Gaming

Is the Huawei Mate 20 X an underrated gaming phone?

A deeper look at the Mate 20 X

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It’s easy to forget that there are a total of four members in this year’s Huawei Mate lineup. We have the Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Porsche Edition Huawei Mate 20 RS, and finally, the Mate 20 X.

While we more or less have a grasp of what the first three can do based on our reviews, the last one — unassumingly considered the gaming choice of the bunch — is definitely the most peculiar.

For one, it’s priced between the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, while having the notch design and audio port of the former and class-leading rear cameras of the latter. At the same time, the Mate 20 X has the biggest screen and battery of the series, pegged at 7.2 inches and 5000mAh, respectively.

It’s massive in every sense of the word, and is practically a tablet compared to every other phone in the market. To make it stand out even more, Huawei equipped it with the world’s first liquid multi-dimensional cooling system that has a vapor chamber and graphene film in a smartphone, as well as powerful Dolby Atmos speakers.

So, how exactly is this positioned below the Mate 20 Pro? Well, it doesn’t have the sought-after under-display fingerprint scanner — instead going for a rear-mounted placement — and the OLED panel’s edges aren’t curved. Plus, the Mate 20 X settles for a slower 22.5W SuperCharge adapter and can’t do wireless reverse charging.

Mate 20 X (left) and Mate 20 Pro (right)

It’s confusing, but at the same time exciting. This is Huawei’s first high-end gaming smartphone, even though it doesn’t really look like one. The ROG Phone and Razer Phone 2 share that crown. Instead, the Mate 20 X is simply big… and I mean really big.

I can’t overstate enough how massive this is in my hand. I’ve used huge phones before like the Lenovo Phab series and whatever Galaxy Note I had at the time, but nothing matches the sheer mass this adds to my young wrists. It’s hefty too at 232 grams or about 50 grams more than the smaller Mate 20 phones.

This is, however, offset by the excellent multimedia experience. Not only are these stereo speakers the loudest I’ve ever listened to on a smartphone — even beating the power of the Razer Phone 2’s output — the Mate 20 X comes with an audio port on top, something the Mate 20 Pro misses out on completely.

It also helps that the notch is much smaller. It’s so negligible on this large panel that I don’t really notice it while watching videos or playing games. Again, this is something the Mate 20 Pro and its obtrusive notch can’t offer.

My only complaint pertains to the screen’s pixel density. While I normally prefer the 1080p standard for its sweet spot between sharpness and energy consumption, certain games don’t look that good when pixel peaking on such a wide display — more on this later.

Helping users grip the phone is a textured back similar to the regular Mate 20’s. The Mate 20 X comes in only Midnight Blue and Phantom Silver, the latter being exclusive to this specific model. Fortunately, a jelly case is part of the package for more grip at the expense of added bulk.

With all these details and differences out of the way, we go back to the question our title asks: Is this an underrated gaming phone? The short answer is yes. Longer answer: It depends on which games you play and how long you can handle such a large handset.

I played numerous games on the Mate 20 X, and the experience varied for each one, ranging from excellent to okay. Each title exposed the strengths and weaknesses of the phone’s gaming prowess.

Asphalt 9 is a perfect example of how ideal the Mate 20 X is for gaming. The 7.2-inch OLED makes each track feel so immersive, and the stereo speakers can cover an entire room when set to maximum volume, just as long as you don’t cover them accidentally with your palms. Since the phone is so wide in landscape orientation, it’s easier to press virtual buttons that are farther apart.

One of the challenges of Ragnarok M: Eternal Love is finding a phone that won’t skip frames while in crowded areas with lots of action, and making sure it won’t overheat at the same time. The Mate 20 X does this better than the Razer Phone 2 thanks to its cooling system and more efficient Kirin 980 chipset. I also liked how this Huawei phone got warm only in one small portion of the rear, to the left of the camera module.

Alto’s Odyssey is nowhere near as resource-intensive as the previous two games, but it definitely demands a strong audio-visual phone to look good. However, one thing that prevents the Mate 20 X from offering the best-possible experience is its lack of a faster screen refresh rate. Unlike the ROG and Razer Phones, Huawei settled for 60Hz here, which is pedestrian for gamer standards. It’s apparent in games like Alto’s Odyssey, which benefit greatly from refresh rates of 90Hz or above.

