The past few weeks have been crazy for the GadgetMatch team, like always. We’re still recovering from the announcements from IFA 2018 and the recent iPhone launch. Of course, to avoid burnouts, we take breaks and keep ourselves entertained. Here’s what’s now playing for GadgetMatch.
Games to play
Rodneil: There was so much hype surrounding this game and rightfully so, since Insomniac Games is dealing with one of the most loved superheroes of all time. They had to get plenty of things right and they more than delivered. Insomniac was able to capture the very essence of Spider-Man and translate it into a video game that will please both video game fans and Spidey fans who might want to try the game. It’s a lot of fun to play and you feel exactly like the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swinging across New York.
Movies to see
Bleach (Live Action)
Rodneil: Bleach — both the manga and the anime — was considered one of the top three in its genre during its run. The live action version tackles the Substitute Shinigami arc which is essentially the origin story of how protagonist Kurosaki Ichigo gets the powers of a soul reaper. If you’ve read the manga or saw the anime, you’ll know that this arc flows so seamlessly to the one that follows it that it almost feels like just a single arc. The live action version does a good job of creating some sort of finality in the movie that in case it never gets the green light for a sequel, you wouldn’t mind as much.
If this is your introduction to the Bleach lore, it doesn’t disappoint. For the most part, it’s a faithful adaptation and was translated admirably to a feature film. If you decide to watch the anime because of this, watch only until the end of the Arrancar arc and definitely skip the Bount arc (episodes 64-109). You’re welcome.
To all the boys I’ve loved before
MJ: To all the boys I’ve loved before is the show I’ve been dying to see ever since I heard it’s going to have its film adaptation on Netflix. It’s a feel-good movie that will make you remember what it feels like to have crushes, secret feelings, and writing letters — things that our teenage selves did back then.
MJ: What if you made a pact to your best friend that you can’t fall in love with his brother, even if he’s really, really charming (and hot)? Netflix’s Kissing Booth is about a girl falling in love with her best friend’s older brother and in a sudden turn of events, forced to choose between following their friendship’s set of rules or following her heart. It’s a movie about secrets, loyalty, and betrayal, but above all, it’s a romantic comedy to entertain you during your idle hours.
Set It Up
Chay: I’ve been in the mood for feel-good romcoms lately, and Netflix’s Set It Up did not disappoint. Like most romantic comedies, it’s predictable and cheesy, although it did come with a twist I didn’t really expect. I very much appreciate that both protagonists’ personal issues are realistic enough to be relatable to people my age.
TV shows to binge watch
Shingeki No Kyojin (Attack on Titan) Season 3
Rodneil: Attack on Titan was a well-received anime when it first came out and three seasons in, it hasn’t missed a beat. At first it was just about humans taking shelter inside a walled city for protection versus mindless, humongous, man-eating monsters, only to find out later on that the real monsters lie inside the walls lording over the people trying to survive. Season three is still ongoing and it looks like the theme is about uncovering the truth about the Titans.
MJ: Insatiable means impossible to satisfy, which is all about the main character, Patty Bladell, who was once fat and bullied for her appearance, and turned skinny to get revenge by winning pageants and getting a crown. But it doesn’t stop there. It takes a pretty dark turn when the title comes into play, as the show is also about vengeance, bad decisions, and what it means to be really beautiful. To critics, it’s an inconsistent show. But for the audience, we absolutely love it. It’s really, really, fun!
Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 2
Marvin: If you aren’t a fan of Iron Fist’s first season, the second one may change the way you look at the series. It’s less centered around Danny Rand, who many viewed to be the main problem of Season 1. Even though he’s the primary protagonist, his lessened screen time allows other (more interesting) characters to shine. Plus, the fight scenes are way more exciting this time — no longer a low point of an action-filled superhero series.
Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to
Momoland (All Songs on Spotify)
Rodneil: I have officially been consumed by this K-pop group. “Bboom Bboom” went viral this year and they followed it up with “Baam.” Both songs are lively and great so I decided to listen to the rest of their songs and I haven’t stopped since. My favorites are “Curious,” “Bingo Game,” “Hug Me,” and “Love Sick.”
