Features

5 reasons your next phone should run on Snapdragon 820

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In the tech world, there’s plenty of talk of smartphones, but very little said about the processors that power them. But did you know that many of your phone’s innovative new features wouldn’t be possible without technology that’s built into one tiny chip the size of a Scrabble piece (but way thinner)?

Camera performance, battery life, and the fluidity in which videos are rendered are all partially dependent on what your phone’s system-on-a-chip (SoC) brings to the table. And of the companies that build mobile processors, one of the most prolific, if not most dominant, is San Diego-based Qualcomm.

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Each year hundreds of smartphones, which includes many by the biggest names in the biz, are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Top-of-the-line models run the Snapdragon 800 series, like 2016’s Snapdragon 820, which so far this year, powers at least 7 flagships, including the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5, Sony Xperia X Performance, and the Xiaomi Mi5.

Qualcomm says more than a hundred new smartphones are expected to follow suit, and if the 820’s feature set is any indication, your next smartphone could have any or all of the following features:

1. Next-Gen Computer Vision

Your smartphone camera isn’t just for taking photos, it’s also there to give your phone eyes so that it can see and then do smart things based on what it has observed.

For example, when shooting photos of moving objects, processor-based computer vision gives your phone the ability to predict, say, the precise moment a firework explodes. Features like Text Activation can pick up details from a concert poster, prompting you to save the date on your calendar, or providing you with a link to purchase tickets online.

And because Qualcomm aims for its chips to be used beyond smartphones, it also sees a not-too-distant future where computer vision will play a role in cars.

2. Immersive Virtual Reality

Sure, a 4K display on a smartphone may sound overkill, but Qualcomm continues to improve its support for 4K screens, not just because it’s the expected next step forward, but because 4K displays are best suited for virtual-reality applications.

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The Samsung Gear VR headset brings display of the Samsung Galaxy S7 closer to your eyes than normal.

Head-mounted VR goggles like Samsung’s Gear VR bring displays closer to your eyes, and when you have a screen so close, pixels become more obvious than ever before. The Snapdragon 820 can also deliver higher frame rates, meaning smoother video experiences. After all, how can virtual reality be truly immersive if video playback is jittery?

To match the improved visual experiences, audio too has been improved, with support for spatial audio, just like you would hear in a cinema with 3D surround sound.

3. DSLR-like images

You’re right to associate camera performance with factors like lens quality, image sensor size, and maybe even megapixels. But how well your camera performs is also affected by the image signal processor (ISP) in your SoC.

The latest ISP in the Snapdragon 820 supports up to 25-megapixel smartphone cameras and hybrid autofocus (contrast and phase detection) and brings improvements to low-light performance — features you’d find on high-end DSLRs.

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Thanks to Snapdragon 820, LG was able to put two cameras onto its LG G5 smartphone.

You get the same low-light performance when shooting videos, too. The Snapdragon 820 also enables support for up to 3 cameras on a single smartphone like the LG G5, which has two rear cameras, one with an extra wide-angle lens.

4. All Day Battery / Fast Charging

While more powerful than ever, Qualcomm claims the Snapdragon 820 consumes 30 percent less power than its predecessor – meaning your phone should not run out of juice faster, even while it works harder.

It also supports Qualcomm’s latest quick-charging technology, Quick Charge 3.0, that can get your phone from 0 to 80 percent in 35 minutes. Ask your smartphone manufacturer if Quick Charge 3.0 is enabled on your new smartphone.

5. Super Fast Internet Speeds

In markets where it is supported, the Snapdragon 820 enables LTE speeds of up to 600Mbps. That’s crazy-fast Internet on your smartphone, nuff said. 

There’s also support for next-generation home WiFi, 802.11ad, and LTE-U that includes LTE in unlicensed spectrum. But hey, who’s keeping track as long as all your applications get what they need from the Internet as quickly as possible.

[irp posts=”9179″ name=”5 key features of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor”]

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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Features

What does the GPU Turbo do to your phone?

Is it more than just a marketing gimmick?

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It’s been two months since Huawei rolled out the GPU Turbo update to its smartphones. Promised with a 60 percent increase in performance and reducing 30 percent on power consumption, a lot of fans and users were excited after the announcement.

Back then, everyone (including me) was hyped about lag-free games and longer battery life while playing. However, upon receiving the update, I began to wonder: Has GPU Turbo delivered what it promised?

What’s inside the update?

GPU Turbo was originally marketed as an improved gameplay experience, available only to PUBG and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

The Game Suite app, which comes with the update, offers an uninterrupted gaming feature, hiding all notifications when enabled (except for calls, alarms, and low-battery alerts).

Mistouch prevention is another feature to avert users from clicking the back and home button while playing — perfect for when you want to focus on your game.

Screenshots by Miguel Pineda, Huawei Mate 10 user

To some older smartphones like the Huawei Mate 10, the Game Suite App offers three performance modes: Gaming mode, which improves game performance but increases power consumption; Smart mode, which balances performance and power consumption; and Power saving mode, which saves power but reduces game performance.

For the newer Huawei P20 Pro (which I’ve been using) and Honor Play, it only has a gaming acceleration mode to toggle on or off.

Thoughts on the reduced power consumption

Because I used the Mate 10 before and recently transitioned to the P20 Pro, I’ve experienced the GPU Turbo update in both phones and I can guarantee that they’ve delivered on lowered power consumption.

With Game Suite, I can put my phone on power saving mode to further save battery. For instance, I was only able to drain the Mate 10 down to 15 percent during a 12-hour road trip despite switching between the games I play and other apps, such as Messenger, Netflix, Spotify, and taking photos and videos every once in a while. The same goes for the P20 Pro.

As a power user, I already get a lot of things done with these highly efficient smartphones and GPU Turbo; these allowed me to do more on a single charge. However, it’s a different case for gaming.

Improved gaming experience, but there’s a catch…

When I started playing games on gaming mode (or game acceleration mode on the P20 Pro), I could run Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on a high frame rate with the highest graphics setting available. Compared to how the game stuttered and lagged during 5v5 clashes, with GPU Turbo, it now runs smoothly, as if I have a smartphone made for gaming.

System notice when enabling the high frame rate on Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and the effects it may have on your gameplay

As shown above, most mobile games will notify their users about the possible repercussions of higher frame rates and using the best settings available. To prove that a smartphone with GPU Turbo can handle this, I sought out to confirm my suspicions.

After asking fellow Huawei users, I found out that after installing GPU Turbo, energy consumption is a lot faster than before. Their smartphones also heat up more easily, especially when playing games with the game acceleration mode on. This isn’t part of what was promised, and it’s pretty disappointing.

It’s not yet perfect

In my experience, GPU Turbo tries to boost performance above a smartphone’s limit hoping that users can experience better gameplay.

GPU Turbo can’t choose when to perform its best. It’s an update that is constantly running in our smartphones without any way to switch it off. We can only hope that Huawei will address these issues for the next batch of updates.

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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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