Here’s another game that would’ve benefited from a faster refresh rate, as well as greater pixel density. Because the display is so large and there are only 2244 x 1080 pixels, I could see lots of jagged edges on Pokémon Go. You could also blame the developer for not optimizing it on larger screens, but this is something the Mate 20 X should’ve anticipated, as well.

Another minor quibble happens while playing in vertical orientation. When doing so, I often cover the speaker on the bottom with my pinkie finger, as shown above. If I avoid placing any part of my hand underneath, I then have a tough time keeping the phone stable for games like Dragon Ball Legends, which require lots of tapping action.

As for battery life — a vital factor for any situation — the Mate 20 X lasts like it’s made out of batteries. The 5000mAh capacity is plenty and goes for over a day even with lots of video watching and gaming. I could play ten hours straight on this thing and it’ll still have over 20 percent left to call my mom and send that last Slack message of the day.

Does it take forever to charge, though? Not at all. Despite having a slower 22.5W SuperCharge adapter compared to the Pro’s 40W charger, I could still take the Mate 20 X from zero to full in one hour and 50 minutes, with the first 80 percent happening in the first hour alone. It’s just that last 20 percent that takes an additional 50 minutes.

From here on, everything else is pretty much like the Mate 20 and its Pro variant, from the processing power of the brand-new Kirin 980 chip to the class-leading cameras. You can read all about them in our dedicated Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro reviews.

Here are some photos I took in between my gaming sessions. As you can see, they’re easily on the level of the more expensive Mate 20 Pro:

Is this your GadgetMatch?

As great as the Mate 20 X is in multiple aspects, its sheer size is enough of a deal-breaker to deter potential customers. I have relatively large hands but I literally can’t fully grasp this smartphone. Bigger isn’t always better.

However, if you must have the closest thing to a tablet that can handle any game with ease and kinda fit in your pocket, it doesn’t get much better than this. The loud speakers alone are worth the effort of carrying this beast around.

At the same time, the Mate 20 X squeezes itself into a tight spot. At SG$ 1,148, you may be better off getting the cheaper Mate 20 for its more pocketable dimensions; you could also add a little more for the curvier goodness of the Mate 20 Pro along with its faster charging and more convenient under-display fingerprint scanner.

Comparing it to other gamer-centric smartphones, the Mate 20 X has the clear advantage of having the best cameras of them all. Nothing else comes close, making this the best all-around device for both gaming and photography — a rare feat in the current market.


Editor’s note: Not mentioned in this review is Huawei’s newly released M-Pen. It turns this phone into a Galaxy Note competitor, although you’d have to carry the stylus with you since the Mate 20 X doesn’t have a dedicated slot for it. We didn’t get to test this, however.

Gaming

Microsoft is being prevented from buying Activision Blizzard

Sued by the FTC

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The year started off with a bang. Microsoft, already a respectable name in the gaming industry by itself, announced the impending acquisition of Activision Blizzard for US$ 68.7 billion. Perhaps it’s fitting that the year will end right back where it started. The FTC is officially suing Microsoft to block the monumental purchase from going through.

Announced today, the United States’ FTC (or Federal Trade Commission) has filed a legal claim against Microsoft, stating that the acquisition will allow the company to suppress competition between its rivals in the gaming industry. The commission believes that it has enough to effectively block the purchase. Allowing Microsoft to go through with the purchase will supposedly enable the company to prevent Activision Blizzard’s titles — including the Call of Duty franchise — from coming out easily on other platforms.

Since the announcement of the acquisition, Activision Blizzard has gone through a rocky year. The company had its dirty laundry aired out: a plethora of disagreeable practices from within the company. Exacerbated by the rocky launches of Diablo Immortal and Overwatch 2, it’s not exactly a stellar year for the company.

In fact, it’s not a good year for monopolistic practices either. Recently, Ticketmaster found itself under the microscope after a massive kerfuffle preventing Taylor Swift fans from purchasing tickets to the star’s upcoming concert.

While the deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard is still up in the air, it seems company acquisitions aren’t as easy as this year has made them out to be.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft announces a modular Adaptive Mouse

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Buyer's Guide

PlayStation gift ideas for 2022: The best of the best

God of War: Ragnarök tops the list

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Gamers, rejoice! The Christmas season is finally here. That means it’s also the perfect time to secure PlayStation titles and peripherals to boost the gaming experience. Here are some of the best gift ideas for gamers on both PS4 and PS5:

UNCHARTED: Legacy of Thieves Collection

This collection retails for PhP 2,490 and includes both critically acclaimed single player adventures, UNCHARTED 4: A Thief’s End and UNCHARTED: The Lost Legacy.

