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The smartphone industry tops list of companies that support slavery

Buying a new phone has its consequences

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Smartphones don’t grow on trees. Like everything else in this world, our precious marvels of technology have to come somewhere. Unfortunately, that “somewhere” is systematically oppressed by unsafe working conditions.

Inarguably, the smartphone single-handedly takes the crown as the past two decades’ most disruptive invention. Sadly, its popularity drives a lot companies to seek cheaper methods to manufacture more. Through the net, stories about intolerable factories and work-related suicides continuously surface.

Working in a smartphone factory has never been desirable. In fact, all facets of consumer tech — laptops, tablets, TVs — suffer the same rampant problem.

Throughout the decades, slavery has now evolved into inconspicuous definitions such as this. From data in 2016, the Global Slavery Index estimates that 40.3 million people undergo systematic servitude through sex trafficking, forced labor, and arranged marriages.

Of these, 24.9 million are stuck in forced labor situations. Across the globe, the Southeast Asian region remains a steaming hotpot for this activity.

When it comes to actual sales numbers, forced labor factories have imported a stunning US$ 354 billion in goods. Of the top five goods, the bottom three are commodities. However, consumer tech and apparel rule the top two spots with an iron fist. The garment industry draws in US$ 127.7 billion. Meanwhile, consumer tech sinks US$ 200.1 billion in forced labor goods.

Sadly, our beloved smartphones support the cruelest anti-humanist practice in our history as a species. Across the globe, China and Malaysia are the biggest sources of electronic products at risk of modern slavery.

Thankfully, companies and consumers are slowly taking a stand against these unfair practices. In 2016, humane labor advocate KnowTheChain benchmarked tech companies based on their response against slavery. HP, Apple, Intel, Cisco, and Microsoft top the charts, in that order.

Consumers are even using that same technology to spread awareness on the issue. As mentioned above, the net was instrumental in increasing awareness on modern-day slavery. Currently, organizations are maintaining avenues where witnesses can report these events.

Sadly, without rooting out the actual cause, these issues will still proliferate. While smartphones continue to wow us every single year, a vast chunk of the world’s population will look with pained frowns and empty stomachs.

SEE ALSO: The importance of artificial intelligence in smartphones

Best Smartphones

Best Budget Smartphones below $200

August 2020 Edition

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Welcome to GadgetMatch’s list of the best smartphones priced below US$ 200! Each month, we update our selection with the budget-friendly phones we believe are most deserving of your hard-earned savings.

Even though the spotlight has been on high-end smartphones this entire year, there have been a few surprisingly good entry-level handsets coming out lately, as well. So good, in fact, that we had to reassess our entire list.

Here they are in no particular order

Redmi 9 (PhP 6,990 / US$ 141)

Quality build with baseline specs that can handle, well, the basics. This is what the Redmi line has been offering and that remains true with the Redmi 9. You’ll have to be bit creative with some of the apps you install (always go for the Lite versions), but the pre-installed Google apps run smoothly and should be more than enough to power you through.

Hands-On: Redmi 9

Redmi Note 9 (US$ 200)

This is a routine appearance for the Redmi Note line. Xiaomi continues to lord over the budget segment by offering fairly capable smartphones at such an affordable price.

Review: Redmi Note 9

Realme 6i (US$ 196)

Realme finally releases a budget phone with a USB-C port! That aside, everything here is standard Realme — which is great. Its cameras leave much to be desired but what this is a budget phone after all. It does pretty well everywhere else — can game, handle your usual daily things, and has an impressive battery life.

READ: Realme6i 

OPPO A5s (US$ 117)

The OPPO A5s perhaps is best looked at as a transition device more than anything else. It does what you expect out of budget smartphones. It’s good to have “for now” but you might look elsewhere for a more reliable daily driver.

REVIEW: OPPO A5s

Samsung Galaxy A20 (US$ 190)

Samsung’s revived Galaxy A-series proves that the company cares about every price segment. The Galaxy A20, in particular, is the most well-rounded below US$ 200 thanks to its ultra-wide camera, AMOLED display, and hefty battery.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A20

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Best Smartphones

Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400

August 2020 Edition

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When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best midrange smartphones retailing from US$ 200 to US$ 400.

Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our other lists for best budget, upper-midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

realme 6 Pro (PhP 16,990/ US$ 339)

This is the only smartphone in this segment that offers a 90Hz screen refresh rate. It’s one thing if that’s the only thing it’s good at, but the realme 6 Pro has a 64MP quad-camera setup, a really clean UI, and Snapdragon 720G along with 30W VOOC charging. We’re convinced this is the best Android phone in this segment.

Review: realme 6 Pro

realme 6 (PhP 13,990/ US$ 280)

It’s pretty much everything its “pro” sibling is except it’s instead powered by a Helio G90T processor made for gaming. the RAM and storage combo is no slouch too (8GB/128GB) and yes, it also has a 90Hz screen refresh rate. Solid. Value.

