The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra represents the current pinnacle of the Galaxy Note line. That’s why it’s not far fetched to think that it can seamlessly add value to people from different walks of life.
In this first of a three-part feature, we’ll explore how the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can be reliable partner for three specific people:
The One That Got Away
Let me start this piece by reminiscing the old times first. If you’ve read some of the articles I’ve written not so long ago (see here and here), I stated how I’ve been switching to Android smartphones every now and then because of some features that I simply don’t get in an iPhone.
Owning the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 four years ago was both a blessing and a curse. It was the perfect phone for someone like me who was still an undergraduate of Multimedia Arts.
The S-Pen did its magic and I loved how its single camera performed. But to simply end this melancholy, it didn’t last that long — like a fleeting relationship of sorts.
Old Habits Die Hard
By old habits, I mean the good ones. Of course, I was one among tens and thousands of Note users before — and I’m still fond of using the S-Pen even after those years.
The moment I heard that I’ll be doing a review of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, I was trying not to be ecstatic. Suppressing emotions isn’t healthy but being able to do so is a testament that most artists love keeping what they feel inside rather than being blatant about it 😂.
As an old Galaxy Note user, I was able to restore some of those files four years ago. I’m lucky that Samsung Cloud already existed before. Though not every file was backed up, I’m still glad it restored some of my drawings and notes in the Samsung Notes app (formerly S-Note). Even hideous notes made by my college batchmates were still there. Oh such nostalgia.
A True Work of Art
To be very perfectly honest, I’m amazed by how the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra improved over its predecessor last year. While everyone was complaining about the large camera bump, I was instantly hypnotized — especially with the fact that there are large sensors beneath that glass casing.
Again, for someone who has big hands, it honestly feels just right. It’s a true gem especially if you rock the Mystic Bronze colorway. It looks elegant and classy wherever you place it — even beside a messy paint palette.
When I had that free time, I brought out my canvas and painted just to release my inner artistic demons. It wasn’t in this shot but some of that white acrylic paint splattered onto its back. Luckily, it was easy to clean and didn’t leave any mark especially because of its matte glass back coating.
Getting Out of the Comfort Zone
The new Samsung One UI isn’t really new to me. In fact, I’ve used the Galaxy S20+ just months ago. Although Apple’s iOS simply does most of my work faster and snappier because of the simpler User Interface (UI), I easily got used to Samsung’s user experience again. In fact, I replaced the built-in launcher with a custom one called Lawnchair 2 just to show my inner artistic side through the phone I use — which I wasn’t able to do last time.
If you’re like me who uses Facial Recognition (like Apple’s Face ID) a lot, this smartphone feels insecure because of the lackluster Face Unlock feature. But in times like this when we’re always required to wear a mask, the in-display fingerprint scanner, is once again, handy. Though not the fastest, it still gets the job done and something you’ll get used to eventually.
Something to consider when using this phone (especially for work) is its form factor. Most of you don’t want a large (some say monstrous and gigantic) smartphone like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, but for me, it felt so good especially because it’s slim and light enough even for an almost 7-inch smartphone. I even managed to type one-handed while replying to our group chat in Telegram.
During my time with the phone, I was able to use Samsung Notes more than ever. I don’t want to get too specific but the new latency rate of 9ms (milliseconds) feels like you’re really writing on a paper. Jotting down notes was smooth enough for my liking.
With the gesture navigations, switching between apps is easy too! I love how I can switch between one app to another without a background app refresh. You can even resize the Notes window if ever you need to scroll through another app while writing on the other. I love this feature!
The ability to have 5G connectivity in the Metro was a total breeze. I was able to upload a 2GB file in just minutes. Even downloading a 1GB file took less than two to three seconds! This is totally helpful for me as a video editor who sometimes steps outside for errands while waiting for work updates on Slack.
Back then, stylus in phones were only meant for business-centric users. It may still be the thing today but Samsung’s revolutionary S-Pen and Note line serve more than work-minded individuals. As artists, our creativity doesn’t stop just in the work we do. In fact, we get even more creative in our spare time with passion projects or whatever tickles our fancy.
