The Galaxy Z Flip4 may not be Samsung’s “best” smartphone when it comes to mobile photography, but it surprisingly offers two flexible cameras despite its compact form factor.
For those obsessed with a phone’s camera hardware, the Galaxy Z Flip4 has a set of 12MP rear cameras and an inner front camera:
- 12MP f/1.8 wide (main) with Dual Pixel AF + OIS
- 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide with 123-degree FoV (Field of View)
- 10MP f/2.4 selfie with 80-degree FoV
Without any other segue, let’s hop along to our Binondo slash Intramuros (Manila) photowalk through the lenses of the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4!
Wider is (sometimes) better
It’s best to start this feature with a view from the condo unit we stayed at.
Instead of using the regular wide lens, I opted to use the ultra-wide lens to show how massive the infrastructure is.
Unlike other phones, I was less afraid to take this type of shot with my hands extended outside the condo unit’s window all because I have this (third-party) case with a ring that felt secure in my fingers. It also helps that the Galaxy Z Flip4 is already pretty light.
After leaving our stuff behind, I told my friends that we should take an LRT ride towards our destination. In another instance, the ultra-wide lens was helpful in capturing a wider train perspective than usual.
But in the shots of the Rizal Park (or formerly Bagumbayan) and the National Museum of the Philippines above, I chose the wide lens since it can capture more light data inside the train. Plus, the views are less distorted.
Upon arriving at LRT-Central Station, me and my friends walked further until we reached the infamous Manila underpass. I tried taking a shot of this view that looked good in my eyes because of the harmony of natural light and shadows.
Unfortunately, Galaxy Z Flip4’s lack of telephoto lens kind of ruined the quality of this particular zoomed shot because of the unflattering amount of sharpness.
World’s oldest Chinatown
Instead of riding and waiting for that classic Philippine jeepney, we rode a tricycle. It was actually not part of the plan but because the bridge was too steep, the tricycle driver tried to slow down while steering his three-wheeled vehicle up. Thus, it gave me wonderful shots of the Chinatown gate with little to no motion blur.
24 years of existence, and it was actually my first time going beyond Binondo’s signature gate. 2017 was my first visit but it was just a brief moment of the car making a U-turn.
As we’re already talking about numbers, the Manila Chinatown is actually the oldest Chinatown in the world that was established as far as 1594. I’m not here give you any boring lectures on Philippine History — the images speak for themselves.
The gateway-like arch called “paifang” or “pailou” is a testament to Binondo’s overall architecture influenced by the Chinese.
Th infrastructure around Binondo look quite old compared to modern Manila and other cities in Southeast Asia.
Like the Binondo Church above (or its very mouthful name of Minor Basilica and National Shrine of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, whichever you prefer). The sacred structure was built by the Dominicans in 1596. As a bonus, I tried post-processing that church shot — the warm tones make it livelier. But for this rest of the article, I’m just sticking to the unedited outputs made by the Galaxy Z Flip4.
In the particular shots above, I tried using ultra-wide and 2x zoom respectively. Samsung’s AI and HDR magic didn’t do much justice on the zoomed photo though.
And even if the Lunar New Year is already over, there are still plenty of Chinese paper lanterns around establishments, making for a lively Chinese spirit.
I’ve been wanting to taste the specialty of Binondo cuisine as early as 2020 — but then the pandemic hit. Fast forward to 2022, we’re finally here!
From the Binondo Church, we first went to Chuan Kee — known for its xiao long baos and another record-holder in this article as the oldest fastfood place in the said town.
But because of the long queue (and our hungry souls), my friend then suggested that we should go further to Wai Ying Fastfood instead.
But before that, I took them some wide and ultra-wide photos as well as ultra-wide selfies with me in it.
Another time hop! After thirty minutes of lining up for the queue and another half waiting for our food, we finally dug in to these mouthwatering Filipino-Chinese cuisine that are delicious but not too expensive.
While they don’t serve a xiao long bao that I’ve been dying to have for so long, my favorites, luckily were available at order: Lemon Chicken, Lemon Coke, Hakaw, Japanese Siomai, and the Lava Pao that’s all worth dying for. And oh, I shouldn’t forget the Macau-famous Lord Stow’s Egg Tart too.
Hopia like it
It wouldn’t be a complete visit without passing by along a famous Chinese deli chain in Binondo: Eng Bee Tin— particularly the main branch in the heart of Binondo.