Review. realme 6

iPhone SE (US$ 399)

One of the world’s fastest processors, a fantastic camera, at a midranger’s price. If we told you, we’re talking about an iPhone you probably wouldn’t believe us but here we are. The iPhone SE’s design is dated, but everything about its performance is near-flagship or flagship 2020 levels.

REVIEW: iPhone SE

Huawei Nova 7 SE (PhP 19,990/ US$ 399)

Barely making the price point, Huawei phones are facing a unique problem with the lack of Google Mobile Services. That said, Huawei Mobile Services is making a headway. But the reason the phone lands on this list is because of its 5G capabilities. This is one of the most affordable phones to support 5G and that has to count for something.

Hands-On: Huawei Nova 7 SE

Samsung Galaxy A51 (US$ 320)

Samsung’s on a roll with their Galaxy A-series. The Galaxy A51 builds on everything that was already great with the Galaxy A50 and A50s and just makes it even better. Much like everything on the Galaxy lineup this year, the Galaxy A51 sports a look that as of posting is still undeniably Samsung.

Pixel 3a (US$399)

The Pixel 3a barely makes this price range by being just a hair under $400. The camera alone easily makes this crème de la crème of this bunch. Add to that the vanilla Android experience and of course being in the priority list of Android updates, this is the Pixel to get for Android purists.

HANDS-ON: Pixel 3a

POCO X2 (INR 19,99/ US$ 279)

The future of Pocophone was up in the air for a while, but all of that was finally put to rest when the brand finally released the POCO X2. This isn’t exactly the successor to the POCO F1. In fact, this is just a rebranded Redmi K30 Pro. But it’s still a step in the right direction for a brand that quickly captured everyone’s attention only to go completely silent for over a year.

REVIEW: POCO X2

Samsung Galaxy M31 (INR 15,99/US$ 224)

This battery-powerhouse of a smartphone has never quite made it to more markets, but it has gotten a significant amount of attention thanks to its 6,000mAh battery. Something this long-lasting appears to still be one of the priorities of smartphone buyers.

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Best Smartphones

Best Upper-Midrange Smartphones from $400 to $600

August 2020 Edition

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When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best upper-midrange smartphones retailing from US$ 400 to US$ 600.

Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our other lists for best budget, midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

OnePlus Nord (EUR 499 / US$ 570)

The OnePlus Nord launched with plenty of fanfare from OnePlus fans. After a few phones that veered away from providing flagship-level phones for less, OnePlus is back in that game. What we have is almost all the necessities you can want from any really capable phone.

Review: OnePlus Nord

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite (EUR 349/ US$ 448)

Xiaomi’s here with yet another fantastic value-for-money device. While we found this phone’s cameras to be less than ideal, that doesn’t mean they’re bad at all. And this can easily be addressed in a software update. The Mi Note 10 Lite is stellar at this price point, hitting most of what you’ll need on a smartphone.

Review: Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite

OPPO Reno3 (PhP 28,990 / US$ 575)

The design of the Reno3 feels like a departure from the journey that OPPO took when they launched the first Reno phone. That said, this is still a solid all-around smartphone at this price point. It does about everything well enough to merit this inclusion. It’s not stellar, but it’s solid.

REVIEW: OPPO Reno3

POCO F2 Pro [6GB/128GB] (EUR 499/ US$ 560)

It feels premature adding this here but if the previous POCO phone was any indication, we probably have another worthy option at this price point. Worth noting though that the higher configuration (8GB/256GB) breached premium space — which is uncharted territory for the POCO brand.

LAUNCH: POCO F2 Pro

Samsung Galaxy A71 5G (US$ 599)

Awesome screen, awesome camera, long-lasting battery life — that’s the LSS-inducing theme of the Galaxy A71 as it was being teased. Lo and behold, Samsung wasn’t lying. The phone certainly lives up to the hype and while specs-wise there may be cheaper options out there, the package that Samsung has put together is quite enticing. And in the US, it’s the most affordable phone with support for 5G.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A71

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite (US$ 449)

Finally. A Galaxy Note sans the gimmicks. The Galaxy Note line has always been a premium offering. And while this isn’t exactly budget, it’s still a lot more affordable than the usual stylus-paired smartphone from Samsung.

WATCH HANDS-ON: Samsung Galaxy Note 10

realme X3 SuperZoom (Php 24,990 / US$ 509)

The realme X3 SuperZoom is equipped with late 2019 flagship specs — Snapdragon 855+, 64MP main camera, 120Hz screen refresh rate — while being priced at just a little over half the price of phones with comparable specs. realme is playing in that flagship killer territory and certainly deserves more attention.

Review: realme X3 SuperZoom

OnePlus 7T (US$ 499)

With the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro going the premium flagship route in terms of pricing, this leaves the OnePlus 7T as the last remaining remnant of their flagship killing ways. There is news of a One Plus Z looming in the horizon. However, until it arrives, the OnePlus 7T is the phone to get at this price point

UNBOXING & HANDS-ON: OnePlus 7

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