Features

Best Video Games of 2017 (Q1 Edition)

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2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for video games. With a bevy of new releases flooding the first quarter of the year, GadgetMatch is here to help you pick out the best.

Based on order of release:

Resident Evil 7

Miss the genuine terror of being vulnerable in the old Resident Evil games? The seventh installment in the hallowed survival horror series gets back to basics, thrusting you into a labyrinthine estate of a deranged, murderous family. You have only your wits and whatever you can find in that madhouse to survive. It also marks a franchise first, as the whole game is set in first-person, shoving every jump scare right in your face. Play the whole game on PlayStation VR if you dare!

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (January 24)

Yakuza 0

Fans of the cult Japanese gangster sim finally get the origin stories for antiheroes Kiryu and Majima in Yakuza 0. Showing their struggle as they rise through the ranks of the Tojo clan, this prequel also works as an introduction for series newbies to the twisting intrigue and occasionally wacky world of Yakuza. It uses the economic bubble period of 1988 Tokyo and Osaka to maximum effect, casting a light on the politicking, backstabbing, and brawling of organized crime with glitz and grit.

Available on PlayStation 4 (January 24)

Nioh

Hardcore action RPG gamers who love the challenge of Dark Souls need not worry about the end of that particular franchise. Nioh is a worthy successor to the unforgiving tactical combat throne. It’s set in a fictional feudal Japan where demons are wreaking havoc across the war-torn lands, and it’s up to you, the Irish swordsman William, to put an end to this yokai menace. With responsive controls, a varied arsenal of medieval weaponry, and intense boss battles, Nioh is the “Samurai Souls” you’ve always wanted.

Available on PlayStation 4 (February 7)

For Honor

If fighting AI-controlled opponents has gotten too predictable but you still want to live out that middle ages power fantasy, then For Honor is for you. It’s a competitive online multiplayer brawler that pits knights versus vikings versus samurai. There is a single-player campaign that serves as a short tutorial to the frenetic large-scale battles and intricate duels. When you’re ready to face actual humans, jump into team fights and one-on-one affairs where you clash for control over multi-tiered maps littered with computer mobs, or just see who can slay their enemies more.

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (February 14)

Night in the Woods

Compelling conflicts in games don’t always involve extreme competition. Sometimes, they take on the form of an existential crisis, such as finding your once ambitious college-educated self returning to your backwater hometown, realizing you’re not the hotshot you thought you were. This is Night in the Woods, a charming, introspective story-heavy adventure game where you talk to fellow anthropomorphic animals rendered in punchy 2D cartoon art, and make small but weighty decisions.

Available on Windows, macOS, Linux, and PlayStation 4 (February 21)

Horizon Zero Dawn

Ever had that childhood dream of fighting and taming cool robot dinosaurs? Horizon Zero Dawn fulfills that fantasy through a gorgeous post-post-apocalyptic wilderness where long-lost technology is as mystical as magic. You play as the determined, redheaded hunter Aloy on a quest for redemption. Master a vast open world chock-full of savage mechanical beasts and majestic vistas that rival Uncharted 4‘s visuals. It’s also the best reason for getting a PS4 Pro, as the game’s graphical fidelity takes full advantage of the upgraded console’s 4K resolution and HDR lighting capabilities.

Available on PlayStation 4 (February 28)

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Old-school CRPG enthusiasts who hail the cult hit Planescape: Torment as the gold standard of the genre are raving about this crowdfunded spiritual sequel. Torment: Tides of Numenera wears its forebears’ influence proudly, with its classic isometric camera, pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D art, and pages and pages of text for dialogue and world-building. If complex characters and difficult choices are what you’re looking for, then you’ll enjoy the well-written narrative Torment weaves based on your every action.

Available on Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (February 28)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

What better way to say goodbye to the Wii U and hello to the Nintendo Switch than with a boldly ambitious title from a flagship franchise? The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t revolutionary, taking on sandbox and survival game conventions such as a sprawling map, stamina and equipment management, and crafting. It’s how Nintendo refines these mechanics and melds them with familiar Zelda trappings, resulting in an immersive world of dynamism and discovery on an unprecedented scale. Play it on the Switch for the optimum experience, but the Wii U version is fine if you’re on a budget.