Just a fun fact: the head office was founded in the heart of Ongpin St. as far as 1912. That’s more than one century and one decade ago!
Famous for its hopia (or bean-filled mooncake), Eng Bee Tin has a wide range of flavors to choose from. While it’s not in the photos above, Custard Hopia was already my best pick even if it’s my first time eating it. There are the classics too like Mongo (Red Bean) and Ube, as well as Pork Floss, Ube Queso, Custard Buko, Ube Buko, Brownie, and so much more.
And as I already mentioned a chocolate-filled mooncake — the Triple Chocolate Lava Mooncake — that I badly wanted to try was out of the shelves.
This popular Binondo household brand offers more than just hopia / mooncake. There are even siopaos, cakes, condiments, sardines, and even cured meat.
Post Food Coma
After all that food talk, it’s now time to get back to the city center for some walk.
While the Galaxy Z Flip4 doesn’t have the best-in-class mobile camera, it was able to capture the cat above with less motion blur. Too bad it ruined the second shot of a cute chomky cat all because I zoomed in digitally.
And as you already notice, Binondo’s lamp posts are special because of its design. I suppose you won’t find such red and gold dragon-styled street ornaments anywhere else in the Philippines other than Binondo itself.
Binondo (temporarily) filled the void in me — missing Taiwan and Hong Kong ever since the pandemic hit. These tourists made the experience felt like I was in another East Asian country instead of my home turf.
I mean why not? Samsung has been harping about its “Nightography” feature that made its debut in the Galaxy S22 lineup.
Disregarding all those ugly power lines, the Binondo Church looked better at night — more so with the help of Samsung’s “Nightography” magic through the wide camera sensor of the Galaxy Z Flip4.
And just for fun, I took portrait shots of my friends. I just love how clean Samsung processes the subject and background segmentation as well as the depth effect (or the imitation of a professional camera lens’ bokeh / Depth of Field).
And for the second time around, I was at the tricycle’s back seat. I’m fortunate enough that there were no pickpockets around when I captured these stills while the vehicle was in motion. The OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) and AI algorithm of the Galaxy Z Flip4 surely helped in shooting these fast-paced shots even at night.
The bridge of solidarity
One (among the many) weird interest(s) I have is my utmost fascination of big bridges. Even though architecture and infrastructure are two different disciplines, I still love them both because at the end of the day, it’s all about being able to build out-of-the-ordinary structures that go beyond any normal person’s wildest imaginations.
Using Night Mode, I was able to achieve the shot of the newly-built bridge together with its light reflection across the Pasig River — or that crucial body of water that connects Laguna de Bay (a.k.a the biggest lake in the Philippines) as well as the disreputable Manila Bay.
Honestly, this part of Pasig River isn’t the most pleasing to the eyes — but I still captured them just for the sake of showing the power of the Galaxy Z Flip4 as well as the reality of the city.
One of the rarest moments where I captured a horizontal landscape shot in this article was the one above just to emphasize how it looks like in a panoramic-like view.
A little bit of bridge incline and several steps later, we’ve reached the part that shows the opening of the tied-arch bridge.
Just to emphasize how massive the structure is, I then used the ultra-wide lens of the Galaxy Z Flip4. Even if the wider lens isn’t as bright as how the regular 1x lens captures night shots (I mean f/2.2 aperture really isn’t sufficient), the abundant presence of lights in the bridge helped display the vital information behind the bridge’s development: the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge is a project aided by China.
This is also where I’m withholding my commentary about sociopolitical disputes between the two countries ^_^
The walled city within a city
After roaming around a Chinese-influenced city and walking across a Chinese-funded bridge, I then felt like I’ve gone further back in time as Intramuros showcases what the classic-day Manila looks like.
Back to the topic! Instead of the Chinese-style structures, you’ll see more Spanish-influenced architecture all over the place. Even the old Mercedes-Benz sedan and the kalesa made it all feel like I really went back in time.
Once again, Samsung’s Night Mode hits differently. I am more than satisfied with the night shots of the 1571-built Manila Cathedral Basilica as well as the fusion of greenery and light bulbs at Plaza Roma.
Two hits in a row: portraits of my friends at night all looked great and the cutouts looked satisfying enough for my liking — just like how it did in the group photo earlier.
