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Harsher penalties, not competition, is key to improving PH Internet speed

In Business by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Slow Internet? I hear you. If you’ve lived in the Philippines long enough, you may have come to the realization that local broadband speeds could conjure images of a turtle slow-walking on a swath of peanut butter, something you wouldn’t find distractingly cute or hilarious if you were in the position of the guy waiting — for weeks — for a game he had bought from Steam to finish downloading. Having the same issues? You could look for faster internet by searching broadband deals site like

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NBA treats PH fans to free League Pass access until November 3

In Games, Apps, and OS by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Another NBA season is scheduled to tip off tomorrow (October 28 if you live in the Philippines), and as has been the case the past couple of years, the NBA is treating its fans to an appetizer of sorts by granting free and full access to League Pass, the league’s official video-streaming service that features live and on-demand games, for a very limited time. The offer runs until November 3, though I’m not sure which time zone the deadline refers to.

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OPPO announces Neo 7 with modest specs, mirror finish

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Global smartphone brand OPPO has announced a refresh model under the Neo line, following the naming scheme of other creations in the company’s stable. Say hello to the OPPO Neo 7 (OPPO, unsurprisingly, chose to skip the Neo 6 entirely), an Android Lollipop-based phone with modest specs and a design that features a metallic trim and a glossy, mirror-like finish on the back.

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Comparison: Globe’s 1Gbps broadband vs other countries’ offerings

In Business by Ramon Lopez2 Comments

Tomorrow, Globe Telecom will begin offering its fiber-broadband network at adjusted rates that won’t be prohibitively pricey for many, albeit initially only in upscale communities and condominiums. The top-tier offer promises superfast speeds at one gigabit, or 1,000 megabits, per second, by far the fastest commercially available broadband plan in the Philippines.

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HOOQ update adds Chromecast support to mobile app

In Games, Apps, and OS by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

HOOQ just got a lot better. The subscription video-on-demand service has just pushed an update to its mobile app, adding what it earlier promised, and what many users have been waiting for: Chromecast support. The update means you can now stream any of the 30,000-plus videos on the HOOQ platform to an HDMI-compliant TV or monitor fitted with a Chromecast dongle, which is sold separately.

HOOQ now works with the Chromecast dongle, allowing you to stream any of the 30,000-plus videos on the platform to a TV with an HDMI input.

Globe Telecom is currently bundling the first-generation Chromecast with broadband deals starting at P1,299 per month. If you already have a DSL or fiber line, you’d have to fork out around P1,600 (or $35) for the dongle itself, a fair price to pay for the convenience of wirelessly streaming content to the biggest screen in your home.

Deal alert: Select games on Google Play go on sale for just P5

In Games, Apps, and OS by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

If you own an Android device, and you’ve been hoping to score a killer deal on quality games, then stop what you’re doing and fire up the Play Store app now. You’ll find that several titles from Electronic Arts and its subsidiary, Chillingo, can be bought from the Google app store for just P5. No, that’s not a typo. Normally, these games would cost you around P200, but for a limited time you can get them for almost nothing.

If you must pick only one, at least pick Need for Speed: Most Wanted or Dead Space; from experience, they’re worth your time.

Here’s the list of discounted games, directly from Google Play.

I have no idea when the deal will expire, so be sure to take advantage of it while you can. If you must pick only one, at least pick Need for Speed: Most Wanted or Dead Space; from experience, they’re worth your time. Oh, and one last thing to note: Some of the titles have in-app purchases, meaning paying the sticker price won’t get you all the content available for them.

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Google app for mobile

Samsung Galaxy S7 may launch sooner than we think

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If reports are accurate, we might see a new Samsung flagship immediately after the holidays. In January at the earliest. A recent post by South Korea’s Electronic Times claims: “Samsung Electronics have confirmed that it will announce its next strategic smartphone ‘Galaxy S7’ in January of next year.

The article, citing “people in [smartphone] parts industries” as its source, adds that Samsung finalized the Galaxy S7’s design in September of this year, and that the Korean company is currently sourcing components for the device.

It’s obvious why Samsung would choose to launch the Galaxy S7 so early: The company wants iPhone 6s hopefuls to reconsider their choice.

Android fans may recall that the Galaxy S6 debuted in March of this year. That would give its successor a two-month head start.

Not that getting an advantage over 2016 flagships is the ultimate goal here; it’s obvious why Samsung would choose to launch the Galaxy S successor so early: The company wants iPhone 6s hopefuls to reconsider their choice. It’s a Hail Mary play, especially considering it would probably take Samsung longer to release the phone, but it’s a risk the Seoul-based firm is reportedly willing to take.