I’m not a die-hard mobile gamer but I need to say this part. Though this isn’t the Snapdragon 865-version, Samsung’s Exynos 990 was able to deliver that needed power when I played Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty Mobile (CoDM). During my gameplay, I never experienced casual lags and stutters. Albeit, the phone ran a little hot especially if there’s not enough air supply and ventilation around you.
Some of you may know that I’m a die-hard Orbit. Although I haven’t published it yet, I edited my unboxing video of LOONA’s crown lightstick using Adobe’s Premiere Rush. Again, editing using the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was smooth AF even if the video is in 4K (UHD) resolution.
I captured the whole setup using this phone and I’m amazed with how the cameras performed in video. (Photo samples come at the latter part of this article)
The photo above is, again, a proof of how great its cameras are. It managed to capture the real colors of the painting I did. Letting the paint splatter onto the canvas is a great way to release those bad energy that’s been stuck in your head for a while.
There’s no problem running creative apps in this smartphone especially because we know how power-packed it is. If you’ve been looking where I layout my shots for IG stories, here’s the listicle to help you out.
Even when you use post-processing apps like Adobe Lightroom Mobile, VSCO, and Snapseed, you’ll simply get stunning results. The S-Pen stylus would help you adjust curves with ease while its vibrant display is helpful enough because of its color accuracy.
The Fear of Missing Out
Just like any other artist, we get exhausted so we rest to recharge our creative juice. Of course, I wouldn’t miss the chance of doing the things I love with this smartphone.
With my pair of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+, I was able to enjoy LOONA’s new Extended Play (EP) titled ‘12:00‘. The song I played above makes me forget my problems somehow. Try listening to this magical album if you have time.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a great experience without having to try its glorious 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED display. Though in this particular scenario, I was able to watch my favorite K-Drama ‘Start-Up’ (스타트업) while jotting down the characters and some jargons the characters use in the series. And yes, I know how to write in Korean (한글). Just don’t judge my writing style.
After binging five episodes of the series for over three hours, I was able to get my much needed recharge that I decided to sketch a young girl on a swing using Samsung’s built-in PEN UP app — just like how the company’s logo looked like in the drama. Though this isn’t a 1:1 ratio, being able to sketch as easy as sliding the S-Pen out is really a nice feature to have in a smartphone that you can’t simply do elsewhere.
You Win Some, You Lose Some
People who know me are aware that I’m very nit-picky when it comes to cameras — let alone smartphone cameras. In this section, I’ll discuss what makes and breaks the cameras of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
With no surprise, photos taken with the 108-megapixel Main Sensor (Wide-Angle) deliver stunning results. The colors pop and there’s enough bokeh when doing close-ups. With the added inclusion of the Laser AF (that was absent in the Galaxy S20 Ultra), it helps the main sensor shoot moving objects without blurring out the main subject.
Even the Laser AF works well with optically-zoomed shots.
ICYMI: The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s optical zoom maxes out at 5x (and up to 50x Hybrid Zoom — more on that later).
Speaking of zoom, this smartphone has three sensors (including the 12-megapixel Ultra-Wide and Telephoto lenses) that handle the job very well especially with the presence of natural light.
Just like how I stated earlier, the cameras are superb! This is actually how the painting looks like in real life. The colors look vibrant just like the variations of acrylic paint I threw onto the canvas.
For the most part, it’s also able to capture HDR-rich photos whether you use the ultra-wide or wide lens. In this particular example, both lenses were able to capture the subtle rays of a rainbow with a close consistency in WB (White Balance).
But this isn’t a perfect camera after all
One minor thing I noticed (that I don’t like) is when I shoot food. There’s a weird radial blur-situation going on in these two photos. The first one is a 짜파게티 (jjapagetti) while the other is a spaghetti and chicken combo. Just look at the outer field of focus and you’d see that circular motion blur coming out.
Another problem I encountered is the inconsistency in AF (autofocus) and AWB (Auto White Balance). These photos were taken seconds apart — same focal length, same lighting condition, same position. You can see how details in the bag, shirt, and even the wall got blurred out in the second photo. The first photo is closer to reality with its warmer tone while the second photo got bluish in tint.