A walled museum within the walled city
Several more walks towards the inner part of Intramuros, you’ll then reach the façade of Casa Manila.
Unlike Binondo, I’ve been to this place several times in my lifetime — most of which are for my old college projects.
The last one? Well that was already three years ago: a memorable street photography photowalk using a professional mirrorless camera under the scorching heat. But in 2022’s Intramuros photowalk, it felt nicer to actually walk around here when it’s night time.
Very dissimilar to modern Filipino streets, the colonial lifestyle was very evident when you walk around this area. And instead of smooth walls built through hollow blocks and cement, the building were instead made of stone and wood.
Different from the usual concrete (or asphalt) roads, roads here were made from pavement stones. But hey, at least the old and new street roads in the Philippines have one thing in common: they’re both rough when cars go through them 🤩
I’m just glad that despite coming into the third year of pandemic, establishments have already slowly opened their doors to the general public.
The Casa Manila is being shared by several establishments in the vicinity. From cold coffee drinks and teas to bars, you’d totally enjoy the center view of the museum.
Together with Samsung’s Nightography capabilities, I was relieved that the shots I took were not just post-worthy for socials, they’re also clear enough for me to make me remember how vivid the feeling was when I captured the images.
Small in size, but not in camera performance
As obvious as it sounds, I’m very impressed by how the cameras of the Galaxy Z Flip4 performed. Whether there’s an abundant source of light during the day or barely any presence of natural light at night, this wonderful compact foldable delivered good results.
Most users would think these aren’t enough for everyone’s mobile photography needs. But with the ultra-wide and regular wide lenses of the Galaxy Z Flip4, they are adequate for everyday photo-taking. And it’s not just for regular shots but also for low-light images too.
If you’re a big telephoto lens fanatic like I am, you might have to skip this phone. Regardless, even if there’s a lack of the “crucial” telephoto lens, the quality these cameras produce are sufficient for day-to-day use.
While I’m not expecting the addition of a telephoto zoom lens on the next-generation of the Galaxy Z Flip (all because it will compromise the battery capacity and phone’s overall dimensions), I still want to see what Samsung has to offer in the upcoming compact foldable in the years ahead.
Favorite Games of 2023
It’s been a PACKED year for gaming
The Game Awards 2023 just wrapped and now it’s our turn to shine the spotlight on the games that we enjoyed this year. It has been a packed 2023 when it comes to games and there are only so many hours in a year. If your fave isn’t year, we likely just didn’t have time to play them. But for the ones we played, these are our Favorite Games of 2023.
Baldur’s Gate 3
Luigi: In a year absolutely stacked with must-play games, it’s unbelievable that there are only one or two titles that are definitely Game of the Year contenders. Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of those games.
Even if you’re not a fan of turn-based RPGs, Baldur’s Gate 3 streamlines the D&D experience while keeping it hard to master. Plus, it has one of the most immersive stories and voice acting in a modern game. With thousands and thousands of different branches to pursue, it’s way too easy to spend hundreds of hours just exploring this immense game.
SEE ALSO: Why you should play Baldur’s Gate 3
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Rodneil: Insomniac Games doesn’t miss. The company behind the newest set of Spider-Man games is largely considered the MVP of the PlayStation 5 so far due to both the quality and quantity of games they’ve released since the dawn of the current generation consoles.
Their latest outing, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, was again a huge hit. While not a perfect game (no game is), it took the lessons it learned from Spider-Man PS4 and Spider-Man: Miles Morales and made things better. It’s arguably the best story-driven action-adventure game out right now and we can’t wait to play its inevitable DLC.
SEE ALSO: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 review
Super Mario Bros. Wonder
Luigi: Mario’s Switch era is defined in three dimensions. Between Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8, the iconic franchise showed off its chops through its less conventional genres. Now, however, our favorite plumber is back to its side-scrolling roots.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a refreshing evolution of the formula. Level after level, the game comes up with so many fresh ideas. Besides just getting past levels, it’s enjoyable to see what crazy concept is lurking behind the next screen.
Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon
Luigi: While Elden Ring continues development on its first DLC, FromSoftware resurrects one of its earlier franchises through Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon. While the mecha genre hasn’t been popular for a while, Armored Core VI brings its unique mix-and-match gameplay to modern systems.