And it’s easy to see why: Amid positive feedback for the Galaxy S6 from critics, Samsung failed to reverse its fortunes in the mobile business, with the company reporting a startling 38 percent decline in smartphone profits earlier in the year.

On a related note, Samsung has seen its market share improve in the Philippines recently, so it’s not all doom and gloom for the company.

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Camera shootout: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Apple iPhone 6

Uber offers free ambulance service in PH in case of accident

In Cars by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via

Taking an Uber in the Philippines could mean fewer worries now that the app-based ride service has entered into a yearlong partnership with Lifeline Rescue, a private ambulance service.

The deal allows an Uber passenger to summon a Lifeline Rescue ambulance (by calling 16-911) free of charge in the event of a serious accident involving an Uber, and the driver of the vehicle or the passenger “has to be taken to the hospital.” Uber didn’t go into detail as to what should be considered as grounds for seeking hospital treatment, but that’s probably to your advantage. It’s not only passengers in the Philippines who have to consider their safety while travelling in an Uber. Everyone should be considerate. If you are someone who has recently been involved in an accident while travelling in an Uber, you may be able to claim compensation for medical bills, lose of wages, suffering and more through an Uber accident lawyer who will help you fight for the restitution you deserve.

Outside of emergencies that require immediate and professional medical attention, Lifeline Rescue will charge a fee for its services. (Gas isn’t cheap, as you know; a fine should also deter abuse.)

Uber has struck a deal with an ambulance service, allowing passengers to summon an ambulance free of charge in the event of an accident.

So there you go. Yet another reason to call an Uber instead of hopping into a cab. Hopefully, the next arrangement Uber makes is with an insurance company to give its users more peace of mind.

Altec Lansing reintroduces itself to PH, rugged speakers in tow

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Earlier today, Altec Lansing announced its comeback to the Philippine market with a fresh batch of compact, rugged Bluetooth speakers, which the company describes as “everything-proof.”

This includes the Life Jacket, Mini Life Jacket, Jacket H20, and Mini H20, which combine long battery life (up to 16 hours of playback for the Life Jacket) with rich sound quality that would make bass-heavy tracks come to life. There’s also speakerphone functionality for taking calls, as well as an auxiliary input for those who don’t have a Bluetooth device.

Altec Lansing announced its comeback to the local market with a slew of ‘everything-proof’ speakers you can pair with your phone.

Perhaps more importantly, they come in durable designs that earn them a waterproof, sandproof, and shockproof rating, something that has become a necessity, not a luxury, for modern wireless speakers.

Regardless of whether or not the products can actually handle water and sand just fine — based on what I saw on the demo floor, I’m positive they can without any ill consequences — you have to admit: These speakers are shaping up to be the perfect companions to a beautiful day at the beach, eardrums be damned.

The Altec Lansing Life Jacket, Mini Life Jacket, Jacket H20, and Mini H20 will retail for P7,250, P4,850, P3,995, and P1,995, respectively, when they arrive in select retailers nationwide.

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Altec Lansing Life Jacket

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Altec Lansing Life Jacket specs (Price in the Philippines: P7,250):
* IP67 rating (waterproof, sandproof, shockproof)
* Bluetooth
* 16-hour battery life
* Hands-free speakerphone function
* Universal mount

Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket specs (Price in the Philippines: P4,850):
* IP67 rating (waterproof, sandproof, shockproof)
* Bluetooth
* 10-hour battery life
* Hands-free speakerphone function
* Universal mount

Altec Lansing Jacket H20 (Price in the Philippines: P3,995):
* IP67 rating (waterproof, sandproof, shockproof)
* Bluetooth
* 8-hour battery life
* Hands-free speakerphone function

Altec Lansing Mini H20 (Price in the Philippines: P1,995):
* IP67 rating (waterproof, sandproof, shockproof)
* Bluetooth
* 6-hour battery life
* Hands-free speakerphone function

IDC: Cherry Mobile is PH’s top phone brand in 1st half of 2015

In Business by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Buying local, as is the case last year, is more attractive to smartphone buyers in the Philippines, according to recent data emailed to Revü Philippines by market-research firm IDC.

Cherry Mobile, not Samsung, remains the country’s market leader, accounting for 17 percent market share of the total smartphones shipped in the first half of 2015. Samsung holds the second spot with 14 percent market share, followed by MyPhone, CloudFone, and Lenovo at 6 percent, 5.2 percent, and 5.1 percent, respectively.

