Features

Best Black Friday game deals

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It’s been said before — many times before — but it’s hard to overstate: Shop for games in bulk, when prices are at their cheapest. Do your shopping during the festive seasons, and avoid full-priced games like a plague if you want to stretch your dollar furthest.

Today, it’s as good a day as any to open your wallet wide. Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Steam, and a few others are getting into the Black Friday spirit, offering some of 2016’s top releases, alongside a slew of smash hits on the cheap.

There’s a lot to comb through — thousands of games are currently on sale. To save you the trouble of Googling and wading through a thick, muddy bog of search results, we thought it’d be best to give you a preview of some of the hottest discounts on digital games available online.

And there’s still plenty more to come over the next few days and weeks. So check back with your favorite gaming platform for updates.

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Xbox Store deals (for Xbox One; note: prices are for Xbox Live Gold members only)

  • Batman: Arkham Knight Premium Edition for $16 (save 60 percent)
  • Battlefield 1 Deluxe Edition + Titanfall 2 Deluxe Bundle for $75 (save 50 percent)
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition GOTY Edition for $16 (save 60 percent)
  • Forza Horizon 3 for $39 (save 35 percent)
  • Gears of War 4 for $36 (save 40 percent)
  • Grand Theft Auto V for $30 (save 50 percent)
  • Hitman The Complete First Season for $30 (save 50 percent)
  • Mafia 3 for $42 (save 30 percent)
  • Overwatch: Origins Edition for $36 (save 40 percent)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition for $30 (save 45 percent)
  • XCOM 2 for $39 (save 35 percent)

While the Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 bundle certainly stands out, the Xbox Store offers legitimately great deals on some of the best-reviewed Xbox One titles of 2016, including The Witcher 3, Gears of War 4, and Forza Horizon 3.

Sale ends November 28.

Nintendo eShop deals

3DS

  • Fire Emblem Awakening for $20 (from $40)
  • Hyrule Warriors Legends for $28 (from $40)
  • Monster Hunter Generations for $24 (from $40)
  • The Legend of Zelda for $3 (from $5)

Wii U

  • Kirby Mass Attack for $5 (from $10)
  • Star Fox: Zero for $35 (from $50)
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 for $10 (from $20)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for $35 (from $50)

Nintendo has several console-defining originals that can be had on the cheap. If you haven’t bought them yet, for whatever excuse, now is the best time to do so, if you’re still interested in trying them out. Waiting for the next-gen Switch console to drop in March next year seems like a better use of one’s time and resources.

Sale ends December 5.

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PlayStation Store deals (for PS4; most discounted prices are for PlayStation Plus members)

  • Batman: Arkham Knight for $10 (from $20)
  • Far Cry Primal for $15 (from $60)
  • Hitman The Complete First Season for $30 (from $60)
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Game of the Year Edition for $8 (from $20)
  • MLB The Show 16 for $15 (from $20)
  • Overwatch: Origins Edition for $35 (from $60)
  • Star Wars Battlefront for $7.50 (from $30)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition for $25 (from $50)

Far Cry Primal for $15 is practically a steal. We also wouldn’t mind paying $10 for Arkham Knight, or $8 for Shadow of Mordor, if we hadn’t already gotten them under our collective belt.

Sale ends on November 29.

Steam Autumn Sale (for PC)

  • Batman franchise (up to 75 percent off)
  • Civilization franchise (up to 92 percent off)
  • Far Cry franchise (up to 75 percent off)
  • Grand Theft Auto franchise (up to 70 percent off)
  • Just Cause franchise (up to 82 percent off)
  • The Elder Scrolls franchise (up to 73 percent off)
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare for $40 (33 percent off)
  • Dark Souls 3 for $39 (35 percent off)
  • I Am Setsuna for $27 (33 percent off)
  • Quantum Break for $30 (25 percent off)
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division for $13.50 (50 percent off)

Steam is the most popular gaming client for PCs, and it offers a huge selection of discounted video games — far too many to list here. If you don’t see anything you like, don’t worry; Steam will hold another sale next month. Maybe by then you’ll find something special, worthy of hours of your time.

Sale ends November 30.

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GOG Black Friday Sale (for PC)

  • Banished for $5 (75 percent off)
  • Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition for $20 (50 percent off)
  • Grim Dawn for $15 (45 percent off)
  • Inside for $15 (25 percent off)
  • Kerbal Space Program for $24 (40 percent off)
  • Limbo for $2 (80 percent off)
  • No Man’s Sky for $36 (40 percent off)
  • Shadow Warrior 2 for $30 (25 percent off)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise (up to 75 percent off)

In addition to the sweet deals above, GOG is giving away free digital downloads of Limbo to those who connect their Steam account to their GOG account.

