This ZenFone 2 has more storage than a base-model MacBook Pro

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via ASUS Fanaticos

You’d think ASUS would have run out of ZenFone 2 ideas by now, given that its popular smartphone line probably already has more variants than the Encyclopedia Britannica has volumes, but it hasn’t. Enter the ZenFone 2 Deluxe Special Edition, yet another new addition to the growing ZenFone family. The kicker this time around is an insane amount of onboard storage for something that fits most pockets.

“Just how much storage are we talking about here?” you ask. 256GB. To put things into perspective, that’s twice the capacity of the ZenFone 2 Deluxe and, more impressively, a base-model Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display. That’s enough space to host most, if not all, your apps and prized digital media, enough space to leave my 15-inch laptop with 120GB of SSD storage green with envy.

The ZenFone 2 Deluxe Special Edition has 256GB of storage. That’s twice the capacity of a base-model Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display.

The rest of the specs are nearly identical to those of the ZenFone 2 Deluxe, but there’s no microSD expansion, because, as ASUS would probably tell you, 256GB is beyond overkill for the average smartphone user.

The 256GB model will be pre-loaded with an exclusive version of Asphalt 8 and will come in two additional colors: carbon fiber (black) and white with red accents. There’s no word yet on its availability and price, but given what we already know, it’s fair to say that it won’t come cheap.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RypWLWiz1P0″ width=”560″ height=”315″]

Watch our ASUS Zenfone 2 review

Cheapest Android Lollipop phone to go on sale in PH Aug. 22

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Just weeks after the Cherry Mobile One G1, a well-priced and well-spec’d smartphone that offers a pure Android experience, became official, the local tech company is at it again with another low-cost Android Lollipop offering. Except it’s cheaper than the G1, coming in at P2,999, and will go on sale tomorrow at noon on Lazada’s Philippine site.

This is the Cherry Mobile Touch HD. It’s got a 5-inch IPS display with 720p resolution and, judging from the images on Lazada’s website, a metallic trim and a fake-leather backing.

It runs the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system on a 1.2GHz quad-core processor paired with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of expandable storage. Its rock-bottom price remains its main selling point, of course, with the Touch HD beating out other Android Lollipop phones in the bargain segment.

Cherry Mobile Touch HD specs (Price: P2,999):
* Dual SIM with 3G support
* 1.2GHz quad-core CPU
* 1GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card slot
* 5-inch IPS display (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 2-megapixel front camera
* 2,000mAh battery
* Android Lollipop 5.1

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isDxr9WCPz0″ width=”560″ height=”315″]

Sponsored tweet from LeBron James valued at P6.5M

In Business by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via VAV news

You’re familiar with Twitter, right? And LeBron James? Good. But have you ever wondered how much a sponsored tweet from King James is worth? Wonder no more.

Per a report from ESPN’s Darren Rovell, getting the Cavs superstar to dispense wisdom in 140 characters or less to his 23.2 million followers will cost an advertiser $140,000 ($139,474, to be exact), or around P6.5 million. Do the math, and that’s $1,000 per character.

According to ESPN, getting LeBron James to tweet about a product or service will cost an advertiser $140,000, or around P6.5 million.

It’s a king’s ransom, to be sure, but Opendorse, the company behind that lofty valuation, says a corporate sponsor would have to spend five times more to reach the equivalent of James’ Twitter following with a TV ad. And before you say anything, remember: This is LeBron James we’re talking about. He’s only one of the best basketball players in history and one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, let alone in basketball.

Which is why people follow him on social-media networking sites like Twitter, among so many others. Yes, it’s good to be LeBron these days — and the guy hasn’t even brought a championship to success-starved Cleveland yet.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Cq1F2YzVQ8″ width=”560″ height=”315″]

First episode of RISE Philippines

Now available: P1,999 MyPhone my21 with 3G, quad-core CPU

In Phones by Ramon Lopez1 Comment

You may have read about MyPhone’s new line of locally inspired phones recently, and surprisingly one of them has been listed on Lazada Philippines’ website, without fanfare or publicity. The MyPhone my21, which may not be the most exciting name for a smartphone. “What does ’21’ mean or represent?” you may ask. Who knows? I sure don’t. Not that it should matter too much to anyone looking for a daily driver with a rock-bottom price tag.

For P1,999 — or less than what you’d typically pay for a cellphone, let alone one that runs Android KitKat — you’re looking at a 4-inch display (likely of the non-HD variety) and a quad-core processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The my21 also has dual-SIM slots with 3G support. Those are very low-end specs compared to other smartphones available today, but what do you expect from a P1,999 phone?

