Features

Smartphones with monster batteries (2016 edition)

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Battery life can be a huge, sometimes even deciding, factor in buying a phone these days, with music- and video-streaming usage at an all-time high.

Unfortunately for us, neither the wizards at Cupertino or Mountain View, or Shenzhen, China, have stumbled upon a magical battery breakthrough to end our woes and turn the industry around. But we’re getting there, fast. For now, we have all sorts of phones with big batteries to bridge the gap between today and whenever the real innovation may come.

Here’s a list of the ones you may want to pay close attention to, in no particular order.

YAAO 6000 Plus (10,900mAh)

Oukitel K10000 may have taken the crown last year as the phone with the most capacious battery pack — and, quite possibly, the longest charging time ever for a mobile device — but 2016 belongs to the awkwardly named YAAO 6000 Plus and its “are you kidding me?” 10,900mAh cell. Which is the highest capacity battery we can think of crammed into a handset. As a bonus, it looks like a phone from the apocalypse, albeit one that doesn’t seem very resilient to weather extremes. Regardless, if for some reason, you’re after something rugged — and with enough juice to power a small planet, er, tablet, look no further. It goes for around $220 in its native China, though we wouldn’t hold our breath for a wider release in the near future.

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Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro (5,000mAh)

Okay, okay — we get it: Dealing with a massive phone on a daily basis comes with its share of challenges. But Sammy’s Galaxy A9 Pro is one of the best out there, especially with the Galaxy Note 7 out of the picture. It ticks most of the same boxes and has a meaty, 6-inch AMOLED display that will entertain you till the second day. Think of it as the Note’s younger teen brother — only it has the energy of a six-year-old boy.

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Cherry Mobile Flare S5 Power (6,050mAh)

When it comes to phones with oodles of staying power, this not-so-tiny number from the leading phone brand in the Philippines fits a 6,050mAh battery pack into a unibody enclosure that’s just about as heavy as it looks. It’s fortunate, then, that the Flare S5 Power has more to offer than just days of productivity, packing an octa-core processor with 3GB of RAM; a serviceable fingerprint sensor; and a generous, full-resolution display — all while keeping the price just a speck over $160.

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ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra (4,600mAh)

At $660, the Ultra is the most expensive item on this list, but it has the unique advantage of being the biggest of the bunch. Don’t let the high price tag necessarily put you off it; it’s well-crafted, has a gargantuan, 6.8-inch screen pegged at 1080p, and offers fast performance and even longer battery life than most other phones in its class. It’s good stuff, if you can afford it, and are willing to deal with its size.

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Xiaomi Mi Max (4,850mAh)

We’ve already put the Mi Max through some pretty rigorous testing, alongside the Galaxy A9 Pro and other big-screened Androids. And while it didn’t come out on top in most areas, we can’t gush enough about its epic battery life and very accommodating price point. $220 won’t get you a lot in an Apple store — it certainly won’t snag you a brand-new iPhone — but Xiaomi will happily take that cash and hand you a metal phone with power for days.

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Gionee Marathon M6 Plus (6,020mAh)

A phablet-sized successor to Gionee’s M5 series phones, the M6 Plus packs a whole lotta good for under $500, including a 6,020mAh cell and a dedicated security chip with 10 layers of protection that you don’t know you need but probably do. It’s rare to see a security-focused smartphone that’s got a lot of junk in the trunk, and if this is what you’re looking for, the M6 Plus could be your best bet.

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Lenovo P2 (5,100mAh)

There are a lot of phones with big batteries, more so now than ever. But there aren’t a lot that are as capable as they are affordable. Cue Lenovo’s P2. In addition to a 5.5-inch OLED panel and a 5,100mAh unit that supports fast charging, this road warrior from China comes with a speedy Snapdragon 625 system-on-a-chip and up to 4GB of RAM. The kicker, however, is its $260 street price that should make for a quick sale.

[irp posts=[irp posts=”7394" name=”Tango-enabled Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is finally available”] class="aligncenter wp-image-8857" src="https://149367133.v2.pressablecdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ZTE-Nubia-N1-images.jpg" alt="" width="566" height="521" srcset="https://149367133.v2.pressablecdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ZTE-Nubia-N1-images.jpg 768w , https://149367133.v2.pressablecdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ZTE-Nubia-N1-images-300x277.jpg 300w " sizes="(max-width: 566px) 100vw, 566px">

ZTE Nubia N1 (5,000mAh)

We can’t vouch for this particular ZTE model, but the Nubia N1 should offer extra-long usage times courtesy of its 5,000mAh unit and modest horsepower. It is already available on Amazon India for 11,999 rupees, or roughly $175.

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Features

Five reasons why the MediaTek Helio G90T processor is special

The heart of Redmi Note 8 Pro

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Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipsets have commanded the market for a while now and a wide range of Android flagships are powered by the high-tier Snapdragon 855 chipset. However, MediaTek is trying to take over the midrange market where a large chunk of sales is concentrated.

A few months back, MediaTek showed-off the Helio G90T chipset that intends to be a perfect all-rounder. The company stressed its gaming capabilities, imaging might, as well as onboard AI processing. Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 8 Pro is powered by this processor and I’ve been using the phone for a while now. How does this chipset fare against Qualcomm’s offerings?

