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

The ASUS ROG Mothership: A mega review

Do you really need an overkill gaming machine?

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A 10-kilogram package arrived at my office one day, and at first I couldn’t believe it. I was expecting something big to come in, but a 10-kilo box that looks like a PUBG supply crate was out of the picture. Little did I know, I received ASUS ROG’s next big thing — and it’s quite literally big.

Announced back in CES 2019 (as of writing, how timely), the ASUS ROG Mothership GZ700 is the company’s next innovation in gaming laptops. I distinctly remember one famous YouTuber by the name of Linus Sebastian dubbing this the “Surface for gamers.” It comes in a form factor that I didn’t think was possible for a gaming laptop, with arguably the most powerful lineup of hardware included.

But should you be spending your hard-earned money on a monster like this? Let’s take one full tour of the ROG Mothership.

Let’s talk about the package first

Unboxing the entire package was relatively easy, except for the fact that it’s insanely heavy. Inside the one big box are two more boxes and the large ROG Backpack that almost looks (and feels) like a shield. Apart from the ROG Mothership box, you also get the ASUS ROG Cerberus V1 headset for free! I think ASUS ROG really wanted to deliver the full gaming experience, and adding a gaming headset was a nice touch.

Removing the backpack and the headset, the big ROG Mothership box has the device and another box inside of it. It’s no joke when I tell you that the ROG Mothership is close to five kilograms in weight, which is half the weight of the entire package. Of course, the other box contains the rest of what you need for the device: the two big charging bricks, documentation and stickers, and the ASUS ROG Gladius II.

If ASUS really wanted to give you one full gamer package, to me this sort of did it. It’s basically the equivalent of getting a full-fledged gaming PC complete with all the peripherals in one box. Although, ten kilograms is just a lot of heavy-lifting that it mirrors carrying weights in the gym. Nonetheless, once you open up the box, you’re definitely in for the gaming experience of your life.

One stacked spec sheet

Before we go any further, here’s a rundown of what the ROG Mothership offers.

The ROG Mothership comes with a 9th-generation Intel Core i9-9980HK processor coupled with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card. To maximize the potential of a powerhouse combo, ASUS slaps in 64GB of RAM and three 512GB NVMe SSDs (in RAID 0) inside. What you get is the most powerful, quickest, and deepest gaming desktop setup, but for a laptop.

The laptop’s display comes in two options: a 4K one and a 1080p one. The unit for review was a 4K UHD 17.3-inch panel with thick bezels and a huge chin underneath. ASUS claims that the display emits rich and crisp color with a 100 percent Adobe sRGB color gamut. Also, the display supports NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology for a smoother gaming experience.

On paper, I can tell you that this machine is straight up overkill. On my first time using it, everything just seemed too quick, it’s unfair. Opening up applications, playing RAM-consuming games, hardcore video rendering — this device can handle all of those, and it hasn’t maximized all of its RAM yet.

Is it really a gaming laptop?

When I first saw images and videos of the ROG Mothership back in 2019, I couldn’t believe that ASUS was marketing it as a laptop. The build quality of the device matches that of any 2-in-1 desktop, while throwing in the hefty graphics card. The entire body is encased in CNC-machined aluminum, which is basically thick layers of metal preventing heat from spreading to other components.

Yet again, ASUS claims that it is a laptop for its portability and design. The RGB-chiclet keyboard detaches from the base of the display, and connects wirelessly upon detachment. If you like wires, the keyboard also connects via a USB Type-C cable and charges it in the process. The device itself has a kickstand at the back, almost similar to that of any Microsoft Surface.

To be quite honest, this kind of setup doesn’t feel like a laptop — and it’s not just because it’s five kilos. The metal kickstand feels a little uncomfortable, that after 30 to 40 minutes you will be looking for any flat surface. I also found it a little difficult to manage because the keyboard is in an awkward position when it’s on your lap.

Gaming that’s just extreme overkill for a “laptop”

The ROG Mothership is one massive gaming machine, and I’m not exaggerating. ASUS made the bold yet proper choice to slap in the NVIDIA RTX 2080 inside if they wanted the full gaming experience. Gaming on the device felt buttery smooth and every intense moment felt too easy to handle. But that wasn’t after I had to tweak things a bit.

For starters, gaming on a 4K panel is great and all. But the flipside is that this display only clocks a 60Hz refresh rate, which to pro-gamer standards is slow. I understand that you grab high quality images and colors while playing some video games. For the most part, you have to deal with a 60FPS cap which isn’t bad, but an RTX 2080 wasn’t built for that.

Dialing the in-game resolution down was the best workaround I could find, and it worked wonders. Shadow of the Tomb Raider sneaked in above 60FPS at its highest possible settings, while battle royale games like Fortnite and Apex Legends poured in 140 FPS. In-game details remained accurate all throughout 30 to 40 minutes of gameplay, which is what you expect from a 4K panel.

If you do plan to get this monster, I highly recommend switching to the 1080p display option. The added benefit is the fact that the 1080p option comes with a 144Hz refresh rate, rendering images significantly faster. While you sacrifice a little bit of image quality, I think it’s a worthy trade off.