Not that it’s a big deal but this is a reminder for future buyers that the telephoto sensor takes blurry photos — though there’s a camera reminder whenever it detects if a photo was blurred. Again, not a big fuss for something that will be posted on social media. It’s just something worth pointing out that can be fixed via software updates or maybe in the next Galaxy Note (and even the upcoming S) series.
Finally, here are shots of the moon and two birds on an electric wire. They honestly look commendable but what breaks this category for me is the fact that Samsung’s camera software processing in ultimately-zoomed shots look so smeared that details are barely visible.
I get that they’re still trying to develop this technology and I know this is a good thing for smartphones. Still, it’s something worth to consider especially with how they hyped up “Space Zoom” during the launch of the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
For artists who also want great selfies, here’s how that single punch-hole camera performed.
The beauty filter is turned off in both of these shots but I guess there’s still some smearing going on after you hit the shutter button.
Is the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra fit for a Multimedia Creative?
If you’ve reached this part, you would already know if its meant for you. Of all the apps I’ve used for sketching, editing, and even processing my photos, this is obviously the ultimate smartphone for a Multimedia Creative.
If you like scribbling and sketching, the S-Pen does the job in which other phones can’t. Other than that, if you’re someone like me who uses the rear cameras often, it’s also a great companion for taking great snaps without ever worrying about the quality.
Considering this as your new smartphone this 2020 wouldn’t be a problem if you have the purchasing power. But if you’re hesitating because of its hefty price tag, the Galaxy Note 20 would be a better substitute minus the elegance and other nifty features. If you’re an Illustrator or a Graphic Artist who’s looking for a bigger device plus the glory of the S-Pen, I’d recommend the Galaxy Tab S7+ instead.
Overall, its blazing-fast performance paired with a lot of creative and productivity apps, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is simply one of the best (if not the best) smartphones out there that creatives would love and enjoy using in the next few years — especially that Samsung has promised software updates of up to three years with this smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy Note 5: 20 changes in 5 years
A testament to Samsung’s smartphone superiority
I clearly remember the day Samsung announced the first-generation Galaxy Note last 2011 at IFA Berlin. Back then, it got all of the attention because it’s one of the first few “phablets” with a gigantic 5.3-inch display, simply dwarfing the 4.3-inch-touting Galaxy S II. Other than the big screen, the inclusion of S-Pen is what set it apart from other contenders.
Ever since that release, I’ve dreamed of owning one — until I had my first Note with the Galaxy Note 5. Five years later, I had the chance to get my hands on the newest Note flagship, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
As a long-time Note fan, it’s amazing to see how Samsung tried their very best to keep up with the smartphone game by undergoing certain improvements and changes. It’s also been a while since we’ve had a dedicated Galaxy Note comparison article so why not make a new one?
After riding that nostalgia train, I tried listing down 20 changes from Galaxy Note 5 to the latest Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — that’s five Note generations passed in just five years. Here’s a testament to Samsung’s smartphone superiority.
One obvious change is with their sizes. In 2016’s standards, the Galaxy Note 5 is simply one of the biggest smartphones you can own alongside its cousin, the Galaxy S6 Edge+, as well as Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus. But with a larger display, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra simply makes the Note 5 look like a “regular-sized” piece of slab.
Speaking of display, the Galaxy Note 5 has a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a 60Hz refresh rate. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra sports a massive 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED display with a smoother 120Hz refresh rate.
The new display tech is a huge step-up not just for the Note line, but for Samsung’s mobile display technology. Other than the large size gap, the Note 20 Ultra also features a curved edge display that first made its debut on the Galaxy Note Edge.
The Galaxy Note 5 was the start of a new era where removable batteries became a thing of the past. While nothing much has changed with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, its back is now matte instead of the shiny and glossy back of the Note 5 that’s super smudgy and prone to fingerprints and hairline scratches.