The gap between Cherry Mobile and Samsung is closing, though: In 2014, Cherry Mobile owned a hefty 21.9 percent share of local shipments, while Samsung’s share saw an improvement from 13.3 percent a year earlier — which is the opposite of what’s happening overseas, where the Korean company fell to 21.4 percent from 24.8 percent, based on Q2 figures.

[table class=”table_gray”]
Rank Brand 1st half 2015
1 Cherry Mobile 17%
2 Samsung 14%
3 MyPhone 6%
4 CloudFone 5.2%
5 Lenovo 5.1%

Samsung’s slight resurgence may be related to a renewed focus on affordable smartphones with competitive specs like the sub-P10,000 Samsung Galaxy J5. The Philippines, after all, is a country where low-cost options outsell expensive ones by a staggering margin.

Cherry Mobile remains the country’s market leader, with 17 percent market share of the total phones shipped in the 1st half of 2015.

The IDC data also indicates that MyPhone and Lenovo saw their share dip, perhaps due to increasing pressure from global competitors like Xiaomi, Meizu, and OPPO.

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OPPO Mirror 5 preview from our YouTube channel

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How to get a refund on an Android app or game

In Games, Apps, and OS by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Apps: They effectively turn a smartphone into a powerful tool for human connection; they’re what make owning a smartphone so compelling and inevitable for many; they’re what make a smartphone, well, smart. Without apps, there’s little reason to buy an Apple iPhone 6s, or a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+, or an OPPO R7 Plus, or what have you.

But what do you do when an app you recently purchased from the Google Play store crashes, freezes, or won’t run on any Android device you own?

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NBA 2K16 for Android, iOS out now

In Games, Apps, and OS by Ramon Lopez3 Comments

If you’re among the millions of hoops fans who have been waiting to get some NBA action on their Android or iOS phone or tablet, I’m pleased to tell you that your long wait is over: NBA 2K16 is now available on Google Play and the App Store.

To be clear, I’m talking about the mobile version of the popular basketball sim that was earlier released on PC and video-game consoles, not the boring virtual card game from 2K Games.

NBA 2K16 for Android and iOS is out now on Google Play and the App Store.

As for the game itself, NBA 2K16 brings plenty to the table, or should I say, court:

  • MyCareer, Blacktop, and Season modes
  • Updated rosters
  • Improved graphics and performance
  • New controls for better gameplay
  • Euroleague teams
  • More opportunities to earn Virtual Currency
  • Support for more devices
  • New soundtrack curated by producers and artists in the hip-hop community

At P365, or $7.99, NBA 2K16 is one of the more expensive games for Android and iOS, but do take note that you’re paying for the full game, meaning you could play it to your heart’s content without paying another centavo to advance in any of the game’s modes. I definitely prefer that to freemium apps that have boatloads of ads and in-app purchases.

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Trailer for NBA 2K16 for PC and current-gen consoles

10 tricks you may not know about Android 6.0 Marshmallow

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Previously, I wrote a guide on how to manually update your first-gen Android One phone to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Then I followed it up with a how-to on moving apps to your SD card, which is perhaps the best reason to upgrade to the newest Android version, assuming your device allows it.

Today, I’ve put together a cheat sheet containing 10 tricks you probably didn’t know about. Here they are:

1. Optimize battery use for each app:

  • Go to Settings, then select Battery.
  • Click on the 3 dots on the upper right-hand corner.
  • Tap Battery optimization and then tap the downward-pointing arrow.
  • Choose All apps and select the applications you want to optimize for efficiency.

2. Access the hidden System UI Tuner menu in Android 6.0 Marshmallow:

  • Swipe down twice from the status bar to pull down the Quick Settings menu.
  • Press and hold the gear icon until it starts to spin fast.
  • Head to the Settings menu and scroll down to the bottom of the page to access the System UI Tuner menu.

3. Show the phone’s battery level (note: you need to unlock the System UI Tuner interface first):

  • Go to Settings and scroll down to System UI Tuner.
  • Tap the toggle labeled Show embedded battery percentage.

4. Hide icons at the top of the screen:

  • Navigate to Settings and then choose System UI Tuner.
  • Choose Status bar and use the toggles to enable or disable icons in the status bar.

5. Rearrange the Quick Settings shortcuts:

  • Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the Settings menu, then hit System UI Tuner.
  • Select Quick Settings.
  • Press and drag the icons to rearrange them.