Sale ends November 27.

Origin Super Sale (for PC)

  • Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 Deluxe Bundle for $75 (save 50 percent)
  • FIFA 17 for $36 (save 40 percent)
  • Mass Effect Trilogy for $15 (save 50 percent)
  • Mirror’s Edge Catalyst for $16 (save 60 percent)
  • Need for Speed for $15 (save 63 percent)
  • Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2: Standard Edition for $10 (save 75 percent)
  • Star Wars Battlefront for $15 (save 50 percent)
  • SimCity for $5 (save 75 percent)
  • The Sims 4 for $10 (save 75 percent)

If you’ve missed out on some great EA titles for PC, Origin serves you plenty of opportunity to get caught up.

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Green Man Gaming Black Friday Sale (for PC)

  • Civilization 6 for $54 (save 10 percent)
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition for $11 (save 45 percent)
  • Dishonored 2 for $48 (save 20 percent)
  • Eve Online Core Starter Pack for $5 (save 75 percent)
  • Fallout 4 for $19 (save 67 percent)
  • Grand Theft Auto V for $30 (save 50 percent)
  • Kerbal Space Program for $24 (save 40 percent)
  • Mafia 3 for $42 (save 30 percent)
  • Street Fighter V for $29 (save 50 percent)

As a bonus for shopping during Black Friday week, Green Man Gaming will take an extra 10 percent off of every purchase of participating games. Use promo code BLACKFRIDAY10 at checkout. Every sale also gets you a free random game from the Green Man Gaming catalog, so it’s a win-win.

Humble Store 2K Games Sale (for PC)

  • Battleborn for $20 (67 percent off)
  • NBA 2K17 for $42 (30 percent off)
  • XCOM 2 for $30 (50 percent off)

XCOM 2 is one of the best tactics games ever made, and it’s now up for grabs on the Humble Store for half of its original price. For those who fancy a fix of basketball, NBA 2K17 is at its lowest ever price, coming right in time as the NBA season starts to get interesting.

Smartphones

Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro Unboxing

What’s inside the box?

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You already know how impressed we were during the hands-on, so now it’s time to see what comes in the package of Huawei’s newest flagships. This is our Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro unboxing.

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Hands-On

Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus hands-on: A step-up

The company’s greatest contender

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Cherry Mobile recently launched their new Flare S7 series, which is essentially their main smartphone lineup for the year. The greatest offering among the bunch is the Flare S7 Plus, a device with all the specifications and features you’d expect from a 2018 phone.

Since it’s from Cherry Mobile, you’d expect the phone to be cheap, right? Price-wise, it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s just another affordable phone.

Here’s what I got to say about the Flare S7 Plus.

Cherry Mobile has officially joined the notch wagon with a borderless 6.18-inch display. It’s a Full HD+ panel with a 19:9 aspect ratio, and it’s Cherry Mobile’s best display yet.

It’s vibrant and produces vivid colors, but the user interface kind of ruins the beauty of the display. It’s best to download your preferred third-party launcher and customize to your heart’s content.

Unlike with other midrange phones, the Flare S7 Plus’ notch is pretty wide and there’s a reason for it. The phone is equipped with more advanced facial recognition hardware including an IR camera. This ensures higher accuracy, faster unlocking, and even better face detection in low-light.

If you’re not a fan of face unlock, you can always resort to the fingerprint sensor placed on the back of the phone. Based on my usage, the fingerprint reader is faster most of the time than the face unlock. Good thing you have the best of both worlds.

Now that we’re on the back of the phone, let’s talk about another special feature of the Flare S7 Plus. Finally, Cherry Mobile embraces a more elegant design using a glass back and metal frame. I was told that they used Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides, so it won’t scratch easily in your pocket or on the table.

Since we we have a glass back, it’s possible to put in wireless charging and the company did just that. Simply place the phone on any Qi standard wireless charger, and let the magic happen.

It’s not exactly magic per se, but it’s amazing to have your phone charge by placing it on a table. This phone costs less than half of most flagships that don’t even support wireless charging.

Of course, you can always charge this phone’s 3050mAh battery through the reversible USB-C port, which also doubles as the audio port because, sadly, the Flare S7 Plus doesn’t have a 3.5 headphone jack. Cherry Mobile bundles a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter inside the box, so you can still use your legacy headphones as you please.

Powering the Flare S7 Plus is a MediaTek Helio P60 processor. We have already tried the capabilities of this chipset with the OPPO F9, and it definitely delivers great performance. If you’re into benchmarking, you’ll be glad to know the Helio P60 scores higher than its competitors.