Available on Wii U and Nintendo Switch (March 3)

Snipperclips

In case the new Zelda isn’t enough for you to get a Switch, Snipperclips might just do the trick. Take control of Snip and Clip, two anthropomorphic shapes with meme-worthy reaction faces, and solve a variety of puzzles by cutting each of the two into the appropriate, well, shapes to interact with the environment. You can play through the game by yourself, but it truly shines when you’re sharing the joy (and the frustration) with friends and family.

Available on Nintendo Switch (March 3)

Nier: Automata

Plenty of sci-fi stories across all media have meditated on consciousness, sapience, and morality through the lens of artificial intelligence. There just hasn’t been a video game that does so with the perfect balance of style and substance until Nier: Automata. It blends super cool swordplay with breakneck bullet hell into a ballet of brutality, all the while philosophizing over what it means to be human. Pro-tip: keep playing after the credits roll, and get ready to have your mind blown and your heart broken.

Available on Windows and PlayStation 4 (March 7)

SEE ALSO: 8 new facts about the Nintendo Switch

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Features

Mate 20 series offers a solid lineup: Weekend Rewind

There’s a Mate 20 for everyone!

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Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.

1. Huawei offers plenty of things with their Mate 20 Series

Huawei could very well fill up this week’s entire rewind with the whole Mate 20 series. In total, they released four new smartphones along with two wearables during their event in London. Here’s all of them.

Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro

These were the devices most of us expected to see. The Mate 20 Pro is probably the most feature-packed phone of 2018. They brought in everything that was good with the P20 Pro and added a few wait-hold-up-did-it-really-do-that features like reverse wireless charging.

Watch the Mate 20 Pro Hands-on…

And our Mate 20 Unboxing while you’re here.

Porsche Design Mate 20 RS

If you have an excessive amount of money to spend (please give us some), you can opt for the more luxurious Mate 20 RS. It has all the bells and whistles of the Mate 20 Pro but with the leatherback Porsche Design. It’ll come in two colors: Black in select markets and in a limited edition Red in China.

Mate 20 X

This was announced as Huawei’s one more big thing. Big, it truly is. Coming with a massive 7.2-inch display, the Mate 20 X is being marketed as a gaming smartphone. It even pairs with a gamepad for that ultimate gaming experience.

Huawei Watch GT and Band Pro 3

These two wearables mostly flew under the radar but they are still worth taking note of. The Huawei Watch GT, while waterproof and equipped with fitness features, is the more lifestyle model thanks to its design. The Huawei Band Pro 3 is the more straightforward health tracker and something you probably shouldn’t wear at formal gatherings.

2. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 getting hype ahead of launch

In case you haven’t been keeping up, there’s already a handful of smartphones released in October and there’s a handful more coming. One of them is Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3 which is slated for an October 25 launch and is rumored to have a whopping 10GB of RAM and 5G connectivity.

Xiaomi also released a teaser showcasing the device’s sliding camera feature.

3. Palm breaking trend of bigger phones

Tired of phones getting bigger and bigger? Palm came back this week and offered a different approach with the Palm phone. It’s not exactly a standalone smartphone and is really meant to be more of a Robin to the Batman which is your daily driver. At this point, we’re not sure how useful it’ll be but if you’re curious, it’s priced at US$ 349.

4. OnePlus 6T moves launch date

Speaking of more phones coming, the OnePlus 6T, which was reported to come with a smaller notch, an in-display fingerprint scanner along with the usual performance we’ve come to expect from the company, was forced to move its launch to October 29 with OnePlus CEO and founder Pete Lau saying they want “to make sure it gets the time and attention it deserves.”

Why wouldn’t it get the attention during its initial launch date? Well, it’s because of this next news item.

5. Apple wants to end October with a bang

Whether intentional or not, looks like Apple isn’t done announcing things and they want to be the one to cap off October with their own launch event. After announcing the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, the company is expected to unveil a new iPad Pro with Face ID, and possibly a low-cost MacBook or MacBook Air as reported by Bloomberg.


Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

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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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