Have you been itching to try 5G but you’re not up for a smartphone upgrade yet? Smart Communications, Inc. is offering the next best thing — the Smart Bro 5G Rocket WiFi.
As the name suggests, it’s essentially a mobile WiFi that’s capable of tapping into 5G networks. If you haven’t been keeping up with the times, 5G is the next generation of mobile connectivity. Over the past two years, various telecom companies have been integrating it into their services.
The Philippines is no different. Smart Communications, Inc. has done their part establishing 5G networks in various areas of the country from Metro Manila, North Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
You can find a full list of the covered areas here. Just have to scroll down and towards the Frequently Asked Questions section and look for “What areas are Smart 5G covered right now?” You can also open Waze and track down Smart 5G areas there.
How to set up the Smart Bro 5G Rocket WiFi
I want to say it’s pretty straightforward but I had more trouble with taking the protective cover off than I’m willing to admit. That said, it is pretty easy. You only need to lift the cover to insert the Smart 5G-ready SIM card.
You can charge the device through its USB-C port. What’s surprising is that the device also has an ethernet port. So, if you’re lucky enough to live near a 5G area, this can function as your primary Internet connection directly connected to your home router.
You can load the SIM via scratch card or PayMaya. Either way, you’ll still need to download the GigaLife app. Here, you can load the SIM card and activate Smart’s various data plans. For the purposes of this article, we used GigaPro199 which gives users 27GB of data valid for 7 days.
With the Smart Bro 5G Rocket WiFi loaded and GigaPro199 activated, we took it for a spin.
Out and about
The Pandemic is still in full swing so we only really used this a couple of times while out recording videos for various projects. The results are naturally mixed.
As you may have guessed, 5G connectivity relies heavily on the area of coverage. If you’re not at a spot with 5G coverage, you just simply aren’t gonna get 5G speeds. But is it still serviceable? Yes.
What you’re gonna get are still the steady 4G/LTE speeds you typically get from Smart. For our part, this means an average of 45Mbps download and 15Mbps upload speeds. That’s still pretty darn decent.
But at 5G coverage areas, we were consistently getting at least 80Mbps download and around 20Mbps upload speeds.
Those are the speed tests. But what about actual usage? Happy to report that the speed tests perform as advertised. There were zero frustrating moments when I am unable to send a chat or download files throughout around six (6) hours of a work day.
Work from Home
This writer is lucky enough to live in an area with 5G coverage. Which is surprising since the 4G connection is pretty hard to come by. That aside, we used the Smart Bro 5G Rocket WiFi for the rest of the week and it was steady… for the most part.
In terms of speed tests, we were consistently getting anywhere between 160Mbps to 220Mbps download and 30Mbps-40Mbps upload speeds. This was true all throughout the rest of the week we used it at home.
On actual usage, it performed just as well as our PLDT Home DSL connection. Perhaps, a little too much like it. You see, every week, our DSL connection suffers from random Internet outages. Nothing too drastic though. Sometimes the speed would dip. Other times, it’s completely gone. This happens anywhere between 30 minute to two hour stretches. Frustrating. But we’ve grown used to it.
This is exactly how the Smart Bro 5G Rocket WiFi behaved. It’s not exactly a flawless experience, but It’s not bad either. In fact, we’d go out on a limb to say it’s pretty darn good for mobile WiFi.
You’ll just have to watch your hours of usage. Unplugged, it’ll last typically around five to six hours. Any more and either the juice will run out or it’ll be too hot to function properly.
Should you get the Smart Bro 5G Rocket WiFi?
If your job requires you to be constantly out and about and in need of fast mobile connection, the Smart Bro 5G Rocket WiFi is a nice contraption to have. This is especially true if you still don’t own a 5G-capable smartphone.