Though daunting at first, it’s easy to master your mech. Experimentation is fun. Every battle feels like an epic duel. Plus, you’ve got FromSoftware’s usual show-don’t-tell storytelling. All in all, it’s a satisfying game that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Final Fantasy XVI
Rodneil: As far as Final Fantasy titles go, FFXVI is the biggest departure from what we know about the franchise. The story is darker, the RPG elements bare, and the combat going full-on action. It shines on two fronts: action combat and bombastic boss battles.
The FFXVI boss battles are larger than life, earth-shattering, and flat-out epic. It took the Summons from the franchise and weaved them into the story in a satisfying and jaw-dropping manner.
Street Fighter 6
Rodneil: Most fighting game enthusiasts had their start on Street Fighter 2. Now, the franchise is back, equipped with the lessons from its previous releases. Like a warrior coming back from defeat, Street Fighter 6 came out like a house on fire featuring improved art style, combat, and a single-player mode to keep even the fighting-game newbies engaged.
Content continues to trickle in too. Outfit 3 was just announced and a trailer featuring its collaboration with the upcoming SpyXFamily movie set the internet buzzing.
Rodneil: Best shadow drop of 2023. Literally nobody saw it coming and that was one of the things it had going for it. Hi-Fi Rush is a rhythm, action game with the vibes of a Saturday morning cartoon.
It’s fun with enough of a challenge and a pretty short game overall with completion pegged at just 11 hours.
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Luigi: After the success of Breath of the Wild, it was tough to imagine where the Legend of Zelda could go next. Tears of the Kingdom blows away all expectations. While the previous game’s map is still there, the sequel ups the ante by adding floating islands and aerial navigation.
Oh, and there’s an insanely creative machine crafting system. Breath of the Wild thrived under the idea of “if you can dream it, it’s possible,” Tears of the Kingdom goes even further by adding a new system to tackle its wide, wide world.
Honkai: Star Rail
Rodneil: Genshin Impact but turn-based? That’s an oversimplification but that’s the easiest way to describe this latest hit from HoYoverse. Honkai: Star Rail features the same captivating animé art style with a plethora of characters to pull and add to your roster.
The turn-based combat encourages beating the opponents right away and the bombastic super attacks make it very entertaining. Plus it’s now available on every platform except the Switch.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
Luigi: Okay, we cheated. Cyberpunk 2077 technically isn’t a game released in 2023. However, the huge 2.0 update (and the release of Phantom Liberty) released a few months ago earns the game a mention on this list. The game now is so far from its catastrophic launch back in 2020 that it might as well be an all-new release.
Coupled with its DLC, Cyberpunk 2077 is at the level that CD Projekt Red envisioned it to be. It’s an enjoyable and immersive adventure through a futuristic world. Plus, after the lackluster launch of Bethesda’s Starfield, it’s nice to have a more capable sci-fi RPG to fall back on.
Best Smartphones of 2023
Which one is your GadgetMatch?
Year after year, it gets tougher and tougher to make Best Smartphones lists. The smartphones keep getting better with only a few differences here and there. And the deciding factor being one’s own preference – making it your ‘match’.
But we still tried. Here’s our Best Smartphones 2023 picks, with quotes lifted from the content we produced on the smartphones we had the privilege of using throughout the year.
Best Overall — iPhone 15 Pro
Michael Josh on the iPhone 15 Pro/ Pro Max
If you own an iPhone 13, iPhone 14, no matter what you want to hear, I’m here to tell you, you do not need one. Is the iPhone 15 Pro worth it? Sure, yes it is.
But at the same time, I know a lot of you have already made up your mind and are coming here to get validation. Sure. Go ahead. If you have the money, upgrade. If you’re an iPhone forever plan, why not. Upgrade.
But seriously, there is a lot to love about the new iPhone 15 Pro Series. That new titanium build is sexy, it’s light and it’s definitely what I’ve been waiting for.
That action button, I believe, is going to be a game changer. Soon they’re going to open it up to third-party app developers also. That USB-C port is gonna open it up to a bunch of new possibilities as well as compatibility. And that new camera has set the bar for everybody else to try to beat.
Plus, if you’re a Pro user, if you’re a content creator, a professional video creator, then you’re definitely going to want to leverage all of its new features as well.
There’s no beating around the bush, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the best smartphone you can get today. I highly recommend that you go out and get it.
