Features

And the best smartphone camera is…

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Mirror, mirror on the wall, which smartphone takes the best photos of them all?

If you’re looking for the best camera smartphone money can buy, look no further. We’ve rounded up the best, currently available smartphones in the world today, took them on a road trip, took plenty of the same photos, and evaluated the results.

Here’s what we found…

Mechanics and Disclaimer

But wait! Before we dive in, allow us to set the stage a bit.

First, it’s important to note that these smartphones were announced at different times of the year. It’s possible that phones released later could benefit from more advanced technology.  

Second, this test wasn’t conducted in a controlled environment. We shot these photos in the real world, but did our best to keep shooting conditions as similar as possible, including framing and the position of the sun and clouds. All of these photos were taken handheld on Auto with high dynamic range (HDR) mode turned off (except, of course, for our HDR test).

And lastly the results were voted upon by the GadgetMatch team. The process involved a blind test where photos in a series were shown in random order. We had no idea which phones shot what until we reviewed the results. Some phones surprised us!

This feature is best viewed on a desktop computer or laptop.

Landscape

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe

3rd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

In our very first comparison, we were already impressed by all the phones! Not a single one of them did poorly in the landscape test; each one presenting strong colors and wide dynamic range despite HDR being turned off. Still, we had to choose a winner, and it was the Pixel. Every element looked sharp, and colors popped more than the rest. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe and Galaxy S7 edge were a close second and third, but honestly, all phones passed with flying colors.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Dynamic Range (HDR Off)

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Moto Z

This was another tough call, but the Pixel won out in our dynamic range test sans any HDR tricks. Again, both the foreground and background looked great, and no details were lost in the darker regions. To our surprise, the Moto Z captured second place, mostly due to its accurate rendering of the bright areas — just look at how striking the sky and vegetation are!

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Dynamic Range (HDR On)

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Was this even close? Take one look at all the samples, and it’s clear the Pixel won without any doubt. When high dynamic range is needed, Google’s HDR+ mode shines like no other. If not for the Pixel, the Galaxy S7 edge would have been the winner. Despite being a year old, its HDR mode still leaves most phones in the dust.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Portrait

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

3rd place: Moto Z

Yet another win for the Pixel! This phone does such a great job maintaining color accuracy while making everything look so crisp — check out the skin tone and details on the shirt to see what we mean. The Galaxy S7 edge did nearly as well, and the Moto Z once again impressed us despite being the oldest phone in this shootout.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Food

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Google’s flagship phone is making this look too easy. When it comes to food photography, we prefer the picture that makes the meal look the most appetizing, and the Pixel did just that. The Galaxy S7 edge did a fine job as well, producing colors that stood out but didn’t betray the actual look of the sumptuous shrimp.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Group Selfie

Winner: Moto Z

2nd place: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Surprise, surprise — the Moto Z now has a win under its belt! We loved how everyone fit comfortably in its frame and looked lovely in the process. That’s its edge over the iPhone 7 Plus, although the latter produced our favorite shot when it came to saturation and skin tone. But we must say, the rest had their own strengths, too; it all boils down to personal preference.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Color/Macro

Winner: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

2nd place: Sony Xperia XZ

3rd place: Google Pixel

Add a check mark under the iPhone 7 Plus for this round. When it came to capturing the most amount of detail up close, none could match the iPhone’s output; however, we must commend the Xperia XZ for maximizing its subject tracking to stick to the swaying flower and maintain sharpness. The Pixel had an overall fine performance, and earned the third spot.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Selfie

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Huawei Mate 9

3rd place (tie): Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and Moto Z

Turns out the Pixel has a pretty good selfie camera, too! Our subject isn’t lost in the crowded background, and each strand of hair is distinguishable. The Mate 9 performed nearly as well, if only it didn’t slightly oversaturate some of the colors. The Galaxy S7 edge and Moto Z are tied for third, thanks to well-balanced contrast and a pleasantly wide angle.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Dusk