It’s available with Signature Data Plan S for PhP 1,324 per month for 36 months, with a one-time cashout of PhP 5,300. It would have been a more compelling gadget to recommend had we not just seen borderline budget 5G phones released recently. We expect Smart Communications to slash the price a little bit or offer this in some kind of promo to be more competitive against the Redmi Note 10 5G and realme 8 5G smartphones.
If you do decide to get it, it would be prudent to map out the 5G spots in the areas you frequent so you know where to set up shop.
Infinix Note 11s Unboxing and First Impressions
Professional-looking gaming phone!
We’re approaching the end of the year soon, but it seems like Infinix just isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. They’ve just recently introduced their newest gaming-focused smartphone — the Infinix Note 11s.
Let’s take a look at what this bad boy has to offer.
Box that stands out
My first experience with an Infinix device was with their Hot 10s and to be honest, I wasn’t really feeling their previous box design. Infinix had a revamp of their packaging with this more sophisticated and minimalist-looking neon-green color which just pops above the other smartphone boxes you’ll see in smartphone stores.
Taking the top cover off the box, we’re immediately greeted by the phone, and right underneath it are the accessories.
A clear jelly case, a SIM ejector pin, a USB-C cable, and a 33W fast charger. Unfortunately, no earphones in sight.
Big but not bulky
The phone itself is shockingly big, sporting a massive 6.95-inch, FHD+, 120Hz refresh rate with a 180Hz touch sampling rate IPS display. That’s just a little shy of a 7-inch device but manages to impressively maintain a relatively slim body despite also carrying a 5,000mAh battery.
You’re still obviously going to need two hands to operate this, but at least the back case is a textured plastic which feels good to grip.
It also has a rather professional-looking design that doesn’t give away the feel of a gaming phone.
In a recent news article I came across, more affordable phones might soon lose the audio jack. Thankfully, we’re still getting that here on the Note 11s, and it’s placed on the bottom of the device beside the USB-C charging port and the speaker grille.
Like its sibling, the Infinix Note 11, we’re also getting a side-mounted fingerprint scanner comfortably placed on the right side of its matte silver frame.
Just as you would expect from a more premium smartphone, the camera design on the Note 11s looks really good. It rocks a triple camera setup that has a 50MP f1.6 main shooter and a 2MP macro sensor with a 2MP depth sensor.
And for the selfie camera, Infinix went with a 16MP shooter for this one, and it’s placed right in the middle of the display in a punch hole design.
Quick rundown of the specs
The Note 11s is packing some serious firepower under its hood. It has the new MediaTek Helio G96 chipset baked in it. The new chipset is the successor to the Helio G95 chip, a very popular chipset that has had quite a following because of its exceptionally good performance. A smartphone with the G95’s successor might prove worthy of its promises of performance.
Paired with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB UFS 2.2 internal storage, we’re looking at a phone which can do serious damage for gamers.
I won’t be diving into gaming tests right now, but I’ve already tried it with a few games like Genshin Impact. So far, the results have been very promising, so better watch out for our full review, if you’re interested in knowing more about that.
Price and availability
The Infinix Note 11s is priced at PhP 9,990 and is available in this Mithril Gray or Haze Green color variant.
Infinix is slashing off PhP 800 from its original SRP for its launch promo price of PhP 9,990 to only PhP 9,190 on November 30 and December 1.
Why I trust Samsung’s Knox security
A nod to the security platform that makes me feel safe and protected
A smartphone is like a treasure trove in the age of the Internet. Filled with confidential information for personal and business use. A gold mine of data that can be used by big companies to improve technology. Or an opportunity for hackers and criminals to steal and sell as valuable resources.
I’m no stranger to discussions about cybersecurity and data privacy, even though my himbo veneer begs to differ. Two years ago, I attended a conference mounted to discuss the importance and value of data as a commodity in this era. I learned what technology giants like Samsung and Huawei are doing to protect the new currency of the digital age.
Coming full circle, cyberattacks have increased in the past two years. Samsung knows this all too well, bringing Knox Platform to the front — end-to-end protection they have had for several years already.