6. Uninstall apps directly from the homescreen:

  • Long press the app you want to delete and drag it the trash bin labeled “Uninstall” on the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

7. Adjust the backup settings of your device:

  • Open the Google Drive app, then swipe towards the right.
  • Tap Settings.
  • Select Backup and reset under Auto backup for apps to change your backup settings.

8. Disable Google Now on Tap:

  • Long press the home button to bring up the Google Now on Tap interface.
  • Press the 3 dots on the right-hand side of the screen and select Settings.
  • Tap the Now on Tap toggle to turn it off.

9. Change the notifications and permissions settings for individual apps:

  • Go to Settings and hit Apps under the Device tab.
  • Select the app you’d like to disable notifications for or set new permissions for.
  • Tap either Notifications or Permissions to change the settings.

10. Find the Easter egg in Android 6.0 Marshmallow:

  • Open the Settings app, then select About phone.
  • Click on the Android version number several times.
  • Long press the Android Marshmallow logo that appears on the screen a couple of times.
  • Another long press will launch a Flappy Bird-type game, which is very similar to the one featured in Android Lollipop devices, except the visuals have been changed to match the new Android version.

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LG G4 owners to get Android 6.0 Marshmallow next week

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

LG G4 owners are in for a marshmallowy treat soon, as the Korean manufacturer announced today that it will start pushing the Android 6.0 Marshmallow to its flagship smartphone next week, with users in Poland getting first dibs on the latest Android software.

It seems LG likes the Poland market, for reasons beyond my understanding. LG has also published a list of upcoming features customers can expect from the OTA update, such as a Do Not Disturb mode, a battery-saving feature in Doze, as well as access to app permissions to allay privacy concerns.

LG announced today that it will start pushing the Android 6.0 Marshmallow to its flagship smartphone next week.

Other markets in Europe, Asia, and the Americas can expect the upgrade to be made available soon.

LG G4 (taken by Alora Guerrero during the Singapore launch event)

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Specs of the LG G4 (Price in the Philippines: P31,990):
* Hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 CPU
* Adreno 418 GPU
* 32GB internal storage
* microSD card slot
* 5.5-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (1,440 x 2,560 resolution)
* 16-megapixel rear camera with laser autofocus, color-spectrum sensor, and f/1.8 aperture, LED flash
* 8-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh removable battery
* Android Lollipop 5.1

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LG G4 preview (raw video), taken during the phone’s launch in Singapore

What’s on HOOQ: 10 good PH films you may not know exist

In Games, Apps, and OS by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

If you’ve seen Jerrold Tarog’s historical drama Heneral Luna, you may be wondering: Which local film should I see next?

Good question. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of amazing options on HOOQ, a subscription video-on-demand service that lets users watch local and Hollywood movies and TV shows on their phones or tablets for as little as P149 a month, or the equivalent of a tall Starbucks drink.

Today’s list includes 10 local releases you may not have heard of, but really should watch. So happy viewing and don’t forget to sound off in the comments with your thoughts on the items included in this post.

1. Metro Manila (2013)
Oscar Ramirez (Jake Macapagal) decides to move his family to the Philippine capital in a desperate bid to escape a difficult life in the rural north, only to find himself in more dire straits. (A quick aside: John Arcilla, aka Heneral Luna, also stars in this indie drama.)

2. RPG Metanoia (2010)
When Metanoia is thrown into chaos, Nico and his friends must muster all their courage to overcome doubt and save their beloved fantasy world. Don’t let the PG rating and 3D animation fool you; this film is so well-made for its time that even adults will find something interesting to keep an eye on.

3. Keka (2003)
Katya Santos is a beautiful call-center employee who seeks to avenge her boyfriend’s death in this black comedy directed by Quark Henares.

4. Radyo (2001)
An insane man stalks a female radio DJ for making fun of him on air when he tried to dedicate a song for an office crush. Yam Laranas directs Jeffrey Quizon and Ruffa Mae Quinto in this thriller.

5. Sigaw (2004)
Within days after settling into an apartment in an old, desolate building, Marvin (Richard Gutierrez) begins to question his sanity after bearing witness to supernatural events.

Today’s list includes 10 local releases you may not have heard of, but really should watch.

6. Hesus Rebolusyunaryo (2002)
Set in a dystopian Philippine society in the year 2011, Hesus Mariano (Mark Anthony Fernandez) is caught in the middle of warring factions and must decide where his allegiances lie. It’s rare for a local film to take on a science-fiction theme, but it’s even rarer to find one with deft political and philosophical commentary. For that I tip my hat to director Lav Diaz and the cast.

