Features

Razer Phone 2 review: Gaming and nothing else

Needs to be more than that

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It should go without saying that the Razer Phone 2 is designed for mobile gaming and nothing else. Ever since we first laid our hands on it, there’s nothing else worth doing on this device aside from playing games — and a little media consumption on the side.

For one, this thing is big and blocky. Never have I used a phone as daunting as this. While it feels fine during landscape mode with two hands, going single-handed can be a literal pain to one’s hand.

You can get a better feel of it in our initial hands-on video:

It’s essentially the same brick as the original Razer Phone. The gaming company definitely applied the don’t-fix-it-if-it-ain’t-broke mentally here. I’m honestly fine with it since it delivers an unmatched screen-speaker combo, but I imagine small-handed users having a problem with this.

That’s mainly because it owns a 5.7-inch screen with a traditional ratio of 16:9, which means it isn’t as slim as those with the newer 18:9 panels. However, the dreaded notch is still nowhere in sight, and there’s more vertical space when playing in landscape orientation.

And since the stereo speakers are placed in front (where they should be), there’s no way of blocking them while gaming. That’s important, because you wouldn’t want to cover these grilles. They’re the absolute loudest, clearest speakers I’ve ever experienced on a smartphone, and could even beat some of the laptops I’ve reviewed in the past.

But from start to finish, it’s the display you really want. It’s an unmatched 120Hz LCD with a 1440p resolution. There’s really nothing like it in the market; it’s unbelievably smooth when scrolling and incredibly sharp when pixel peeping. Only the ROG Phone’s 6-inch 1080p AMOLED with its 90Hz refresh rate comes close, but I could definitely feel Razer’s extra pixels and hertz.

Bezels for days

So, how does all that translate to actual gaming? Mostly hits for sure, but I must point out some misses to make this a complete review.

First, the good. Even though Razer doesn’t advertise it, the faster 120Hz refresh rate applies to practically all games that involve scrolling or movement. That means you get on-screen motion that’s twice as smooth as the usual 60Hz on 99.9 percent of all other phones ever made. It’s tough to describe in pictures or words, but you can take my word that it’s tough to go back to anything less than this.

A useful pre-installed app for a change

Combined with the Snapdragon 845 chipset and 8GB of RAM, this is the best mix of hardware you can find until the next flagship Snapdragon gets announced, which may be as soon as next month. It’s a shame really, although this chip is more than enough to power the demanding screen. You can even boost performance further with the Game Booster app, which allows you to customize individual settings per game. I just keep mine on Performance mode to be safe.

My only concern is the heat management. Even though it’s been proven that the internals are cooled by a vapor chamber, I can’t say it’s effective in keeping heat away from my hands during intense gameplay. For comparison, it gets as warm as the vapor cooling-less Pixel 3, and doesn’t maintain temperature as well as the Mate 20 Pro, which isn’t even a gamer-centric phone but does own a more advanced 7nm Kirin processor.

Ragnarok M: Eternal Love pushes the Razer Phone 2 to peak hotness

Asphalt 9 is an example of a fast-paced game that pushes the phone to its limits

Alto’s Odyssey benefits greatly from the 120Hz refresh rate

A gamepad accessory would be a godsend for games like Fortnite

Playing in vertical orientation is less comfy yet manageable

Going outdoors introduces a new issue

The display’s biggest drawback has to be its poor brightness even at the highest setting. This poses a problem for games like Pokémon Go wherein you gotta go out in daylight to play. It was close to unplayable for me when the sun was high — something that never bothered me whenever I stayed inside my cave.

Speaking of going outside, I also can’t say that the 4000mAh battery capacity is enough. While it may seem ample on paper, I noticed the Razer Phone 2 easily burns through it in a few short hours. I would peg average use on a single charge at five hours of screen-on time tops; about an hour less if you use it purely for gaming. I could probably improve battery life by adjusting the refresh rate to 60Hz, but why would I hinder the phone’s best feature?

More is always better

And yet, despite these minor complaints, I can’t take anything away from the audio-visual experience the Razer Phone 2 offers. Having powerful stereo speakers and a desktop-grade 120Hz 1440p LCD is unreal, and I don’t understand why more brands aren’t copying this. The era of 60Hz needs to end already, and it should start with smartphones.

With the gaming aspect out of the way, what else can this smartphone do?

