Features

This is what using a Nokia 3310 in 2017 is like

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The Nokia 3310 was a great phone… in the year 2000.

Now, almost 20 years after its original release and hundreds of high-tech smartphone releases later, a rehash of the iconic cellphone has been launched.

Me with the 3310 — very happy and naive

So, I decided to give the phone a shot. In true #throwback fashion, I used the new Nokia 3310 — and only the Nokia 3310 — for 24 hours.

Getting started

I used the 3310 when I was in high school, and admittedly, I was one of those millennials who gasped in excited anticipation as I learned about the phone’s re-release. I traded in my smartphones (yes, multiple, because I do write about tech for a living) for my new daily driver.

First hurdle: Assembly. The 3310 comes with a detached battery you have to set up on your own. I am reminded of the many XPress-on covers I used on my old 3310, plus the fact that I never had to do this on any of my 2017 smartphones.

Cellphone and wallet fit in one hand — what a feat!

I also had to set up the time and date manually — something I hadn’t needed to do in forever — because the phone doesn’t automatically do that. My contacts, too, were lost for the day because this phone can’t sync to Google Contacts.

The Nokia 3310 doesn’t support Google apps nor is it capable of connecting to Wi-Fi. The only way you can connect to the internet is through cellular data, but only on 2G. For those youngins unacquainted with what 2G is, it was basically the fastest mobile data connection — in the 90s. Since then we’ve evolved to 3G and LTE.

The first hour

It seemed like a good idea at the start, but soon enough, 2017 reality came crashing in. Even before hour one ended (more like 15 minutes after the initial turnover), I realized I wouldn’t have access to social media via my phone throughout the day (like I said, no apps). Facebook is accessible through the phone’s built-in Opera browser but when it loads — if it does at all — it does so at a snail’s pace. My messaging apps were gone, too. I was left with only one inbox and good old text messaging.

All this would’ve been fine (well, okay, not really) except I work on the internet. All of a sudden, I had to bust out my laptop for every work-related thing. Even our team communication that’s done on Slack, a productivity messaging app where all our serious worky-work conversations are done, had to be done on the big screen (which, in this context, is my laptop).

Obviously, editing documents on my phone was out of the question. The good news? I still had a calendar and notes function. More bad news: They didn’t sync with my Google account (again, the 2G and app compatibility issue).

Hour 12

At this point, I’d already spent most of my time on my laptop for things I used to do on smartphones — other than calls and SMS. (I also only got a total of three SMS that day since I’m heavily reliant on my internet-dependent messaging apps.) Alone in the outside world with just the 3310, I was forced to entertain myself with the basics.

My Instagram and selfie game also took a blow. Although equipped with a camera, the 3310’s 2-megapixel image sensor was just ridiculous — basically 10 times fewer pixels than OPPO’s latest selfie smartphone camera.

Actual 2-megapixel Nokia 3310 sample

And even then, there was no way of uploading my shots on Instagram. No Snapchat stories for me that day, either.

Hour 18

The 3310’s alarms were still as reliable as ever but my morning ritual of checking emails, messages, and to-do items on a smartphone was not at all possible.

Taking more selfies because there really isn’t much you can do with this phone

Driving to the GadgetMatch HQ was a feat in itself without my smartphones.

I am very bad with directions and have never really driven without Waze ever since I discovered the app years back. This is impossible with the 3310, because it doesn’t support such features. And even if the feature phone did support apps, it still doesn’t have GPS built in that allows you to navigate offline on your smartphones. This time around, I had to rely on my own navigation skills and do everything without my usual Spotify playlist.

Hour 24: Finish line!

One good thing about the 3310 was that I did not need to plug in to charge in the last 24 hours. The concept of going the whole day without a powerbank is foreign to most these days but it’s certainly possible with this particular phone. While two-day battery life on a smartphone remains a dream, I see now why phones back in the day lasted so long – they really didn’t do as much, at least by today’s standards.

Actual candid shot with the 3310 #real

Many things were realized from this experiment: That I’m pretty spoiled by technology, those beauty filters are useless when you’re working with two measly megapixels, and most importantly, that a feature phone in 2017 is pretty fun but mostly unusable. As cute and nostalgic as this phone is, I’m never going back to a 3310.

Now, can I have my smartphones back?

SEE ALSO: Nokia 3310 Unboxing: Special Clear Box?!

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Smartphones

Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro Unboxing

What’s inside the box?

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You already know how impressed we were during the hands-on, so now it’s time to see what comes in the package of Huawei’s newest flagships. This is our Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro unboxing.

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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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