Features

Will the iPhone finally make AR games more mainstream?

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New iPhones, fancy photography tricks, and a demo failure in front of millions — there was no shortage of things to talk about after Apple’s grand event. Less highlighted, however, was the company’s strong push for augmented reality (AR) games on mobile. There’s actually a good reason for that.

As cool as the demos were during the keynote, AR gaming isn’t a new concept. Unlike virtual reality (VR) which normally requires a headset strapped to your face and powerful hardware, AR simply adds graphics to the world around you using a device containing a camera and screen, like a smartphone or tablet.


Apple understands what they’re getting into, but like most of the features that come a little later to iPhones — refined virtual assistant and widget integration come to mind — the company is a master of simplifying a preexisting execution, marketing it like its the next big thing, and ensuring there are no compatibility issues with newer models.

A short refresher

To date, the most successful attempt at bringing AR games to the mainstream market has been Pokémon Go. Smaller now in user base but widely played nonetheless, the Pokémon-powered AR game is available for both iOS and Android, and can be enjoyed without spending a cent. That was the winning formula for developer Niantic, but their success has been difficult to replicate.

Although such games have been around for a while already (remember Ingress?), taking AR gaming to the next level is more difficult than it looks. Lenovo and ASUS have been the most prominent pushers of the platform using Google’s Tango AR system, which includes the software, hardware, and exclusive app store to make the advanced experience possible.

Lenovo introduced the first Tango-enabled smartphone with the Phab 2 Pro. Ring a bell? As you can imagine, the product didn’t fly. Being the pioneering Tango gadget wasn’t enough for consumers to ignore the relatively high price tag for an unproven platform. Sure, Tango was already fun to play with despite being in its infancy stage, but beyond that, it felt like a novelty item.

ASUS took the idea a step further with the ZenFone AR. Now with a more powerful smartphone to work with, Tango finally took off with more recognizable games and a more refined selection of utility apps. But again, the concept felt wasted on an overpriced phone with a minuscule number of owners.

Playing Apple’s game

So, how does Apple’s strategy differ from the rest while also being rather late to the game? Simple: by making AR games available to millions of existing iPhones through the latest version of iOS.

According to Apple, downloading iOS 11 on a recent iPhone (iPhone 6s and SE or later) or iPad (all of the Pro series and the 2017 model) gives you access to everything designed by ARKit, which is what app developers have been using to create AR games for iPhones. That’s right: You don’t need the US$ 1,000 iPhone X or marginally updated iPhone 8 to experience their platform.

AR games on the iPhone X’s borderless screen look incredible!

This is a smart move by Apple. It’s a model similar to what Niantic has done with Ingress and Pokémon Go and it goes back to the formula I mentioned earlier — remove the strict hardware requirements, don’t scare away consumers with complicated terms like Tango-compatible triple-camera setup, and make it available for devices up to two years old.

The only shortcoming is incompatibility with the three-year-old iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as any of the iPad mini models, all of which are still widely used around the world.

Looking to the future

Whether or not these AR games become successful in terms of number of downloads or critical response to the quality of games, Apple already won the AR war against Google. The sheer fact that there are six times as many iOS devices with advanced mobile AR and greater accessibility compared to that of Tango is a telling sign.

Of course, like 3D movies and recent attempts at VR gaming, AR could be another passing fad. At least it’s going to be a lot cheaper to enjoy from the get-go and require less of a financial and emotional investment.

SEE ALSO: Apple’s Animojis are the future of emojis

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Hands-On

OPPO A9 2020 Hands-On: Massive and Playful

For every kind of junkie

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OPPO recently streamlined its smartphone lineup. From Find and Reno, OPPO introduces us to the newest A series. On paper, it seems the A-series is a combination of the F-series and former A-series. Sitting in a sweet spot between an affordable price range and incredible performance, the OPPO A9 2020 is shaping up to be a contender in a sea of smartphones fighting for the crown in the midrange category.

With Xiaomi and Huawei firmly in the lead, can OPPO put up a fight just like it did with its F series? Let’s find out in this Hands-On!


Starting with looks, the OPPO A9 2020 gives in to a premium-like design

It has a dedicated fingerprint scanner and a quad-camera setup on its rear

You can find the power button here…

…While the left side houses the volume keys and sim card slot

Its top is clear, but its bottom shows-off its speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C port

It has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen with a waterdrop notch for the front camera

The OPPO A9 2020 prides itself with its new design that took inspiration from its R-series. In addition, OPPO focused on the phone’s display, reinforcing its IPS LCD screen with a Toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 3+.

Moreover, its screen has new features such as the Sunlight Screen which allows you to adjust the contrast so you can read the screen, even under strong direct light. It also has a Blue Shield which filters out blue light, relieving your eyes from fatigue and strain and protecting your eyesight.