MyPhone my21 specs (Price in the Philippines: P1,999):
* Dual SIM with 3G support
* 1.2GHz quad-core processor
* 512MB RAM
* 4GB internal storage
* 4-inch TFT display
* 2-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* VGA front camera
* Android KitKat 4.4

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isDxr9WCPz0″ width=”560″ height=”315″]

Actual image of 2015 Nexus 5 leaks online

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via Marques Brownlee

It being mid-August, it was only a matter of time before details about the upcoming Nexus 5 reboot appeared online. The latest in the stream of information leaked to the masses shows the backplate of what could be Google’s next flagship smartphone in white and in the wild. The image seems to match up with renders uploaded last week, adding to the speculation that what we’re looking at is the real deal, or at least a prototype of it.

The new Nexus appears to have a curved plastic back with a matte finish and a camera that protrudes slightly from the casing. There’s a sticker with LG’s logo near the bottom of the phone’s backing, indicating that this is the 5.2-inch variant I keep on hearing about. The leaked photo also shows what appears to be a fingerprint scanner, dual-tone flash, and a laser autofocus sensor.

The Nexus 5 reboot appears to have a curved plastic back with a matte finish and a protruding camera. It also has a fingerprint scanner and laser autofocus.

Google is said to launch the LG-made Nexus 5 sometime in October or November, which wouldn’t surprise me one bit given Google’s history of announcing a new phone in the fall. Regardless of when it arrives, you can expect it to run Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk-PY2dBKaA” width=”560″ height=”315″]

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYHY3MFiq1o” width=”560″ height=”315″]

ASUS PH to unveil ZenFone 2 Laser, Selfie, Deluxe August 29th

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Brace yourselves for more ZenFones in the very near future. ASUS Philippines will be adding at least three more variants to its Android portfolio come August 29, particularly the ZenFone 2 Laser, Selfie, and Deluxe phones.

The launch event is open to the public, meaning just about anyone can get his or her hands on the new ZenFones and stand a chance of winning one. Admission is free, but pre-registration is required by August 27.

The ZenFone 2 Laser occupies the bottom rung in ASUS’s upcoming ZenFone lineup and will likely fetch the least amount when it becomes available.

Not that it should be taken for granted, as it features the same specs we’ve seen previously on the OPPO Mirror 5, Cherry Mobile One G1, and the higher-end version of the Motorola Moto G; the ZenFone Laser carries a 5-inch HD IPS display and a Snapdragon 410 chipset with 2GB of RAM and up to 16GB of onboard memory.

The ZenFone 2 Laser features the same specs we’ve seen previously on the OPPO Mirror 5. The icing on the cake is laser autofocus for near-instant focusing even in low light.

If my experience with the Mirror 5 is anything to go by, it should be able to hold its own against low- to mid-tier devices. The icing on the proverbial cake is laser autofocus for accurate and near-instant focusing even in low light.

The 5.5-inch ZenFone Selfie, meanwhile, is expected to pack quite a punch, with an octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor and up to 3GB of RAM on tap.

But the real story here is the 13-megapixel front camera that comes with a wide-angle lens and dual-tone flash and does all the tricks you’d expect from a main shooter of above-average caliber.

5.5-inch ZenFone Selfie, meanwhile, is expected to pack quite a punch, with an octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor and up to 3GB of RAM on tap.

Fittingly, the ZenFone selfie is optimized for taking selfies with its 13-megapixel front camera that does all the tricks you’d expect from a main shooter of above-average caliber.

Fittingly, it is optimized for taking selfies, and ASUS has bolstered its capabilities by pre-installing a software suite called Beautification, which allows you to change your skin tone, even out facial lines, and make your cheeks look slimmer. I could go on, but you get the point.

Last but definitely not the least is the ASUS ZenFone 2 Deluxe — or in my words, a ZenFone 2 on steroids. It’s a powerhouse of a 5.5-incher built around Intel’s latest quad-core Atom chip, which has 4GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage.

The ZenFone 2 Deluxe is a powerhouse of a phone built around Intel’s Atom CPU, which has 4GB of RAM. It also has a textured diamond pattern on the surface of its back cover.

