About a week ago, we wrote about the Vivo V5 launching in India, the second-largest smartphone market in the world next to China.
The V5 reminds us of a phone we’ve seen before, by another manufacturer. The uncanny resemblance to the OPPO F1s (and F1 Plus) isn’t deliberate, but it comes as no surprise given that both Vivo and OPPO are under the same parent company.
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And because it carries the DNA of the F1s, the V5 looks and feels good. It is comfortable to use for long durations.
But it should be said that the V5 and F1s are not exactly alike. There are slight differences, the most prominent of which is how much different the frame of the V5 is; it tapers toward the front to give the handset a cleaner, more polished appearance.
And since we’ve gone deep into the rabbit hole, it must be said: We prefer the look of the Vivo phone. It feels like an evolution of the F1s’ design, which is admittedly a weird thing to say about two phones made by different companies.
The V5 houses a 5.5-inch display of 720p resolution. Colors are well-saturated and accurate for the most part, and the screen is easily visible from awkward angles. However, it’s not as bright as the panel on the Vivo V3. Nor is it as crisp, as a result of the bump in size. There are narrow bezels on the right and left. Tiny black borders surround the display.
The front also features a capacitive (read: non-clickable) home button that pulls double duty as a fingerprint reader. Fingerprint recognition is both accurate and fast, like with the Vivo V3 and V3 Max.
The left side hides a hybrid tray for either two SIM cards or a SIM card and a microSD card.
The bottom features a headphone jack, a standard USB charging port, and a speaker. On a somewhat related note, the V5 has a fancy audio chip for high-quality audio playback. This particular feature only works with headphones, and Vivo specifically states that uncompressed audio files be used.
The back of the phone is engraved with Vivo’s logo. Two silver antenna bands run through the top and bottom edges.
The main camera packs a 13-megapixel sensor. It shoots decent photos in low light. But it doesn’t outperform the V3’s rear shooter. Not during the day, not at night. The V3 actually fared better in our initial testing.
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Though the front-facer is a different ball game. As some of you may have heard around the internet, the V5 is the world’s first 20-megapixel selfie phone. And while that may not carry much weight with non-millennials — it might seem gimmicky even — a phone that obsesses over the intricate details of your face could turn out to be useful at some point in the future.
Here’s a couple of obligatory selfies taken with the V5’s bonkers camera. We’ll have more to say about image quality after we’ve put the device through some thorough testing.
Vivo has opted for MediaTek’s Helio P10 processor inside the V5, which is a bit surprising since its previous releases — the Y55, V3, and V3 Max — all use Qualcomm chipsets. Not that it should matter, because the P10 is a good midrange chipset that can handle most games with no problems. The meaty 4GB of RAM should be enough for anyone.
A gyroscope exists under the hood — presumably to keep Pokemon Go players happy. The V5’s non-removable cell is rated at 3,000mAh. The battery’s good for a full day’s work, but one should be able to stretch it out with lighter usage.
The Vivo V5 is priced at INR 17,980 in India and PhP 12,990 in the Philippines, roughly $260 for both countries. So far, our initial impressions are very positive. This phone, like the OPPO F1s, does more than selfies. We’ll be sure to pit one against the other to determine which phone takes the best self-portraits. Check back in a week or two.
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Sony WH-XB700 hands-on: Extra bass, extra flex
Great for travels and even OOTDs
Today’s gadgets are no longer just mere products. A lot have found their way to our daily lifestyle so it’s also important that they look good while we use them. And for others who are more trend-sensitive, these devices should blend well with their outfit and even character — all while doing what it’s supposed to do.
When it comes to headphones, Sony wants to offer something that you can bring anywhere during your travels while looking discreet yet fashionable. This is where the WH-XB700 comes into the picture. On paper, it ticks the boxes of what a casual listener is commonly looking for in headphones plus it’s geared towards those who prefer a bit of extra oomph in their bass.
It has a simple and straightforward design
Available in solid blue or black color options
Soft padding on the earcup makes it comfortable
Body is made of plastic so it’s light on the head
Connects wirelessly via Bluetooth or NFC
Built-in microphone for hands-free calls
Comes with 360 Reality Audio
The WH-XB700, among other models in Sony’s audio line, can be paired to your smartphone. And, using the company’s Connect app, you can tweak and customize your sound the way you like it. But as Rodneil mentioned in his WF-1000XM3 review (we know, confusing names), you wouldn’t really end up adjusting your settings that much.
In terms of sound quality, this pair of on-ear headphones deliver clear highs and decent mids. Vocals could be more pronounced but it’s still not bad. The lows, however, are indeed extra punchy. So if you like playing bass-heavy music like house, hip-hop, and the likes, you’d probably enjoy the extra kick in these cans.
Since it’s wireless, it has to connect via Bluetooth which means it has a battery. We’re glad to report that it has a decent battery life that doesn’t require you to keep on looking for sockets just so you could continue to use its wireless capabilities.
I brought it on one of my overseas trips and was able to use it at the airport while waiting to board, during the 4-hour flight, and while walking around for the rest of the entire day with a good amount of juice left when I got back to my hotel.
