Features

#TBT: Nexus One was the first Google phone

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It’s 2010: Steve Jobs unveils the first iPad to a wary crowd; Samsung announces the first entry in the Galaxy S series of smartphones; Angry Birds is a worldwide phenomenon; Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is incarnated by Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network; LeBron James decides to take his talents to South Beach.

And Google, amid much hype and hope, joins the smartphone revolution by coming out with the Nexus One for under $530 off contract. It’s the first Google phone, and while not as successful as later iterations, it will be seen by many as an integral part of Android’s trajectory.

Here’s an excerpt from Joshua Topolsky’s review on Engadget: “Never mind the Nexus One itself for a moment — there’s a bigger picture here, and it might spell a fundamental change for the direction of Android as a platform.”

That same year, my partner bought the One from a local seller she met online. The Nexus One gave me my first taste of Android and would later spark my ongoing, and sometimes turbulent, love affair with smartphones and consumer gadgets — a bridge that connected my past and my future.

Built by HTC — incidentally, the same company rumored to be making 2016’s Nexus devices — the Nexus One was a reference phone meant to show manufacturers how it should be done and what could be done with Google’s Android OS.

It had a distinct look and feel and a trackball that pulled double duty as a notification light. Underneath that glowing orb of crimson, azure, or emerald is a set of four backlit capacitive buttons for back, menu, home, and search. Yes, search. Because Google, that’s why.

Google Nexus One (1)

At 11.5mm thick and 130 grams, it was massive by current standards; but back then, it was praised for its thinness and lightness. It had a 3.7-inch AMOLED touchscreen with Gorilla Glass on top, with a depressing (but not at the time of its release) 800 x 480 resolution. The screen wasn’t that bad, though; in retrospect, I still prefer it over some displays I’ve seen on budget handsets.

The One had a single-core Snapdragon processor at the helm and 512MB of RAM and storage to keep things chugging along at a then-blistering pace. The limited storage capacity left me without room to install additional apps after pushing a custom Android ROM based on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.

Google stopped software updates for the Nexus One four years ago, following the expiry of its two-year life cycle; it issued its last official software update with the release of Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread.

I browsed a couple of sites and did a few Google searches as soon as I powered the phone up (it still works!); interestingly enough, its internals aged well — despite the hardware taking a good beating over the years.

Come to think of it, I’m surprised the screen hasn’t cracked or shown any outward signs of owner abuse. The same can’t be said about the removable 1,400mAh battery, which can barely hold enough charge to power the One for a few hours.

The back also had a 5-megapixel cam with flash, and could record 480p video; the front lacked a camera for selfies. Image quality was, as you would expect, nowhere near the quality of today’s finer handsets, but the details were there. And without the benefit of perspective, I might even be inclined to say that I liked how some of the photos turned out.

Google Nexus One (2)

The Nexus One was a very good product, and it received positive reviews from critics and consumers alike. However, it wasn’t an iPhone; it wasn’t the paradigm-shifting device the hype made it out to be. And carriers refused to drink the Kool-Aid until much later, when it was clear the phone would flop.

Months after it was released, Goldman Sachs reduced their estimates of sales for the phone by 70 percent, effectively sending the Nexus One to an early retirement. By May 2010, Google was pulling it off shelves, offering it to developers instead.

But failing on a first attempt didn’t kill the Nexus. Google tried again in 2010, this time collaborating with Samsung on the Nexus S, which went on to become one of the most popular handsets of its time. Its successor, the Galaxy Nexus, was an even greater success.

[irp posts=”6825" name=”Forget about Pixel and Nexus, where’s Android One?”]

Entertainment

Joker, Jowable, Jojo Rabbit: Now Playing

Live, love, laugh!

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The GadgetMatch team just went through a rigorous back-to-back coverage starting from IFA 2019, iPhone 11, Vivo NEX 3, Huawei Mate 30 Pro, and many more. Like us, people are overwhelmed with smartphone launches one after another.

What kept us sane was these forms of entertainment we watch and play in passing. Here’s what’s Now Playing in GadgetMatch:

Movies to see

 

Steven Universe: The Movie
Leez: If you’re a fan of Steven Universe and the last episode left you feeling unsettled by how it neatly tucked the whole series, then you’re in luck. The movie doesn’t fall short in tackling the heart-wrenching significance of struggles and obstacles to be better and be who you are. It’s a movie that dives deep into lost friends and lost memories. You definitely need to check this out.

 

Jowable
MJ: No other film in this century has captured how I’ve been feeling for years now, except Jowable. This film tackles the joys, pains, and misadventures of singlehood in a comical approach. But don’t think it’s all just for laughs, Jowable is totally unpredictable — full of plot twists to keep you entertained while preaching you some deep life lessons that Buddha can’t even.

 

Jojo Rabbit
Luigi: Provocative and funny. How else can you describe Taiki Waititi’s upcoming comedy? This World War II satire features a German boy trying to hide a Jewish girl while being aided by his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi himself).

 

Joker
Kevin:  Not your usual origin story of a villain. Joker tackles mental health, human nature, and the society that we’re living in now. Partner those with Joaquin Phoenix’s stellar acting and what you get is a cinematic piece that moves you and makes you think about what “being normal” really is.  It’s best to see it on the big screen so be sure to catch it while it’s still showing.

Shows to binge-watch

 

Player reacts to his Highlights | House of Highlights
Rodneil: I haven’t been able to commit to watching a series of late so for my dwindling downtime, I’ve resorted to watching these one-off series on YouTube. Plus I also miss NBA basketball, so this is a great way to scratch that itch.