To distinguish itself from the standard ZenFone 2 range, as well as add to its premium appeal, the ZenFone Deluxe has a textured diamond pattern on the surface of its back cover. I’ve seen prototypes of the rear panel before, and they looked pretty good.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RypWLWiz1P0″ width=”560″ height=”315″]

Watch our ASUS Zenfone 2 review

The curious case of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

In Phones by Ramon Lopez2 Comments

I’m worried about Samsung. Not because its profits continue to fall on the back of the market’s lukewarm reaction to the now-discounted Galaxy S6, arguably its most compelling smartphone yet. Not because it has tampered with the Galaxy formula by jettisoning microSD expansion and removable batteries, much to the disappointment of long-time fans. Not because Apple’s market dominance shows no signs of slowing.

I’m just worried, because Friday’s announcement could have ended with one super-sized phone, except it ended with two.

In one corner: a Samsung sequel that, as expected, puts its extra screen real estate to even better use and rightfully bills itself as a productivity device. The Note series, with its S Pen stylus and accompanying suite of software features, represents the pinnacle of what a big-screen phone can do and be, and Samsung was right to introduce a Galaxy Note reboot in August.

The Note series, with its S Pen stylus and accompanying suite of software features, represents the pinnacle of what a big-screen phone can do and be.

In the other corner is the Galaxy S6 Edge+, or, if you will, an S6 Edge stretched in all directions, which is about as silly as it sounds.

Sure, it has a larger, 5.7-inch curved-edge display that narrowly misses the back of the phone, but if there’s anything to be gleaned from its predecessor, it’s this: the S6 Edge+ doesn’t fix the S6 Edge’s most glaring fault. Rather, it shines the spotlight on what I found to be the most annoying thing about a curved-edge display: the glare off its tapered edges. Bigger isn’t always better, and it’s especially true for Samsung’s latest curved phone.

The S6 Edge+ doesn’t fix the S6 Edge’s most glaring fault. It shines the spotlight on what I found to be the most annoying thing about a curved-edge display: screen glare.

But my argument against the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has less to do with what it is and more to do with what it is not. What it is not, is the Galaxy Note 5, which, despite what some Samsung loyalists might like to believe, is one of the best big-screen phones you can buy today. It’s cheaper, too, but only by a mere P3,000.

Unlike the Galaxy S6 Edge+, the Galaxy Note 5 isn’t just a blown-up version of another Galaxy flagship; it’s different in ways that genuinely do make the case for stepping up to a larger screen. That the Galaxy Note is already in its fifth iteration reflects Samsung’s success in creating a need that hadn’t existed before the Note came along.

My argument against the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has less to do with what it is and more to do with what it is not. What it is not, is the Galaxy Note 5.

I could be in the minority here, of course — for those who want it, the “how” and “why” of the Galaxy S6 Edge+’s existence may be largely irrelevant. I know this much, though: Samsung took a risk with the Galaxy S6 Edge+, which, judging from the company’s stock performance over the past quarters, is like chucking a basketball from way beyond the arc when the team is down double digits with under a minute left in regulation.

Whether the ball goes through the hoop remains to be seen, but we’ll know for sure come Samsung’s next earnings call.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 specs (Price in the Philippines: P36,990):
* LTE
* Samsung Exynos 7420 CPU
* Mali-T760-MP8 GPU
* 4GB RAM
* 32GB internal storage
* 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (1,440 x 2,560 resolution)
* 16-megapixel rear camera
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh sealed battery
* S Pen stylus
* Android Lollipop 5.1.1

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ specs (Price in the Philippines: P39,990 for the 32GB model; P44,990 for the 64GB model):
* LTE
* Samsung Exynos 7420 CPU
* Mali-T760-MP8 GPU
* 4GB RAM
* up to 64GB internal storage
* 5.7-inch Super AMOLED curved display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (1,440 x 2,560 resolution)
* 16-megapixel rear camera
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh sealed battery
* Android Lollipop 5.1.1

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH70ERrkuTA” width=”560″ height=”315″]

Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 camera shootout from our YouTube channel

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqYsIRU5rQU” width=”560″ height=”315″]

Breaking up with cable TV

In Games, Apps, and OS by Alora Uy GuerreroLeave a Comment

Do you remember the last time you sat through a movie or TV show on cable TV? We don’t.

We cut the cord months ago, and our crystal ball predicts we’re never going back now that decent subscription-based video-on-demand services have made their way to the Philippines. For your own setup at home, you may want to consider a streaming box like the ones reviewed on the Coolest Gadgets website.

That’s just us. We know that not everyone — perhaps even you — is ready to part ways with the cable companies.

We can’t blame you. First, cable TV has newer content. You get access to foreign 24/7 news channels, watch the latest episodes of shows like “Game of Thrones,” and follow the NBA action and other sporting events as they happen.

