Features

Sorry, Apple: I won’t be getting your new MacBook Pro in 2016

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Dear Apple,

I’d like to start on a more positive note, so let’s talk a little about that killer feature. Honestly, the Touch Bar, despite its potential utility, sounds to me a bit like what 3D Touch is to iPhones.

Of course, an OLED bar that shows emojis and is cat-friendly is way, way cooler than some tiny mechanism tucked beneath the iPhone’s surface, but the two may not be too different in terms of usefulness.

Let’s be real here: How often do you think people will use the Touch Bar? I have a pretty good idea what DJs are like — and they probably won’t use that touchscreen as much as you think they will for DJing. The rest of us might pick up the habit for other reasons; however, a lot of that depends on developers getting really creative about it, saving us clicks and making apps more intuitive and easier for normal folks to use.

macbook-pro-b

2016 MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar

 

macbook-pro-cat-friendly

An OLED bar that shows emojis and is cat-friendly is way, way cooler than 3D Touch, but the two may not be too different in terms of usefulness

The value of the Touch Bar could increase over time as developers build on it. But if it’s anything like 3D Touch, which I can live without, it’s almost surely going down as another missed opportunity.

Congrats on engineering a slimmer and lighter MacBook Pro, though. That the Pro is now more compact, or, as some might say, more portable than the 13-inch MacBook Air — the former poster child of really portable laptops — is downright ludicrous. (As a quick aside: You guys are really good at making things smaller — so, please, apply the same magic to the next big iPhone.)

[irp posts=”4731" name=”Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Review”]

I’m still on the fence about that butterfly keyboard — I’ll reserve my judgment until I get my fingers on it. I had tried the 12-inch MacBook’s keyboard before; I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. I still prefer the tactile feel, the deeper keystrokes of your older keyboard; I suspect many feel the same way. But I hear the keyboard mechanism has been improved dramatically, so fingers crossed the typing experience should be better this time around.

The new (but not so new) Intel processors are pretty much a given, as is the bump in SSD storage across MacBook tiers. I wouldn’t buy a laptop for today, I’d buy it for three or more years into the future. And in a couple of years, the 2016 MacBook Pro would still be useful for some serious work. So would most other high-end laptops announced this year, I imagine.

That the Pro is now more compact than the 13-inch MacBook Air is downright ludicrous.

Touch ID and the expanded trackpad — now, those are a huge plus. People will love those about the Pro. Maybe almost as much they’ll love the new Space Gray paint job. Does that mean we’ll finally get to see gold and rose gold Pros next year? I hope so. I hope you consider making a shiny black one too, regardless of how impractical and selfish this suggestion seems. Okay… now that I’ve given it some thought, scratch that idea.

But some of your customers wouldn’t like what you had done with the glowing Apple logo. Why get rid of an established symbol of laptop opulence? Was it to make the display fit into the size of a typical 11- or 12-inch notebook? Or was it done to create a brighter and more color-rich display than what was possible on previous MacBooks?

In any case, we’ll get over it, for sure. We’ll also get over you ditching the MagSafe connector, though I imagine it would take Mac nerds longer to recover from the MagSafe’s untimely but expected demise. But whatever. Those miffed over the loss can always purchase an aftermarket accessory like BreakSafe, yes?

breaksafe

Introducing BreakSafe

You’ve done worse. Curiously enough, the latest iPhone 7 figures indicate that people have already forgiven you for chucking out the beloved headphone jack. I wonder, though, why it was mercilessly left on the Pro. That didn’t strike me as a courageous move. Frankly, the more I think about it, the more I question your commitment and dedication to a truly wireless future.

For the record, I’m one of those guys who argued for the merits of cordless audio. I believe the technology is now mature enough that manufacturers should be turning consumers toward wireless headphones and speaker systems.

And while we’re on the topic of ports that you obviously think are still relevant to your customers, why kill every USB port on the Pro models and replace them with Thunderbolt 3? Um, you do know we’re still in 2016, right?

For starters, not only did you alienate individuals who had their minds made up on switching to the new MacBook, you also annoyed the shit out of existing customers who already own an iPhone and/or iPad. Not even the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were invited to the MacBook party.

You know who did get their collective foot in the proverbial door? Android phones. A whole bunch of them — including the ones Google, your arch-nemesis, made. You can bet those Type-C devices will be laughing their socks off after crashing your party and drinking all your expensive German beer — particularly the cheap handsets that have made the trip from China.

[i[irp posts=”5053" name=”Google Pixel got the ‘little brother, big brother’ tandem right”]p>

I didn’t think I’d see the day when outsiders could interact more naturally with a MacBook than your own products, yet here we are. “Welcome to the future,” I hear you exhaling, “where plugging in full-sized USB connectors into your laptop is now a thing of the past.”