The newer Note also feels more premium even without a case because of the new material. Although the Galaxy Note 5 has curved edges on its back, it still failed to achieve better ergonomics because of its flat front which the newer Note has managed to ace because of its symmetrical design. Also, the aluminum frame was replaced by a sturdier and more elegant-looking stainless steel frame.
Samsung still kept the micro USB port on the Galaxy Note 5. The Galaxy Note 7 paved the way for the introduction of USB-C in the Note series — which the Note 20 Ultra still has today. Other noticeable differences are the placements of the S-Pen and speaker grilles and the removal of the 3.5mm audio jack.
To make way for that edge-to-edge display, Samsung has excluded the physical fingerprint scanner on the Note 5. While it was still present until the Galaxy Note 9 (just moved at the back), the newer Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is equipped with an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint reader which made its debut on the Galaxy Note 10 series.
Other than that, the heart rate sensor of the Note 5 was also removed and is nowhere found on the latest Note flagship. This sensor has moved to smartwatches which is more widely available compared to when the Note 5 first came out.
Samsung introduced the clicking mechanism on its digital pen with the Galaxy Note 5 to imitate a retractable ballpoint pen. Several generations after, the mechanism still exists but the new S-Pen of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a Bluetooth connection for Air Actions. It’s also battery-powered and can be charged through its slot.
The fine ergonomic when writing is still there but the newer one is slimmer and has a slimmer nib. Other than that, the Note 20 Ultra has a 9-millisecond latency which makes scribbling and sketching closer to reality as if you’re writing on a paper.
P.S.: Both versions of the S-Pen work on both devices; Note 5’s S-Pen works on the Note 20 Ultra and vice versa. I accidentally inserted the Note 20 Ultra’s S-Pen all the way to the Note 5 slot but of course, the older S-Pen won’t fit inside the new S-Pen slot.
7. Rear Cameras
Their rear cameras also signify the biggest jump in Samsung’s Galaxy Note line. The Galaxy Note 5 sports a single 16-megapixel f/1.9 camera sensor on its back. During my early time with this phone, it took a lot of great shots in such form factor. That’s a realization that Samsung seriously focused on their camera department.
Five years after, the megapixel size of the main sensor multiplied nearly 6.5 times! Other than the 108-megapixel f/1.8 camera, you also get two 12-megapixel telephoto and ultra-wide lenses, making it a triple-camera setup. The additional ToF 3D and Laser AF (Autofocus) sensors make the quality better than ever.
If you like all those large numbers, the newer Note 20 Ultra can record in an ultra-clear 8K/24fps resolution while the Galaxy Note 5 can shoot at 4K/30fps max — and both resolutions aren’t fully-maximized up until this day.
8. Front Camera
A larger hole doesn’t mean its better. The Note 20 Ultra has a bigger 10-megapixel f/2.2 front camera compared to the 5-megapixel f/1.9 selfie shooter of its predecessor. Video quality is better at 4K/60fps max while the latter can manageably shoot up to 2K/30fps.
Other than the new designation for their speaker grilles, one notable change is the inclusion of stereo speaker in the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The Galaxy Note 5 only had a mono bottom-firing speaker. This makes the multimedia experience better and more dynamic.
Those microphones were also leveled-up. You get to record crystal clear and a surround sound audio with the upgraded mics found in the Note 20 Ultra.
Samsung’s ultra-buggy and bloatware-filled TouchWiz that’s found on the Galaxy Note 5 got replaced by One UI with a more striking and visually-appealing set of icons and animations.
The new UI is a drastic change for someone like me who used TouchWiz for a long time, considering it was one of the biggest drawbacks of owning a Samsung smartphone in the previous years.
Samsung ditched the Snapdragon variant for the Galaxy Note 5 in favor of their very own Exynos 7420 chipset. Several generations after, Samsung brought back the two chipset options with a Snapdragon 865 variant as well as the Exynos one. Fair enough, my review unit came with the Exynos 990 processor.
After years of innovation, Samsung’s in-house chip improved so much that it can keep up with its Snapdragon counterpart. Performance in the new Note has been topnotch. Meanwhile, the 5-year-old Note 5, although usable, suffered from stutters and lags mainly due to software and hardware degradation.