Second, cable TV is maturing in the country. Some packages even come bundled with digital video recording, HD content, and more channels than you’d care to count.

Third, tie-ups with video-streaming services already exist. Think SkyCable’s partnerships with iWantv and HBO Go.

And fourth, cable TV doesn’t need an Internet connection to work, so it’s still the easiest way to watch your favorite movies and shows on the biggest screen in the house. Let’s face it, quality Internet access remains out of reach for many of us. The Philippines remains at the bottom of the pit when it comes to connection speed.

But just as Spotify and other music apps are starting to change the way Filipinos listen to music, SVOD services will also eventually find their place in more homes in the Philippines. We’ll bet whatever’s left in our bank on it.

Globally, SVOD subscriptions are expected to increase from 20 million in 2010 to roughly 120 million by end of this year, according to Digital TV Research’s report on global OTT [over the top, or the delivery of content on the Internet] TV and video forecasts. That number is believed to rise to 250 million by 2020.

Just as Spotify is starting to change the way Filipinos listen to music, SVOD services will also eventually find their place in more homes in the Philippines.

Our telcos are getting ready to meet that expected demand. You’ve seen Globe Telecom partner with HOOQ, a start-up joint venture between Singtel, Sony Pictures Television, and Warner Bros. Entertainment. You’ve seen PLDT and its mobile subsidiary, Smart Communications, partner with iflix.

Who knows? We just might see U.S. video-streaming company Netflix enter the Philippine market. It’s already in Australia and New Zealand.

What will most likely lure Filipinos to take advantage of SVOD services? Let us count the ways.

1. Subscribing to them is the cheapest and non-douchebag way of watching movies and TV shows on just about every screen available. Cheap because they don’t have installation costs. For example, joining HOOQ and iflix will only set you back P199 and P129 per month, respectively. Non-douchebag because you will not be pirating content, so you’ll avoid tripping over laws as the government implements more ways to curb piracy in the country.

SVOD subscriptions are expected to increase from 20 million in 2010 to roughly 120 million by end of this year. That number is believed to rise to 250 million by 2020.

2. How about more content than you would care to watch? You will have access to libraries of content anytime, anywhere. We’re talking 30,000 hours of programming for HOOQ and 11,000 for iflix at press time — and those numbers will grow, no doubt. Granted, majority of the movies and shows available are dated, but hey, because of our busy schedule, we haven’t even seen that “GOT” episode that had Jon Snow fans all over the world howling like crazy. We appreciate that we can view that at any time our calendar permits.

3. A single account can be used by multiple devices. On HOOQ, for example, up to two users can stream content simultaneously, which lessens cost per device or person. People do not have to share the remote control. You know how it is: In one household, there’s usually more than one phone or tablet, so family members can watch different things on different devices, regardless of where they are.

4. SVOD services are available via mobile app and on the Web, perfect for smart TVs and set-top boxes that run Android or iOS. Less wires, no need for an HDMI or VGA connection… In short, less hassle.

Video streaming is still in its infancy in the Philippines, so it may still be too early to pull the plug on cable TV.

5. There’s also the allure of original programming, something we’ve been seeing more of lately, particularly from streaming giant Netflix. Sure, neither HOOQ, iflix, nor any other SVOD provider in the Philippines is producing its own movie or TV show now, but it may happen sooner than you think.

Video streaming is still in its infancy in the Philippines, so it may still be too early to pull the plug on cable TV. But as SVOD services and mobile devices get cheaper because of competition and advancements in technology, there’s no stopping the train to content-streaming subscription. Now, about that decent and affordable Internet connection…

(NOTE: This article originally appeared in the July issue of 2nd Opinion, a magazine with a Philippine circulation.)

Samsung Galaxy Note 5: two steps forward, one step back

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via Forbes

A mere hours after their worldwide launch, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ made their official debut in the Philippines today, with pricing and availability in tow. “Isn’t it a little too early for a Galaxy Note reboot?” you may ask. “What about the Galaxy S6 Edge? The paint hasn’t even dried on Samsung’s co-flagship yet following its release a few months ago.”

I get your point, but Samsung had to pull the trigger to give its latest devices a lengthy head start in the retail race against Apple. Samsung’s profits are still falling, says Bloomberg. The Galaxy S6, for all its pretty aesthetics and top-shelf features, hasn’t been the sales success that Samsung had hoped for.

So, here we are in August, staring at a new Samsung phone with a super-sized screen and even bigger expectations to meet. To say the Galaxy Note 5 has a lot riding on its shoulders would be an understatement of phablet proportions. (The Galaxy S6 Edge+? Probably not so much.)