 

Marianne
Luigi: People have proclaimed Marianne as the most frightening series of 2019. As a horror enthusiast, I don’t think it is. However, this French horror series is still an excellent addition to the Netflix playhouse of monsters. Plus, that French accent is oh-so-sexy.

 

Vagabond
Rodneil: Gotta admit, I only considered watching because it stars Suzy Bae. But the story is gripping and the cinematography is pretty darn good. It’s about a stuntman who loses his nephew in a plane crash that was made to look like an accident but there’s more to it than just that.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

 

데자 부 (Deja Vu) by Dreamcatcher
Vincenz: Although the song doesn’t sound as intense as their other releases, the latest music video tells a deeper story. There is a line that struck me: “Now I’m holding this pain,” especially that it talks about betrayal and abandonment. The melodic musical arrangement accompanied by contrasting light and dark visuals blend so well together — which gives a surreal and melancholic feeling to listeners and viewers alike.

 

Go Up by SB19
Vincenz: SB19 has been garnering attention for weeks. They sound like a K-Pop boy group because they were trained by a Korean agency. Although I’m not totally a fan, I appreciate their music especially since it talks about aiming high and achieving your dreams. Despite the hard choreography, their live vocals sound great. P-Pop is finally improving!

 

Linkin Park Favorites
Rodneil: It’s been quite a stressful past couple of weeks for me. To combat the urge of setting myself on fire, I’ve been listening to a lot of my favorite Linkin Park songs. The collection is mostly from the Hybrid Theory and Meteora albums. Listen to the full playlist.

 

 

Feel Special by TWICE
Rodneil: TWICE’s gradual concept change is evident in their new song Feel Special. More than that, though, the song seems to hold a special place in the members’ hearts as it alludes to their struggles. Especially Mina who is struggling with anxiety and begged off from parts of their tour but still participated in the album with strong support from the other members.

Games to play

 

Madden NFL 20
Gab: I know how everyone is on some hype train towards the recently released NBA 2K20 video game, but there are other sports-related games out there. As someone who is starting to have a level of interest with the NFL, Madden NFL 20 introduced me to how American football actually works. If you need a quick change of pace from shooting the basketball, I suggest you try scoring touchdowns.

 

NBA 2K20
Rodneil: Echoing what Gab said on his NBA 2K20 review — this game essentially feels like a massive patch for NBA 2K19. That’s not entirely a bad thing. It’s still the superior NBA simulation game and for it to improve, EA needs to step up big time with NBA Live. Will still play it because it’s my number one way to destress.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Luigi: As a child, I never played the original Link’s Awakening on the Gameboy. I joined the Zelda party way too late. Thankfully, this Switch remake plays like a traditional game on the Gameboy. The new Link’s Awakening brings a lot to the table for both new and old players. It’s a well-polished game that doesn’t rely too much on nostalgia.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

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Best Smartphones

Best Budget Smartphones below $200

October 2019 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:

ASUS ZenFone Max M2 ($175)

We were disappointed to find out that the ZenFone Max Pro M2 went above the US$ 200 mark, but we still have the non-Pro Max M2 to buy at this price point. Fortunately, the fast Snapdragon 632 processor, large 4000mAh battery, and dual rear cameras remain.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone Max M2

Redmi Note 7 ($150)

Xiaomi blew everyone away when it announced the Redmi Note 7 with its class-leading specs and design. It’s been selling like hotcakes for a good reason: In terms of pure performance, nothing rivals this in the sub-US$ 200 category.

READ MORE: Redmi Note 7

 

OPPO A5s ($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

Realme 5 (US$ 154)

Realme is giving Xiaomi a run for its money on our top-of-mind easy phones to recommend. The Realme 5 is a real treat for people looking for a budget smartphone that provides more than what they need.

HANDS-ON: Realme 5

Samsung Galaxy A20 ($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


Update as of October 2019:

  • The Realme 5 replaced the Realme C2 on this list

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Best Smartphones

Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400

October 2019 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:

Xiaomi Mi 9 SE ($300)

Xiaomi has always been a part of the list and the Mi 9 SE truly deserves its spot. It’s a flagship-grade phone from its design to its specs. It’s dubbed as a “compact flagship” thanks to its smaller-than-usual form factor. If you’re looking for a phone that won’t hurt your pockets both in size and price, check out the Mi 9 SE.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi 9 SE

Realme 5 Pro (US$ 232)

A quadruple-camera setup at this price point seems unlikely but Realme made it happen. And it’s not just the setup, the lenses actually take photos with good image quality. That would have been enough to recommend this but it also has a Snapdragon 712 AIE chip with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you’re looking for a great deal, this is it.

HANDS-ON: Realme 5 Pro

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 ($245)

While not as affordable as its predecessor, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 still does several things most phones can’t even dream of at this price point. We get an upper-midrange chip, large 5000mAh battery, versatile cameras, and a pure take on Android.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2

Huawei Nova 5T (US$ 367)

Huawei managed to put a flagship-level chip with a glass back and with triple cameras on a midrange phone. These are things you expect from brands like Xiaomi but Huawei was able to pull it off as well.

READ: Huawei Nova 5T

Samsung Galaxy A50s ($345)

Samsung’s pivot to the A series has been fantastic and the Galaxy A50s is another proof of that. It’s a refinement of everything that was good with the Galaxy A50. If you’re a die-hard Samsung fan looking for a midrange phone, the Galaxy A50s is a solid option.

READ: Samsung Galaxy A50s


Update as of October 2019:

  • Huawei Nova 5T replaced the Pocophone F1
  • Realme 5 Pro replaced the Realme 3 Pro 
  • Samsung Galaxy A50s replaced the Samsung Galaxy A50 

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