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

Dell G7 review: All the heft and the heat

It’s simply one hot package your wallet hopes to afford

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I’d like to be able to play games wherever I go — provided some stable internet connection. I’d also like to have enough power to afford a device that allows me to do so. But in this world we live in, gaming laptops are things that are just out of our reach. Still, it shouldn’t stop us from trying to save up for them.

One such device is the Dell G7 15, a seemingly compact yet powerful gaming machine. The biggest and most powerful member of the Dell G series certainly brings a lot to the table. Performance and portability are its biggest selling points, especially for the on-the-go gamer. But does it really make the cut?

Let’s find out more about the Dell G7 15.

It comes in a slimmer metal finish compared to previous Dell gaming laptops

It has an NVIDIA RTX 2060 inside for unrivaled gaming performance

Ports for power, connectivity, and storage are placed at the back

It also has a customizable RGB-backlit keyboard

Hefty performance all around

Don’t let the slimmer body fool you; the Dell G7 packs a pretty hefty package. It comes with a 9th generation Intel i7 processor inside, a staple across gaming devices. I got around to doing research, Excel spreadsheets, and some video editing with this device. This, along with 16GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD inside, and you get that kind of speed and power.

Applications load fast, and I almost experienced no lags in trying to do multiple things at once. I even tried loading almost 30 tabs of Google Chrome, while doing some light video editing on Premiere Pro. This device simply does not have the word “lag” in its dictionary as even the most stressful situations keep it going.

Fiery gaming performance

I already knew what I’m getting with an RTX 2060 inside any gaming machine. True enough, my expectations for the highly touted gaming card were met when I tried it on this device. Gaming on this device felt like a visual experience that seemed too real. Color grading for games on the RTX 2060, to me almost comes close to the true colors of objects.

Colors aside, gaming performance with the RTX 2060 was phenomenal. I literally did not experience any lag with all the games I tried on this device, from AAA games to those that require little graphical power. Also, I noticed that visually, nothing was sacrificed for all the power it wields — which is the ideal situation anyway. 

Of course, there’s always a caveat to nice things like ultra-powerful gaming performance. Like most gaming machines, this thing gets pretty damn hot when you play for too long. I personally felt uncomfortable after playing for three hours around the WASD keys. That specific part of the keyboard felt like a frying pan, possibly telling me to take a break from playing Fortnite.

Charging up so quick, it makes you play more

Now, obviously gaming laptops have historically low battery lives. Playing on the Dell G7 for the recommended three hours already drained its entire battery so much. When I wasn’t fully using this device for gaming, I got about four to five and a half hours worth of usage before a full drain. These numbers, honestly don’t provide much in terms of long-lasting performance.

One silver lining to it all is that the device comes with a 60Wh battery that supports quick charging. And that’s not just from the proprietary charging port at the back; even the USB Type-C port to its side allows you to charge the device. The device reached close to 30% within 20 minutes, which is pretty decent compared to the other devices out there.

Of course, the charging brick that comes with the device isn’t so light. Figuratively, this 180W charger packs the necessary juice to supercharge the device. Quite literally, its weight didn’t bother me as much, and I’ve felt heavier chargers in the past. 

The cooling system that’s a little too hot at times

With all that power inside, you need a cooling system that settles everything inside. The Dell G7 has powerful fans inside that basically push all the hot air out. I thought it was a good touch that the Alienware Command Center allows you to control those fans. But, there were a couple of things that bothered me with this cooling system.

First off, in the times I didn’t play games, the fans somehow throttle out of the blue. I don’t know if that’s how these fans work, but I would be deeply concerned if upon startup the fans start to throttle. Second, the fans do take time to throttle when you start playing games, which limits performance overall.

Finally, even while the fans are able to push hot air out, it takes a while for the device to cool down. I get it, you have to be patient — especially when you’re gaming nonstop for three hours. But it wouldn’t hurt for the device to cool down a little faster than that. It’s things like this, along with the fans being loud that leaves you scratching your head a little bit.

Is this your GagdetMatch?

Starting at Php 113,990, the Dell G7 just proves to be one hefty machine. Great performance is already expected from this device, and it surely did not disappoint. This gaming machine comes in a package that just screams power, and I would surely recommend this device to most on-the-go gamers out there.

Of course, it’s simply not perfect. This device does not simply last long enough for you to game full time. Apart from that, it gets pretty damn hot when you play for too long. Even with a quick-charging port and an two-fan cooling system, these simply are not enough.

But you get past that, and the Dell G7 truly serves up one game-ready device. While it is one hefty price tag, the investment looks very promising.