Honorable mention: Pixel 8 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, OnePlus Open/OPPO Find N3
Best Foldable — OnePlus Open/OPPO Find N3
Rodneil on the OPPO Find N3
The connection I had with the Find N3 went beyond my sense of touch. The way its software worked almost as seamlessly as the Galaxy Z Fold5 did, tickled my other senses.
I can go from folded to unfolded without missing a beat. Opening two apps in a split screen is a two-finger swipe down gesture.
It is, by all intents and purposes, the exact kind of device I once dreamt of using when I was much, much younger, imagining myself attending to online work while staying present in my immediate vicinity.
My wish of having the Galaxy Z Fold5’s software running in a better smartphone-to-mini-tablet form factor appears to have been granted. The OPPO Find N3’s software and hardware combo is a lot closer to the sweet spot I personally prefer
Every second I spent with the Find N3 was pure bliss.
Honorable mentions: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5, HONOR Magic Vs/V2
Best Flip — OPPO Find N3 Flip
MJ on the Find N3 Flip
The OPPO Find N3 Flip is an excellent flagship smartphone. Everything good about its predecessor was retained, and the rest were made better. It’s not just an accessory to make a statement anymore; it’s a functional device that can keep up with whatever lifestyle you have.
If you’re open to trying a new form factor and you’re ready to jump, I’d say take the leap of faith and see where the affair will take you. A flip smartphone like the Find N3 Flip has a certain allure that you can only imagine. It’s time to flip your life around and open yourself to an array of experiences.
Did I find my GadgetMatch for the year? Highly likely, it’s a yes. After all, the OPPO Find N3 Flip earns the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval. There’s something special about it, and I can’t help but gush over a smartphone worthy of being in my pocket.
Honorable mentions: motorola razr+, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5
Best Design — OPPO Find N3 Flip
MJ on the Find N3 Flip
The Find N3 Flip felt like the partner I’ve been looking for. It fits my palm, it’s compact enough to be tucked inside my pocket, and more importantly, it can keep up with my active and busy lifestyle.
I was able to take the Find N3 Flip to the great outdoors. It was robust enough, despite having a glass body. As someone fond of extreme activities, I’d admit that a flip smartphone looks delicate as a daily driver.
But somehow, it felt sturdy enough to accompany me. Perhaps, thanks to its aircraft-grade stainless steel core.
The IPX4 rating, although a bit low, allowed me to continually use the Find N3 Flip even when it’s drizzling.
Honorable mentions: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5
Best for Overall Photography — OPPO Find X6 Pro
Michael Josh on the Find X6 Pro
You know how if a smartphone has like 3 cameras. You can expect the main camera to be super good. And the rest to be…not as good? Well OPPO hopes to change that with the Find X6 Pro.
They’re saying, this phone has 3 main cameras. Instead of just one. And while that doesn’t mean they all have the same sensor and specs.Compared to its competitors. This phone is way closer to that.
All 3 main cameras whether that be wide, ultra wide or telephoto are all 50MP shooters. All have large sensors. And all have wide apertures.
Earlier this month I took a photo trip in Malaga and Granada in the south of Spain to test out this camera phone. But before I show you my favorite photos from that trip let’s take a look at comparisons to see why the idea behind 3 main cameras makes a difference.
Honorable Mentions: Huawei P60 Pro, Xiaomi 13 Pro, Pixel 8 Pro
Best for Overall Videography — iPhone 15 Pro Max
From our iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max Review
When it comes to the iPhone 15 Pro Series’ Cameras there’s a lot more to cover. Like being able to record videos in LOG and being able to apply your own Lutz, external recording to an SSD, or being able to use the a USB-3.2 cable to shoot and immediately transfer 48MP ProRes RAW files to a Mac using Capture One — just like they do in pro photography studios.
Cinematic Mode also gets an update and while filming you can now zoom in. So here’s a quick video montage that we shot all with Cinematic Mode.
Honorable Mentions: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Best for Selfie Photos — OPPO Find N3 Flip
MJ on the OPPO Find N3 Flip
What I loved the most about the Find N3 Flip is how it fits everything together. The best-in-class cameras work hand-in-hand with various form factors that you can do while shooting and recording.
You can put it up like a tent, let it stand like a tripod, take photos like the usual slate phones, or fold it and use the cover screen.
Let the rear cameras do their magic. After all, it uses a 50-megapixel Sony IMX890 sensor for its main shooter; a 48-megapixel Sony IMX581 ultra-wide camera; and a 32-megapixel Sony IMX709 telephoto lens.
