On Friday, September 16th, the Apple Store doors will open to the first iPhone 7 customers in the U.S. and several other markets — many of whom have started queuing since Monday.
Five days might seem like an eternity for casual observers, especially for a new phone no one outside the tech scene has seen, much less interacted with; but fans figure it will be worth the effort, worth the nights they spent in the rain and in tents on public property. Eventually, they get to go home with the best iPhone ever — and that’s all that matters.
Except neither the iPhone 7 nor the iPhone 7 Plus fit that description; the succeeding iPhones, including the 10th-anniversary edition, won’t either. The original iPhone, unencumbered by suffixes (no 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S, 5, 5S, 6, 6S, or 7), will forever be the greatest of all time for reasons I will soon discuss.
My argument obviously doesn’t hold up from a technical standpoint; I mean, come on, we live in an age where smartphones can recognize speech, fingerprints, and irises and have more memory than laptops.
The first iPhone, though — it didn’t even come with an app store, didn’t connect to 3G services. Those features would arrive a year later. It didn’t run iOS, not technically; it ran a modified version of an operating system for Macintosh computers.
There was no front camera, and the back was merely a 2-megapixel shooter. The home button was just a button. The handset had a headphone port, though it required a $10 adapter to use with most headphones. Heh.
But consider how much the iPhone from nine years ago has influenced the present, the fact that it revolutionized the mobile phone and put a miniature computer in our pockets. The late Steve Jobs called it “an iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator.” Of course, no one — with the exception of Jobs — talked about the iPhone back then the same way we do today, not with hubris or “courage.”
As with most first tries, Apple’s first smartphone was met with months of uncertainty prior to announcement. It fell under heavy scrutiny when it debuted in January 9, 2007. It’s too small. It’s too big. It’s too damn expensive (Apple eventually trimmed the phone’s price to $400, with a two-year contract). It’s restricted to one U.S. carrier. Typing on a virtual keyboard doesn’t feel right. This touchscreen thingy is hard to use. The list went on and on.
But amid heavy skepticism and a non-existent ecosystem and questions about whether it was ready to mortgage the future of the iPod for a potential best-seller, Apple drove a horde of fanatical consumers into stores at an unprecedented scale.
It sold over six million units in its heyday. Industry veteran Walt Mossberg thought it was “a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer.” Time magazine declared it Invention of the Year in 2007.
It’s easy to see why. The iPhone was the first phone to make browsing the internet, reading and writing email, and listening to music easy and enjoyable for ordinary human beings. It made everything out there online accessible with the swipe or tap of a finger on a screen. And it made the alternatives — the BB 8800s and Palm Treos of the world — seem primitive, short-sighted, and destined for failure.
[irp posts=”7194″ name=”Happy birthday: Apple’s iPod turns 15″]
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Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus hands-on: A step-up
The company’s greatest contender
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:
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.
What does the GPU Turbo do to your phone?
Is it more than just a marketing gimmick?
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?
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.
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.
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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