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

2nd place: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

This had to be the most challenging scenario for all entries. There was lots of movement, colors were flashing from all directions, and the sun was setting quickly. With all these elements in place, the Galaxy S7 edge slayed the shot and brought home gold by taking in the entire scene without a hitch. We had to give second place to the iPhone 7 Plus for making the colors in the foreground look so attractive.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Night

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

2nd place: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Here’s another tough situation in which the Galaxy S7 edge beat all its rivals. It’s clear Samsung’s specialty lies in nighttime photography, wherein all the glaring lights stay in check and scenes aren’t littered with unsightly noise. Choosing a second placer was tough, but we had to give it to the iPhone 7 Plus for nailing all the colors without blowing out the highlights.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Low-Light Portrait (Flash Off)

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

2nd place: Google Pixel

When it comes to low-light portraits, we prefer leaving the flash off, so we’re glad all the cameras produced acceptable photos. What stood out the most, though, came from the Galaxy S7 edge. Nothing looked overly dark or bright, and the subjects didn’t turn into a mesh of lost details. Despite being one of the few phones here without optical image stabilization for night shots, the Pixel managed to secure the second spot.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Low-Light Portrait (Flash On)

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: LG V20

3rd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Finally, we tested the flash capabilities of each camera. As you can tell, the results varied greatly from phone to phone, with the first-place finish going to the Pixel once more. It had the only photo with evenly distributed lighting and the most accurate skin tone. The V20 had a similar result, except colors were a lot more muted. Third place went to the Galaxy S7 edge for its smart illumination of the background.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ


And the winner is…

When the Pixel was launched back in October, one big claim was that it was the highest-rated smartphone camera on DxOMark, the world leader in camera, lens, and image quality ratings.

After 12 rounds of our own tests, we have to agree — the Google Pixel has, without a doubt, the best camera on a smartphone today.

Having said that, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 edge announced eight months prior, is a solid second and arguably still the best camera when it comes to low-light photography.

In a month, its successor the Galaxy S8 will also be unveiled; if Samsung sticks to its guns, the S8 may be the cameraphone to look out for in 2017.

Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus is third on our list. It may not have come out on top as many times, but it was a consistent performer overall, and shot some of the most color-realistic photos of the bunch.

The Moto Z also deserves an honorable mention. It’s the oldest of all the phones tested and in a slightly lower price point, but it held its own and even ruled its own category. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.  

The blind test was tough and our choices highly subjective. If you see things differently, that’s okay; it boils down to your own taste in photos. Some of us like nice saturated colors, some prefer warmer tones, and when it comes to selfies, some like the softening a good beauty mode provides.

Either way, all of the phones tested did great — a testament to how far technology has come. While thousand-dollar professional cameras will always take the best photos, when it all comes down to it, nothing beats the camera in your pocket.

SEE ALSO: Best Premium Smartphones (February 2017 Edition)

[irp posts=”10008″ name=”Best Premium Smartphones (February 2017 Edition)”]

Features

Why I trust Samsung’s Knox security

A nod to the security platform that makes me feel safe and protected

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A smartphone is like a treasure trove in the age of the Internet. Filled with confidential information for personal and business use. A gold mine of data that can be used by big companies to improve technology. Or an opportunity for hackers and criminals to steal and sell as valuable resources.

I’m no stranger to discussions about cybersecurity and data privacy, even though my himbo veneer begs to differ. Two years ago, I attended a conference mounted to discuss the importance and value of data as a commodity in this era.  I learned what technology giants like Samsung and Huawei are doing to protect the new currency of the digital age.

Coming full circle, cyberattacks have increased in the past two years. Samsung knows this all too well, bringing Knox Platform to the front — end-to-end protection they have had for several years already.

The ultimate defense

In 2019, I was lucky to be given an audience with the South Korean giant executives to learn and discuss what Knox is. Samsung Philippines’ Product and Solutions Manager Anton Andres explained how Knox Platform works, and how it sets them apart from other brands when it comes to Android security.

Knox was just a security platform that automatically encrypts and decrypts information every time you boot up the device.

It’s embedded on a Galaxy smartphone or any smart device marketed with Knox’s security during a secure supply chain, offering real-time protection to actively safeguard devices against data attacks or malware.