Dive into complex history from the point of view of thieves Nathan Drake and Chloe Frazer. Its PlayStation 5 option is remastered with improved visuals and framerate.

God of War: Ragnarök

Already widely considered as the game of the year, Santa Monica Studio’s sequel to the 2018 God of War features Kratos and Atreus going on a mythic journey across nine realms together before Ragnarök arrives.

Kratos will use his weapons like the Leviathan Axe and Blades of Chaos as he puts everything on the line to fight for family while facing fearsome enemies from Norse gods to wild beasts.

God of War: Ragnarök is priced at PhP 3,490 for PS5 and PhP 2,990 for PS4.

Horizon Forbidden West

From Sony comes an action RPG wherein Aloy braves the Forbidden West, a frontier that conceals mysterious threats.

The adventure will take gamers to a far-future, post-apocalyptic world of Horizon where land is dying and vicious storms keep ravaging what’s left of humanity.

That said, it will be up to Aloy to uncover the secrets, forge alliances, and defeat the enemy to prevail.

Horizon Forbidden West is available at PhP 3,490 for PS5 and PhP 2,990 for PS4.

Gran Turismo 7

Gran Turismo 7

For those into racing, Gran Turismo 7 brings together the very best of the Real Driving Simulator.

The game reintroduces GT Simulation Mode, on top of the head-to-head GT Sport Mode, GT Campaign, Arcade, and Driving School.

With over 420 cars available at Brand Central and the Used Car Dealership from day one and over 90 track routes including classics, Gran Turismo 7 promises both unparalleled detail and experience.

You can purchase the game for PhP 3,490 for PS5 and PhP 2,990 for PS4.

The Last of Us Part I

The Last of Us Part 1

The multi-awarded game gets a PlayStation 5 treatment. Protagonist Joel smuggles 14-year-old Ellie out of a military quarantine zone, which jumpstarts a brutal cross-country journey.

This package includes The Last of Us single-player story and celebrated prequel chapter, Left Behind, which explores the events that changed the lives of Ellie and her best friend Riley forever.

The Last of Us Part I costs PhP 3,490 as well.

Gaming peripherals

As for accessories, you should get your hands on the DualSense Wireless Controller for PS5 which now comes in new colors. The controllers are now available in Midnight Black, Cosmic Red, Starlight Blue, Galactic Purple, and Nova Pink, as well as Gray Camouflage.

It is available in all PlayStation authorized dealers starting at PhP 3,990.

Speaking of those colors, one can now customize their console itself with the PS5 Console Covers which are priced at PhP 3,090.

To complete the immersive gaming experience, the PULSE 3D Wireless Headset delivers with PS5 system’s Tempest 3D AudioTech and comes with dual noise-cancelling microphones.

It is available for PhP 5,590 in Midnight Black and Gray Camouflage.

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Gaming

Xbox will raise prices of new titles next year

Will soon cost US$ 69.99

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New video games are expensive. Since the launch of the PlayStation 5, stores have been charging US$ 69.99 for every new release. On the flip side, Microsoft has kept its own slate of titles at the usual US$ 59.99 price point. However, that’s about to change next year. The company is raising the prices of first-party Xbox titles to US$ 69.99 next year.

In a recent statement (via The Verge), Microsoft has announced that new next-gen titles coming from Xbox Game Studios next year will face a price hike to reflect their “the content, scale, and technical complexity.” The announcement specifically names Forza Motorsport, Redfall, and Starfield (incidentally, one of the most anticipated titles next year) as part of this starting slate.

Prior to today’s status quo, new titles always sold for US$ 59.99. By itself, the old price tag is already hefty. However, it was one that was eventually accepted, especially after increasingly longer playthrough times.

Now, however, players are once again in a renewed state of justifying the expensive prices of new games. Titles are US$ 10 more expensive these days. Plus, special editions, which are becoming more common, have even higher price points.

If anything, Microsoft has waited until after the holidays before hiking prices up. If you were looking at a new title for your Xbox Series X/S, the holidays might be the best time to grab it. Or, as always, you can pay the monthly price of an Xbox Game Pass to access a trove of titles including new ones.

SEE ALSO: Xbox outsells the PlayStation for the first in 11 years

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