12. RAM and Storage
In today’s standards, the Galaxy Note 5’s 4GB RAM won’t be enough for the everyday needs of a pro user. Meanwhile, the newer Note 20 Ultra has triple the amount of memory with a whopping 12GB RAM that helps you do multitasking with ease.
Storage options for the older Note were only limited to 32GB and 64GB, while finding a 128GB variant was very rare. This year’s Note starts with that storage capacity, followed by 256GB and 512GB, plus a microSD slot for better expandability — which the Note 5 failed to keep during its time (making it the only Note device without a dedicated memory card slot).
Over the years, every Android smartphone has significantly increased their battery capacities. Although Samsung faced the hardest bang with the battery fiasco of the beloved Galaxy Note 7, they have learned their lesson by improving their batteries’ safety and technology in every Note (and even S) flagship phones.
Generations after that, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was able to pack a beastly 4,500mAh battery over the Note 5’s minuscule 3,000mAh unit.
Charging technology has vastly improved over these years. With the bundled 25W charger, it can fill it up from zero to 100 percent in just 70 minutes. Buying an optional 45W charging brick would speed it up more.
On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 5 has a lower battery rating yet charging speeds are a little bit longer at around 90 minutes with the bundled 15W charger.
15. 5G vs 4G LTE
As you can see in the photo above, 5G speeds in the Galaxy Note 5 Ultra are instantaneous over the regular speeds you get while using 4G LTE in the Note 5.
It’s not totally a deal breaker for now as there are only a handful of 5G-enabled hotspots around the world that can maximize this feature. Still, it’s amazing to see how Samsung made the latest Note future-ready.
16. Desktop eXperience
This is a feature that’s totally missing on the Galaxy Note 5. Die-hard Samsung users would know that Samsung DeX was first introduced in the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 series via an optional dock. This is made to level up the use of their flagship smartphones by hooking up an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse into the dock to mimic a desktop-grade experience.
Although this isn’t new on the Note 20 Ultra, the ability to use it wirelessly is definitely a bump-up to make a wireless and cordless DeX-perience. And yes, it successfully runs on my MacBook Pro just via a single USB-C cable.
17. Water and Dust Resistance
Another Note-worthy feature that’s not in the Galaxy Note 5 is an IP certification rating. The old Note can withstand tiny splashes but it simply wouldn’t protect it from a full immersion in water and dust.
The Galaxy Note 7 had an IP68 rating, making it the first Note device to do so. It basically makes the phone withstand dust and water of up to 1.5 meters for thirty minutes. This rating continued generations after up until the latest Note 20 Ultra.
18. Android Software Support
For the first time in forever, Samsung has committed to a three-year support to Android software updates — which will make the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra receive an Android 13 update in 2022. The current phone runs One UI 2.5 based on Android 10 with an upcoming One UI 3 based on Android 11.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy Note 5 only lasted until Android 7.0 Nougat with TouchWiz Grace UX while the ability to run Android 9.0 Pie with One UI was entirely based from the Custom ROMs of several modders found at XDA-Developers.
19. Color Options
The Galaxy Note 5 was available in four different eye-catchy colors: Black Sapphire and Gold Platinum were the most common units people were rocking that time while White Pearl and Silver Titan were harder to find.
On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has three colorways with Mystic White being the common denominator among the two devices. There’s also a neutral Mystic Black unit and a more premium-looking Mystic Bronze color — and the photos above prove that claim.
20. Launch Price
With all the spec bump and feature upgrades, it comes as no surprise that the latest Note 20 Ultra retails more than double the price of the Note 5 from five years ago.
The base 32GB model of the Note 5 retailed for US$699 (PhP 32,990) while the base 128GB Note 20 Ultra 5G was launched at US$ 1299.99 (PhP 72,990).
Huawei MatePad T 10: A Family’s GadgetMatch
Built for different needs
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.
The industry’s next big thing: Cloud gaming explained
It’s gaming on the go, but for internet that’s not slow
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.
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