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23
Jul

Flagship Android phones top iPhone X in download speed, report claims


While the battle between iOS and Android rages on — and there are some points you could make for either side — there’s one thing that doesn’t often come up in a debate between the two sides. That’s the speed of a phone’s modem. According to new data from Ookla, the company behind the popular Speedtest.net website, however, perhaps that should change.

Ookla compared the Intel XMM 7480 — which is found in flagship phones like the iPhone X — and the Qualcomm X20, found on the Snapdragon 845, which is in turn featured in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9. The results of that study were pretty interesting — but most notably, Ookla found that Qualcomm outperformed Intel in almost every metric.

For example, on T-Mobile, Ookla found that phones with a Snapdragon 845 typically had 53 percent faster download speeds than phones with Intel XMM 7480 modems. On top of that, Snapdragon 845-equipped phones typically had 32 percent lower latency than the Intel XMM 7480.

On AT&T, results were similar — though not quite the same. Snapdragon 845 phones, for example, typically achieved 40 percent faster typical download speeds, along with 20 percent faster upload speeds. According to Ookla, the “typical” figure refers to the average of the middle 50 percent of observations. In other words, after removing the top 25 percent and bottom 25 percent of observations, the average of the remaining 50 percent is measured — giving what Ookla calls the “typical” amount.

The results have a few implications. While it’s clear that a Snapdragon 845-enabled device is the way to go if you want a phone with a faster internet connection, slower phones affect everyone. Cell towers, after all, only have so much bandwidth, and when slower phones take longer to download files, it means that the faster phones have to wait longer to get access to that full bandwidth. Of course, that’s clearly not an Android-versus-iPhone issue — you should hardly be upset at iPhone users for clogging up a cell tower. The same issues come up with older Android phones, and Intel’s newer modems are still likely faster than some lower-end Snapdragon chips.

Still, the fact remains that Qualcomm’s best mobile modem is clearly faster than Intel’s — meaning a flagship Android phone is likely to download files a whole lot faster than a flagship iPhone. It’s also worth noting the report that Apple is switching away from Intel communications chips — and it will be interesting to see how Apple-built modems compare to Qualcomm’s.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • BlackBerry Key2: Everything you need to know
  • The Samsung Galaxy S9 can download up to 37 percent faster than the iPhone X
  • Qualcomm targets ‘premium midrange’ phones with the Snapdragon 710
  • Need more juice? Here are the phones with the best battery life
  • OnePlus 6 vs. LG G7 ThinQ: Can the flagship killer sink LG’s latest?



23
Jul

Homeland security is worried about Gmail’s confidentiality mode


One of the most intriguing features in the 2018 update of Google’s Gmail service was confidentiality mode. While it might improve the security of email contents for some users though, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is concerned that it could lead to more users than ever before being caught out by phishing scams.

Confidentiality mode works by not sending the actual contents of an email, but sending an email with a link to said content and requiring a password to access. The idea is that users can protect the data they’re trying to communicate with someone on the other end. While that sounds fine in theory, in practice it means clicking on links within emails, which any security expert will tell you is fraught with danger and it’s where phishing hackers make the bulk of their attacks.

A couple of months on from Google’s early rollout of confidentiality mode and other new features, the DHS has been in contact with the tech giant to try and work on a solution to the problem. Google’s response, according to ABCNews, has been to say that it believes no additional security risks have been created with the implementation of the new feature.

That may well be the case for Gmail users, who experience a typical email scenario when receiving confidential emails. However, should that email be sent to someone outside of the Google sphere of influence, a placeholder message and link to the original content is provided instead. According to the DHS, that “presents an opportunity for malicious cyber actors to mimic the email message and phish unwary users.”

Google claims that it has a stellar track record in blocking phishing attempts, suggesting that as many as 99.9 percent of all attempts are caught out by its machine learning and image scanning technologies. However, the potential threat with confidentiality mode isn’t in phishing attacks targeting Gmail users, but in going after those outside of Google’s services. By sending links in emails, Google could be setting a precedent that makes people less wary of unsolicited emails containing links that they need to click.

