Features

7 camera hacks to improve your photos

Tips shared through a weekend adventure

Published

on

Weekends are sacred. It’s a short amount of time to recuperate, relax, and take care of yourself. You can have some alone time, hang out with your loved ones, or do something fun for the first time. In other words, weekends are a time to enjoy life.

Like every normal person, I hardly ever wake up early during the weekends. I take the time to savor my bed and watch the day unfold. But when it’s time to get moving, I get up and prepare to start my day.

Before anything else, I take a 15-minute swim. It’s a quick exercise to jumpstart your day and refresh your mind from the lingering thoughts while you’re in bed.

Of course, I wouldn’t jump in a pool without taking a photo to post on social media. Luckily, I have a wide-angle camera to use so I can capture the place’s wonder.

Pro tip: Try taking wide-angle shots from a worm’s eye view to make it look like the world is big and exciting.

Not wanting to spend a lot of time on social media, I don’t edit my photos anymore and upload it as is, seeing the vibrancy and saturation of colors are lively enough to give justice to how beautiful the place is. But if you’re going to edit your photos, you can never go wrong with VSCO or Adobe Lightroom.

Weekends give us ample time to rest. When you take advantage of that opportunity, you’ll feel relaxed and consequently, you’ll look good in every photo. That’s why I couldn’t help but take a selfie first before diving in.

Pro tip: Use the camera’s timer and place your smartphone somewhere it can stand, probably a rock or something sturdy. Make sure it has a protective case to prevent scratches or other damages. Lastly, make sure a towel is nearby so you can dry your fingers before touching your phone’s screen.

After an hour of preparation and travel, I went to Makati’s Central Business District. I once saw a post showing how beautiful Makati was during a holiday. There were only a few people and cars passing by.

It gave me the idea to visit it on a weekend knowing the place won’t be as busy as it usually is. I have to say it’s a pleasant experience to enjoy the city on a weekend. The atmosphere was a bit gloomy but it’s fun taking photos while going around.

Pro tip: Make sure to activate HDR to brighten scenes that are unusually dark and against the light.

Ayala Triangle Gardens is a nice spot to walk around and take photos. People are just frolicking, hanging out with their friends, playing Pokemon Go and other mobile games while you hear them chanting and screaming after every win. Some pass by and some sit still, enjoying a patch of nature amid the concrete city.

Considering how limited weekends are, I tried to squeeze in a lot of activities. I feel more rejuvenated when I do a lot of things. This weekend, I tried to host my own surprise party for my birthday celebration.

My friends knew how extra I am in life and in everything I do, and they aren’t allowed to do anything but follow my wishes. While my friends set up the booze and games that we can play at night, I sit down and marvel at the peace this park brings.

Here’s the view behind the park’s entrance. Even when the skies aren’t blue and the city was enveloped in a moody atmosphere, the place was still beautiful.

Of course, I love selfies. Eighty percent of my gallery is comprised of selfies in different angles and lighting conditions.

Pro tip: Don’t be saddened by cloudy skies, take advantage of them. Without the sun’s harsh lighting, your selfies will look balanced since the clouds act as a diffuser. If the photo looks a little bit dark, use light-colored places to bounce light.

Smartphone cameras with built-in filters are a nice thing to have. It adds drama and gives the photo a personality. For quick stories you share, use any social media or camera app’s built-in filter. We spend a lot of time editing our photos only for it to disappear after 24 hours. How about putting that time to better use such as improving your skills in smartphone photography?

As I walked around Ayala Avenue, I passed by this covered sidewalk. Hurrying to visit my favorite coffee shop in Makati, I quickly snapped this photo only to realize it could’ve been better if I stood still and took my time to frame it perfectly.

Pro tip: Find your focal point and utilize leading lines to add perspective. This can be further highlighted by using a wide-angle camera to accentuate the elements. Don’t forget to use filters to set the mood!

Ayala’s underpass is beautiful on a weekend. I was able to magnify its beauty as if it was a scene taken out of a movie, thanks to the wide-angle feature.

One thing I always do when I’m in an escalator is to look up. Few people realize how gorgeous those ceilings are, forgetting the little details in a city’s architecture.

Pro tip: Adding shadows in your photos create a dramatic effect and adds a lot of depth. You don’t have to use HDR all the time.

Since my favorite coffee shop was closed, I went to Starbucks instead and enjoyed a cup of Teavana.

Pro tip: Use glass windows as a background when you use the portrait bokeh mode. It helps with the blurring and it adds more depth.

