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

Trials of Mana now available on mobile

Mobile gamers might want to try this!

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Since its release in 1995, the Trials of Mana has come a long way. From the 16-bit era to the mobile gaming platform, this game is rich in history spanning 26 years. Now, the 3D remake of the JRPG classic Trials of Mana is now available on mobile.

The mobile version of the game includes many features, including new touch controls,  adjustable graphics settings and cloud save capabilities. Players can also receive two pieces of starting gear to help jumpstart their quest. The starting items are the Rabite Adornment and Silktail Adornment. 

Originally released in Japan as Seiken Densetsu 3 in 1995, Trials of Mana is a remake of the third entry in the classic Mana series. The game features a selectable main cast  with upgradable classes and over 300 different abilities to learn as they discover a world of secrets and mysteries. The series’ action battle system will put players to the test as they encounter enemies. The game was received well by its release on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Steam platforms.

Price and Availability

Trials of Mana is available on iOS and Android devices via the App Store or Google Play Store. The game is priced at US$ 23.99. 

SEE ALSO: Trials of Mana review: A nice glow up

 

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Gaming

Horizon Zero Dawn’s Aloy is coming to Genshin Impact

Will be available for all players… eventually

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Aloy

Turns out the PlayStation and Genshin Impact collaboration goes beyond PlayStation 5 specific updates. Aloy from the PlayStation game Horizon Zero Dawn will be a playable character on Genshin Impact.

Aloy — a five-star character — will be playable for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 players via in-game mail when Version 2.1 drops. The character can then be played on any platform thanks to the cross-save feature after being claimed from the PS5 or PS4.

Not a PlayStation player? Fret not. Aloy, will arrive to all players who have reached Adventure Rank 20 on Version 2.2. Her weapon, unfortunately, is a PlayStation exclusive.

Version 2.1 and Version 2.2 will also bring other updates that MiHoyo promised to release in detail shortly. Version 2.1 is coming on October 13, 2021 while version 2.2 will arrive on November 24, 2021. Could these also be clues on when the Horizon Zero Dawn sequel will release? We’ll have to wait and see.

Genshin Impact is a free-to-play open-world action RPG that brings players to the world of Teyvat. The player takes on the role of the mysterious “Traveler,” who sets off on a journey to discover the fate of their lost sibling.

Horizon Zero Dawn was a PlayStation exclusive game that launched in 2017. It received plenty of critical and commercial success. Its sequel — Horizon Forbidden West — is set to arrive in late 2021.

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Accessories

Steelseries unveils new Prime lineup of gaming peripherals

Get your head, and hands, in the game

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Steelseries Prime

Steelseries has a knack for creating some of the best peripherals in Esports. This time around, they’re looking to expand their growing library of Esports peripherals with some “pro” help. After collaborating with over 100 competitive professional players, the company unveils its new Steelseries Prime lineup of gaming peripherals.

Within the Prime lineup, Steelseries introduces three new gaming mice: the Steelseries Prime, Steelseries Prime+, and Steelseries Prime Wireless. For the company, these three gaming mice bring their own set of features and customization depending on the user’s style of play. Although, all three mice come with a TrueMove sensor that provides proper tracking performance fit for competition.

Along with these, Steelseries also introduces the Steelseries Arctis Prime gaming headset. Built on the heritage of the Arctis franchise, this headset provides great sound quality in a comfortable and lightweight package. Also, the Arctis Prime comes with new noise-isolating ear cushions to eliminate background noise during playback.

The Steelseries Prime lineup is currently available in Steelseries’ official stores on Shopee and Lazada and select authorized dealers. For the SRPs, the gaming mice are priced at SG$ 119 (Prime Gaming Mouse), SG$ 149 (Prime+ Gaming Mouse), and SG$ 299 (Prime Wireless Gaming Mouse). Meanwhile, the Steelseries Arctis Pro retails for SG$ 179.

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