Going big and definitely not going home

Sporting a Snapdragon 665 chipset along with an 8GB RAM, 128GB storage (which you can expand up to 256GB of external memory), the A9 2020 really joined the battle of offering power to midrange devices. OPPO decides to make everything flashy and… big.

For instance, it boasts a humongous 5000mAh battery that can last you throughout the day. Furthermore, it’s capable of reverse wireless charging (through OTG) so your friends can rely on you when their phones run out of battery.

Gamers will find delight with the A9 2020. Thanks to Game Boost 2.0, OPPO’s accelerator technology aims to resolve latency, reduce touchscreen lag, and optimizing energy consumption to avoid overheating.

OPPO decided to up their game for entertainment junkies, too! Packed with Dual Stereo Speakers and Dolby Atmos sound effects, expect a superb, immersive audio experience.

Smarter, smoother

The A9 2020 runs on ColorOS 6 based on Android 9.0. Now, its interface is cleaner and smoother. Icons look cute with their subtle gradient tones.

It also comes with smart functions like Smart Assistant, Riding Mode — which lets you remain uninterrupted by notifications and incoming calls — and a Music party app which lets multiple phones connect in the same LAN through a Wi-Fi hotspot for synchronized listening.

Navigating the phone is now easier with a single hand, too. Through Gesture Navigation, you can return to the home screen, check out recent tasks, switch pages and applications by just swiping up, left, and right.

Cameras for all angles and scenarios

The OPPO A9 2020 shows off its highly versatile camera setup. It has a 48-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel portrait lens, and a 2-megapixel mono lens on its rear.

On its front is a 16-megapixel camera with AI Beautification technology which automatically identifies your skin tone, age, gender, and skin color for customized beautification, giving you a pretty yet make-up free look.

More features include artistic portrait styles, ultra night mode, and 4K video shooting. More sample photos here:

Is the OPPO A9 2020 your GadgetMatch?

If you’re into massive and chunky smartphones with a solid build, the OPPO A9 2020 might be a good match. It offers power and performance for gamers and entertainment junkies, and its smartphone has a versatile camera setup to appease your needs. While there may be Xiaomi and Huawei leading the midrange category, OPPO definitely cooked up a powerful yet affordable phone that can go toe-to-toe with its rivals.

The OPPO A9 2020 is available in two colors: Space Purple and Marine Green. Its retail price is PhP 15,990 and will be available for pre-order starting September 20 until September 27 in Lazada, and through OPPO stores, authorized dealers, and e-commerce partner sites like Shopee, Akulaku, and Argomall on September 28.

For those who want to avail through Home Credit, customers can pre-order the A9 2020 starting September 20 with flexible payment terms of six and nine months with a guaranteed zero percent interest.

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Features

Huawei’s Nova is the brand for the rising youth

And the Nova 5T the perfect companion

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Google “Gen Z self expression” and you’ll come up with several results on how the youth of today values self-belief. Technology and innovation sit comfortably in the middle of a contextual generation: Generation Z. It’s the generation that knows little to nothing outside the digital age — which isn’t to say it’s a bad thing.

Technology and the digital space are the contexts our lifestyles adapt to. From the accessibility of online shopping, various news platforms to diverse online friendships, it’s not that difficult to see how this generation, our generation, has unique views and perspectives: self-belief.


Nova and self belief

Huawei’s Nova brand is stepping up to the plate to cater to this advocacy of self-belief and self-expression instead of a uniform marketed identity. Huawei is bringing cutting-edge technology worthy of flagship titles while decking out phones with stunning and exquisite designs.

This is meant to give people the chance to work, express and discover themselves through optimal technology customization and innovation. The goal is essentially to allow users to not just integrate their tech-savvy lifestyle through the Nova series, but also foster the core values of individuality and collaboration.

Want to keep track of your creative progress and teetering your interest into making a daily vlog? Huawei is way ahead of you. With the fundamental significance of self-expression, Huawei equipped the Nova 5T with five AI cameras for users to take drop-dead gorgeous shots of themselves and the view.

Cameras that empower your self expression

If you want to test out your photography skills, take photo proof, or a photo and video journal of your creative progress, the Nova 5T is your best companion. It has you covered from quality super-wide angles, bokeh, and macro shots.

The phone has one camera for super-wide angles, a main 48-megapixel camera, one for macro shots and lastly, depth assists. If you’re worried about how shots of other people and everything else around you will look more stunning than your selfies, drop the silly worrying. The front camera will make sure you step up your selfie game. It’s a 32-megapixel selfie camera with portrait lighting.

Huawei didn’t quite stop there with the Nova 5T. They cased this photography powerhouse into a 3-dimensional holographic design that just makes anyone strut with confidence.

A design that stands-out

And, you might wonder, “what’s the holographic casing got to do with catering to our philosophy?” We honestly thought it was a bit of a pain to figure it out and make something up, but you’ve got to give it to Huawei for sticking to purposeful design.