Not even the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were invited to the MacBook party. You know who did get their collective foot in the proverbial door? Android phones. A whole bunch of them — including the ones Google, your arch-nemesis, made.

You also really pissed off those guys who use an external monitor that connects via HDMI or DisplayPort. You know, ports that most people still use today. And while I agree that Thunderbolt 3 is the superior connection, there’s no reason to push it down our throats at this point — certainly not while it hasn’t reached the point of mass adoption. Never mind that Thunderbolt displays, as with any new technology that promises faster speeds and other benefits, are expensive as hell.

And what’s the argument for eliminating the SD card slot? To make room for more Thunderbolt ports, on a more expensive MacBook Pro? Puh-lease. Are four ports necessary? Probably not, but you certainly think so.

Where is all this leading? I’ll tell you: The depths of dongle hell. Nobody likes paying for overpriced stuff they never wanted, especially overpriced stuff they will likely lose. Those $25 and $35 USB-C to Lightning cables are going to sell like hot cakes… but for all the wrong reasons.

apple-usb-c-to-lightning-cable

You’ll need this cable to connect your iPhone/iPad to the new MacBook Pro.

Ah, but it gets worse. Because not only do we have to spend extra for cables and dongles for one machine, we also have to have them around at all times — at least, until a few years down the line when Thunderbolt connections are more prevalent than they are today. Sure, my laptop bag can hold a few more accessories, but the mess they’ll be making on my workspace might irritate my mental comfort to no end.

At the very least your new MacBook Pro should do more for your customers, not the other way around.

Sincerely,

Guy who thought about getting your new MacBook Pro.

[irp[irp posts=”2055" name=”Apple’s MacBook refresh comes with faster CPU, rose-gold finish”]

Camera Shootouts

Mi 9T Pro vs Galaxy A50s vs Nova 5T vs A9 (2020): Camera Shootout

Which one takes the best photos?

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The midrange segment is becoming even more competitive. A plethora of smartphones was launched at nearly similar price points, and it’s tough to pick out the best among the bunch. Now that we’re nearing the end of 2019, we decided to have a camera shootout to help our readers find out which one shoots the best photos.

Participating in this shootout are Xiaomi’s flagship killer, the Mi 9T Pro; Samsung’s revamped midrange contender, the Galaxy A50s; Huawei’s flagship-like midranger, the Nova 5T; and OPPO’s massive smartphone, the A9 (2020).

Instead of the usual one-on-one comparisons, here’s a four-way “grand” shootout for you to enjoy. Analyze these photos and the camera’s performance, then decide which you believe looks best. Of course, all settings are on auto and no filters were applied. The photos are only resized for you to load the images faster.

The answers to this test will be at the bottom of the page. Let’s start!

Food

Flatlay

Macro

Shade

Portrait Mode

Ultra-wide angle

Regular

Maximum Zoom

Landscape

Backlit

Flower

Vegetation

Color Reproduction

Selfie

Night

Neon Light

Want to know which phone took which? Here are the answers:

A: Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro

B: Samsung Galaxy A50s

C: Huawei Nova 5T

D: OPPO A9 (2020)

The competition in the midrange bracket is getting tight. All of the smartphones shine respectively. At the end of the day, each round comes down to your preference — whether you like your photos warm or cool, or if you prefer highly saturated and vibrant photos, or if you need certain modes to suit your needs for smartphone photography.

We’re lucky to live in an era where affordable smartphones are as powerful and as competitive as any flagship and premium smartphones. So, what do you think? Which one is the best shooter for you, and which one is your GadgetMatch?

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Features

Huawei Nova 5T vs OPPO Reno vs Galaxy A70: Three-way comparison

Which one offers the most value?

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It’s very unusual for one person to be carrying three phones at a time. So to put some semblance of structure in this three-way comparison among the Huawei Nova 5T, the OPPO Reno, and the Samsung Galaxy A70, we’re going to be a little more straightforward with this piece.

You can expect most of our comparisons from here on out to be looked at from these five categories: General performance, media consumption, UI and design, gaming, and everyone’s favorite — cameras.

Let’s jump right in!

Everyday performance: Reliable all throughout 

When we say everyday performance, this could mean anything from keeping up with your friends on Facebook, stalking your crush on Instagram, answering emails, and replying to chats. You know, the usual.

All three smartphones do a fantastic job at what we like to call “the basics.” As they should, given all three are midrangers with the Nova 5T even carrying the Kirin 980 — a flagship-level processor that is also equipped on the Huawei P30 Pro.

In case you’re wondering, the OPPO Reno carries a Snapdragon 710 SoC while the Galaxy A70 is rocking the Snapdragon 675. One key difference we don’t see here is the size of the chips. The Kirin 980 measures 7nm while the Snapdragon 710 and 675 come in at 10nm and 11nm respectively.

The differences are minute, but taking up a smaller space goes a long way in adding more components to each phone, which in turn helps with overall performance.

