Features

Best Video Games of 2017 (Q2 Edition)

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The first quarter of 2017 saw the release of stellar titles from marquee series. Halfway through the year, we’re still getting a ton of great games. These releases may not all be from familiar franchises, but they still provide quality entertainment. Here are the ten best video games of Q2 2017 ordered by release date.

Persona 5

Resist and revolt in this year’s biggest JRPG. Lead a ragtag group of rebellious teens to steal the hearts of oppressive authority figures, affect positive social change, forge unbreakable friendships, and maybe even fall in love. Persona 5 is a supremely stylish and epic high school simulator/dungeon crawler filled with twists and turns over a hundred hours. Some translation issues and poor representation aside, it’s a must-play for any JRPG fan. Check out our review for a more in-depth assessment!

Available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 (April 4)

The Sexy Brutale

You are Lafcadio Boone, a man of God, gifted with a special mask, and one of the many attendees of an annual masquerade ball in a mystical mansion. The other party-goers are stuck in a 12-hour time loop, and forced to endure grisly deaths again and again. It is up to you to unshackle them from these cyclical slaughter chains with foresight, deduction, and ingenuity. Solve the scintillating murder mystery of The Sexy Brutale.

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (April 12)

Flinthook

Be a swashbuckling pirate Robin Hood of outer space in Flinthook. As Captain Flinthook, you’ll be looting randomly generated enemy pirate ships filled with glinting goodies and belligerent baddies. A grappling hook is your main means of movement, allowing you to swing across rooms, juke and jive through danger, and rain down a hail of bullets on your foes. We mentioned this on our list of pick-up and play games for its charming visuals, intuitive controls, and replayability.

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

What Remains of Edith Finch

Come back home to discover what happened to the family you left a lifetime ago, and maybe learn how much they mean to you in the story-focused adventure game What Remains of Edith Finch. Experience fantastical vignettes that feature each member of the Finch family in surprisingly different and truly memorable ways no other medium can portray. It’s another testament to the power of video games as art.

Available on Windows and PlayStation 4 (April 25)

Prey

Unravel the secrets of the Talos I, a Moon-orbiting space station where all sorts of experiments are done on hostile alien lifeforms and radical neuro-technologies. Of course, everything goes haywire on your very first day on the job as Morgan Yu. Trust becomes as important a resource as the weapons and crafting materials you’ll need to survive in the claustrophobic, paranoia-inducing first-person action RPG Prey, especially when you’re not even sure what you’re seeing is real.

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (May 5)

Injustice 2

We’ve seen Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman go at it in full combat in the movies and comics. But to actually fight as them and other iconic DC characters with hyper-realistic graphics and earth-shattering impact? Now that’s an intoxicating power fantasy. Indulge in Injustice 2, a fast-paced fighting game from the makers of Mortal Kombat, and another game we featured on our great quick play titles.

Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, and Android (May 16)

The Surge

Following the footsteps of Nioh (which we featured on our Q1 list), The Surge is another mechanically satisfying take on the unforgiving Dark Souls action RPG formula. Instead of a dark fantasy set in the past, The Surge has you slicing and dicing power-armored berserkers in a desolate, tech-dependent future. Upgrade and customize your own exo-suit with the loot from your fallen foes to improve your chances against mounting odds in brutal and deliberate combat.

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (May 16)

Rime

Explore a vast, beautiful island brimming with secrets locked behind puzzles in Rime. Jump across platforms, scale walls, ride odd beasts, and yell at magical, glowing statues to solve abstract, environmental riddles. And maybe just for a moment, take in the picturesque views of this bright, watercolor world. Find your zen in this interactive meditative journey.

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (May 26)

Tekken 7

There’s no slowing down for the most popular 3D fighting game franchise with Tekken 7 releasing on PC and home consoles as an undeniable hit. The combo-fueled core that fans know and love largely remains the same with a few gameplay changes for riskier, more rewarding play. Tekken has never looked better though, thanks to the power of current hardware, and it has made the over-the-top conflict of the Mishima bloodline all the more spectacular. Did we mention Akuma of Street Fighter is also in this game?!

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (June 2)

ARMS

A challenger appears! From the makers of storied series such as Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon comes a… wacky arena fighting game? Where you box with springy limbs that stretch and curve across outlandish stages? And you can play as a mega popular movie diva, a mummy, or a green humanoid glob of DNA among other crazy characters? ARMS is totally weird, totally original, and totally fun. Read our review for a more comprehensive take on this excellent multiplayer Switch exclusive.

Available on the Nintendo Switch (June 16)

SEE ALSO: Best Video Games of 2017 (Q1 Edition)

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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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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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