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Gaming

China is imposing a gaming curfew for all children

And spending limits on in-game merch

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It’s a great time to be a gamer! Regardless of which platform you play on, it’s getting easier to find a game of your own. In fact, one of the world’s biggest games today, Fortnite, is completely free of charge. Unfortunately, today’s lax gaming world is a festering hotspot for gaming addiction.

Everyone has their own strategies for combating addiction. For most people, the complexities of real life are enough to keep us away from the controller. However, for a select few, parents (or other authority figures) are keeping gamers away with imposed gaming curfews. Such is the way of life.

However, what happens when a whole country gangs up on every child’s gaming habits? Fortunately, now we know.

Recently, the Chinese government has imposed a curfew and strict spending limits for Chinese children. According to new regulations, children under 18 cannot play between 10pm and 8am. Further, they can play for only 90 minutes per day. (Three hours for holidays!)

For spending, children between 8 to 16 can spend only US$ 28 to US$ 57 on payable content. Finally, underage players must use their real names when playing online.

According to the report, the new regulations stem from growing concerns about poor eyesight and declining school performance.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), the report doesn’t detail how the government will enforce this new regulation. If anything, the report encourages guardians to keep the regulation in mind when taking care of their children.

Thankfully, the regulation is only in China. Six-hour gaming marathons are still perfectly legal elsewhere in the world. Just remember to hydrate and say hi to the sun for a while.

SEE ALSO: Here are the five best announcements from BlizzCon 2019

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Gaming

ROG Phone 2 review: Mobile gaming on steroids

Unapologetically a gaming smartphone

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I have said this countless times in previous reviews — I’m not much of a mobile gamer. But there are plenty of things about the ROG Phone 2 that made me enjoy playing.

When the first generation ROG Phone came out, I have to admit, I may have dismissed it right away. I really wasn’t into mobile games, the design was a little too “gaming” for me at the time, and the cameras were — in the words of other reviewers — craptastic.

A year later, ROG is back for a second playthrough. Armed with the experience and knowledge gained from its first turn, the company knew right away to strengthen its weaknesses.

Unequip: 4000mAh battery, Equip: 6000mAh battery 

In our review of the ROG Phone last year, we pointed out how the 4000mAh just didn’t have enough juice to support all of the bells and whistles of the phone. This is no longer the case.

The 6000mAh battery on the ROG Phone 2 performs as expected. Even with the 120hz refresh rate for the display turned on, the phone would last for nearly two days without charging. That’s moderate to heavy use on a mixed bag of tasks like answering emails, browsing on social media, playing a few rounds of Team Deathmatch on Call of Duty Mobile, and playing TWICE and LOONA songs on repeat.

It even messed up my charging routine because it just didn’t make sense to plug a phone that still has somewhere between 60 to 70 percent left at the end of the day. You’ll quit game first before the phone quits on you.

Charging is also fast AF thanks to ASUS’ HyperCharge technology. While this doesn’t boast of the wireless charging feature that many of its contemporaries at its price range has, it’s not something you’ll miss at all.

Discard: 12MP camera, Pick-up: 48MP camera

The sweeping statement that “cameras on gaming phones are bad” is no longer true. If anyone says this, they’re either misinformed or are just flat-out lying.

The ROG Phone 2 is now equipped with a 48MP lens accompanied by a 13MP wide angle lens. It’s a huge leap from the 12MP+8MP combo found on the first ROG Phone.

Photos taken with plenty of light look pretty darn good.

However, it does this weird JJ Abrams thing where there’s a lot of lens flare on some photos even during the night.

Speaking of the night, while the streets where I grew up in isn’t much to look at, I thought the ROG Phone 2 did well enough in capturing a fair amount of detail in low light situations.

P.S. the last photo in this set is clearly not from my hometown but I thought it was a good representation of the phone’s low light capabilities. Yes, I blurred parts of the image as it’s from an event of another brand. ✌🏼😆

The portrait mode even has this neat trick where you can adjust the level of blur after you’ve taken the photo. This means you can say goodbye to those photos where your subject looks like a sticker plastered onto a blurry background.

The selfie camera went from 8MP to 24MP and there’s plenty of improvement here as well. Although it does apply a noticeable amount of beautification even if you have the option completely turned off.

Unapologetically a gaming smartphone

The thing that might scare off most other buyers is also the very same thing that might attract the gamers who this phone has its crosshairs on. The phone’s design just SCREAMS gaming.

It does seem a little more toned down compared to the first generation, but the ROG Phone 2 is still without a doubt designed with the gamer aesthetic in mind.

This was the very thing that I didn’t like about the ROG Phone. And while I still prefer something that’s a little more subtle, I don’t find the ROG Phone 2’s design as appalling as the first one. Although that’s probably my taste changing more than anything else.