1. Powerful CPU combined with a mightier GPU

The Helio G90T consists of two ARM Cortex-A76 cores and six ARM Cortex-A55 cores, together making up for an octa-core setup with a maximum clock speed of 2Ghz. The chipset supports up to 10GB LPDDR4X RAM, however, the top variant of the Redmi Note 8 Pro comes with 8GB RAM.

For faster performance, UFS 2.1 storage is also supported. Gaming capabilities have been improvised thanks to Mali-G76 GPU that can be clocked till 800Mhz. You can breeze through games like Fortnite and PUBG on mid-level graphics.

2. More megapixels as well as more sensors

The industry has moved at a rapid pace in 2019 and within months we’ve shifted from 48-megapixel standardization to 64-megapixel. Keeping up with the trend, the Helio G90T gets along seamlessly with a 64-megapixel ISOCELL sensor that leverages quad-pixel technology for better low light pictures.

It also supports a plethora of sensors including a wide-angle lens, portrait sensor, and a macro camera. All of which are found onboard the Redmi Note 8 Pro. Slo-mo videos can be captured up to 240 frames per second and images can be saved in HEVC format to reduce size without compromising quality.

3. Dedicated AI processing

The chipset has two dedicated AI processing units that work in tandem with the CPU and GPU. Brands can directly use these cores for native processing of data. In the real world scenario, this helps in battery optimizations, gaming enhancements, as well as other image or video processing. The chipset has also been prepared to handle realtime assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, and more.

4. Dual SIM 4G support

Dual SIM phones have been here for ages, but the G90T can handle two 4G SIMs simultaneously. The modem is CAT 12 rated and supports faster speeds along with VoLTE, ViLTE, and VoWiFi. Rest assured, the chipset has a wide range of support across 175 networks around the world. No matter where you go, you will always be connected.

5. The cherry on the top: HyperEngine

It consists of several features that are designed to boost the performance of smartphone games. The chip supports HDR10 and also gets an intelligent network prediction engine that MediaTek says can sense when Wi-Fi quality is degrading and automatically use an LTE connection as a backup. Rapid Response helps with touch acceleration to improve in-game action-to-display speeds.

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Cameras

EZVIZ S2 Action Camera: A road trip companion

Dashcam and action camera in one!

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Nowadays, it’s hard to choose an action camera to accompany you on your adventures. Everyone’s top-of-mind is the popular GoPro Hero series and DJI’s new Osmo Action. However, I find these two cameras too much, both for me and my wallet.

On top of it, I’m not a professional adventurer nor a sports enthusiast who would need a high-end action camera. All I need is something I can take with me on my water activities to capture moments occasionally while I’m living in the moment. In search of an affordable action camera that would fit anyone’s budget, I found the EZVIZ S2 2-in-1 Action Camera, which also doubles as a dash camera.

Lightweight and small, this camera is easy to bring wherever you go.

It has a 2-inch IPS LCD touchscreen panel.

You can find an uncovered mini HDMI and micro USB port.

On the other side is the power and settings button which lets you navigate the camera and access different modes.

Found on top are its speaker grilles and shutter button…

… while the bottom sports the battery, micro sd slot, and a hole for the mounts.

While driving to the Bicol region in the Philippines, my friends and I used this camera momentarily to test its capabilities. Thankfully, this camera comes with mounts and accessories like a waterproof case in its box. However, it’s difficult to navigate it as a dash camera since you need to place it inside the case before you can mount it on your windscreen.

Furthermore, the case’s buttons need to be pressed hard. It felt like a marketing ploy since this camera could be better if sold as just an action camera.

But if you look at it on a different perspective, a 2-in-1 camera like this would be nice to have on road trips. Imagine finding a serene spot in the middle of nowhere, and you grab your dash camera. Instantly, you have an action camera to immortalize your precious moments.

Capture your adventures

Then again, if its capability as an action camera we’re talking about, the EZVIZ S2 is enough. Sure, we always want the best of the best. However, in some cases, we don’t really need an expensive camera.

For instance, most people don’t care about the camera you’ve used to take a photo. No matter how wonderful it is, they’ll care about the place, the way you took your photo or the story behind the moment you’ve captured.

This is the reason why it’s perfectly okay to use a cheaper action camera like the EZVIZ S2, in case you have doubts. The samples I took has good color reproduction, average white balance processing, and noticeable grains. Due to my incredibly high standards, I find it difficult to like the camera’s outputs — but my friends did. As I asked around, I find that most people have no qualms about the image quality.

The photo mode has three shooting options for you to choose from — Single shot, Burst, and Timelapse. The mode also gives you the option to shoot in different sizes: 2MP, 4MP, and 8MP. There’s a professional mode, too, in case you want to experiment with your shots. You can customize the white balance, adjust the ISO and exposure value, and even apply filters.

Better for videos

The EZVIZ S2 focuses on video recording. It has a dashcam mode with an emergency recording feature, which prevents the footage from being deleted. This is useful as a piece of evidence, especially during crucial and unforeseen accidents.