The ultimate defense
In 2019, I was lucky to be given an audience with the South Korean giant executives to learn and discuss what Knox is. Samsung Philippines’ Product and Solutions Manager Anton Andres explained how Knox Platform works, and how it sets them apart from other brands when it comes to Android security.
Knox was just a security platform that automatically encrypts and decrypts information every time you boot up the device.
It’s embedded on a Galaxy smartphone or any smart device marketed with Knox’s security during a secure supply chain, offering real-time protection to actively safeguard devices against data attacks or malware.
Any unauthorized attempts to access your phone’s core are blocked in real-time. Even a device as old as a Samsung Galaxy S8 was compromised and reset, Knox automatically blows the fuse to wipe your corporate or personal info. Therefore, preventing any data leakage and security risks.
Knox also lock-up apps containing sensitive data such as Samsung Pay, Samsung Pass, Secure Folder, or Samsung Health — especially when the smartphone was booted in an unapproved state.
Apart from the platform security, the South Korean company delivers solutions like Knox Manage and Knox Configure — services that let enterprises customize Galaxy smartphones and tablets, as well as control the device and user interactions for safety and security.
Keeping your network safe
Aside from my interview with Andres, I was also able to speak with David Kim, Samsung Mobile B2B Asia’s Corporate VP and Chief Revenue Officer.
Kim stated how important your network is, and how you can only control the hardware, software, and who access the phones. The executive added, “There are also Wi-Fi and networks. If someone can sneak in your network, they can sneak in your email.”
Public Wi-Fis are one example of an unsafe network that might compromise your security. Free Wi-Fi sounds nice. You’re not going to spend a single dime. But it’s also a pot of gold for hackers trying to steal data — personal information such as your credit card purchases.
I haven’t connected to public Wi-Fi for more than three years due to the awareness of the risks it poses to my security. And because I’m privileged enough to buy large data allocation for my Internet use and have consistent network signal.
But not everyone is in the same position like I am. Luckily, Samsung gives you the capability to encrypt outgoing internet traffic and disable tracking apps and websites.
With a Galaxy smartphone, you can activate Secure Wi-Fi so you can browse the internet safely on public wireless connections without fear of security breaches.
Handling your sensitive data
Some people have poor privacy habits: Using the same passwords across different platforms. Admittedly, I was once like that. But using Samsung Pass throughout the years helped me easily access my credentials. Without needing to remember countless usernames and passwords.
Samsung’s use of innovative biometric authentication technology helps average users and techies alike to keep themselves protected — whether it’s Samsung Pass or an Ultrasonic Fingerprint.
If you’re still wary, I’d understand. But your biometrics data — no matter how many — are safely stored in Knox Vault. It’s a processor operating independently from the main CPU to securely isolate your information.
What you need to be cautious about are phishers waiting to attack. These are cybercriminals who might trick you into handing over sensitive information. Oftentimes, they attack by installing malware disguised as links, attachments, or even legitimate apps, on your devices.
The possibilities are endless on what these criminals can do if they have access to your sensitive information. They can use it to demand a ransom, steal your personal information and apply for loans without your knowledge, and even make purchases with your credit card information.
Though Samsung continuously scans your device for malware or suspicious activity via McAfee protection, we need to do our part as well in keeping ourselves safe.
White House approved
All these multi-layers of security are one of the reasons why Samsung believes they’re more secure than any other brand. The Samsung Mobile B2B Asia Vice President confidently claimed to GadgetMatch, “We don’t have a perfect security rating, but we are well received. That’s why the White House is comfortable with us.”
After all, Samsung designs, creates, and validates every computer chip, piece of wiring, and hardware component before lodging them into smart devices manufactured. This approach gave Samsung control over design, manufacturing, and assembly which ensures a secure supply chain.