Keeping away from email links is just one of the many top tips for staying safe online.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Gmail’s new confidential mode is finally rolling out. Here’s how to use it
  • Timehop data breach may have compromised 21 million email addresses
  • Massive Gmail redesign rollout will begin in earnest in July
  • 92 million accounts at DNA testing service MyHeritage have been hacked
  • How to recall an email in Gmail



23
Jul

Google could release the most powerful Chromebook ever this year


Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Chromebooks aren’t typically the most powerful of computers, but Google turned that paradigm on its head with the launch of the original Pixelbook in 2017, and now it may be set to do it again. Rumors point to the release of a new Pixelbook before the end of 2018 and though we have no hard specifications to quote, it seems likely that a hardware refresh would see it become the most powerful Chromebook ever made.

As it stands, the original Pixelbook is still king of the Chromebooks. It’s not our favorite, but it’s certainly the most capable of the typically entry-level laptops. It debuted with options for seventh-generation Core i5 and Core i7 Intel CPUs, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of solid-state storage. Rumors of the next-generation Pixelbook suggest it will ship with thinner bezels surrounding the monitor. We would expect a hardware update, too.

The latest information comes from serial leaker Evan Bliss, via 9to5Mac, who suggested that alongside the debut of Google’s expected Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones, a new Pixelbook with thinner bezels would ship before the end of the year. Considering that just about every new laptop launched in 2018 has come with an eighth-generation Intel CPU under the hood, we’d expect the next Pixelbook to do much the same, especially considering that range’s propensity for using high-end hardware.

Add to this fall hardware lineup a second-generation Pixelbook, with smaller bezels, scheduled to ship before the end of the year.

— Evan Blass (@evleaks) July 22, 2018

As for the rest of the system, 16GB of RAM seems likely to be the ceiling as you don’t really need much more than that unless you’re using a high-end workstation. Storage expansion is a possibility, too, though considering there is a focus on the display side of things, we wouldn’t be surprised if Google improved upon the existing Pixelbook’s display resolution of 2,400 x 1,600.

A new Pixelbook could also make the first-generation Pixelbook a more attractive purchase. Typically, last-generation hardware receives a price drop when a new version is available and the Pixelbook has already had its price cut by $250 during select sale periods. There have also been rumors of the Pixelbook being able to boot to Windows 10 too, which would make it an even more attractive purchase.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Dell, HP may be building premium Chromebooks to compete with Google Pixelbook
  • The Pixelbook could soon run Windows 10
  • Here are the best laptop deals for Amazon Prime Day 2018
  • The best Chromebooks of 2018
  • Leaked Snapdragon 1000 details suggest it could go head-to-head with Intel



23
Jul

The 25 best Galaxy S7 cases to safeguard your Samsung smartphone




The Samsung Galaxy S7 is gorgeous, but it’s also a fragile blend of metal and glass. If you don’t want your new smartphone screen shattering or that shiny body picking up scuffs and dings, then you really need to invest in some protection. We’ve rounded up the best Galaxy S7 cases for your perusal. Find a style and a level of protection to suit you. You may also want to read up on our Galaxy S7 tips and tricks, or check out our picks of the best Android apps for your Samsung phone.

Using a newer device? We’ve put together lists detailing the best Galaxy S9 cases, best Galaxy S9 Plus cases, and the best Note 8 cases.

Leather, folio, and wooden Galaxy S7 cases

Moshi iGlaze Napa Case ($40)

This is a smart-looking case that combines protection with a sophisticated design. There’s a flexible layer on the inside that absorbs impact and extends at the front to help protect your screen. It also provides a bit of give in the button covers and around the port openings. On top of that, it sports a tough polycarbonate frame outfitted with a faux leather covering that’s available in either black or brown. A metallic-style strip on the back bears the Moshi logo. It’s also comfortable to hold and it looks very stylish on the Galaxy S7.

Buy one now from:

Moshi Amazon

Noreve Tradition E Leather Case ($42)

The Galaxy S7 is a gorgeous blend of metal and glass, but you’ll find that the back picks up fingerprints and smudges very easily, and it can be a little slippery. Noreve’s leather shell case is the perfect antidote, enveloping the fragile back and frame in luxurious leather. It adds a layer of protection and makes the phone more comfortable to hold and easier to grip. It’s a fairly minimal case, so there are cutouts for buttons, ports, and other features, but it still provides some protection from bumps and knocks. If you pay a little extra, you can choose different finishes and colors of leather.

