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Starmobile Engage Aura 14 on Sale at Lazada CNY for PHP 6,888

January 18, 2017
If you didn't get yourself a Christmas gift last year and are still looking for one this 2017, you're in luck: Lazada's Chinese New Year sale is holding the Starmobile Engage Aura 14 at PHP 6,888 — that's 37% off of its original price of PHP 10,990.

Starmobile Engage Aura 14 on Sale at Lazada CNY for PHP 6,888

Launched late last year, the Starmobile Engage Aura 14 boasts a 14-inch display at a 1366x768 resolution, an Intel Cherry Trail Z8350 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard storage (expandable), a rather sizeable 9000mAh battery, and comes with Windows 10 out of the box. There are also two USB ports (one 2.0 and one 3.0), a mini-HDMI terminal, and a 2MP front camera. On top of these features, the portable notebook is rather stylish, and will be able to go toe-to-toe looks-wise with more established PC brands.

The Starmobile Engage Aura 14 is available in gold and silver colors.

OPPO A39 Arrives in the Philippines, Get Crystal Clear Selfies for PHP 10,990

January 08, 2017
We probably can't take enough selfies, perhaps that's why top Chinese smartphone brand OPPO brought in the OPPO A39.

Sitting in between the A37 and the F1s, the OPPO A39 is still marketed as a device that can capture "crystal-clear selfies" even during evening shots, something devices at its price point still have a hard time delivering. It features a 13MP rear shooter (Sony IMX258), plus a 5MP front-facing camera.


OPPO A39 Arrives in the Philippines, Crystal Clear Selfies for PHP 10,990

For PHP 10,990, you get a 5.2-inch HD IPS GG4 display, paired with an MTK 6750 octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of onboard storage. These, plus the very elegant design coming from the F1s - it's going to be difficult to tell them apart!

The OPPO A39 is now available nationwide.

OPPO A39 Specifications

OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop, ColorOS UI
Processor: 1.5GHz octa-core MediaTek MTK6750 CPU, Mali T-860 GPU
Memory: 3GB RAM, 32GB onboard storage, microSD expandable up to 256GB
Display: 5.2-inch HD IPS display, 1280*720 display resolution, 282 ppi, 2.5D curved glass, Gorilla Glass 4
Camera: 13MP Sony IMX258 PDAF rear camera w/ AF and LED flash, f/2.2; 5MP front-facing camera, f/2.4
Connectivity: Up to 4G LTE; WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, WiFi Hotspot; Bluetooth 4.0; GPS; microUSB 2.0, USB OTG
SIM: Dual nano SIM
Battery: 2900mAh non-removable battery
Dimensions: 149.1x72.9x7.65mm, 147g
Color: Gold, Rose Gold
Price: PHP 10,990

PSA: Starmobile has Launched its Online Store, Get Your Starmobile Device Delivered Nationwide this 2017

January 07, 2017
If you've been looking forward to having your Starmobile Spectra (or any of Starmobile's new Play smartphones or tablets), but can't because of a tight work schedule or the lack of a Starmobile kiosk in your area, fret no more: Starmobile has launched its own online store.

Accessible via starmobile.ph/shop, the Starmobile online store is currently on a limited pilot release in Metro Manila, but will soon take off in key cities nationwide, such as Cebu, Bacolod, and Davao.

PSA: Starmobile has Launched its Online Store, Get Your Starmobile Device Delivered Nationwide this 2017

"Customers can now enjoy the convenience of shopping for their favorite Starmobile products from wherever they are, using their smartphones, tablets, or laptops, and having them delivered straight to their homes or offices in Metro Manila," said Starmobile Digital Marketing Head Ryan Uy.

Payments-wise, you can use your credit card, your PayPal account, or pay via over-the-counter at leading local banks, and other partner outlets, such as Cebuana Lhuillier, LBC, Bayad Center, M. Lhuillier, Robinsons Department Store, SM Department Store / Supermarkets / Savemore, ECPay, Metrobank Remit, PNB Remit, Ventaja, and CashU, or using mobile services like GCash and BPI Globe Banko.

Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy Review

January 02, 2017
Unlike the giants that are Cherry Mobile and MyPhone, Firefly Mobile is a relatively unknown brand in the local market - that is, until they introduced a series of affordable, quality octa-core devices last year. And recently, the company outed an Android that's seemingly pulled straight out of Sony's product line - the Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy.

Available in mirror-finish silver and gold, the Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy is a very exquisite-looking smartphone, a breath of fresh air from all the local, plastic-clad performers selling for top peso. But is the Aurii Envy worth its beauty?

Design

Cutting to the chase, the Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy looks like it was pulled straight out of Sony's product line. We're serious when we say that people would mistake it for an Xperia Z3 - it is that beautiful, especially when it shimmers under the sun.

Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy Review

The Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy's face (and rear for that matter) highlights an all-glass Gorilla Glass 3 panel, wrapped in an aluminum frame, but the main highlight of the face is the device's fingerprint scanner, which to be honest, seems to consume a huge part of the bezel. Sitting adjacent to the scanner are two haptic buttons which light up when tapped. Lastly, aside from the front-facing camera, you'll also find a notification LED here, which blinks three colors: Red, green, and blue.

Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy Review

The rear of the device, you could say, is another highlight, since it's very reminiscent of the Sony Xperia Z'sdesign. You'll find here a very polished surface - either in gold or silver - that's so reflective it can serve as a secondary mirror. The camera and the dual-tone flash meanwhile are located at the upper-left portion of the back. One last mildly interesting thing going on here is the Aurii branding - placed in a vertical print instead of your usual horizontal.

The chamfered aluminum sides of the Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy are where the majority of the action happens. The left is where you can find the hybrid SIM card slot (2 nano SIMs or 1 nano and 1 microSD card up to 128GB), and the Firefly Mobile logo; to the right you can find the device's volume, the power, and the shutter buttons; the 3.5mm headphone jack is located at the top, while the external speaker, mic, and the microUSB charging port are located at the bottom.


Remember the vertically-printed Aurii logo at the rear? Here's where it makes sense: Since you have a dedicated shutter button, you'll hold the device in landscape mode while snapping photos, making the previously vertical Aurii print readable.

Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy Review

The Aurii Envy has some weight to it; the device doesn't feel cheap. Unfortunately, its front and back areas are fingerprint magnets. It's nothing that a microfiber cloth can't fix fortunately.

Display

Firefly Mobile's Aurii Envy features a 5.5-inch FHD IPS OGS display with Gorilla Glass 3, a 1080x1920 display resolution, and has a pixel density of 401 dpi.

Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy Review

The display of the device looks warm and well-saturated as it projects vibrant and bright colors to the user. The UI also looks very sharp and detailed. However, the device hue slightly leans on a yellowish tinge, but doesn't affect the overall display experience.

You can automatically or manually further improve the Aurii Envy's display via the Miravision setting built-in with the device. What Miravision does is enhance display picture quality real time, and advanced users can activate more tuning options.

The Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy features an almost stock Android UI via a built-in Google Now launcher - something we appreciate because of its cleanliness.


And just to throw it out there, we haven't experienced anything funky with the Aurii Envy's display: no flickering, no ghosting, nothing. It was a very smooth experience all throughout.

Performance

Form and function are the strengths of the Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy. Aside from being beautiful, the device features Android 6.0 Marshmallow, an octa-core 64-Bit MediaTek MT6753 chipset clocked in at 1.3GHz, a Mali-T720 GPU, and 3GB of RAM. You also have 32GB of onboard storage. However, there's also a 2GB/16GB variant available on the market today.

As per our usual procedures, we ran benchmarks on the device, and here's what we got.

AnTuTu Benchmark - 37838
Vellamo Benchmark - Browser: 2370; Metal: 1082; Multicore: 1542
3DMark - Ice Storm: 7045; Ice Storm Unlimited: 7135; Ice Storm Extreme: 4313; Sling Shot: 197
Geekbench: Single-core: 625; Multi-core: 2832

The results are accurate with the hardware listed on paper, as other local devices in the same class also fetch very similar scores. These scores however are not reflective of real-world experience, i.e. users may find the scores irrelevant, as their device delivers their needs, and that's what the Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy does.


Everything is snappy when using the device, and there's never a lull in the performance. From loading the camera and snapping photos, browsing with multiple tabs on Google Chrome, to drawing gaming applications, everything is just smooth; we haven't experienced any form of choke so far with the Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy.

And coming from the above, the device's fingerprint sensor performs to expectations. Error rates are pretty rare (and it only happens when the sensor is dirty or if you're placing your finger in a weird angle), and scans are accurate and very fast - it's only in the milliseconds. You can also use it to allow purchases at the Google Play Store, instead of entering passwords.

What we found unsettling with the device though is that it sometimes decides on its own to change primary SIM settings. It could probably be a hardware or software bug, but making sure that the SIMs are fit snugly on the SIM tray seems to solve the issue (I was using custom cut SIMs, so there were some space for movement in the tray). There's also the case in where the device isn't being detected when plugged into a computer, no matter what brand of microUSB cable is used. We might've missed some minor software tweak, but what we do instead is just plug in a flash drive (the device supports USB OTG connectivity) everytime we want to add or retrieve files. It's a longer process, but it's what currently works with our device, but it shouldn't be this way in the first place.

The Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy supports OTA updates.