Other than how it looks, the ports, buttons, and camera placement are all geared towards gaming. You still get two USB-C ports. One where it’s usually placed and another for when you’re gaming in landscape mode.

The front-facing camera is also positioned in a way that it won’t be obstructed if you decide to stream your gaming session. A feature you can do thanks to the Game Genie that’s at the heart of this phone.

What kind of gamer are you? 

I was hesitant at first because I primarily do all my gaming on a console. Always have and, I thought, always will — that’s until I got to try the ROG Phone 2.

I really am not one to play mobile games. It’s not a knock on people who enjoy playing them. It’s just that for me, my phone has always been more a tool for work, communication, and media consumption.

But I had to play. I’m not exactly a fan of the more popular mobile games right now so I sought out other games — ones I think I would enjoy.

Before I move forward, I’ll be casually mentioning the accessories that come with the ROG Phone 2. Won’t go into too much detail. You can just watch our unboxing to see what the accessories are. You can check the pricing for each one on this link.

Okay. Let’s play. 

First up was FF15 PE — the mobile version of Final Fantasy XV. Role Playing Games or RPGs are really more up my alley. The game utilizes a lot of swipes and taps on the screen. Which is great if you’re not keen on getting the other accessories that come with the ROG Phone 2.

Next up, I tried Injustice 2. This is also another title that has a counterpart on consoles and PCs. The game is versus fighting and was adapted nicely to mobile phones. Like FF15 PE, it utilizes plenty of swipes and taps. It does have on-screen buttons that you can map on the Kunai Gamepad. I tried the screen and gamepad combo here but that didn’t feel like a natural way to play.

Instead of playing PUBG, I opted to try Call of Duty Mobile. This is perhaps the game I enjoyed the most. The Team Deathmatch mode feels like a throwback to my time playing Counter-Strike waaaaay back in the day. This game plays really well whether you’re just using the phone or if you have the Kunai Gamepad equipped. Quick note though, the right analog stick’s sensitivity is pretty bad for aiming, so I stuck with aiming on the screen instead of using the gamepad.

Next, I played Honkai Impact 3. It’s an Action-RPG and is probably one of the best use-cases for the Kunai Gamepad. The graphics is near-console if not already console-level, and all the buttons you need to press can all be mapped on the Gamepad. It was an absolute joy to play.

I also tried NBA Live Mobile. I’m too cheap to spend on NBA 2K20 and I’d rather play that on my PS4 so for mobile I went with EA’s free-to-play game. It plays alright and you can also get the most out of the Kunai Gamepad here, but I don’t see myself playing this for any other reason than for testing devices.

Lastly, I played Asphalt 9 which had direct integration with the Kunai Gamepad. This was hands down the best experience. The game detected the Gamepad right away and took me straight to a tutorial knowing the gamepads were equipped.

Takeaway? The whole experience is a mixed bag. That’s not to say it’s bad, but wouldn’t be better if the accessories just worked seamlessly with the games?

The one thing holding the ROG Phone 2 back is a wider support from a larger catalogue of games. It’s a tough ask. However, if ROG can get more game developers involved, that could take mobile gaming to another level.

You might have noticed I barely mentioned the other accessories. I think after the Kunai Gamepad, the next most useful one is probably the Mobile Desktop Dock. But that requires you to get a few more other peripherals if you don’t already own them.

The ASUS Wigig Dock can be helpful but if you’re a gamer and you own a TV, I’m willing to bet you also probably own a console. Personally, I don’t see the appeal of playing mobile games on a bigger screen. But that may just be me. If you enjoy it, that’s perfectly fine.

And then there’s the Twin View Dock II. It’s an interesting piece of tech and almost aligns with the foldables that came out in 2019. But like those other foldables, it still feels premature. As of writing, it only really supports two games. You may discover other use-cases for this but I find the price too steep for an experiment.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

To give the ROG Phone 2 a low rating simply because it’s not a smartphone that’s catered for the general public is criminally missing the point.

ROG knows who its market is. I’d like to think this phone was made specifically with them in mind. And if you think that market is small then you must have been living under a rock.

The gaming industry is worth billions of dollars. It’s attracting so many eyeballs that Netflix considers Twitch more of a competitor over other entertainment streaming platforms. That’s how big gaming has become.

So if you played any game, on any platform, for an extended amount of time at any point in your life, I would consider taking a look at the ROG Phone 2. That’s with or without the accessories.

At PhP 49,995, it’s priced right around other flagships that are built for a general audience — fancy cameras, multitasking, a little bit of gaming, and all that jazz. However, none of them are made for a specific set of people that’s steadily increasing in numbers. That’s where the ROG Phone 2 sets itself apart. For the people that this phone is made for, it’s absolutely perfect.

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