Here we are in August, staring at a new Samsung phone with a super-sized screen and even bigger expectations to meet.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Picture 1 of 5

Indeed, the Galaxy Note 5 is easily one of Samsung’s most important releases in recent memory — and it certainly looks that way. Like the Galaxy 6 before it, this year’s addition to the Note family ditches plastic in favor of metal and glass and adds a curved-edge back that’s particularly reminiscent of the Xiaomi Mi Note’s rear panel.

If there ever was a Note product whose looks didn’t justify its price, the Galaxy Note 5 isn’t it; in fact, it’s arguably Samsung’s most gorgeous work yet, boasting a level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that reflects its premium status. Coming in at 7.6mm-thick, it’s also thinner by nearly a full millimeter compared to the Galaxy Note 4 (8.5mm).

The phone is not without flaws, of course, as Samsung had to cut a few corners in pursuit of its design goals, much to the chagrin of fans of microSD expansion and removable batteries. The Galaxy Note 5 doesn’t have either, and both rank among its predecessor’s biggest attractions. Its battery is only 3,000mAh, which holds less charge than the Galaxy Note 4’s 3,220mAh cell.

The one area where Samsung hasn’t made any compromises on the Note formula is under the hood. And true to its heritage, the Galaxy Note 5 offers the best components on the market, rocking a 5.7-inch 1,440 x 2,560 Super AMOLED display and Samsung’s octa-core Exynos 7420 chipset, along with 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of storage.

The Note 5 is not without flaws, as Samsung had to cut a few corners in pursuit of its design goals, much to the chagrin of fans of microSD expansion and removable batteries.

Its capabilities as a pocketable camera should only improve with the addition of the same 16-megapixel unit housed in the Galaxy S6, which Alora and I found to be superior to the iPhone 6’s rear-facer.

The Galaxy Note 5 is also closer to being a pen-and-paper replacement than previous models, with the option to jot down notes while the screen is off, among other things. Samsung even claims that the display produces less friction when using the improved S Pen stylus.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (32GB) will set you back P36,990. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ (32GB), meanwhile, starts at P39,990. Both are due to arrive in stores on September 5. Preorders start August 17.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Picture 1 of 5

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 specs (Price in the Philippines: P36,990):
* LTE
* Samsung Exynos 7420 CPU
* Mali-T760-MP8 GPU
* 4GB RAM
* 32GB internal storage
* 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (1,440 x 2,560 resolution)
* 16-megapixel rear camera
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh sealed battery
* S Pen stylus
* Android Lollipop 5.1.1

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ specs (Price in the Philippines: P39,990 for the 32GB model; P44,990 for the 64GB model):
* LTE
* Samsung Exynos 7420 CPU
* Mali-T760-MP8 GPU
* 4GB RAM
* up to 64GB internal storage
* 5.7-inch Super AMOLED curved display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (1,440 x 2,560 resolution)
* 16-megapixel rear camera
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh sealed battery
* Android Lollipop 5.1.1

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH70ERrkuTA” width=”560″ height=”315″]

Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 camera shootout from our YouTube channel

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqYsIRU5rQU” width=”560″ height=”315″]

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OPPO Mirror 5 review: style and substance for less

In Phones by Ramon Lopez10 Comments

We’ve seen a flood of low-cost but high-spec’d phones emerge on the Philippine market this year, but you have to admit: only a handful of them get the aesthetics and build right. Too often a phone’s look and feel take a backseat when companies cut corners to meet a certain price point; at worst, they are the first casualties of the design process — and it’s totally understandable.

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OPPO Mirror 5 now official in PH, will retail for P9,990

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

OPPO is no stranger to making quality phones with few, if any, compromises on design and build quality, and its latest offering doesn’t seem too different from what we’re used to seeing from the company, despite a lower-than-expected price tag. The OPPO Mirror 5, which, in essence, is the more affordable brother of the R1x that preceded it.

You could argue that the Mirror 5 is OPPO’s answer to the higher-end version of Motorola’s Moto G (and, to a lesser extent, the recently announced Cherry Mobile One G1), what with an IPS display that spans 5 inches across and a quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with 2GB of RAM that runs OPPO’s heavy-handed overlay based on Android Lollipop 5.1.1 without hiccups.

There’s an IR blaster on the top edge that, when used with OPPO’s universal remote-control app, allows you to manipulate a wide range of home appliances, including TVs and air-conditioning units, as you would using their respective remotes.