Razer’s new…

… wireless charging pad

For one, the Razer Phone 2 has wireless charging unlike its predecessor. Razer offers an RGB-lighted fast charging pad of its own, and it matches well with the customizable illumination of the phone’s rear logo.

Take your pick!

Yeah, that RGB logo really puts the game in gamer! The built-in Chroma app is where the magic happens; there are lots of options to adjust colors and how they radiate. Of course, leaving it on too long drains the battery immensely. My preferred setting is a glowing logo while the phone is on, and totally off when the unit’s asleep.

In case you’re wondering: No, turning on the lights doesn’t make it run faster

What else is there to know? Aside from all the upgrades over the predecessor I’ve mentioned, the Razer Phone 2 also comes with IP67 water and dust resistance, meaning it can handle unfortunate situations (like dunks in a toilet) more easily. Unfortunately, the 3.5mm audio port has once again been excluded, which is a head-scratcher on any sort of gaming device.

Oh, and the camera performance isn’t that good. As expected of a gaming phone, image quality isn’t a priority, but it gets the job done when daylight is plenty and you have nothing serious to shoot. I also appreciated the 2x optical zoom of the secondary lens. Take a look at some samples:

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If it isn’t clear by now, the Razer Phone 2 is fantastic for gaming, and not much more. Its blockiness and general lack of focus for anything other than raw performance makes it a rather niche product in a sea of versatile smartphones. You could easily buy a different Snapdragon 845-equipped handset for a fraction of this phone’s US$ 799 price, and you’d likely gain other features like better cameras and a modern look, while still getting gaming-level speeds.

However, those would lack the amazing 120Hz display, extra-loud speakers, and all-around customization. At the same time, last year’s discounted Razer Phone has become a little more lucrative, especially since it looks nearly identical to its successor and offers mostly the same signature features.

When all’s said and done, the Razer Phone 2 is a fun little machine. I wouldn’t use it as a daily driver, but whenever a hot new mobile game comes out, this would be my go-to match.

Features

Huawei MatePad T 10: A Family’s GadgetMatch

Built for different needs

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Gadgets, for the most part, take away the family quality time. We’re glued to smartphones, laptops, and TVs that we forget to bond with the people close to us.

Technology may have been in the way of our relationships, but we can use it to bring the connection back. With the right device, we can strengthen the bond inside our homes.

This Holiday season, take the opportunity to stay closer using the Huawei MatePad T 10.

GadgetMatch for the Family: Spending quality time together

The MatePad T 10 can help a family strengthen their bonds by spending quality time together. With an entrancing 9.7-inch HD display, families can share the tablet when watching movies or TV shows.

Its vibrant display delivers a stunning visual experience, augmented by Huawei’s proprietary ClariVu Display Enhancement Technology — which boosts image and video quality, upping detail, contrast, and more.

Coupled with Huawei’s Histen 6.1 software, families can enjoy a surround sound experience. Truly, it’s a theatrical audio-visual treat for the whole family.

GadgetMatch for Moms: Working from home

For busy parents, sometimes work doesn’t stop during the Holidays. With a smart tablet like the MatePad T 10, parents can work at the comforts of their own home while bonding with their families.

The MatePad T 10 — even with an affordable price tag — also carries Huawei’s top smart features evident on their premium lineup. Work seamlessly by using Huawei Share and Multi-Screen Collaboration, where you can transfer files easily between your smartphone and tablet.

Both devices can also be used simultaneously, so you can work remotely, without being tied to a desk. For video conferencing needs, the MatePad T 10 has a noise reduction feature so you don’t have to worry if kids are being rowdy.

GadgetMatch for Dads: Helping the kids learn from home

Holidays can also be a time for learning. Stay-at-home parents can help kids utilize MatePad T 10’s versatility.

Make learning easier when you use certain features such as eBook Mode and Eye Comfort Mode which delivers a pleasing reading experience.

The tablet intelligently adjusts the brightness and contrast, filters blue light through a certified TÜV Rheinland panel, and send health-related alerts to ensure you have a healthy experience.

It’s also lightweight which makes it easy to hold. No more worrying about strained arms caused by similar yet heavy devices!

GadgetMatch for the Older Siblings: Spreading the holiday cheer

Leave it to the older siblings to be the DJ and play some holiday tunes. With the MatePad T 10’s quad-channel speaker system engineered by Harman Kardon, you can revel in an immersive sound enveloping the spaces.