When I went back to the unit, I was surprised to see my friends prepared. I was only expecting some booze and games, but there was a lot more. Thankfully, the place was spacious enough otherwise I would have had to ask them to compress and use the wide-angle feature once more.

My heart was warm. There was pizza!

Pro tip: Stay away from doing flat lays when there’s a limited source of light. Chances are your shadow will ruin the image. Wide-angles are still a no since the distortion will disrupt the flat lay unless you’re planning on cropping the center part.

Photo-ops are a must for any celebration. Hence, I set up the Vivo Y17 on a timer and asked my friends to compress. Without the wide-angle, we were able to fit in. I’m glad that there are a lot of camera modes to use in different situations.

In celebrating my birthday, I opted to put down my phone and be in the moment. Life doesn’t always have to be uploaded on social media. Sometimes, the best memories are those unrecorded.


This feature was produced in a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Vivo Philippines.

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy M31: How long does a 6000mAh battery lasts?

We took the phone out for a spin!

Published

on

Having long-lasting device is a must when you need to stay connected.  When Samsung proudly introduced the Galaxy M31 with a  6,000mAh battery, it’s like god heard my woes. No more reliance on power banks and hogging wall sockets!

But how long does a 6000mAh battery last, especially for someone who’s overly attached to his smartphone? To find the answer, we fully charged a Galaxy M31 to see if it will last more than my ex-flings (or a day, in this case).

Hour 00: Making you mine

It was 2:20 PM when I took the fully charged Galaxy M31 to finish setting it up, and personalize it as my new daily driver for god knows how long. If you’re familiar with Samsung’s One UI 2.0, navigating the phone is a breeze.

I installed my essential apps — particularly Spotify — and spent at least an hour and a half to finish personalizing the phone. It was almost four in the afternoon when I decided to take a nap, with the battery currently sitting at 96 percent.

Hour 02: Vibing with your quirks

Thirty minutes later, I woke up from incessant sweating caused by a vexatious, humid atmosphere. When I checked the phone, I wasn’t surprised to see it drop to 95 percent. After all, Spotify was still playing on the background. I started prepping up to take a bath while dancing to “Mamma Mia” (I do hope youngins still know this classic).

Most of my Sundays are usually spent doing different hobbies, but having to test a phone’s battery life derailed my perfectly laid up weekend plan.

In lieu of doing things that feed my soul, I watched The Half Of It on Netflix and played Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in between supper, hourly snacks, skincare, and prepping myself to sleep.

Hour 08: Quarter good

Even with an annoying notch, watching and playing on a Super AMOLED screen is still a treat. I’m accustomed to using flagship smartphones, but the Galaxy M31 packed a punch for a midrange phone.

It’s powered by an Exynos 9611 chipset (which caused some heating), and a 6B RAM, and 128GB internal storage. A hiccup-free experience is guaranteed!

It was 10:10 PM when I turned the Wi-Fi off so I can sleep peacefully. The battery currently sits at 76 percent.

Hour 15: Staying strong

My nights are constantly haunted by my crushing regrets. In between interrupted periods of sleep, the phone’s battery sat at 75 percent. I decided to get out of the bed around 5 in the morning, planning a full day ahead.

I started catching up with news while hydrating myself with lemon water. Afterward, I opened my favorite app — Nike Training Club — to perform morning stretches. It offers quick, guided workouts for different purposes: strength, endurance, mobility, and flexibility.

Before I start my workout, I brought along my Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Fit E. If you’re deep into Samsung’s ecosystem, you’ll be disappointed with the unavailability of Galaxy Buds’ plugin, so no wireless listening for you. Although, you can rely on the Galaxy M31’s loudspeakers. Thankfully, the phone still connects seamlessly with my Galaxy Fit E.

At 6:25 AM, the battery dropped to 70 percent after conducting my morning routine. Do note that Spotify is constantly playing, even when I’m not actively using my phone. (Life without music sucks.)

Hour 17: Picture-perfect memories

It was almost seven in the morning when I started shooting a friend’s baked goods. As I sung to Taylor Swift’s “Death by a Thousand Cuts”, I let myself have fun using the Galaxy M31’s quad-camera setup.

I wrapped up around 7:19 AM with a 67 percent battery life. I took a bath and drove to Starbucks to get my favorite cold brew. Along the way, I took some selfies and snaps and uploaded them to Instagram Stories.

