more. I want to find out if I can survive exclusively off of the cover display. I also want to see how I will best make use of the all that extra screen real estate the main display offers.

As per usual, Samsung has included a whole bunch of multitasking features like being able to have three windows open at the same time. As well as shortcuts to launch your favorite app combinations.

Power, performance, battery

As this is supposed to be one of the best phones Samsung has to offer, the Fold2 is packed with top-notch specs including a Snapdragon 865+ processor no matter where you buy it.

There’s also a 256GB of UFS 3.1 Storage, 12GB of RAM, and 5G support.

I managed to get to 5G service from my rooftop but not the speeds I enjoyed during an afternoon with my Note 20 Ultra at Bryant Park.

The phone packs a 4500mAh battery — actually two cells that add up to 4500. In my day of heavy use setting it up and using it out and about, I managed to get it to zero. Close to five hours of screen on time.

Using its bundled charger, a 10-minute charge filled it up to 13% and a 30-minute top up got it to 35%.

The Fold 2 supports wireless charging and reverse wireless charging. More detailed battery usage reports, and charging tests in my full review.

Is the Galaxy Z Fold2 your GadgetMatch? As always my answer to this question will have to wait until the full review.

In the meantime, click here for a sneak peek of what the Galaxy Z Fold2’s cameras can do.

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