OPPO Mirror 5

Picture 1 of 8

As interesting as that sounds, it’s the phone’s mirrored back, which flaunts a diamond decor, that will likely draw the most attention; it gives off a subtle, shimmering effect as light bounces off its surface. I know what you’re thinking: The effect is probably better seen up close and in person than read about. And you’re absolutely right.

There’s nothing quite like it in the bargain segment, and it’s what sets the Mirror 5 apart from all the other bland, rectangular phones out there.

It’s the phone’s mirrored back, which flaunts a diamond decor, that will draw the most attention; it gives off a shimmering effect as light bounces off its surface. The effect is better seen up close and in person than read about.

The OPPO Mirror 5 will retail for P9,990 in the Philippines when it arrives in stores later this month. It may be worth checking out if you’re looking for an affordable smartphone that at face value doesn’t wear its price tag on its sleeve.

OPPO Mirror 5 specs (Price in the Philippines: P9,990):
* Dual SIM
* Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
* 5-inch IPS display (540 x 960 resolution)
* 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 2,420mAh battery
* IR blaster
* Color OS 2.1 based on Android Lollipop 5.1.1

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45hQpWvr3vQ” width=”560″ height=”315″]

OPPO Mirror 5 preview from our YouTube channel

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 leaks in full ahead of PH launch

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via iNoob

We’re only a few days away removed from Samsung’s 2015 Unpacked event in New York (and its Philippine version on August 14), and at this point, as is the case every year, we know almost everything about the company’s next flagbearer — or should I say “flagbearers”? Under the bright lights of the Big Apple, Samsung is all but sure to announce the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus — the name implies it’s supposed to be the bigger brother of the Galaxy S6 Edge.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 5

There’s also a strong possibility that a curved-edge variant of the Galaxy Tab will be joining the two. And while a curved slate could be inconvenient to use, let alone hold for extended periods, the idea of a larger Galaxy S6 Edge sounds appealing. The Galaxy Note line, on the other hand, has won over pundits and consumers alike since its debut. Judging from the leaks, the Galaxy Note 5, with its reportedly Galaxy S6-inspired looks, should continue to impress.

The Galaxy Note line has won over pundits and consumers alike since its debut. Judging from the leaks, the Galaxy Note 5, with its reportedly Galaxy S6-inspired looks, should continue to impress.

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Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus beside the iPhone 6 Plus

The latest iteration of Samsung’s S Pen-toting flagship will come with a 5.7-inch 1,440 x 2,560 Super AMOLED display, an octa-core processor (likely an Exynos 7422 SoC) backed by 4GB of RAM, and 16- and 5-megapixel rear and selfie cameras. It will support LTE and wireless charging, similar to its predecessor. As for the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, its specs are expected to be in line with the S6 Edge’s internals, with the exception of a bump in RAM (4GB).

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Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (left) and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus (right)

I’ll be sure to follow up with more information once the dust settles on Samsung’s Unpacked event.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggL_yLCC2a0&list=UUMeavCblAE1-lP5CWpcZHMA” width=”560″ height=”315″]

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge preview

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Samsung Galaxy S6 preview

Cherry Mobile One G1 is a Moto G rival for P5,999

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

One year into the venture, it seems Google remains bullish about the future of Android One, a line of low-cost devices running the latest version of the search giant’s mobile operating system (think Nexus for emerging markets).

And why wouldn’t it be? Budget releases continue to drive the business of many Android manufacturers forward, something local companies can attest to, and they represent Google’s best bet of getting as many people as possible online in the hope that they will end up using Gmail, YouTube, and other Google properties.

In the Philippines, no other product represents Google’s continued push to grow its audience quite like the recently announced Cherry Mobile One G1. The spiritual successor to last year’s brilliant Cherry Mobile One, the G1 steps up to a bigger, sharper screen, a faster processor with more RAM, a higher megapixel count on both cameras, and a bigger battery. Specs-wise, it’s essentially the same as the new Moto G, but with a few key differences.

The Cherry Mobile One G1 improves where it counts: wireless connectivity. It packs an LTE modem, which hasn’t been common in low-end phones until recently.

More importantly, it improves where it counts: wireless connectivity. No longer limited to 2G and 3G connections, the G1 packs an LTE modem, which hasn’t been common in low-end phones until recently. Of course, it also runs the latest version of the Android software (5.1.1) and will be eligible for upgrades for the next 2 years.

The Cherry Mobile One G1 will only set you back P5,999 when it hits online and offline stores later this month. My initial impressions of the G1 are overwhelmingly positive, but I’ll reserve judgment for now. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for my full verdict.