“Sana Bumalik” by Sud
Rodneil: The song itself is just okay; it talks about that universal feeling of wanting someone back. To truly appreciate what Sud did here, you first have to watch the music video for their other song called “Sila.” That’s part one of the story they’re trying to tell. While the songs don’t exactly match the narrative of the videos, they do match the mood, and for fans who followed both videos, it’s exciting to see the cast return as we get to see how their story unfolds.
Cities/Places to visit
Marvin: Anilao, which is found along the west coast of Batangas in the Philippines, is best known for its incredible diving areas, but little do people realize that it’s a perfect spot for a relaxing getaway, as well. Situated on the tranquil side of the ocean and far away from big cities, its beaches are ideal for long walks and star gazing — not at all for surfing or other extreme water sports. But be warned: It’s a lot easier to find than it is to leave.
MJ: Sagada is the best place to visit when you’re on the verge of having a breakdown or you just want to take a break. It’s a quiet, laid-back town situated in the northern mountains of the Philippines. Surrounded by pine trees and fog enveloping the sky and the streets, this place will definitely give you a cozy retreat while wearing your favorite sweater, sipping hot coffee, and doing some soul searching.
Chay: My first time in Berlin wasn’t short of both unfortunate mishaps and fun stories to tell. It’s a city that doesn’t forget and whose most popular landmarks tell its history. It offers pockets of charming places here and there, efficient public transport, and good food. Admittedly I had way more doner kebab and Vietnamese food during my stay instead of German sausages.
Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!
Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro Unboxing
What’s inside the box?
Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus hands-on: A step-up
The company’s greatest contender
Cherry Mobile recently launched their new Flare S7 series, which is essentially their main smartphone lineup for the year. The greatest offering among the bunch is the Flare S7 Plus, a device with all the specifications and features you’d expect from a 2018 phone.
Since it’s from Cherry Mobile, you’d expect the phone to be cheap, right? Price-wise, it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s just another affordable phone.
Here’s what I got to say about the Flare S7 Plus.
Cherry Mobile has officially joined the notch wagon with a borderless 6.18-inch display. It’s a Full HD+ panel with a 19:9 aspect ratio, and it’s Cherry Mobile’s best display yet.
It’s vibrant and produces vivid colors, but the user interface kind of ruins the beauty of the display. It’s best to download your preferred third-party launcher and customize to your heart’s content.
Unlike with other midrange phones, the Flare S7 Plus’ notch is pretty wide and there’s a reason for it. The phone is equipped with more advanced facial recognition hardware including an IR camera. This ensures higher accuracy, faster unlocking, and even better face detection in low-light.
If you’re not a fan of face unlock, you can always resort to the fingerprint sensor placed on the back of the phone. Based on my usage, the fingerprint reader is faster most of the time than the face unlock. Good thing you have the best of both worlds.
Now that we’re on the back of the phone, let’s talk about another special feature of the Flare S7 Plus. Finally, Cherry Mobile embraces a more elegant design using a glass back and metal frame. I was told that they used Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides, so it won’t scratch easily in your pocket or on the table.
Since we we have a glass back, it’s possible to put in wireless charging and the company did just that. Simply place the phone on any Qi standard wireless charger, and let the magic happen.
It’s not exactly magic per se, but it’s amazing to have your phone charge by placing it on a table. This phone costs less than half of most flagships that don’t even support wireless charging.
Of course, you can always charge this phone’s 3050mAh battery through the reversible USB-C port, which also doubles as the audio port because, sadly, the Flare S7 Plus doesn’t have a 3.5 headphone jack. Cherry Mobile bundles a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter inside the box, so you can still use your legacy headphones as you please.
Powering the Flare S7 Plus is a MediaTek Helio P60 processor. We have already tried the capabilities of this chipset with the OPPO F9, and it definitely delivers great performance. If you’re into benchmarking, you’ll be glad to know the Helio P60 scores higher than its competitors.
The phone also comes with 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage which is pretty standard nowadays. It boots Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but there’s no word when Android 9 Pie is coming.