7. Istokwa (1996)
As the title suggests, the film tells the coming-of-age story of two young teens (Mark Anthony Fernandez and Spencer Reyes) who drive north to break from the mire of family dysfunction. It also has an amazing Eraserheads-headlined soundtrack that for many people — myself included — proved to be an introduction of sorts to alternative OPM music.

8. Gangland (1998)
Four highschool dropouts end up in over their heads and are left to face life on the streets. Jason Salcedo and Ryan Eigenmann star in this emotionally charged film from directors Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes.

9. Pangako ng Kahapon (1994)
Director Joel Lamangan weaves an intricate tale of family drama involving three strong-willed sisters (Alice Dixson, Donna Cruz, Agot Isidro) who share the same father but different mothers.

10. Pridyider (2012)
A demonic, man-eating refrigerator terrorizes a balikbayan (Andi Eigenmann). Try not to laugh; if you can get past your knee-jerk reaction to a fiendish appliance, you’ll find that the movie can be fun as long as you’re willing to leave logic at the door. (And really, isn’t that the first thing we do before watching horror flicks?)

Police nabs man after swindling P2M worth of phones from Globe

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A 47-year-old resident of Quezon City was arrested by local police on criminal charges of estafa and falsification of documents leading to the acquisition of 63 high-end smartphones from Globe stores and a projected fraud loss of P2.4 million, Globe Telecom said in a press statement.

John Michael Cruz was nabbed by authorities in an entrapment operation after submitting additional requirements for cellular plans that would have netted him 3 units of iPhone 6 Plus. Cruz has used various aliases in previous applications and has declared himself the owner and marketing manager of CJMD Trading, LMDJ Garments Manufacturing, DMJJ Manufacturing and Iron Force Builders Corporation.

A man was arrested by police on criminal charges leading to the acquisition of 63 high-end smartphones from Globe stores and a fraud loss of P2.4M.

Recently, a fraudster in Cabanatuan City who illegally acquired and sold modified Globe Tattoo LTE modems was arrested during a buy-bust operation conducted by police operatives and Globe’s security team.

Why your MediaTek-based phone is among the cheapest on the market

In Business by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via

A couple of days ago, I sat down with Cedric Chang, a MediaTek account manager assigned to the Philippines, to shed light on a few burning questions that consumers may want answered about the Taiwan-based company’s main business of selling chipsets. Chipsets that, mind you, power a good majority of Android devices on offer not only in the Philippines but in other parts of Asia, including China and India.

The company rep explained why MediaTek-based phones are generally more affordable than the competition; and it’s not because MediaTek makes the cheapest silicon out there — though they are priced lower than their Qualcomm counterparts.

What’s the reason for the killer price point? It’s simple: A flood of ODMs competing to give the best price.

There’s a glut of chip makers in China that undercut big names and lure customers in with rock-bottom prices, Chang revealed to me.

So what’s the reason for the killer price point? It’s simple, actually: A flood of ODMs [original device manufacturers] — or companies that design and manufacturer devices for other companies to sell — struggling to achieve a foothold in a ruthless industry and competing to give the best price.

As of 2015, there are 1,294 Android device brands out thereaccording to a report released by OpenSignal, based on data collated from 682,000 devices. That figure is expected to increase next year so you can just imagine how cutthroat the competition can be, especially among MediaTek’s customers.

“We cater to more ODMs [than the competition]. And when there are over 100 ODMs that can provide phones with MediaTek chips inside, they really have to compete with each other to win over customers,” Chang said.

By contrast, the number of phones that run on competing chipsets, such as those from Qualcomm and Intel, is far fewer so there’s less pressure on manufacturers to keep their prices down.

‘When there are over 100 ODMs that can provide phones with MediaTek chips inside, they really have to compete with each other to win over customers.’

There you go, straight from the horse’s mouth; well, actually Chang’s mouth. Surprised? You’re not the only one.

Now, as to when or if your phone will be updated to Android Lollipop, he obviously has no idea what to tell you, though he did point out that ODMs are largely to blame for the delay or lack of software updates in the Android community.

Many manufacturers, I’m told, for whatever reason or reasons, believe that it makes more business sense to spend the meager resources they have on next-gen devices than to utilize them to support ageing hardware.

He makes a sound case, but I think that the reasons for the failures and disappointments are a lot more complicated than meets the eye. Certainly, it would be unfair to pin the blame solely on the likes of Cherry Mobile and Starmobile that come under flak for not updating their phones in a timely manner, if at all.