Cherry Mobile One G1

Picture 1 of 10

Cherry Mobile One G1 specs (Price in the Philippines: P5,999):
* Dual SIM with LTE support
* 1.2GHz 64-bit, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 CPU
* Adreno 306 GPU
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot
* 5-inch IPS display with Dragontrail glass (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 2,500mAh battery
* Android Lollipop 5.1.1

OnePlus 2 now available on Lazada PH but…

In Phones by Ramon Lopez2 Comments

The OnePlus 2, arguably the most anticipated smartphone of 2015, has been listed on Lazada’s Philippine website for a reasonable price of P21,799 (for the higher-end 4GB RAM version), which isn’t too far off from its official price of $389 (around P17,800). When you factor in shipping, import duties, and taxes, not to mention the fact that you don’t have to jump through hoops to secure an invite, the deal sounds almost too good to be true.

The OnePlus 2 for P21,799 sounds almost too good to be true. And it is; because as compelling as the phone is on paper, it doesn’t come with any local warranty.

And, much to my disappointment, it is; because as compelling as the OnePlus 2 is on paper, it doesn’t come with any local warranty whatsoever, meaning if anything bad happens to your shiny new gadget, for whatever reason, you can’t rely on anyone else to fix it without running the risk of falling into the rabbit hole that is DIY repair. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but the line between a warranty-less mobile device and an expensive paperweight is vanishingly thin.

If you don’t mind venturing into warranty-less territory, you’ll likely find the OnePlus 2 to be one of the most powerful and feature-rich phones you can buy today without breaking the bank. It has earned a lot of positive press recently, with many reviewers citing its fast performance, premium feel, and unbeatable price as its greatest strengths.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlMHM-ikYzc” width=”560″ height=”315″]

OnePlus 2 hands-on video from Pocketnow

ASUS ZenFone Max fits a 5,000mAh battery

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

ASUS, as you may have gathered from the countless versions of the ZenFone on offer today, has been trying out different configurations on its wildly successful smartphone line, and the latest result of its “try and see if it would sell” approach to making mobiles promises hours upon hours — upon hours — of usage time. Meet the ASUS ZenFone Max, or as I’d like to put it, the Android-phone equivalent of a Judd Apatow movie with a runtime that flirts beyond two hours.

Meet the ASUS ZenFone Max, or as I’d like to put it, the Android-phone equivalent of a Judd Apatow movie with a runtime that flirts beyond two hours.

The ZenFone Max takes its name from its exceedingly generous 5,000mAh battery, which I assume puts ASUS’ latest creation among the longest-running smartphones out there. Two days of full use shouldn’t be a problem for a phone of this type. It even pulls double duty as a charger for your other microUSB devices, so you won’t have to worry about running out of power while you’re away from an outlet.

Unfortunately for those of you who are expecting a high-specced device with a comparatively large cell, you might as well look elsewhere, as reports suggest a midrange offering held back by a low-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chip with 2GB of RAM. But you do get a 13-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, laser autofocus, and dual-tone flash, as well as a 5.5-inch screen fronted by Gorilla Glass 4 for added strength and durability.

The ASUS ZenFone Max will be available in select markets starting October for a still-undisclosed price.

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Watch our ASUS Zenfone 2 review

Apple Music has people listening, but for how long?

In Business by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via Tech2

By now, you’ve probably heard a lot about Apple Music, the subscription music-streaming service that the American tech giant launched in June and is currently in its “free to try” phase. What you may not know is, despite being hammered by critics, it is actually doing pretty well compared to rival platforms that have had a head start in offering unlimited music on-demand.

According to The Guardian, Apple Music has 11 million listeners since launch — 2 million of whom have opted to pay $14.99 (around P690) a month for a subscription that gives up to 6 users full access on their devices. The figure includes people who have tried Apple Music but have yet to commit their digital-music future to the service.

It’s a far cry from Spotify’s 75 million users (of whom 20 million are paying customers), to be sure. But the gap between Apple Music and other music-streaming services tapers off quickly as you go down the list.

Of course, it’s not really fair to compare Apple Music to its rivals at this point because, again, it’s still in its free-trial stage until September. It’s only when the honeymoon ends that we’ll get a better sense of where Apple’s bid in the digital-music market stands and whether it has any realistic chance of displacing Spotify, as unlikely as it may sound.

It’s only when the honeymoon ends that we’ll get a better sense of where Apple Music stands and whether it has any realistic chance of displacing Spotify, as unlikely as it may sound. If you play your streaming service through your Hi-Fi, check out Graham Slee HiFi System Components
to see how you could improve your listening experience.