Inside, you can find a 32-megapixel Sony IMX709 selfie shooter. While I will never be fond of its selfies due to padded beautification even if you turn it off, the Find N3 Flip takes gorgeous selfies if you’d like to look fresh even when you just woke up.
Honorable Mentions: HONOR 90
Best for Selfie Videos — Infinix Zero 30 5G
MJ on the Infinix Zero 30 5G
Not a lot of smartphones prioritize their front cameras. All eyes are on its rear cameras capable of up to 100x zoom or something like that. While they’re nice to have when you’re traveling and out and about, I appreciate the efforts Infinix put into the ZERO 30 5G.
It’s equipped with a 50-megapixel front camera that’s capable of recording 4K videos at 30 or 60fps, and 1080p at 30fps.
Having that camera system allowed me to film my fitness journey, especially at a time when I was hitting almost rock bottom and I was only living life between home and the gym.
Here’s a reel stitched from 4K videos, all taken using the Infinix ZERO 30 5G.
Best Zoom Photo — Huawei P60 Pro
Rodneil on the Huawei P60 Pro
The Huawei P60 Pro does a great job of capturing multiple types of scenes. The main camera is great for capturing general scenes and quick snaps.
My personal favorite is the telephoto lens. Something about it just adds character to the shots you take. It’s great for closing in on your subject, whether that’s architecture or food.
Honorable Mentions: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Best Zoom Video — Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Rodneil on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra might not be king when it comes to overall video. But it’s undisputed in Zoom Videos.
Here are a few samples, not just of zoom, but also of its overall video shooting prowess.
29Rooms is an experiential funhouse and it was an absolute blast to experience. Here’s a quick look #ShotOnGalaxy S23 Ultra. More info on 29rooms.sg #artinstallation #art #galaxys23ultra #samsunggalaxy #galaxys23ultra #galaxys23
— rodneil (@rodneilquiteles) September 30, 2023
— rodneil (@rodneilquiteles) September 30, 2023
Best Portrait Shooter — iPhone 15 Pro Max
Michael Josh on the iPhone 15 Pro Max
The other big change that I think is going to be a game changer is called Next Gen Portraits.
I love portrait mode. That blurry background can really bring a subject into focus. But previously the quality hasn’t been as good as just using the main camera. That’s addressed this year.
For the first time on an iPhone — Portrait Mode is now powered by the Photonic Engine.
So you get all the benefits of Deep Fusion and Smart HDR. Even better, you don’t even have to turn Portrait Mode on.
Honorable Mentions: Huawei P60 Pro, Xiaomi 13 Pro, HONOR Magic5 Pro
Best Travel Companion — Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5
MJ on the Galaxy Z Flip5
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 is more than just a flip smartphone requiring delicate care. It’s already worthy of being a daily driver that can match any of your lifestyle — even if the one you chose is an extreme one. I’ve seen people carrying either a flip or a fold on a trail run, and it always amazes me how daring they are until I’ve experienced using one.
Best Gaming — ROG Phone 7
Rodneil on the ROG Phone 7
With the ROG Phone, you know what you’re getting: A gaming smartphone with gaming-specific features. There’s the distinctly gamer look with a bunch of lines that evoke a mech-vibe.
Literally no one else is doing it quite like the ROG Phone. From form to function, it’s THE undisputed gaming smartphone of choice. And the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate continues that tradition. It’s the best that the ROG Phone has ever been and that’s something we’ve come to expect year in and year out.
Honorable Mention: iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max
Best Value-for-money — POCO F5 Pro
Luigi on the POCO F5 Pro
The POCO F5 Pro does a lot of things right. Though the smartphone doesn’t offer one thing for users to exclusively focus on, it shines with a cohesive flagship experience worthy of its price.
Is your match not on the list? It’s likely we just didn’t get a chance to use it. Tell us what your GadgetMatch is!
Recap: Handheld consoles are the future of gaming
2023 was their year
There’s no denying that 2023 is an amazing year to be a gamer. Besides a refreshing deluge of must-play games that came every month, one particular segment in the gaming industry has been instrumental in this year’s gaming boom — handheld consoles. Whether you’re a Switch stalwart or a Legion Go lover, there is so much to love about handheld gaming in 2023. As the year winds down, let’s look back at the handheld console boom of 2023.
