Features

Why Apple needs a smaller, cheaper iPhone SE

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Hours from now, Apple will very likely take the wraps off a new iPhone, a smaller iPhone that’s more affordable and more suited for those who think one-handed usage should be an option regardless of the task.

The iPhone SE, or whatever Apple decides to call it, is all but certain to replace the iPhone 5s as the cheapest iPhone available, though it begs the question: Does Apple really need this iPhone to grow its business? The short answer is yes. However, a far more important question is why Apple is releasing a watered-down version of a great phone.

We think there are three explanations for Apple’s second attempt at a mid-tier handset (rest in peace, iPhone 5c).

Two iPhone announcements in a year

The first is the most obvious: Coming out with another iPhone line allows Apple to rain on Samsung’s Galaxy S parade in February or March, while at the same time undercutting its chief competition with a cheaper but not necessarily more capable product, although it can be a springboard to introduce new features and design changes. In a way, it can be a preview of things to expect in September’s iPhone.

Apple can even bump up future announcement dates for its smaller and cheaper iPhone to hijack the hype of Android devices announced at the annual International CES [Consumer Electronics Show] and Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress.

It’s a win for Apple, but that’s assuming the handset is a big hit. Which is assuming quite a lot given Apple’s recent failure in the midrange. And by “failure,” we mean the iPhone 5c didn’t take off as expected, with 9to5 Mac reporting last year that the iPhone 5c accounted for only 8.5 percent of active iPhones at the time.

iPhone for emerging markets

Apple’s smartphone shipments are expected to fall short of projections for the first time since 2003, despite its retail efforts in China. Add to that the slowing smartphone adoption rates in countries where Apple is considered a top contender, and it’s not surprising to see the company setting its sights to India and other emerging economies. India, after all, has leapfrogged the U.S. into second place in terms of smartphone shipments last year.

But here’s the thing: Low-priced Android phones dominate low-income markets, and, price-wise, current iPhone models, with the exception of the iPhone 5s, aren’t competitive enough. But that may soon change with the arrival of the iPhone SE, even though we don’t expect it to be cheap.

A reasonable estimate would be around $US400 (Php19,000), which is still cheaper than paying full price for an off-contract iPhone 6s (starts at $US650). And let’s not forget that carrier subsidies could write off the upfront cost of the cheaper iPhone, putting it in the hands of more consumers.

A “new” iPhone 5s

Perhaps we don’t need to tell you this, but it’s time to retire the iPhone 5s. It has been on shelves for years now, which is too long in the fast-paced mobile industry; the hardware is already showing its age, as any iPhone 5s user on iOS 9.2.1 will tell you. Next to a 2016 Android phone in the midrange, the iPhone 5s right now is about as appealing as a pair of Crocs, or a minivan.

Most of the leaks surrounding the upcoming iPhone suggest a 4-inch phone that’s just as capable as the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s, and they’re probably not far off, if only because Apple can’t use the same components it used to build the iPhone 5s for reasons stated above.

If Apple wants the iPhone SE to succeed in the long term, it’s going to have to pack enough oomph to run the current iOS version, the next and the one after that without performance issues. We don’t see that happening with anything less than what the iPhone 6s offers.

Image credit: Nick Beeep

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy A6 Hands-on: Repackaging the older series

A combination of the Galaxy J7 Pro and Galaxy A8

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The latest midrange phones of Samsung are finally hitting the stores, but they got us a little confused. Since the introduction of the Galaxy A series, it has always been the family of upper-midrange Samsung phones with a premium design. In 2018 though, Samsung is blending the Galaxy A and Galaxy J’s designs; the result is the new Galaxy A6 phones. There’s a regular and a better plus variant, but let’s check out the former first.

This is the Galaxy A6: A phone with a 5.6-inch Super AMOLED display and an 18.5:9 aspect ratio or Infinity Display, as Samsung calls it. The resolution of the display is underwhelming at just 1480 x 720 pixels or 294ppi, but it’s still pretty sharp. The Infinity Display of the Galaxy A6 doesn’t curve to the sides unlike with the Galaxy S9 flagship, yet the bezels are minimal.

The vibrant Super AMOLED display is a common Samsung trait

We have the usual sight in the front including the 16-megapixel f/1.9 selfie camera paired with its own LED flash, earpiece, and sensors. There’s no branding on the face of the phone so when the display is turned off, it looks sleek and clean on the table.

Too bad it doesn’t have the Always On Display feature, even though it has an AMOLED screen.

It’s an Infinity Display but not edge-to-edge

Having the loudspeaker at the side has now been a staple among Samsung midrange phones. It’s a much better placement than on the bottom since you don’t cover or muffle it when viewing in landscape orientation. This is ideal for watching videos or playing mobile games.

Both the loudspeaker and power button are on the right side of the phone

The volume buttons are on the right

Those who dislike making a choice between a microSD card or secondary SIM card will be glad to see the triple card slots of the Galaxy A6. There are two card trays inside the phone: one for the main nano-SIM card and another for the second nano-SIM and the microSD card.