Further, it prevents unauthorized backdoor access in each device that hackers won’t easily bypass. As a rule, don’t download unofficial or unauthorized apps lest you open up yourself to vulnerability.
Be careful of what you download
At the end of the day, it’s about you and your relationship with your smartphone and the Internet. Samsung’s Product and Solutions Manager Anton Andres warned about downloading third-party apps, especially keyboards. Yes, it can make your keyboard look pretty, but it also compromises your security.
“If you access your mobile banking credentials on a third-party keyboard, they can phish your information,” Andres said. “With Samsung Knox, we identify specific applications and URLs. Once identified, Knox automatically hides your information to prevent potential threats.”
Samsung is constantly updating the Knox Platform and its security solutions. If you haven’t had the time to keep yourselves extra secure, this is your sign to do it now.
In the meantime, let our response be: In Knox we trust. 🙏
24 Hours in Nasugbu
A dreamy sea-scapade through the lenses of the Xiaomi 11T Pro
As they usually say, “unplanned trips are the best.” Like the Quezon beach trip that was decided in a spur-of-the-moment, going to Nasugbu was also ever-spontaneous.
We would’ve gone to Boracay, as we snagged a cheap PhP 5,000 worth of round-trip airfare. But with all the inconsistencies of the government in announcing lockdown restrictions, we decided to let it go and hop on a road trip down south.
Unconventional yet thrilling
Going to Pansol, Laguna, or an overlooking resort in Tanay, Rizal was one of the options to consider. However, we found ourselves driving further extemporaneously.
After two to three hours, we reached Nasugbu, Batangas. Along the way, we discovered a cool, overlooking view of Batangas at night, right before you pass through Tagaytay.
Unpack things, not feelings
At exactly 8:32 PM, we reached our destination. The first thing I did was unpack my stuff. Feelings? You can unpack it later after a late yet sumptuous dinner.
I tested Xiaomi 11T Pro’s photo prowess by taking a photo of that figurine inside the room with just that artificial light around.
Surprisingly, it looked good despite not fully embracing its overall camera performance. I also took a quick mandatory FFTB mirror selfie.
I like how that Depth of Field (DoF) separated me from my surroundings. Maybe the macro camera has its perks after all.
I went outside to get some breezy night air while I let my hair dry. Unfortunately, beaches are closed past 9 in the evening.
While sitting at a chaise lounge, I also captured photos of meat-grilling sessions. The Xiaomi 11T Pro’s Night Mode did a good job, especially with the appearance of fire and smoke. Very unlikely with how most night photos turned out in my review.
I also used it to capture these selfies sans beauty mode — which look good for my liking.
We all need that ✨ Vitamin Sea ✨
We decided to spend the rest of the night with some booze — until my friends got knocked out. I was able to stay awake and witness how the dark sky transitioned into a picturesque, beach view.
There was no sunrise view since Nasugbu is situated on the western side. The saving grace is that sunsets look magical in this town.
The resort looks antiquated; brimming with history among its guests over the years. Thanks to that ultra-wide lens, it was able to capture the place clearly. And without the obstruction of crowds.
It’s probably the best part of this quick getaway: only a few people in sight.
There’s a stainless steel gate with a stone arch paving the way towards the sandy beach of Nasugbu. Xiaomi 11T Pro’s Auto White Balance (AWB) might actually lean more into the warmer side. But notice how overly-warm my sandal-fie was?
Going further, there’s also a wooden gate near the beach. It’s suppose to deter unwanted visitors coming from other resorts. I had a small talk with the resort owner and he shared how low tides are more apparent this season. Sea waves in high tides would reach as far as the stainless, steel gate we crossed earlier.
Just like in my review, the inconsistency of the ultra-wide and wide lens can be seen especially with that less bright shot. Zooming in past 1x means relying on digital cropping via its main sensor. Little did I know that doing so loses that warm White Balance.
Unpredictable like the ocean waves
The Xiaomi 11T Pro’s camera performance is pretty much unpredictable.