In the beginning…
Flashback! Before we tackle 2023 for real, let’s rewind back to the start of the year. Back in January, a lot of gamers were playing with the new Steam Decks they got for Christmas. At the time, those who wanted to try handheld gaming were limited to only a few options: the classic Nintendo Switch, the Logitech G Cloud, the Razer Kishi, and the Steam Deck.
Make no mistake, though. While there are a lot of options (including niche ones not included above), it was still Nintendo’s world. The Steam Deck was still on the rise.
Now, the landscape looks different. Though the Switch is still a reliable option for handheld gamers, the rise of PC-based handheld consoles makes for an exciting playground for those who want to play through less than conventional methods.
The rise of pocket-sized PCs
Though a product of 2022, the Steam Deck paved the way for PC-based handheld consoles to break into the scene this year. Further bolstered by the new AMD Ryzen Z1 series of processors, it’s about time for smaller PCs to share the spotlight.
If, like us, you were waiting for a more powerful option before buying into the handheld gaming segment, 2023 is your year. Besides the Steam Deck, players now have two additional options: the Lenovo Legion Go and the ASUS ROG Ally.
All three consoles have achieved a dream that was practically impossible a few years ago: a decently specced PC in a lithe body of a handheld device. Today’s technology allows players to launch modern games while on the go, albeit at lesser graphics settings.
Plus, unlike the Steam Deck, the Legion Go and the ROG Ally both ran on Windows. Both are, quite literally, PCs in smaller bodies. Besides offering an easy way to play, it’s easy to use either device for other purposes. If you want to, say, emulate older titles that most gaming platforms don’t have, it’s easy to install the relevant software and play them on the consoles.
Oh, and that doesn’t even begin to touch the different quirks that each console has. For example, the Legion Go, besides being a powerhouse already, has a unique take on the form factor: detachable controllers and an FPS mode.
Don’t count the Steam Deck out either. Soon after the two consoles launched, Valve suddenly dropped an OLED version of its console, pushing the envelope even further.
Up in the clouds
Understandably, PCs might not be your cup of tea. While the above consoles represent the cream of the crop in the segment now, non-PC-based consoles also made their presence felt this year. The biggest of which is the new PlayStation Portal.
Unfortunately, the PlayStation Portal isn’t the PlayStation Portable revival that a lot of people were clamoring for. Instead, the new console uses PS Remote Play to stream your PlayStation 5 games. Naturally, it doesn’t offer the same amount of variety as its counterparts. It’s just a way for you to play your PS5 games on the go.
If you’re content with just mobile gaming, the segment also got a touch of magic this year. Now, gamers already have a plethora of options for mobile games. However, Razer is packing more juice with the Razer Edge, an advanced way to play Android-based titles.
A Game Boy in 2023?
Finally, there’s a slew of niche consoles you can get for a healthy dose of nostalgia. If you miss playing older titles, newer devices are bringing them back. The Analogue Pocket, for example, can play over 2,700 cartridges from the Game Boy era. Though built with a modern screen and protected by Gorilla Glass, the Pocket is a veritable blast from the past.
Want something more esoteric? The Playdate is one of the weirdest consoles we’ve ever seen, but that’s just part of the charm. Shaped like a tiny Game Boy, the console features its own series of small games to whittle down the time. It also has a tiny crank that, while it looks odd, makes for unique gaming experiences. For example, Root Bear (get it?) has you pouring drinks using the crank for a particularly picky bear.
The future of handheld gaming
Seeing all these consoles thriving is exciting to see as a gamer. However, the Switch being silent this year is admittedly scary. While the console saw a lot of notable games coming to the platform, Nintendo revealed almost nothing about a potential Switch sequel. Minus the odd comment sprinkled throughout the year, it feels like the calm before the storm. While the original Switch series is still capable in its own right, it’s possible that the near future (maybe even next year) will see the arrival of the next Switch.
Speaking of the future, it’ll be interesting to see how the industry responds to the latest consoles that came out this year. It’s just the nature of the industry to keep improving performance. While the current slate of consoles can handle modern games at lower settings, the future might be able to handle games on ultra settings with ray tracing.
Either way, 2023 has been a great year for the handheld gaming segment. If you’ve been waiting to dip your toes into the world of handheld gaming, there is no better time to try things out. Even if more advanced consoles come out in the near future, a handheld console is a huge boon for the gaming industry.
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