The gaming performance of the Flare S7 Plus is above average, which is what you can expect from the Helio P60. The Mali-G72 MP3 GPU works well with intensive games, but you must reduce the graphics quality a bit to get consistently high frame rates.
As for the cameras, the Flare S7 Plus has capable shooters that are probably the fruit of Cherry Mobile’s investment in improving their R&D when it comes to picture quality. The phone has dual rear shooters using a main 16-megapixel RGB sensor and a secondary 5-megapixel depth sensor. In the front, there’s another 16-megapixel selfie camera that’s paired with the IR sensor when needed. Check out the samples below:
An additional feature of the front sensors is FlareMoji. Using the IR sensor and facial recognition, you can animate cutesy characters. Check this out:
It’s essentially like Apple’s Animoji, but the tracking is nowhere near as smooth as with the iPhone. Anyhow, it’s still enjoyable to use.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
For just PhP 11,999 (US$ 225), the Flare S7 Plus offers a lot. You get a great premium phone with midrange power, beautiful display, and a plethora of extra features like wireless charging and an IR face scanner. The software UI is quite a letdown, but you can always download a launcher from the Play Store.
If you’re wondering what the Flare S7 Plus is in other markets, it’s also called the BLU VIVO XI+ and they share similar specifications and design.
What does the GPU Turbo do to your phone?
Is it more than just a marketing gimmick?
It’s been two months since Huawei rolled out the GPU Turbo update to its smartphones. Promised with a 60 percent increase in performance and reducing 30 percent on power consumption, a lot of fans and users were excited after the announcement.
Back then, everyone (including me) was hyped about lag-free games and longer battery life while playing. However, upon receiving the update, I began to wonder: Has GPU Turbo delivered what it promised?
What’s inside the update?
The Game Suite app, which comes with the update, offers an uninterrupted gaming feature, hiding all notifications when enabled (except for calls, alarms, and low-battery alerts).
Mistouch prevention is another feature to avert users from clicking the back and home button while playing — perfect for when you want to focus on your game.
To some older smartphones like the Huawei Mate 10, the Game Suite App offers three performance modes: Gaming mode, which improves game performance but increases power consumption; Smart mode, which balances performance and power consumption; and Power saving mode, which saves power but reduces game performance.
For the newer Huawei P20 Pro (which I’ve been using) and Honor Play, it only has a gaming acceleration mode to toggle on or off.
Thoughts on the reduced power consumption
Because I used the Mate 10 before and recently transitioned to the P20 Pro, I’ve experienced the GPU Turbo update in both phones and I can guarantee that they’ve delivered on lowered power consumption.
With Game Suite, I can put my phone on power saving mode to further save battery. For instance, I was only able to drain the Mate 10 down to 15 percent during a 12-hour road trip despite switching between the games I play and other apps, such as Messenger, Netflix, Spotify, and taking photos and videos every once in a while. The same goes for the P20 Pro.
As a power user, I already get a lot of things done with these highly efficient smartphones and GPU Turbo; these allowed me to do more on a single charge. However, it’s a different case for gaming.
Improved gaming experience, but there’s a catch…
When I started playing games on gaming mode (or game acceleration mode on the P20 Pro), I could run Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on a high frame rate with the highest graphics setting available. Compared to how the game stuttered and lagged during 5v5 clashes, with GPU Turbo, it now runs smoothly, as if I have a smartphone made for gaming.
As shown above, most mobile games will notify their users about the possible repercussions of higher frame rates and using the best settings available. To prove that a smartphone with GPU Turbo can handle this, I sought out to confirm my suspicions.
After asking fellow Huawei users, I found out that after installing GPU Turbo, energy consumption is a lot faster than before. Their smartphones also heat up more easily, especially when playing games with the game acceleration mode on. This isn’t part of what was promised, and it’s pretty disappointing.
It’s not yet perfect
In my experience, GPU Turbo tries to boost performance above a smartphone’s limit hoping that users can experience better gameplay.
GPU Turbo can’t choose when to perform its best. It’s an update that is constantly running in our smartphones without any way to switch it off. We can only hope that Huawei will address these issues for the next batch of updates.
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