While the 11T Pro’s shot looked better because it’s brighter and sharper, that’s actually the camera software’s over-processing. The night shot taken with the Mi 10T Pro was closer to what I saw in person.
Fast forward to the next day, this was how it looked like as early as six in the morning. Astonishingly, the beach shot of the 11T Pro was too cool. Not “too cool” though in terms of quality. The Mi 10T Pro delivered a better shot.
But when you switch to that even wider Ultra-Wide Angle (UWA) lens, the Xiaomi 11T Pro was once again inconsistent AF.
After some time, fishing boats started to appear on the shoreline. I then tried tapping the 2x option for that zoomed shot. The photo turned out way too blue.
Looking around, there’s a fancier resort right next to where we stayed. I took a shot and the warmer White Balance and better Dynamic Range saved the Xiaomi 11T Pro this time.
Xiaomi 11T Pro is pretty consistent in having inconsistent wins and losses. The Xiaomi 11T Pro wins this one due to the preservation of image details and better High Dynamic Range.
Ending this with the last photo before we went home. Not much of a difference but the bluish tint in the sky is evident on the 11T Pro versus the Mi 10T Pro’s less-vibrant sky.
Spicing up this sea-scapade getaway
As GadgetMatch’s Associate Creative Producer, post-processing (or color grading) shots is also part of my job. While we barely post color-graded photo samples on this website unless clearly stated, this section is clearly dedicated to some photos taken with the Xiaomi 11T Pro that were modified through a photo-grading app.
Like what you saw earlier, the RAW versions of these photos looked so bluish to the point that I was like in Avatar. Luckily, post-processing apps were made and I was able to improve it by applying a preset and adjusting all the necessary camera settings such as temperature/White Balance, highlights, shadows, contrast, among others.
I can’t miss another beach photo this time. I asked my friend to take photos of me in this weird all-black get-up.
Then, I just tried to write letters on the sand and made it a candid-looking shot. My friend followed after me (which kinda looked like she was mocking me lol).
I then took over the Xiaomi 11T Pro and took more photos of her.
This is a testament that bragging #NoFilter shots are senseless. Color-grading shots adds more life and story to your photos.
I always tell people that camera angles play a huge part in photography. Just look at how my friend nailed the first shot compared to a regular photo shot from a distance.
The blown out highlights and exposure of the original photos made it look less appealing. Lucky enough, I was able to salvage these photos through the power of color grading.
Candid photos are simply the best for memory preservation. It makes you remember the moments more than the poses you’ve made in front of the camera.
One thing I liked about the beach in Nasugbu is the firmer sand crystals despite having a mud-like color. Those in Unisan, Quezon had white sand but are actually rougher especially when you’re barefooted.
But I do like the clearer blue water in Quezon. The one here in Nasugbu is far more brown just like the beach’s color. And as I remember my regrets of not being able to visit Boracay, it also reminded me how I badly miss the white sand plus the crystal clear and less salty water of the island.
It might seem unfortunate, not to be able to visit Boracay during this pandemic. Being surrounded by two pairs of sweet honey bees doesn’t help either.
But, in all honesty, I enjoyed the company more instead of being awkward. Especially with the bond that we already formed. And yeah, I’m used to being single and alone (and no, this ain’t a sadb0i sentiment).
Certainly, unplanned trips are indeed the best.
All shots were taken using the Xiaomi 11T Pro with a mix of RAW and post-processed photos edited through VSCO.
We made sure all of us were safe and COVID-19 free prior to going to the travel location. All of us are already fully vaccinated but still submitted the requirements needed for in-country travel. Face masks were still worn during the trip and were only removed for the sake of the photoshoot. Social distancing protocols were followed as well.
24 Hours is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we showcase our travels through a smartphone camera’s perspective. It’s also a documented guide on things to see and do in a city in case you happen to plan a trip there.
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