Buy one now from:

Noreve

VRS Design Layered Dandy Case ($35)

You can leave the wallet or purse at home with this faux leather case from VRS Design. There’s a magnetic closure for the cover, open it up and you’ll find three card slots and a handy pocket for cash. Your Galaxy S7 slots into a shell with cutouts for the buttons and ports. There’s also an opening for the camera on the back. It’s a good looking case, but it won’t work with all wireless charging pads, and the look is spoiled a little if you fill it with cards and cash because it doesn’t sit flush with the phone.

Buy one now from:

Amazon VRS Design

Samsung S View Case ($15+)

This clever folio case from Samsung features a window onto the screen, so you can see the time and incoming messages, or even take and make calls without opening the cover. There’s a shell inside that your S7 snaps into and it has the full range of cutouts you need for uninterrupted access to controls, ports, and the camera on the back. Wireless charging will still work with the case on. It’s finished in a kind of synthetic leather in black, gold, silver, or white.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Melkco Jacka Type Case ($32)

Cases that open like a book can sometimes be awkward. It’s not always easy to get at the volume buttons, and the cover can get in the way during a call. Thankfully, this case opens vertically, so it’s a little easier to use your S7 with it on. The finish is coarse-grained leather, which is available in either black or white with white stitching. It’s padded and comfortable to hold, too, with openings that provide full access to your smartphone’s buttons, ports, and camera. There’s even a tiny clasp at the top to hold it closed, as well as a soft lining on the inside to protect your screen.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Melkco

Carved Traveler Wood Case ($39+)

At Carved, you’ll find all kinds of gorgeous designs on wood. You can get unique pieces to show off interesting wood grain, or opt for a patterned or painted design. The wooden back panels are paired with a solid, polycarbonate shell that includes flexible, textured sides for added grip. You’ll also find that all of the cutouts are accurate, and the button covers are really thin. Some of the designs are available through partnerships with artists and the cases are hand-crafted in northern Indiana.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Carved

Cover-Up WoodBack Case ($29)

Everyone likes the look of natural wood, and Cover-Up lets you choose the wood you prefer from a wide selection that includes bamboo, maple, mahogany, cedar, walnut, and more. The basic shell is black polycarbonate, which snaps onto your Galaxy S7 securely. Natural wood is used for the back panel and each case is unique. This is a very slim case with openings for the buttons and camera. It also leaves the top and bottom edges of the phone completely open for easy access, so we wouldn’t rely on it for rugged drop protection.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

23
Jul

What Galaxy S9 screen protector are you using?


These are the GS9 screen protectors the AC forum community recommends.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are still two of the best-looking phones you can buy, but as much as we love their good looks, they’re far from the most durable gadgets ever made.

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Samsung’s use of curved glass for the Infinity Display looks fantastic, but if you drop either handset just right, it could shatter in the blink of an eye. Thankfully, there are a number of screen protectors that can help you avoid this and smaller, more cosmetic scratches.

If you need some help deciding which Galaxy S9/S9+ screen protector to get, here’s what the Android Central forum community recommends picking up.

avatar2528644_1.gifjerrycau123
07-21-2018 02:29 PM

On my Samsung galaxy s9 plus, I use Zagg glass screen protector ( expensive)…but gives Great protection!
I use Speck cases, great protection with stylish cases!…I was told that Tech 21 cases give great protection?

Reply

avatar1743067_3.gifDenisew 1972
07-21-2018 03:09 PM

Whitestone dome! the best! Is easy to install, don’t let it intimidate you and you can not tell its there at all! Mines lasted months so far, still like new! Expensive, but totally worth it!

Reply

avatar144195_5.gifrjack22
07-21-2018 03:19 PM

I recommend amFilm Glass screen protector. I have had it one since March 12 and it still looks brand new. No issues whatsoever. Here is a link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079Y9H3XT/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Reply

Now, we want to hear from you! What screen protector are you using for your Galaxy S9/S9+?

Join the conversation in the forums!

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

  • Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know!
  • Galaxy S9 review: A great phone for the masses
  • Complete Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
  • Join our Galaxy S9 forums

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23
Jul

Qualcomm’s first mmWave module will allow for easier 5G deployment


Urban and crowded indoor areas will benefit the most from this tech.