Media consumption: Size and weight matters

How many times have you told yourself, “just one more episode,” before dozing off with your phone unceremoniously landing on your face?

This happens to the best of us. And you wouldn’t want that happening while using the OPPO Reno. It’s easily the heftiest of the three which makes holding the phone in your hand while getting through 40-50 minute episodes of your favorite shows extra tiring.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy A70 is the longest of the bunch. This also adds some imbalance while you’re holding the phone for an extended period.

The Nova 5T probably has the most balanced attributes in terms of size and weight, making it easier to hold the phone. And with its surprisingly light weight despite being made out of metal, it won’t hurt as much if you drop it on yourself.

The OPPO Reno and the Galaxy A70 both use AMOLED displays while the Nova 5T opts for an IPS LCD screen. At first we thought the Reno and A70 would be far and away better viewing experiences but the difference is almost negligible.

UI and Design: All can be… cleaner

We’re not really solid fans of any of the UIs. If you’ve been using Samsung recently, then you’re probably already used to ONEUI as it’s essentially a cleaner and faster version of TouchWiz. ONE UI is snappy and has less bloat. It’s a welcome change but one that still requires plenty of refinement.

We think ColorOS does look cleaner than ONEUI but something about it just doesn’t feel as snappy. The next iteration of the UI should focus on speed if it hopes to feel as premium as the way OPPO is trying to make the external design of the Reno.

EMUI is fast and probably offer more customization than ONE UI and ColorOS. Its implementation of the swipe gesture for fullscreen is already Android 10-esque and it’s easier to switch the look of the icons should you wish to do so. And since we’ve already gotten a glimpse of how clean EMUI 10 will look, it’s easy to give it an edge over the other two UIs.

Design-wise it will all come down to preference. The A70 is the most-plane looking, the OPPO Reno looks sleek, and the Nova 5T — with its 3D holographic design — is loud and flashy. Of course, if none of the looks appeal to you, there’s always the option of slapping case on the phone.

Gaming: Size matters part 2

These are the dimensions for each phone: Nova 5T (154.3 x 74 x 7.8 mm), OPPO Reno (156.6 x 74.3 x 9 mm), Galaxy A70 (164.3 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm). Why is this relevant? The length of the A70 lends itself nicely to games that are played in landscape mode.

If you have big hands, it just makes it easier to hold the phone as you move around and adjust your aim or press button. The differences may not look like a lot on paper, but it’s these little things that make it or break it for some people.

The Reno and A70 also have their own implementations of a Game Assistant. This helps concentrate the processor’s power and RAM to gaming while you’re playing. It also adds a nifty feature of blocking notifications so you can focus on your game. This wasn’t readily present on the Nova 5T.

Performance-wise, it was the Novat 5T that automatically had most settings on high graphics, thanks largely to GPU Turbo 3.0 working in tandem with 8GB of RAM. While the Reno and A70 can handle it, going down to medium might provide a better experience. There’s no need for that on the Nova 5T. Factor in the Nova 5T’s 128GB of internal storage, and you’ve got a phone that can store all of your favorite games.

Cameras: The more the merrier

What we’re going to do here is drop a few samples in this order: Nova 5T, OPPO Reno, and A70. Carefully scrutinize each one to see the output you like the most.

Food

Portrait

Selfie

Normal, Zoom, Wide

Nova 5T

OPPO Reno

Galaxy A70

You’re probably wondering why there’s no wide for the Reno and no zoom for the A70. That’s because they simply don’t have those lenses. This is the inherent advantage of the Nova 5T. Its triple camera setup is versatile giving you different perspectives all in one phone.

Final thoughts

The differences are minute and looks-wise it will come down to preference. But when it comes down to it, the Nova 5T just has more to offer overall. If you feel like you need a wide angle lens, go with the A70. If you zoom is your thing, then it’s the Reno for you.

However, wouldn’t it be nice to have all those options? That’s what the Nova 5T gives you, on top of a flagship-level performance in a sturdy metal body with a fully customizable UI.

But here’s the kicker. The Nova 5T offers all of that at the base price of PhP 18,990. Meanwhile, the OPPO Reno and the Galaxy A70 will have you spending north of PhP 22,000. So, if you’re looking for overall value among the three, it’s clear the Nova 5T should be your pick.

SEE ALSO: Huawei Nova 5T vs Samsung Galaxy A50s: Midrange heavy hitters


This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

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Hands-On

Google Pixel 4 and 4XL Unboxing and Hands-on

New features, same price

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The most leaked phone in history is now official. The new Pixel 4 and 4XL may look similar the outside but come with better cameras (yes there are now two), sport a Radar for faster face unlock, and introduce new air gestures. But is it worth upgrading?

This is our Google Pixel 4 and 4XL unboxing and hands-on.

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