An overkill gaming PC needs an equally overkill cooling system

Cooling the ROG Mothership is one hefty task, and the way ASUS did it was ideal. Apart from separating each component through CNC-machined aluminum sheets, eight heat pipes push hot air to the top and sides of the device. Through careful calibration on the ROG Armoury Crate, the fans inside will pump out as much hot air as possible to keep major components cool.

Based on my experience, it did a fairly good job with that. The device didn’t seem to experience any drastically high temperatures during prolonged activity. Although, if you plan to maximize or even overclock your CPU and GPU, you will experience that. It happens to a point of near uncomfortability, in that you wouldn’t be able to store the device for 30 more minutes.

The fans also tend to get unbearably loud during gameplay that I’m glad they included the headset with the package. Even while idle, the fans tend to kick in and force a ton of air out which shouldn’t really happen. But again, if it’s meant to cool all the heavy components inside then it’s alright.

Expected short battery life

The ROG Mothership, as powerful as it is, doesn’t last very long. As with most gaming laptops, battery life isn’t necessarily their strongest feature and this device confirms it. On most productivity uses, I got an average of three hours before completely depleting the battery. To me, that doesn’t seem too appealing by any laptop standards.

When you’re gaming full time, it actually gets much lower than that. On average, I got around two hours before having to plug one of the two charging bricks. These show that this was clearly better off as a full-fledged desktop instead. If there’s any great takeaway, it’s that one full charge is relatively fast. Using just one brick fully charged the device in three hours, while using both bricks saves about 45 minutes. 

Finally, is this your GadgetMatch?

Here’s the thing: the ROG Mothership is a beast. It’s got every piece of gaming hardware anyone could ever ask for, in a form factor you wouldn’t expect it to be in. The package itself is just complete for anyone aspiring to take gaming seriously. For the most part, everything about it checks out.

But for US$ 6499.99/PhP 399,995, I feel like you would need to shell out a kidney to get this device — and it’s not worth it. Honestly, you could get every piece of hardware, or even just go for SATA SSDs and slap them into a gaming rig for way less. Heck, you could even get the same peripherals and I feel you would still be spending less than the Mothership.

All in all, the ASUS ROG Mothership is one heavy, beefy monster of a gaming laptop. The power it possesses truly fits those who want to dream of the best. But if you’re anyone who doesn’t earn one million a year, it’s best to invest in a gaming PC instead.

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Gaming

Razer’s Deathadder and Basilisk get an upgrade

Faster and more control than ever before

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Razer continuously markets innovation when it comes to its gaming peripherals. With that in mind, the company launched the Razer Deathadder in late 2006 while the Razer Basilisk in 2017. Since then, these two iconic gaming mice has seen various options and innovations for the modern gamer. Now, Razer is bringing these two mice back, better and faster than ever.

The Razer Deathadder V2 features an ergonomic design and upgraded sensors for all gamers. It features Razer’s Focus+ Optical Sensor, elevating any gamer’s speed and precision during intense moments. The mouse perfectly suits those who prefer a palm grip while providing sweat-resistant coating and rubberized side grips.

It also comes with eight programmable and fully customizable buttons for all your macros and secondary functions. The mouse’s on-board memory supports up to five different profiles, expanding your range for any game. Also, it has Razer Chroma RGB support so you can personalize the mouse and even sync it with other Chroma-supported devices.

Meanwhile, the Razer Basilisk V2 receives an upgrade from its predecessor similar to the Deathadder V2. This mouse now houses 11 programmable buttons, allowing full flexibility during gaming. It also offers a customizable scroll wheel resistance so gamers can adjust it to suit their playing style. All of these comes with the upgraded Razer Focus+ Optical sensor.

The Razer Basilisk V2 retails at US$ 79.99 (~ PhP 4,000) while the Razer Deathadder V2 retails at US$ 69.99 (~ PhP 3,500). The company will roll out the two gaming mice starting January 15 (January 14 in the United States).

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Final Fantasy VII Remake release date moved

Minor setback

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Fans who have been waiting so long for Final Fantasy VII Remake will have to wait a little longer. Square Enix just announced that the game’s release date will be moved to April 10, 2020.

In June 2019, It was announced that the game would be released on March 3, 2020. But Square believes it’s in everybody’s best interest to delay release of the game.

In a statement, the game’s producer Yoshinori Kitase said the move was necessary to “deliver a game that is in-line with our vision, and the quality that our fans who have been waiting for deserve.”

“We are making this tough decision in order to give ourselves a few extra weeks to apply
final polish to the game and to deliver you with the best possible experience,” he added.

Kitase closed the statement with an apology: “I, on behalf of the whole team, want to apologize to everyone, as I know this means waiting for the game just a little bit longer. Thank you for your patience and continued support.”

SEE MORE:

Final Fantasy VII Remake: Features and mechanics
FFVII Remake new screenshots: Chocobo, Classic mode, and more
FFVII Remake screenshots: Sephiroth, an improved Midgar, and learning Aerith

 

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