Any unauthorized attempts to access your phone’s core are blocked in real-time. Even a device as old as a Samsung Galaxy S8 was compromised and reset, Knox automatically blows the fuse to wipe your corporate or personal info. Therefore, preventing any data leakage and security risks.

Knox also lock-up apps containing sensitive data such as Samsung Pay, Samsung Pass, Secure Folder, or Samsung Health — especially when the smartphone was booted in an unapproved state.

Samsung Galaxy Watch4 | Samsung Health

Apart from the platform security, the South Korean company delivers solutions like Knox Manage and Knox Configure — services that let enterprises customize Galaxy smartphones and tablets, as well as control the device and user interactions for safety and security.

Keeping your network safe

Aside from my interview with Andres, I was also able to speak with David Kim, Samsung Mobile B2B Asia’s Corporate VP and Chief Revenue Officer.

Kim stated how important your network is, and how you can only control the hardware, software, and who access the phones. The executive added, “There are also Wi-Fi and networks. If someone can sneak in your network, they can sneak in your email.”

Public Wi-Fis are one example of an unsafe network that might compromise your security. Free Wi-Fi sounds nice. You’re not going to spend a single dime. But it’s also a pot of gold for hackers trying to steal data — personal information such as your credit card purchases.

I haven’t connected to public Wi-Fi for more than three years due to the awareness of the risks it poses to my security. And because I’m privileged enough to buy large data allocation for my Internet use and have consistent network signal.

But not everyone is in the same position like I am. Luckily, Samsung gives you the capability to encrypt outgoing internet traffic and disable tracking apps and websites.

With a Galaxy smartphone, you can activate Secure Wi-Fi so you can browse the internet safely on public wireless connections without fear of security breaches.

Handling your sensitive data

Some people have poor privacy habits: Using the same passwords across different platforms. Admittedly, I was once like that. But using Samsung Pass throughout the years helped me easily access my credentials. Without needing to remember countless usernames and passwords.

Samsung’s use of innovative biometric authentication technology helps average users and techies alike to keep themselves protected — whether it’s Samsung Pass or an Ultrasonic Fingerprint.

If you’re still wary, I’d understand. But your biometrics data — no matter how many — are safely stored in Knox Vault. It’s a processor operating independently from the main CPU to securely isolate your information.

What you need to be cautious about are phishers waiting to attack. These are cybercriminals who might trick you into handing over sensitive information. Oftentimes, they attack by installing malware disguised as links, attachments, or even legitimate apps, on your devices.

The possibilities are endless on what these criminals can do if they have access to your sensitive information. They can use it to demand a ransom, steal your personal information and apply for loans without your knowledge, and even make purchases with your credit card information.

Though Samsung continuously scans your device for malware or suspicious activity via McAfee protection, we need to do our part as well in keeping ourselves safe.

White House approved

All these multi-layers of security are one of the reasons why Samsung believes they’re more secure than any other brand. The Samsung Mobile B2B Asia Vice President confidently claimed to GadgetMatch, “We don’t have a perfect security rating, but we are well received. That’s why the White House is comfortable with us.”

After all, Samsung designs, creates, and validates every computer chip, piece of wiring, and hardware component before lodging them into smart devices manufactured. This approach gave Samsung control over design, manufacturing, and assembly which ensures a secure supply chain.

Further, it prevents unauthorized backdoor access in each device that hackers won’t easily bypass. As a rule, don’t download unofficial or unauthorized apps lest you open up yourself to vulnerability.

Be careful of what you download

At the end of the day, it’s about you and your relationship with your smartphone and the Internet. Samsung’s Product and Solutions Manager Anton Andres warned about downloading third-party apps, especially keyboards. Yes, it can make your keyboard look pretty, but it also compromises your security.

“If you access your mobile banking credentials on a third-party keyboard, they can phish your information,” Andres said. “With Samsung Knox, we identify specific applications and URLs. Once identified, Knox automatically hides your information to prevent potential threats.”

Samsung is constantly updating the Knox Platform and its security solutions. If you haven’t had the time to keep yourselves extra secure, this is your sign to do it now.