Hour 20 to 28: The last hurrah

I was back at my desk around 10 AM and started my daily grind. The phone sat at 43 percent after heavy and constant usage. I pulled my laptop and started working. Even with a bigger screen, I still used my phone to respond to messages, moderate social media pages, and watch on Netflix while eating.

The phone’s battery dipped to 15 percent at 6:48 PM, when my shift was about to end. To my astonishment, the Galaxy M31 lasted more than 28 hours on a single charge.

I charged the device at 7:08 PM and left it while I had dinner, took a bath, and did some house chores. It took at least three hours to fully charge the device from 15 to 95 percent, using its 15W fast charging adapter via USB-C.

On a side note, the Galaxy M31’s battery is such a rocker when left on standby mode. On a Tuesday afternoon, I left a fully charged Galaxy M31 in a safe. I checked back Saturday afternoon, and I was surprised to see its battery dipped from 100 percent to 33 percent.

Is it your GadgetMatch?

Summing it up, the Galaxy M31 is a capable and dependable midrange smartphone. It offers reliable performance with a battery that can keep up with you for more than a day. If you’re a power user looking for an affordable handset with no bells and whistles, this one is for you.

The Galaxy M31 is currently available in Black and Blue and retails for PhP 13,990 (US$ 283). It’s online-exclusive and will be available for purchase at Samsung’s Online store.

Continue Reading

Features

6 tips to make your phone more private and secure

Exercise caution during these times

Published

on

Your smartphone is capable of gathering and collecting personal information. As such, malicious hackers are always looking for ways to break into your phone to gain that valuable information. Meanwhile, big tech companies and governments are actively developing discrete methods of tracking you through your smartphone.

Thus, it is important to protect your smartphone’s privacy and security. However, it can be daunting to do that if you don’t know where to begin. With many privacy and security guidelines out there, it can be confusing where to look for protection.

Luckily, it’s easy to make your phone more private and secure. These tips are easy to do, and can be accomplished in an hour. Remember though, that the level of protection varies for different people.

These tips aren’t intended for the privacy paranoid. Instead, they act as tips on ensuring that you have the baseline privacy and security protection for your smartphone.

1. Change your device’s privacy settings

“It starts with you,” so the saying goes. The same tip also applies to making your device more private and secure. You have to start by changing your device’s setting.

Unfortunately for you, some default settings actually harm your device’s privacy and security. For example, your device may have analytics turned on by default — this violates privacy by sending data to third-party companies without your consent.

Changing the default privacy settings in iOS is simple and intuitive. All you need to do is to head over to the Settings app and scroll to the Privacy menu down below. Here, you’ll see a lot of things that you can change.

On the Android side, you’ll usually find the privacy settings for your device on the list of menus under your phone’s settings app. Like in iOS, you’ll see a lot of things that you can change to make your device more private.

These include limiting or opting out of ad personalization, turning off analytics, and changing notifications to display only the app name.

2. Review individual app permissions

Most apps that you use every day ask for permissions. These act as barriers that stop apps from mindlessly retrieving sensitive data.

Treat permissions as a powerful tool for safeguarding your privacy and security. Likewise, most permissions are important enough that you need to be more mindful of what apps you’re allowing and not allowing.

Common permissions include access to the camera, microphone, contacts, SMS, and location. There’s no exact rule to determining what permission should be allowed for an app.

However, as a general rule of thumb, know first the advertised function of a certain app. A calculator app shouldn’t ask for your microphone if, in the first place, it doesn’t tout voice input as a function.

For messaging apps, you’ll obviously need to allow contacts and SMS access. These apps will also need the camera and microphone access for video calling purposes.

Social media apps commonly require access to contacts, camera, and location. Meanwhile, utility apps should have minimum permissions from the get-go.

3. Use a VPN

You may have heard about someone using a VPN to unblock shows from Netflix or view restricted websites. Basically, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) routes your connection to multiple servers around the world. As such, you also end up with an IP address that hides your real location.

This is a huge deal especially for some websites or services that hide content depending on a user’s location. It’s also a boon for your privacy and security.

VPNs also protect your privacy by feeding false location information to most advertisers on the web. Most websites today have ads that track users wherever they go. Companies have sophisticated methods of tracking and building user profiles. This violates users’ privacy and security.

There are a lot of VPN services to choose from in this day and age. However, some VPN services actually leak sensitive information. On top of that, some of them have monthly data allocation and speed caps.

Some of the reputable VPN services out there include ProtonVPN, Private Internet Access, TunnelBear, and NordVPN. It’s also worth checking out Mullvad, SurfShark, and IPVanish.