If you isolate the elements of how it looks — and forgive us if this is a bit of a silly stretch, the holographic design depicts an intention to represent collaborative diversity.

Holographic designs reflect different colors. Sounds a bit familiar? Well, it sounds like the perfect casing to represent the philosophy of individuality, self-expression, and collaboration.

Nova is a brand for the rising youth

The idea of self and embracing individuality doesn’t mean stomping over everyone else. It allows for a deeper understanding for other people. It fosters a community with depth and character and that’s exactly what this holographic designs emulate. Lastly, it also shows movement in its rigidity all while looking beautifully futuristic. This makes sure you and everyone else don’t feel apologetic about being yourselves.

Huawei’s Nova 5T enables people to play around and be creative on their journey towards self-discovery, self-identity, and inevitably, self-expression through its specifications down to it’s thought-out striking design.


This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

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Automotive

2019 Kona 2.0 GLS: Mr. Extrovert

Feeling flashy

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Is it a crossover? Is it a hatchback? Is it an APV? I, too, was confused when I first laid eyes on the 2019 Hyundai Kona. It was one of a kind, unique from any segment I was familiar with.

In line with the Mazda CX3 and Honda HRV, the Kona is a subcompact crossover SUV.


This vehicle is a true head-turner. I highly appreciate car companies whose designs are bold and thought of outside the box. In short, designs that make a statement.

The sleek and futuristic look of the Kona is best complemented in the flagship color Acid Yellow that gave my child-like imagination the impression of a glowing radioactive spaceship.

From the front, its fascia is exciting and modern in style with the growing trend of separated headlight design (like the Nissan Juke), streamlined daytime running lights, and low set fog lamps all go together with Hyundai’s trademark grille design.

Side profiles are matched with dynamic character lines as well as accents of matte black plastic cladding around the wheel arches and rocker panels.

Walking around to the back, you will find a design that is very consistent with the front. It’s almost identical and probably has one of the best looking rear-ends in its segment.

If we were to personify this Kona, it would undoubtedly be an extrovert. He’d be that kind of guy who’s not afraid of being a little flashy and would confidently come up to you to get your attention.

What I’m not a big fan of is the unnecessary amount of plastic cladding. Anyone who has ever owned a vehicle with this type of material will agree when I say it demands high maintenance since it tends to fade quickly.

Overall, the exterior feels exciting and fun, but stepping inside is a different story.

The interior is, well, basic. Scratchy-hard and soft plastic, fabrics, and polyurethane are the main materials used for the interior. It doesn’t give you the same exhilaration as the exterior and sadly feels like it stepped out of character.

Mounted on the dashboard, you will find a somewhat unappealing infotainment system — A non-touchscreen mono LCD unit that’s initially confusing to use while underneath is its manual climate control. Oh, and its instrument panel didn’t help spice the interior up, either, as it seemed a little too straightforward for this car’s asking price.

On the up-side, cabin space and comfort are not lacking whatsoever. With head and legroom to spare and plenty of cargo space for everyone. Cup holders, USB ports, and 12V sockets also come as standard.

When it comes to safety, Hyundai didn’t skimp on this crossover as it earned a high safety rating in the United States. With a score of 9.8, it has been given the Top Safety Pick+ award. It has Anti-Lock Braking System, traction control, dual airbags, and side curtain airbags as standard.

The ride is decently high with a ground clearance of 170mm, nearly as much as its bigger brother, the Tucson. Firing up the engine via keyless push-start button, you hear a smooth running 2.0 DOHC engine.

This is then mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that produces 147hp and 179nm of torque. It’s not the most powerful but is definitely one of the most economical, giving you up to 20km per liter (at best) on highways.

The Kona has three different driving modes you can shift through with a push of a button. You have Normal, Eco and Sport modes which just basically times gear changes differently to give you better responsiveness.

Driving this vehicle is very simple with no unneeded drama. The ride felt smooth and quiet while steering felt properly firm. You do get a bit of body roll around the corners, though.

Lacking from this vehicle is a reverse camera and proximity sensors and, from its price point, you would expect these features as standard. A feature I didn’t find necessary was the hill descent control which would be useful on its AWD variant but not on the FWD version that we have.

For now, the 2.0 GLS is the only variant available here in the Philippines. A straightforward, rather basic but economical ride that would make a perfect daily driver. Although if I were to choose between the two Kona models, I would probably go for the higher AWD 1.6 turbo Ultimate trim model which is a better option than the GLS trim.

To sum it up, it’s a bit of a bummer that it lacks a reverse camera, proximity sensors, and still runs a sub-par infotainment system in this age of touchscreens and Android Auto.  What I do like, though, is how it looks. This car unquestionably wins in the looks department. And factoring in its safety achievements and fuel economy, we can easily overlook its shortcomings.

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