In the meantime, let our response be: In Knox we trust. 🙏

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24 Hours Series

24 Hours in Nasugbu

A dreamy sea-scapade through the lenses of the Xiaomi 11T Pro

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As they usually say, “unplanned trips are the best.” Like the Quezon beach trip that was decided in a spur-of-the-moment, going to Nasugbu was also ever-spontaneous.

We would’ve gone to Boracay, as we snagged a cheap PhP 5,000 worth of round-trip airfare. But with all the inconsistencies of the government in announcing lockdown restrictions, we decided to let it go and hop on a road trip down south.

Unconventional yet thrilling

Going to Pansol, Laguna, or an overlooking resort in Tanay, Rizal was one of the options to consider. However, we found ourselves driving further extemporaneously.

After two to three hours, we reached Nasugbu, Batangas. Along the way, we discovered a cool, overlooking view of Batangas at night, right before you pass through Tagaytay.

Unpack things, not feelings

At exactly 8:32 PM, we reached our destination. The first thing I did was unpack my stuff. Feelings? You can unpack it later after a late yet sumptuous dinner.

That camera cutout looks more acceptable vs Mi 10T Pro’s hump

I tested Xiaomi 11T Pro’s photo prowess by taking a photo of that figurine inside the room with just that artificial light around.

Surprisingly, it looked good despite not fully embracing its overall camera performance. I also took a quick mandatory FFTB mirror selfie.

I like how that Depth of Field (DoF) separated me from my surroundings. Maybe the macro camera has its perks after all.

Night | Ultra-Wide vs Wide

I went outside to get some breezy night air while I let my hair dry. Unfortunately, beaches are closed past 9 in the evening.

Night | Ultra-Wide vs Wide

While sitting at a chaise lounge, I also captured photos of meat-grilling sessions. The Xiaomi 11T Pro’s Night Mode did a good job, especially with the appearance of fire and smoke. Very unlikely with how most night photos turned out in my review.

Portrait ON | Portrait OFF

I also used it to capture these selfies sans beauty mode — which look good for my liking.

We all need that ✨ Vitamin Sea ✨

We decided to spend the rest of the night with some booze — until my friends got knocked out. I was able to stay awake and witness how the dark sky transitioned into a picturesque, beach view.

There was no sunrise view since Nasugbu is situated on the western side. The saving grace is that sunsets look magical in this town.

Ultra-Wide vs Wide

The resort looks antiquated; brimming with history among its guests over the years. Thanks to that ultra-wide lens, it was able to capture the place clearly. And without the obstruction of crowds.

It’s probably the best part of this quick getaway: only a few people in sight.

There’s a stainless steel gate with a stone arch paving the way towards the sandy beach of Nasugbu. Xiaomi 11T Pro’s Auto White Balance (AWB) might actually lean more into the warmer side. But notice how overly-warm my sandal-fie was?

Ultra-wide vs Wide vs 2x digital zoom

Going further, there’s also a wooden gate near the beach. It’s suppose to deter unwanted visitors coming from other resorts. I had a small talk with the resort owner and he shared how low tides are more apparent this season. Sea waves in high tides would reach as far as the stainless, steel gate we crossed earlier.

Just like in my review, the inconsistency of the ultra-wide and wide lens can be seen especially with that less bright shot. Zooming in past 1x means relying on digital cropping via its main sensor. Little did I know that doing so loses that warm White Balance.

Unpredictable like the ocean waves

The Xiaomi 11T Pro’s camera performance is pretty much unpredictable.

Night UWA | Xiaomi 11T Pro vs Mi 10T Pro

While the 11T Pro’s shot looked better because it’s brighter and sharper, that’s actually the camera software’s over-processing. The night shot taken with the Mi 10T Pro was closer to what I saw in person.

Wide | Xiaomi 11T Pro vs Mi 10T Pro

Fast forward to the next day, this was how it looked like as early as six in the morning. Astonishingly, the beach shot of the 11T Pro was too cool. Not “too cool” though in terms of quality. The Mi 10T Pro delivered a better shot.