You have to take out two trays to get all your cards inside

The body of the phone is mainly made up of aluminum with U-shaped antennas similar to the Galaxy J7 Pro’s frame. To be honest, the Galaxy A6 can easily be mistaken for the Galaxy J7 Pro if not for the rear camera. Speaking of, the Galaxy A6 has a 16-megapixel f/1.7 rear sensor inside an area shared with the fingerprint sensor. Thankfully, it’s identical to the Galaxy A8’s and Galaxy S9’s placement.

There should be fewer smudges on the camera lens

Going further into the internals of the Galaxy A6, it’s powered by an Exynos 7870 processor — the same silicon the popular Galaxy J7 Prime had back in 2016. The processor is getting old, so we’re hoping Samsung will use a newer one in their next release.

Good thing the bigger Galaxy A6+ has the latest Snapdragon 450, or else it’ll be just an under-powered midrange phone.

The variant we have here has 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage, but there’s also a 4GB/64GB combo available in select markets.

The Samsung Galaxy A6 with the 3GB/32GB configuration retails for PhP 16,490 in the Philippines while in India, it goes from INR 21,990 up to INR 22,990 depending on the variant.

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Apps

Android P: YouTubers React

Android Pineapple or Android Popcorn?

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It’s that time of the year again when we make guesses on what the next version of Android will be called. We saw some clues at the Shoreline Amphitheater and this is what your favorite YouTubers think.

Is it going to be Android Pineapple? Android Popcorn? Android Popsicle? Android Pie? Your guess is as good as ours. Sound off in the comments section what you think it will be called!

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Features

7 tips to stepping up your Instagram game

No amount of editing can fix a bad image

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It all started with sharing memories using a vintage filter. Through the years, Instagram grew and became a platform for self-expression, an avenue for individuals to showcase their lifestyle and creativity. More and more, people are curating their Instagram profiles and here you are, stuck with your messy feed and hoping to step up your Instagram game out of envy.

Fret not! A lot of us feel that way, too. As a creative who lives and breathes Instagram for brands, but doesn’t have the time to work on his own account, I’ve got seven tips to share to help people level up. Here they are:

Think like a brand

Chay likes to take photos of her food, while Kevin is passionate about landscape and aerial photography

Set the direction of how you want your Instagram feed to look. It can be in tune with your personality, hobbies, and interests, or you can transform it into your portfolio of artworks, photographs, or works you proudly share. It can also give people a glimpse of your lifestyle, or the things you’re passionate about. Whatever it is, you decide on what to show on your feed.

Equip yourself with the right camera

Kevin likes to capture his adventures with his favorite toy, the DJI Mavic Pro. MJ, on the other hand, prefers to capture his moments on a good camera phone

Today’s smartphone cameras can sometimes have the same resolution and image quality as a DSLR camera’s, but you shouldn’t fully rely on them. Depending on what kind of photographs you take, there’s a gadget that will help you up your Instagram game. Whether it’s an action cam, drone, or mirrorless camera, there’s a specific shooter out there for your unique needs.

Let your photos tell a story

MJ captured this photo of a girl walking on the streets of Puerto Galera under the scorching sun, while Vincenz photographed a passing taho vendor during a late afternoon in Boracay

Be in touch with your surroundings and capture the moments you find yourself in. Give your followers a glimpse of what’s happening by including people, actions, scenery, and events in your photos. Invoke emotions and make your audience feel like they’re a part of your narrative. A caption would help to support your post, but your photograph should be able to tell a story on its own.

Adjust and tweak for the best results

Chay visited an Instagram-worthy cafe in Shanghai; the raw image is beautiful enough, but to keep her style, she adjusted the brightness and temperature slightly to make it warmer

Our smartphones may not capture the exact moment we see with our own eyes, but we can always accentuate how beautiful our photos are through editing. There are numerous photo-editing apps but remember to not overdo it! Just tweak and adjust these main points: brightness, contrast, alignment, and temperature. Do so, and you’ll look like a pro.

Keep it authentic from the start

MJ upped the vibrancy a little bit to accentuate Mt. Pinatubo’s aquamarine-colored lake, and Dan tweaked the highlights to feature the skyscrapers of Singapore

Good editing is the kind wherein you don’t notice it was even edited. A lot of people overdo their editing to the point of looking artificial. Some can actually pull it off, but others try so hard to copy styles and presets that the image loses its authenticity.

Be consistent and learn how to commit

Dan’s feed consists of his daily grind showcasing urban life and architecture, while Isa’s feed features her travels and OOTDs.

This generation has a lot of commitment issues *ehem* but being uncommitted when you badly want something isn’t going to get you anywhere. Once you’ve decided to up your Instagram game, you have to continue doing so to achieve the feed that you’ve always wanted.  Be consistent in posting a single style to make it cohesive.

Don’t take it too seriously

Isa, Alven, and Michael Josh uploaded their fun and memorable moments on their respective Instagram profiles.

And lastly, enjoy and have fun! Taking it seriously kills your creativity. Get in touch with your inner child and be playful. There’s so much more to life than your Instagram feed.

Curating your feed might seem daunting, and from your perspective, it could be a thing only brands, influencers, and creative people do. You might even downplay yourself because you don’t have talent in photography, but guess what, you don’t need to be a pro to take nice photographs. Your eyes can be trained to see the beauty in everything; you just have to believe that there’s an artist inside you.

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