Charging time is also not bad with up to 90 minutes of music time just from a 10-minute quick charge.
Having the WH-XB700 for a while is basically being able to conveniently listen to your tunes anywhere you go. It doesn’t have the best audio quality in Sony’s lineup but having its flexibility for usage on-the-go sort of outweighs this shortcoming.
They are also light on the head and easy on the ears so fatigue has been kept down to a minimum. You also wouldn’t have to keep on charging it since it could last a few days of moderate usage.
The Sony WH-XB700 currently retails in the Philippines for PhP 7,999 (around US$ 150). It’s not the best wireless headphones we’ve tried on but it’s actually competitively priced for what it offers. Plus, it looks nice and goes well with almost anything you put on.
Why Instagram is doing the right thing by removing the like count
We need to change this ugly culture we created
Instagram used to be a space where you can get inspiration to nourish your creativity. It was also a place to connect with people through disappearing photos and videos called Stories. However, the platform took a different turn throughout the years and became an arena — a battlefield where people show off who has the most perfect life.
People started curating their feeds to make them stand out. The age of curation dawned upon Instagrammers, bearing unto the world themes and grids to reflect the user’s personality and aesthetics. Instagram fuelled perfectionism, too.
What used to be a space to share mundane moments of your everyday life became a place where you show your glamorous life which, frankly, only happens every once in a while for most users. Admittedly, I also succumbed to the perfectionism and the pressure. I would post only the photos where I looked like I was having the time of my life. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, right?
Increasing cases of depression and anxiety
Apparently, not everyone thinks the way I do. In a study published in 2017 by the Royal Society for Public Health in the United Kingdom, social media — particularly Instagram — is a major contributor to the increasing cases of depression and anxiety among the youth today. The rise of influencers and other people with seemingly perfect lives made a lot of users feel inadequate.
“What used to be a space to share mundane moments in your everyday life became a place where you show your glamorous life which, frankly, only happens every once in a while for most users.”
RSPH Chief Executive Shirley Cramer said, “it’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing – both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”
Technology companies’ response
With this worrisome situation on the youth’s mental health, companies made an effort to help through technology. There’s Android’s Digital Wellbeing feature which tracks the amount of time you spend on social media, although it still requires a conscious effort to break your social media addiction.
In the crusade against depression and anxiety caused by social media, Instagram recently made a daunting move. The social media giant has started testing the removal of like counts in some countries, removing the user’s ability to see how many likes have been racked up by a certain person in their feeds.
People in dire need of too much validation, fret not. The feature will let you still see who liked your posts. Think of it as your usual form of public affirmation, but you get it in private.
Just like our stories, only we can see who viewed and reacted. In this scenario, only we can see who liked our posts. While this recent move can put a dent on someone’s ego especially when they crave external validation, this can have real benefits for some users’ mental health.
In a country like the Philippines, where social media consumes a chunk of Filipino’s time, Instagram is a big contributor in rising cases of mental illnesses plaguing today’s youth like the common cold.
The social media age has created a culture where people value their smartphones, social media accounts, and the content they create rather than socializing offline and establishing real-life connections. The youth measure their self-worth through likes and other forms of metrics that it’s taking a toll on their mental health.
If this is the ugly culture we developed, Instagram is doing the right thing of removing the like count. At the very least, they can stop other people from comparing their worth and relying on external validation to feel better.
“I personally don’t mind if the feature comes here or not, but I’m sure a few of my friends would care.” — Patricia Medina, a medical practitioner in the Philippines
However, some people won’t be able to accept the upcoming feature should it arrive in the Philippines, similar to how we all panicked when Instagram removed our ability to see the viewers of our stories after 24 hours. Despite the outcry, we adapted and got used to it.
Likes are not the only measure of influence
It may be hard to believe, but Instagram is on the right track. Aside from tackling mental health and fixing the problem their app posed in our society, they’re reshaping the marketing and advertising industry. Some influencers might be affected by the like count removal, particularly those who buy fake likes and followers, as well as those who became walking billboards for brands and agencies.
But for content creators like Ceej Tantengco, removing the like count won’t have much of an impact, rather it will reinforce her influence among her audience. “The brand partnerships I tend to get are with sustainable fashion and brands running women empowerment campaigns. These brands are less about pure numbers and more about connecting with brand ambassadors who truly share their cause and can speak about it with sincerity,” Tantengco said.
“The chase for likes has led to a sort of cookie-cutter templating of content based on what the algorithm rewards or what is easiest to generate likes. We live in a world where a selfie gets 800+ likes and a photo of what book the person is reading gets only 50. But like-bait content isn’t always the most thoughtful, and we need to be careful to not equate the number of likes to whether the brand message was communicated effectively,” Tantengco added.
On the other hand, Castro Communications PR Director Janlee Dungca is unbothered by the like count removal. Dungca, who works primarily with content creators and influencers, will still approach a campaign based on a brand’s goals and objectives. Likes aren’t the only form of visible metrics available since comments still count as a way to measure engagement rate.