UWA | Xiaomi 11T Pro vs Mi 10T Pro

But when you switch to that even wider Ultra-Wide Angle (UWA) lens, the Xiaomi 11T Pro was once again inconsistent AF.

2x | Xiaomi 11T Pro vs Mi 10T Pro

After some time, fishing boats started to appear on the shoreline. I then tried tapping the 2x option for that zoomed shot. The photo turned out way too blue.

Wide | Xiaomi 11T Pro vs Mi 10T Pro

Looking around, there’s a fancier resort right next to where we stayed. I took a shot and the warmer White Balance and better Dynamic Range saved the Xiaomi 11T Pro this time.

HDR UWA | Xiaomi 11T Pro vs Mi 10T Pro

Xiaomi 11T Pro is pretty consistent in having inconsistent wins and losses. The Xiaomi 11T Pro wins this one due to the preservation of image details and better High Dynamic Range.

HDR Wide | Xiaomi 11T Pro vs Mi 10T Pro

Ending this with the last photo before we went home. Not much of a difference but the bluish tint in the sky is evident on the 11T Pro versus the Mi 10T Pro’s less-vibrant sky.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi 11T Pro vs Mi 10T Pro: Camera shootout

Spicing up this sea-scapade getaway

As GadgetMatch’s Associate Creative Producer, post-processing (or color grading) shots is also part of my job. While we barely post color-graded photo samples on this website unless clearly stated, this section is clearly dedicated to some photos taken with the Xiaomi 11T Pro that were modified through a photo-grading app.

Shots by @vincenzlee | Post-processed in VSCO

Like what you saw earlier, the RAW versions of these photos looked so bluish to the point that I was like in Avatar. Luckily, post-processing apps were made and I was able to improve it by applying a preset and adjusting all the necessary camera settings such as temperature/White Balance, highlights, shadows, contrast, among others.

Post-processed in VSCO

I can’t miss another beach photo this time. I asked my friend to take photos of me in this weird all-black get-up.

Post-processed in VSCO

Then, I just tried to write letters on the sand and made it a candid-looking shot. My friend followed after me (which kinda looked like she was mocking me lol).

Shots by @vincenzlee | Post-processed in VSCO

I then took over the Xiaomi 11T Pro and took more photos of her.

Shots by @vincenzlee | Post-processed in VSCO

This is a testament that bragging #NoFilter shots are senseless. Color-grading shots adds more life and story to your photos.

Shots by @vincenzlee | Post-processed in VSCO

I always tell people that camera angles play a huge part in photography. Just look at how my friend nailed the first shot compared to a regular photo shot from a distance.

Shots by @vincenzlee | Post-processed in VSCO

The blown out highlights and exposure of the original photos made it look less appealing. Lucky enough, I was able to salvage these photos through the power of color grading.

Shots by @vincenzlee | Post-processed in VSCO

Candid photos are simply the best for memory preservation. It makes you remember the moments more than the poses you’ve made in front of the camera.

Shots by @vincenzlee | Post-processed in VSCO

One thing I liked about the beach in Nasugbu is the firmer sand crystals despite having a mud-like color. Those in Unisan, Quezon had white sand but are actually rougher especially when you’re barefooted.

Shots by @vincenzlee | Post-processed in VSCO

But I do like the clearer blue water in Quezon. The one here in Nasugbu is far more brown just like the beach’s color. And as I remember my regrets of not being able to visit Boracay, it also reminded me how I badly miss the white sand plus the crystal clear and less salty water of the island.

Not sure if I’m the father or the big child of this circle 🤔

It might seem unfortunate, not to be able to visit Boracay during this pandemic. Being surrounded by two pairs of sweet honey bees doesn’t help either.

But, in all honesty, I enjoyed the company more instead of being awkward. Especially with the bond that we already formed. And yeah, I’m used to being single and alone (and no, this ain’t a sadb0i sentiment).

Certainly, unplanned trips are indeed the best.

All shots were taken using the Xiaomi 11T Pro with a mix of RAW and post-processed photos edited through VSCO.