Audio and Video

Viewing movies on the Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy is a great experience since you'll watching from a high definition display, provided what you'll be playing are high definition rips as well. And considering the microSD card slot you have on this device, you'll be able to watch plenty of these.

Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy Review

It's also a good thing that the viewing capabilities of the Aurii Envy are supported by a solid external speaker. Unlike previous external speaker placements, this one is placed at the bottom of the device, allowing it to deliver raw sound without being muffled by the surface it's placed on. You can play it on maximum volume and it'll be enough to fill a small, enclosed room clearly. Additionally, relative to others in its price range, the Aurii Envy's speakers are pretty strong and definitive, though not to the extent that it has solid lows.

Lastly, the Aurii Envy's earpiece speaker is on point: loud and clear.

Gaming

The Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy is a very capable gaming device, as it's able to play graphics-intensive games, such as Smashing the Battle, NBA 2K17 (although in a lighter setting only), and Assassin's Creed: Identity.

Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy Review

The display is very responsive control-wise, so you won't have any issue manipulating your character on-screen. And speaking of controls, if you have a third party controller with you, such as a Moga Pro, you'll also be able to use it to game via Bluetooth, at least on compatible games.

The downside of playing games continuously on the Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy is that it quickly heats up - to a tolerable degree - but is magnified by the aluminum frame. It may get uncomfortable for long periods of game time.

Camera

The Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy sports a 13MP Sony IMX214 rear camera with AF and dual-tone flash, and a 8MP Sony IMX219 front-facing camera that utilizes the display as a front flash.

Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy Review

The images captured by the device are detailed and well-saturated, though some details appear soft on non-bright environments. A good example of this would be the leaves on trees on a wide-angle shot. Close-up shots on well-lit environments however are wonderfully captured and are correctly detailed - you won't have a hard time making Instagrammable food moments when using the Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy.

Evening envinroments are suprisingly convincing when done by the device. All the available surrounding light are magnified by the camera and are reproduced with good detail, albeit the presence of some softness and noise. See our sample photos below.


The device utilizes stock camera UI, and has limited customization features built-in - nothing a few photo apps can't fix. The UI is also greatly complemented by the dedicated shutter at the lower right side of the device; tilting the smartphone horizontally makes it like a snap and shoot camera.

Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy Review

Battery

The Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy features a non-removable 3480mAh battery. And while we would think that this is large enough to last us a whole day, it only lasts us around 5 hours of on time until it reaches 20%. For the purposes of my personal use, I always have 2 SIMs enabled on my device, followed by continuous data connectivity, which drastically shortens battery life, since you'll have your apps doing background activity on you even if you're not doing anything active on screen. Under less stressful circumstances however, you'll not be using your data 24/7, and probably just have a single network working on your Aurii Envy, you'll get as much as 8 hours of battery life in a day.

We quickly reached 20% when we did 3 1/2 of online gaming, two networks enabled, under medium brightness, and with sounds enabled. This is not to mention that the device warmed up tolerably.

As for charging, you'll get 0 to 100 in under 2 hours using its 1.5W fast charger.

Verdict

The Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy hands down is among the most beautiful devices to set foot locally in this already saturated smartphone market. It may have been inspired by Sony - and may look like it at any angle, but it doesn't change the fact that its shiny beauty captivates onlookers. What's better is that this beauty is well-supplemented by its very capable hardware, able to deliver its user's requirements.

Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy Review

If you're under a budget but are looking for something that breathes of opulence, the Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy is for you.

You can get the 3GB RAM/32GB internal storage variant for PHP 7,999, and the 2GB RAM/16GB onboard storage variant for PHP 6,999. It comes in Metagold and Quicksilver colors.

Firefly Mobile Aurii Envy Specifications

OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Processor: 1.3GHz 64-Bit MT6753 octa-core processor, Mali T720 GPU
Memory: 2GB/3GB RAM, 16GB/32GB onboard storage, microSD expandable up to 128GB
Display: 5.5-inch FHD IPS OGS display, 1920x1080 display resolution, Gorilla Glass 3, 401 ppi
Camera: 13MP f/2.0 Sony IMX214 sensor w/ AF, dual-tone LED flash; 8MP f/2.0 Sony IMX219 w/ display flash, wide-angle lens
Connectivity: Up to 4G LTE; WiFi, WiFi hotspot; Bluetooth v4.0; microUSB 2.0, USB OTG
SIM: Hybrid dual SIM (2 nano SIM or 1 nano SIM + 1 microSD card)
Battery: 3480mAh non-removable battery, 1.5A fast charging
Others: Fingerprint sensor, Smart Key (shutter button), Smart PA, noise cancelling microphone, Colors: Metagold, Quicksilver
Price: PHP 7,999 3GB/32GB variant; PHP 6,999 2GB/16GB variant

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

January 01, 2017
You could say that wearables as a commercial product are on their way out this 2017, having been around for years now and failing to become a household name. That said, wearables wonderfully do their functions - tracking steps taken, hours slept, calories burned, heart rate, and the like - such as the Samsung Gear Fit 2.