[table class=”table_gray”]
Music-streaming service Users
Spotify 75,000,000
Deezer 16,000,000
Apple Music 11,000,000
Rhapsody/Napster 3,000,000 (paying)
Tidal 770,000 (paying)
[/table]

The world is listening: music-streaming services ranked by numbers

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1zs0uHHoSw” width=”560″ height=”315″]

DOST eyes nationwide WiFi, bids out APs to Globe subsidiaries

In Business by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Remember the DOST’s public WiFi project, which has already kicked off, and is now offering free Internet access to people in select locations in Metro Manila?

It looks like the government is already moving towards scaling things up to support a bigger audience after bidding out a P74-million contract for 14 access points that will serve as the backbone of WiFi hotspots across 967 municipalities to Innove Communications and Yondu IT Solutions. Both are subsidiaries of Globe Telecom, which, as you know, is one of the largest telecommunications providers in the Philippines.

The 14 access points will be spread throughout the Philippines’ 3 island groups, namely Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, though they won’t be sufficient to cover the country’s entire WiFi needs. To do that, the DOTC needs to find contractors for the remaining 867 municipalities, which leave out roughly 23 million of the population.

Regardless, the department is hopeful it will be able to sort out the technical details of connecting even the most remote and isolated of communities to the Internet within the year.

[table class=”table_gray”]
14 access-point locations
Tugegarao City, Cagayan
Dagupan City, Pangasinan
San Fernando City, Pampanga
Lipa City, Batangas
Legazpi City, Albay
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
Iloilo City, Iloilo
Cebu City, Cebu
Calbayog City, Samar
Tacloban City, Leyte
Cagayan De Oro City, Misamis Oriental
Pagadian City, ARMM
Davao City, Davao del Sur
Zamboanga City, Zamboanga
[/table]

Cherry Mobile teases second Android One phone

In Phones by Ramon Lopez9 Comments

Cherry Mobile updated its Facebook cover photo Monday to a front-and-back image of what may very well be the company’s second-generation Android One smartphone. The photo suggests a release sometime in August.

For the uninitiated, Android One represents Google’s plan to bring the latest Android software to emerging markets like the Philippines through low-cost devices, though it hasn’t worked out well for the American search giant.

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Cherry Mobile’s new cover photo

That’s not to say the Cherry Mobile One, and the MyPhone Uno, for that matter, aren’t good options for cash-strapped consumers — they are; in fact, the One remains one of my favorite handsets in the bargain basement, even months after its launch. But for all its merits, it’s still a 3G phone, which ultimately stopped me from talking about it like a used-car salesman. Hopefully, Cherry Mobile’s next Android One offering comes with 4G LTE connectivity.

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Cherry Mobile One vs. MyPhone Uno

Uh-oh, 3 arrested over online piracy in PH

In Business by Ramon Lopez1 Comment

Image via Baltnews

Score one for the good guys — even if it’s just a small victory in the fight against the Goliath that is piracy. On Saturday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said they arrested and charged 3 IT professionals in separate operations between July 22 and 30 for infringing on the intellectual property of local media conglomerates.

Nico Angelo Rempillo of Dayangdan, Naga City, Jim Marcelino Bautista of Baragay Cagay, Roxas City, and Mark Marlon Millendez of Barangay Mintal, Davao City were caught while trying to upload and stream TV shows and movies on their own websites, according to a report from Inquirer.net. The accused were charged under the Philippines’ intellectual-property law, which prescribes a jail term of up to 3 years and a fine of up to P150,000 for first offenders.

In a statement, ABS-CBN representative Elisha Lawrence said the network loses millions of dollars of potential revenue from websites that show pirated content.

I don’t need to give a canned, if unnecessary, lecture on why piracy is bad for any business; I’m pretty sure we’re on the same page. Besides, you don’t have to turn to illegal websites to enjoy local and foreign programming on-demand and on your phone or tablet. Not when there are apps like HOOQ and iflix that allow you to legally watch movies and full episodes of popular TV shows for P199 (HOOQ) or P129 (iflix) monthly.

I don’t need to give a canned, if unnecessary, lecture on why piracy is bad for any business. Not when there are apps like HOOQ that allow you to legally watch movies and TV shows for a small monthly fee.

Compared to not paying anything at all, at the risk of a lengthy prison sentence and a hefty fine, the idea of spending the equivalent of a large Starbucks drink seems like money well spent.