Even though the built-in speakers are loud enough to fill a room, there’s a headphone jack in case you want to connect the tablet to a bigger speaker system.

It also has a 7250mAh battery, which lets you play holiday tunes on loop for hours. Powered by Kirin 710A and EMUI’s power-saving technology, the MatePad T 10 can even last longer!

Have a ball whenever Mariah Carey graces any Spotify playlist. If you’re not into Spotify, AppGallery and Petal Search Widget makes it easy to find the apps you might want to install.

GadgetMatch for the Kids: Create and play to heart’s content

Kids don’t have to keep on learning and watching videos all day! The MatePad T 10 supports Huawei’s M-Pencil (with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity), so anyone can write and draw accurately on the tablet.

Moreover, the tablet sports a powerful chipset and a custom Mali-G52 GPU supporting GPU Turbo 3.0, so kids can effortlessly switch between apps and play graphics-intensives games. Even better if it’s an educational game!

There’s also a dedicated Kids Corner, helping parents to create a safe, manageable space for children. Several features can help deliver a secure experience. For instance, the tablet creates an alert whenever the kid’s face is too close to the screen. Parents can also tailor the experience to make sure kids access only the apps that are suitable to their age.

Huawei’s Christmas Treat

The Huawei MatePad and MatePad T 10 retail for Php 20,990 and PhP 6,999 respectively. Purchasing the MatePad comes with freebies up to PhP 1,378 such as a Free Huawei MatePad Cover and 15GB Huawei Cloud storage for 12 months. Meanwhile, the MatePad T 10 comes with 15GB Huawei Cloud Storage, too.

Moreover, the MatePad Family comes with special gifts perfect for Christmas. Starting November 27, the MatePad T8 comes with a free Moon Night Light while the MatePad Pro comes with a free Entertainment Gift Box.

Consumers can pay through credit card installment in all major banks up to 24 months with no interest rate in official stores and authorized dealers.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

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Explainers

The industry’s next big thing: Cloud gaming explained

It’s gaming on the go, but for internet that’s not slow

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Everybody’s getting into gaming these days, and you can’t blame them. With the pandemic continuing its ravaging ways in the world, people turn to their consoles or PCs for some action. However, not everyone can afford all the expensive PCs and the next-gen consoles when they come out.

Instead, a new player comes into the fray with a pretty great idea. What would happen if you can just play your favorite games from any device? Also, what if we told you that this won’t take up space on your device at all? This is basically what cloud gaming offers to you: a way to play games from any device at any time!

So, how does that actually work? What do you need to ensure quality gameplay, and should you even consider it?

The basics of playing on a cloud

On paper, it’s pretty easy to understand how cloud gaming works. Basically, you have access to a library of games from a cloud storage service. When you subscribe to the service, you can virtually play your library from any device regardless of the specs. Also, you don’t have to worry about storage problems since these games are stored on a server.

It’s no joke when these companies tell you that you can play your games on any device. With their dedicated data servers, they make sure that the games run smoothly once you access them from the cloud. On your end, you will need a strong and consistent internet connection to play the games smoothly.

Several companies already have cloud gaming software available for people to subscribe to. Some examples include NVIDIA’s GeForce Now, Microsoft’s xCloud, and Google Stadia — all of which store PC games on a server. These companies even take the time to update their server hardware every so often to bring the best possible quality.

System requirements for cloud gaming

Much like your ordinary PC or gaming console, companies that run cloud gaming servers need certain equipment to run smoothly. First, these companies must set up active data centers and server farms that run the games. These data centers ensure that games are up and running, while reducing latency. In other words, these serve as the powerhouse of cloud gaming.

Next on the list is the network infrastructure necessary to send these to the users. To ensure that people don’t experience lags when they play their games, companies also invest in acquiring proper data connections. However, in most cases, this isn’t something these companies have control over; it’s mostly coming from their available internet service providers.

On the front-end, companies also provide dedicated hardware and software to house the cloud. For example, NVIDIA integrated GeForce Now into their own cloud streaming device, the NVIDIA Shield back in 2013. Meanwhile, Google Stadia relies heavily on using pre-existing Google software like Google Chrome and the Stadia App.

Something great to offer, for the most part

Cloud gaming services offer something unique in the industry. Essentially, it eliminates the user from investing so much into buying expensive PCs as it allows people to play from virtually any device. Whether it’s on a smartphone, laptop, or even a smart TV, people get access to games at high frame rates without an RTX 3080.