There’s also a video mode where you can record at 1080p in 50 fps. The camera can handle three different shooting modes such as video, video+photo, and timelapse. If 1080p is too much, there’s a 720p recording, too, which can cap off at 120fps for slo-mo recording. Additionally, there’s a pro mode for you to adjust your settings the way you like it.

Here are some stills that were taken from the video clips I shot. As long as there’s sufficient light, you can capture photos and videos without any worries.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The EZVIZ S2 2-in-1 Action Camera is perfect as a travel companion, especially for those who love taking road trips. You get an action camera and a dashcam in one for only PhP 5,499 (US$ 108), complete with mounts and accessories. You can choose between black, orange, yellow, and blue for the unit. For this price range, it’s a sweet deal.

This camera is also helpful for starters pursuing underwater and adventure photography; a stepping stone before they upgrade to more professional gear.

Moreover, the EZVIZ S2 is helpful when documenting your adventures every now and then. During my stint with this device, I realized that sometimes, we don’t really need the best. All we need is something that’s enough to capture precious moments while we live our lives to the fullest.

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Editors' Choice

Best of 2019: Our favorite smartphones

So many choices, so we narrowed them down for you

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There’s really not one best smartphone. We all have different needs and thankfully, the options that brands give us is not lacking at all. Whether your priority is photography, gaming, or just something basic, there is definitely a smartphone for you.

Here are our favorites.

Best smartphones for photography: iPhone 11 Pro, Pixel 4

How good are the cameras? That’s always a topic of conversation when new phones are released. While other brands have made huge strides, the iPhone 11 Pro and the Pixel 4 continue to dominate this category. The iPhone is a no-brainer choice for most people. Consistency is key and Apple has been pretty much consistent with the cameras on the iPhone.

Meanwhile, Google’s computational photography on the Pixel 4 continues to wow reviewers and casual users. Like the iPhone, the Pixel has consistently been one of the best in this category and it appears it will continue to be in the foreseeable future.

Honorable mentions: Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Huawei P30 Pro

Best Android flagship: Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 10+

While the S Pen continues to set the Galaxy Note 10 series apart, the latest iteration of this Samsung flagship does so many other things at a high level as well. It is still a smartphone that’s literally for anyone, especially with the Galaxy Note 10 being made for people with smaller hands. Audio enthusiasts will lament the lack of a headphone jack for HiFi audio but more casual users are buying wireless earphones for their devices.

Honorable Mentions: OnePlus 7T Pro, Huawei P30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S10+

Best implementation of a foldable display: Motorola razr

While the Samsung Galaxy Fold dominated this year’s headlines — and not always for the best reasons, it was the Motorola razr that showed us that while it’s notable to be the first, it’s more important to be the first to get it right. The new razr is a buzzer beater entry in this category but it’s also a slam dunk. The device, at launch, just works. No creases, no displays you can tear off, and no threat of software support being banned.

Best smartphone with a 64MP camera: Realme XT

The only two other phones in this category are the Redmi Note 8 Pro and the Vivo NEX 3. We think that of the three, the Realme XT offers the best value. You see, other than the megapixel count, what sets smartphone cameras apart is the phone’s post-processing. The Realme XT consistently produces images with great detail and fantastic color reproduction. It doesn’t hurt that the phone’s white variant looks pretty good too.

Best value smartphone: Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro (Redmi K20 Pro) 

This is 2019’s flagship killer. Not only is it equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 that’s present in most flagships today, it also has a modern all-screen design with a pop-up camera plus its rear cameras more than holds its own against phones that are similarly priced. But the price, that’s where this phone truly sets itself apart. For less than half of most flagships today, you get very near-flagship performance. There’s almost nothing else like it.

Honorable Mentions: OnePlus 7T, Realme 5 Pro

Best budget smartphone: Realme 5

Realme broke out in 2019 like no other brand. They’ve strengthened their foothold in key developing markets by launching devices that punch above their weight class. The Realme 5 is one such device. As one of the few budget smartphones with a quad-camera setup and is capable of basic gaming, it’s a well-rounded device and is perfect for anyone looking to get their first smartphone.

Honorable Mentions: Redmi Note 8, Samsung Galaxy A20s

Best smartphones for videography: iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max 

iPhones have been far and away the best smartphones for taking videos for a while now. The same is true in 2019. The iPhone 11 series has put even more emphasis on the cameras and just took what it was already good at and just became better at it. No one’s touching the iPhone in this category but the challengers have been gaining on them.

Honorable mentions: Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Huawei P30 Pro, OPPO Reno2, Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

Best gaming smartphone: ROG Phone 2

It’s not even about the accessories. Yes, those are cool, but what really makes this a gaming smartphone is its design. We’re not just talking about how it looks. Design should always be how form and function come together. The ROG Phone 2’s features and little touches here and there like the second usb-c port for charging, the flat display, the front-firing speakers — these are all design decisions that address a mobile gamer’s needs. It’s extremely thoughtful of its target market.

Best Android smartphone without Google Mobile Services: Huawei Mate 30 Pro 

Heh. Sorry Huawei, we just had to. ✌

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