Quick note

We made sure all of us were safe and COVID-19 free prior to going to the travel location. All of us are already fully vaccinated but still submitted the requirements needed for in-country travel. Face masks were still worn during the trip and were only removed for the sake of the photoshoot. Social distancing protocols were followed as well.


24 Hours is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we showcase our travels through a smartphone camera’s perspective. It’s also a documented guide on things to see and do in a city in case you happen to plan a trip there.

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Entertainment

Arcane Act III: Gobsmacking finale

I am lost for words

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Arcane

Act I: A treat for every League of Legends player

Act II: Whirlwind of emotions, understanding

Act III: Gobsmacking finale


This article contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

I wasn’t prepared for Arcane to end. And for the emotions that astounded me throughout the series’ third act.

I was delaying the inevitable; that this series will come to an end. I delayed watching the final act on purpose, just like I would with any other show I’ve fallen in love with.

But I’ve faced the end and I was utterly speechless. With every episode ending, I found myself dumbfounded with all the revelations, twists, and cliffhangers.

I thought Arcane would be predictable, especially when you base it on the game’s lore, but it wasn’t. And that made me love Arcane even more.

Art that gets better

Just when you thought the animation was already marvelous, it got even more magnificent. The introduction of more characters, sceneries, and changes in the plot often require brilliant storytelling.

Arcane slew it with its visuals, majorly between Ekko and Jinx — childhood friends turned enemies. The two brandished the contrasting ideologies in the city of Zaun.

The fight scenes also got sprightlier, thanks to the advent of HexTech through the weapons. I was ecstatic when Jayce whirled his hammer and he transformed it into a cannon, much like in the game.

Honestly, I wondered why I didn’t have a crush on Jayce when I was playing League of Legends, but I find him bewitching in Arcane.

On another note, Vi’s gauntlets punch through walls and bones with ease. Her clash with Sevika is one of the reasons why I was reminded of my love for martial arts. I can only dream of doing those stunts.

Riot certainly outdid themselves in the visual presentation of Arcane. It was carefully planned and executed. There’s no wonder the series got people hooked — even if they aren’t fans of League of Legends.

Taking a wild turn

Arcane is so damn unpredictable. Knowing the game’s lore could be the endgame, and indisputably the future of these characters. But let’s forget that for a moment.

What Arcane showed is the prosaic, everyday passing through the lives of the champions who lived in and crossed Piltover and Zaun. We even got a glimpse of what Noxus feels like — another empire in the land of Runeterra — through Mrs. Medarda.

Yes, the scheming councilor that our beloved Jayce is knocking boots with, has a parent come over to the City of Progress.

The third act expanded the story and its characters. How their lives are intertwined and divided by the circumstances surrounding them. And how it’s setting up for a war that might take place in the near future.

Unbeknownst to these characters, their lives are connected in ways they’re unaware of.

The collab we never knew we needed

Arcane exhibited different pairings we never expected. Caitlyn, Vi, and Ekko — teaming up to go back to Piltover and clashing with Jinx.

Heimerdinger discovers Ekko’s ingenuity and the two work together. (Bye, Jayce!)

Vi and Jayce shut down Silco’s manufacturing plants.

And even a peace agreement between Jayce and Silco to prevent war.

The series gave a platform to various dynamics; clashing personalities and upbringing brought together for one common goal.

Anticlimactic ending

I would’ve thought they’d cross each other in one grand finale, but the ending wasn’t what I expected. But somehow, it’s a serendipitous way to end the first season.

So open-ended, it presented possibilities on what’s next. Fans delighting in coming up with theories on how the story will pan out, especially for Season 2 — which Riot and Netflix have already promised to deliver in the future.

Though a bit anticlimactic, personally, I’m elated that I watched Arcane these past few weeks and it ended the way it was. I didn’t have the good ending I hoped for, but it gave me the opportunity to yearn for more.

Having a second season might give me the answers I’m searching, and the excitement I’ve been looking for. Riot hasn’t disappointed so far, and I’m certain they’ll make a grade with a masterpiece when the next season arrives.

Arcane is streaming now on Netflix.

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