The phone also comes with 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage which is pretty standard nowadays. It boots Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but there’s no word when Android 9 Pie is coming.

The gaming performance of the Flare S7 Plus is above average, which is what you can expect from the Helio P60. The Mali-G72 MP3 GPU works well with intensive games, but you must reduce the graphics quality a bit to get consistently high frame rates.

As for the cameras, the Flare S7 Plus has capable shooters that are probably the fruit of Cherry Mobile’s investment in improving their R&D when it comes to picture quality. The phone has dual rear shooters using a main 16-megapixel RGB sensor and a secondary 5-megapixel depth sensor. In the front, there’s another 16-megapixel selfie camera that’s paired with the IR sensor when needed. Check out the samples below:

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An additional feature of the front sensors is FlareMoji. Using the IR sensor and facial recognition, you can animate cutesy characters. Check this out:

It’s essentially like Apple’s Animoji, but the tracking is nowhere near as smooth as with the iPhone. Anyhow, it’s still enjoyable to use.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For just PhP 11,999 (US$ 225), the Flare S7 Plus offers a lot. You get a great premium phone with midrange power, beautiful display, and a plethora of extra features like wireless charging and an IR face scanner. The software UI is quite a letdown, but you can always download a launcher from the Play Store.

If you’re wondering what the Flare S7 Plus is in other markets, it’s also called the BLU VIVO XI+ and they share similar specifications and design.

SEE ALSO: Cherry Mobile announces Flare S7 series with three new smartphones

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Features

What does the GPU Turbo do to your phone?

Is it more than just a marketing gimmick?

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It’s been two months since Huawei rolled out the GPU Turbo update to its smartphones. Promised with a 60 percent increase in performance and reducing 30 percent on power consumption, a lot of fans and users were excited after the announcement.

Back then, everyone (including me) was hyped about lag-free games and longer battery life while playing. However, upon receiving the update, I began to wonder: Has GPU Turbo delivered what it promised?

What’s inside the update?

GPU Turbo was originally marketed as an improved gameplay experience, available only to PUBG and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

The Game Suite app, which comes with the update, offers an uninterrupted gaming feature, hiding all notifications when enabled (except for calls, alarms, and low-battery alerts).

Mistouch prevention is another feature to avert users from clicking the back and home button while playing — perfect for when you want to focus on your game.

Screenshots by Miguel Pineda, Huawei Mate 10 user

To some older smartphones like the Huawei Mate 10, the Game Suite App offers three performance modes: Gaming mode, which improves game performance but increases power consumption; Smart mode, which balances performance and power consumption; and Power saving mode, which saves power but reduces game performance.

For the newer Huawei P20 Pro (which I’ve been using) and Honor Play, it only has a gaming acceleration mode to toggle on or off.

Thoughts on the reduced power consumption

Because I used the Mate 10 before and recently transitioned to the P20 Pro, I’ve experienced the GPU Turbo update in both phones and I can guarantee that they’ve delivered on lowered power consumption.

With Game Suite, I can put my phone on power saving mode to further save battery. For instance, I was only able to drain the Mate 10 down to 15 percent during a 12-hour road trip despite switching between the games I play and other apps, such as Messenger, Netflix, Spotify, and taking photos and videos every once in a while. The same goes for the P20 Pro.

As a power user, I already get a lot of things done with these highly efficient smartphones and GPU Turbo; these allowed me to do more on a single charge. However, it’s a different case for gaming.

Improved gaming experience, but there’s a catch…

When I started playing games on gaming mode (or game acceleration mode on the P20 Pro), I could run Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on a high frame rate with the highest graphics setting available. Compared to how the game stuttered and lagged during 5v5 clashes, with GPU Turbo, it now runs smoothly, as if I have a smartphone made for gaming.

System notice when enabling the high frame rate on Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and the effects it may have on your gameplay

As shown above, most mobile games will notify their users about the possible repercussions of higher frame rates and using the best settings available. To prove that a smartphone with GPU Turbo can handle this, I sought out to confirm my suspicions.

After asking fellow Huawei users, I found out that after installing GPU Turbo, energy consumption is a lot faster than before. Their smartphones also heat up more easily, especially when playing games with the game acceleration mode on. This isn’t part of what was promised, and it’s pretty disappointing.

It’s not yet perfect

In my experience, GPU Turbo tries to boost performance above a smartphone’s limit hoping that users can experience better gameplay.

GPU Turbo can’t choose when to perform its best. It’s an update that is constantly running in our smartphones without any way to switch it off. We can only hope that Huawei will address these issues for the next batch of updates.

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