Furthermore, the game and save files are stored on the cloud, and don’t take up any storage on your devices. This is greatly beneficial for people who are already running on limited storage space, especially if they play Call of Duty: Warzone. With everything stored on the cloud, you don’t need most of the 512GB of SSD storage.

However, one of the biggest issues with cloud gaming revolves around the thing it’s based on: the internet. Specifically, it’s on the user’s internet connection as these services require the fastest internet to run smoothly on any device. Basically, you will need either an Ethernet or a 5G wireless connection to ensure the lowest latency possible.

That infrastructure isn’t readily available in most markets, which is a prominent issue among several third-world countries. Furthermore, even if there are companies that have 5G in their pipeline, these same providers also put data caps on it. Even if the user can play at an optimal frame rate, they’re doing so with a restriction in place.

Does this new player have any place?

With the world continuously opening its arms to the gaming industry, innovation becomes the forefront of success. Companies come up with a variety of gaming technologies that seek to cater to a wide variety of people. From individual hardware to pre-built systems, gaming often revolved around these things.

With cloud gaming, it gives people not just another option within the mix. Rather, it seeks to challenge the notion of availability and accessibility, and give it a viable solution. Essentially, it takes away the physical hardware limitations on the user’s end, and makes it available for everyone.

But like most gaming technologies, everything is still limited somehow. These systems still experience bottlenecks both on the manufacturer and the user’s end. In the end, it will depend on how much you’re willing to shell out for them, and how willing you are to accept the risks.

Illustrations by Raniedel Fajardo

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Features

Playing Big Brother with the realme Smart Cam 360

Cat spy

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CCTVs like the realme Smart Cam 360 are often marketed as home security devices. Most people use these kinds of cameras to monitor strangers passing by the house or to prevent criminal activity.

I, however, had something else in mind. As a pet owner, I often wonder what my cats are up to. What are they doing when I’m not looking? Could I be missing a moment of cuteness whenever they’re up in their hideouts?

So, I decided to play Big Brother and document their days using the realme Smart Cam 360.

Setting up the mobile CCTV

Initially, I thought that the camera was rechargeable like a smartphone. It is not. It has to be constantly plugged into a power source. This was a problem for me since the areas where the cats frequent, don’t exactly have accessible electrical sockets.

But lo and behold, A LIFEHACK! My brother helped me devise a way to use the CCTV camera portably, so I can move it from place to place, wherever the cats are. We plugged it to a power bank! The 16000mAh power bank was able to supply electricity to the camera for a little less than 24 hours.

The next step was installing the realme Link app on my phone so I can use it to view the camera’s feed. I just had to create a realme account, link the camera to the app and voila, I can already use my phone as a monitor and a remote control for the camera. Another thing I like about the app is that you can use it to customize the camera’s name.

Last is putting in a memory card. This part is actually optional, but having a memory card in the camera is very handy if you want to review moments you might have missed. The Smart Cam 360 has event-triggered recording which means it automatically saves any activity whenever the camera detects sound or motion.

Big Brother: Cat Edition

The cats found it strange at first.

But eventually, they learned to werq it.

Changing the direction of the camera is not a problem. The mobile CCTV is very responsive to the phone’s remote control. The camera adjusts to the lighting conditions of the room. Even in the dark, it’s still able to show what’s happening.

The infrared night vision does give the cats some creepy-looking eyes though!

In typical Big Brother fashion, the Smart Cam 360 also lets you communicate with whoever’s with your camera. Sort of like a PA system, or a walkie-talkie. I tried using it to call my pets’ attention, but cats do as cats do–ignore humans.

A helpful housemate?

In a lot of ways, yes. The realme Smart Cam 360 has been my extra set of eyes at home.

It does a good job of notifying me whenever there’s activity in the room I placed it in. It can capture moments I would have otherwise missed, like that one time my cat was causing mischief in the dining area.

It’s ideal for when you need to watch home, away from home. The realme Link app is also fairly easy to understand, a plus for people like me who prefer their tech simple.

But, there’s the question of privacy. There have been reports of home security cameras that accidentally leaked their feed to other households. With the current digital landscape, you can’t help but wonder where your data is being sent to. Who else could be watching? Who else could be listening to what’s happening at home?

It would be ironic if, in the course of trying to be like Big Brother, you yourself became the subject of observation. It’s good to keep that in mind and set some limits to what the camera has access to.

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