Descending from a plethora of Samsung wearables - from the first Gear Fit to the most recent Gear S2 - the Samsung Gear Fit 2 takes healthy to a slightly higher notch in execution, while pushing other fronts further. Here's our review.

Design and Display

The Samsung Gear Fit 2 takes on the design of the original Gear Fit and improves on it. For starters, the Gear Fit 2's curved display is slightly smaller (1.84" vs 1.5") than its predecessor, but it packs a higher resolution and pixel count, so that it looks larger.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

Design-wise, the Gear and the Gear Fit 2 look very similar, though one would be hard-pressed to mistake the latter from the former. The comfortable elastomer bands now come in three colors, and in two sizes, so it'll fit even the smallest of wrists while remaining stylish

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

The Gear Fit 2's display now comes in an intuitive vertical format rather than the previous horizontal one, ending the action where you need to awkwardly position your wrist just to view what's on the display. The watch face also comes flushed within the strap instead of the previous popped-up iteration, which overall looks nicer. Lastly, it's now Gorilla Glass 3.

Performance

The Samsung Gear Fit 2, needless to say, is a very far cry from the original. It now comes with the hardware of an entry-level smartphone: 512MB RAM, 4GB of internal storage, and operates on the Tizen OS. It also now comes with GPS, a barometer, and IP68 certification, and a dedicated music player feature, which we'll be breaking all down in the next paragraph.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

With 4GB of internal storage available and Bluetooth to boot, you can just dump 4 gigs of music o the device, pair a set of Bluetooth headphones with your Gear Fit 2, and start listening without your smartphone. With also a built-in GPS - this up to now is one of the more "prized possessions" you can have on a wearable, so to speak - you'll be able to track your activity and route directly on the display itself, and again, without a smartphone. Imagine doing rounds on the park with just this on your wrist, viewing your calories burned and tracking your distance.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

And lastly, staying true to its sporty nature, it now comes with IP68 cerfication, meaning it can withstand dust and water up 1.5m for 30 minutes, which is perfect for swimmers, marathoners, and other similar activities. The barometer meanwhile will track your elevation, meaning the device can now track the flights of stairs you went up to. It's not perfect however, as it read my 5-flight climb as 11 flights - now that's tiring.


After you exercise or spend your day, of course you'll take rest and sleep. The Gear Fit 2 will be able to track your sleep - what time you started, how long you slept, and even if you wake up in the middle of the night. It'll then be able to rate the quality of your sleep on the average via the S Health app, which can be viewed on your paired device. It oowould've been nicer - at least for me personally - if the S Health app was able to give recommendations on how to further improve your sleep, and other health items. For what it's worth, the device does notify you to get up and be active after 50 minutes of inactivity.

Aside from the sportiness and sleep tracking, you'll be able to directly read your SMS and emails on the Gear Fit 2. You'll also get notifications from Twitter, Facebook, Viber, WeChat, and other compatible apps (and get vibration to boot, too). This is one of the features I liked the most since I don't need to grab my smartphone out of my pocket for every notification. I'll just look at my wrist, see if the message warrants immediate attention, and go about my way if it doesn't.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

Other Features

Aside from the above-mentioned features, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 can also measure your coffee cups and glasses of water intakes, and even track your phone via making it ring loudly, remotely.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

Another feature you'll love is that you'll be able to change watch faces via the Samsung Gear app. Most of the nice-looking watch faces are free, but some of them are for sale. It's not that you're going to need it anyway.

There are also multiple partner apps support with the Gear Fit 2, and in general the whole Samsung S Health environment, specializing in specific health objectives, such as if you want to eat healthier, have a more active lifestyle, and the like. Just download the S Health app (if you haven't already), explore a bit, and check out what you want to achieve.


Battery

The Samsung Gear Fit 2 has a 200mAh onboard battery, which, depending on your usage and settings, can last anywhere between 2 to 3 days. If you've enabled much notifications, flip your wrist too much, and have a long display timeout, you'll most likely get 2 days.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

Charging is a jiffy at 2 hours from 0 to 100% via its proprietary USB charger.

Verdict

If you're looking for a wearable that is very competitive with other brands, specs, performance, and price-wise, with the added benefit of being from a reputable international electronics manufacturer, then you should consider getting a Samsung Gear Fit 2. It's got what you need and more, with a very functional app to boot - the S Health.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

The Gear Fit 2 is priced at PHP 8,490 retail, a steal if you'll ask me. It's available at Samsung Concept Stores and major electronics outlets nationwide.
 
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