Macro-influencers — accounts with more than 100,000 followers — tend to have higher reach but lower engagement, thus she opts for micro-influencers whose accounts range from 10,000 to 50,000 followers to get higher engagement for the brand.
“We live in a world where a selfie gets 800+ likes and a photo of what book the person is reading gets only 50.” — Ceej Tantengco
With this sudden change in the marketing landscape, people — not just influencers — might be more keen on engaging with other people through comments. People might start to make an effort to share their thoughts and interact, rather than just dropping an emoji of fire, heart, or a star-eyed face.
Additionally, people might not be as conscious of what they post anymore. Tantengco affirmed, “this move is great for people with advocacies because we can speak about them without worrying so much about ‘how do I package this to get the maximum number of likes’ and just say what we want to say. This feels very freeing.”
Moving forward, we might start to see posts of what people really care about again should Instagram proceed with removing the like count forever. There will be people though who will try to game the algorithm by leaving comments on each other’s posts and uploading video clips instead of still photos for validation as Instagram has not said anything about removing the view count.
Nonetheless, the future is bright for Instagram. I can’t wait to see moments where people embrace their natural selves and flaunt the things they’re passionate about again.
Mercedes-Benz GLC and V-Class: Living the fly life
Smooth sailing on the GLC 200 and V-Class 220d
When we hear the words “upper class” in a market segment, we usually think of luxury lifestyle, extravagant vacations, fine dining, and everything fancy. So when it comes to their means of transportation, we expect nothing less than utmost grandiosity.
With this in mind, some premium car brands will naturally come to mind and one of them is Mercedes-Benz. This was the idea that Auto Nation Group, the official distributor of Mercedes-Benz in the Philippines, had in mind when they hosted the Media Ride and Drive — a day-long activity that offered participants the choice to drive the new GLC 200 and V-Class 220d or enjoy the comfortable ride and amenities offered inside both these new models.
Instead of usual technical reviews, it was their goal for the participants to experience the affluent life — to be driven to where their consumers would go and do activities they would commonly do.
Scuba diving and the GLC
The first activity was a 3-hour course in scuba diving led by accredited PADI diver Igor Subora. Held at the indoor scuba facilities of The Upper Deck Sports and Lifestyle Center in Ortigas, the activity aimed to give a glimpse into the lifestyle of someone with a spirit of adventure – a persona that perfectly matches the personality and performance of the new GLC.
According to Joseph Ayllon, head of PR Communications, the new GLC is a great match for confident go-getters in life determined to achieve goals. He says that it’s the right vehicle to take out of town or to a quick getaway within the city – like taking the morning off to go scuba diving.
The GLC remains as the best-selling Mercedes-Benz for 10 years with more than 1.6 million units sold. Priced at PhP 4,290,000.00, the GLC 200 is a robust adventure luxury SUV that delivers 197hp and 320Nm of torque from a 2.0 turbo petrol engine mated to a 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission.
Its interior is wrapped in premium soft-touch materials, leather, and brushed metal accents. The soft leather seats were exceptionally comfortable, with plenty of head and legroom. In addition, the Burmester surround audio system is impressive and gave crisp & immersive sound.
Looking at the dashboard, it boasts a high-definition all-digital instrument panel along with their intelligent voice command LINGUATRONIC with “Hey, Mercedes” functionality which we found quite useful for a hands-free driving experience.
Sitting at the back, this SUV felt smooth and cabin noise was well isolated. Overall, this SUV is a perfect fusion of adventure and luxury.
R&R with the V-Class
After our scuba diving training and certification, we went our way to our lunch venue at Misto Seda-Vertis North onboard the 2019 Mercedes-Benz V-Class 220d. Priced at PhP 4,690,000.00, this lounge on wheels puts out 163hp and 380Nm of torque from a 2.2-liter diesel engine mated to a 7G-TRONIC PLUS 7-speed automatic transmission.
As a passenger sitting on the third row, it didn’t feel like you were in a van; the cabin was unbelievably quiet and immensely comfortable. Everywhere you touch is made of premium quality material and the leather-wrapped captain seats just give you a sense of grandeur — almost like sitting on Queen Elizabeth’s throne.
The interior is spacious with abundant head and legroom. In addition, this model boasts swivel seats with a built-in pullout folding table. Looking out, I just loved how you are surrounded by huge & bright windows, perfect for scenic road-trips.
I have never felt more comfortable riding a third-row seat from a vehicle of this segment. You just feel pampered and EDSA traffic suddenly wasn’t so stressful.
After our bounteous buffet lunch at Misto, it was time to head to the last destination and the day was wrapped up with a relaxing full body massage at the Upper Deck Recovery Spa.
End of the day thoughts
As we ended this unique drive, one thing was made crystal clear to me: Mercedes-Benz really knows who their products are for and the new GLC 200 and new V-Class 220d truly cater to the needs and demands of this market segment.
I have to admit that I was easily spoiled by the activities the company has prepared — kicking it off with a fun diving experience, having a feast, and ending the day with a massage. Although, that’s exactly what they want their customers to feel with these new offerings — pampered and spoiled while getting from point A to point B.
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