Configuring VPNs is easy. You just have to follow the instructions given by your selected VPN provider.

4. Install messaging apps with encryption.

We use messaging apps to stay connected with our friends and families. However, not all messaging apps are built equally.

Some messaging apps don’t implement end-to-end encryption (E2E encryption), allowing malicious hackers and third-party companies to access your valuable information without your permission.

End-to-end encryption protects your valuable data by making your messages hard to read for hackers and companies. That means that even if a company that owns a messaging app gets hacked, they will only see random blobs of data instead of other people’s messages.

By now, most messaging apps in the market use end-to-end encryption. However, most apps only encrypt your data while in transit, which means that your message is safe while it travels across servers.

The messages that reside in your device aren’t encrypted at all, so hackers and companies can retrieve any information using sophisticated methods such as apps that harvest data in the background.

There are quite a good number of messaging apps that offer full E2E encryption. One of the most popular is Signal — a messaging app used by the famous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. You only use a mobile number to create a Signal account, mitigating the need for emails and passwords. It also has quite an extensive list of features that even rival Facebook Messenger.

Other apps that offer full E2E encryption includes ThreeMa, WhatsApp, and Wire. Telegram and Viber also offer E2E encryption by default.

5. Consider using a secure browser

Chances are, the browser that you’re using today is Google Chrome. Many people use Chrome since its fast, simple, and just works.

However, it’s also one of the worst browsers to use for safeguarding personal privacy and security. After all, it is owned by Google. It’s common knowledge by now that Google thrives on a business that doesn’t totally safeguard your privacy and security.

There are other browsers out there that offer a better private browsing mode. Among them is Mozilla Firefox, which offers tracking prevention by default. Firefox’s tracking prevention blocks ads and other web elements that try to gather personal information as you browse the web.

Other browsers that have tracking prevention includes Microsoft Edge and Brave Browser. Safari also blocks trackers now, and you’ll see privacy reports in the future as part of macOS Big Sur.

You may have also heard of Tor Browser. Using Tor Browser is recommended if you want your browsing activity to be more private and secure. Keep in mind though, that browsing is much slower since it routes your network connection to different servers all around the world.

6. Store passwords with a password manager.

In this day and age, you should be using a password manager to manage your website logins. After using one, you’ll wonder why you haven’t used one sooner.

Password managers are convenient. Most of them feature one-click autofill which automatically fills in your username and password in the corresponding field. You’ll no longer have to enter your information manually. On top of that, you protect your privacy against snoopers.

Most password managers can also generate strong passwords for you. You don’t have to think about what unique word you’ll use when asked for a password.

More importantly, you no longer have to reuse an old password which just increases the chances of a hacker gaining access to your accounts. Some even have a password monitor feature, which alerts you if the password you used was retrieved by hackers.

Some of the best password managers out there include LastPass, Dashlane, and Bitwarden.

BONUS: Don’t give your personal info in an instant

This sounds simple but it’s something that we need to share with everyone. Especially our loved ones who don’t know better about giving out their personal information.

This not only applies in the digital world but also in the real world. After all, someone is bound to mishandle or abuse your personal data. The best course of action is to always ask if sensitive information is needed at all.

In digital terms, that means checking out an app or a website’s privacy policy for any mention of what data is needed to gain access to their service. However, privacy policies tend to get long, so we might be lazy enough to know why a piece of data is needed.

As a rule of thumb, always exercise caution when giving out personal information. If possible, limit any personal information to your name, email address, mobile number, and approximate location.

Making your device more secure and private doesn’t have to be tedious. These simple tips are easy enough to follow but will ensure a more private experience for you and your device.

These tips, however, only scratch the surface. Ensuring your device is private and secure is a proactive approach that requires one to be cautious of their data at all times.

Continue Reading

Reviews

LG Velvet Review: New breed of flagship killer?

Published

on

Over the years, LG was once a pioneer in the smartphone industry with their G and V smartphone series. These phones are packed with a lot of punch and boast new and exciting features.

But LG has forgotten one thing, and that is how to fix their unexciting phone designs. From the G7 ThinQ all the way to V50 ThinQ 5G, those phones almost look unchanged. They might have been minor changes with the newer V60 ThinQ 5G, but it’s still not as eye-catching as other contenders.

The LG Velvet isn’t a replacement to their ever-existing flagship series. Instead, LG tries to reimagine things by making sure they produce products that cater the needs of not just tech nerds, but other types of consumers as well.

Here’s our in-depth review of the LG Velvet.

Continue Reading

Trending