As part of the company’s continuous efforts to bring us towards a 5G future, Qualcomm recently announced that it’s launching the first-ever 5G NR mmWave module that can be used by manufacturers in smartphones, tablets, etc.

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mmWave is an antenna technology that helps to support the crazy-fast data speeds that come with 5G, but up until today’s announcement, it wasn’t being used with mobile devices “due to the many technical and design challenges they [the mmWave signals] pose.”

To bring mmWave to mobile, Qualcomm’s using its QTM052 mmWave module in conjunction with its Snapdragon X50 5G modem. Commenting on this pairing, Qualcomm said:

They support advanced beam forming, beam steering, and beam tracking technologies, drastically improving the range and reliability of mmWave signals.

The use of mmWave will be most beneficial with providing 5G in urban and crowded indoor areas, and to deploy its 5G NR coverage, Qualcomm will rely on sub-6GHz bands. Although we won’t be seeing real-world uses of mmWave in the mobile space tomorrow, Qualcomm is already sampling the new modules with device makers.

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 632, 439 and 429 are coming to mid-range phones this year

23
Jul

Top 3 ways Fuchsia can be a better operating system than Android


Android’s successor has the potential to be damn exciting.

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For the past couple of years, there’s been some talk about Google working on a mysterious new operating system by the name of Fuchsia. Fuchsia’s an all-new platform that will eventually replace Android as we know and love it today, and last week, a report came out claiming that Google will begin rolling out products with the OS in three years and then start using it as a replacement for Android in five.

Google’s since come out and denied those claims, but even so, it’s likely that we are just a few short years out before Fuchsia slowly comes into the public eye.

If and when that happens, here’s what I’m looking forward to the most in regards to it being Google’s mobile OS of choice instead of Android.

Improved synchronization + simpler navigation across devices

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As it stands right now, Google has a multitude of operating systems scattered across various hardware form factors. Mobile phones are powered by the full-fledged version of Android, televisions get Android TV, cars get Android Auto, smartwatches run on Wear OS, and desktops, laptops, and now tablets showcase Chrome OS.

There are a few efforts to help bring some sort of continuity between these operating systems, but at the end of the day, they all still feel like their own separate thing.

Fuchsia might be able to solve one of Android’s biggest letdowns.

With Fuchsia, Google wants to have one single OS power all sorts of gadgets — including smartphones, smartwatches, computers, connected speakers, smart appliances, and much more.

If one single platform can be easily optimized for all kinds of tech, that’d theoretically result in a similar user experience across all of them. In my eyes, one of the biggest draws to this is a streamlined UI from device to device. Chrome OS and Android can both run Android apps, but they work entirely separate from one another. With Fuchsia, we could have phones and computers that run the same apps and have an interface that’s the same, yet adaptable, depending on what you’re using.

On a similar note, I like to imagine this use of one OS would also allow for better synchronization across devices. If I open a tab in Chrome on my Fuchsia phone, my Fuchsia computer should let me open that same one without skipping a beat. If I copy text on my computer, I should be able to paste it on my tablet.

These are things that Apple already excels at with Continuity across iOS and macOS, and with Fuchsia, Google would finally be able to start competing in this field.

More streamlined app design

Pixelbook-Play-Store_0.jpg?itok=EShHvhqw

While talking about Fuchsia being one OS to rule them all, another area in which I could see this being useful is with app design.

Android apps on phones look and feel great, but when running them on a Chromebook or tablet, they can often feel stretched out and misplaced.

Assuming applications have that same adaptability across devices the way Fuchsia does, this would allow for better app design on a multitude of screen sizes. That means no more being forced to use Instagram in portrait mode on tablets and a Hulu app for your TV that’s not a steaming pile of garbage (I’m looking at you, Android TV).

Deeper, more powerful voice control

google-home-google-assistant-gs9plus-blu

In Bloomberg’s report that surfaced, it’s said that one of the big focuses for Fuchsia is deeper, more powerful voice control even compared to what we have today with the Google Assistant.

At the moment, Android, which was developed when phones were just beginning to use touchscreens, is also not built to handle the type of voice-enabled apps that Google sees as the future of computing. So Fuchsia is being developed with voice interaction at its core.

Google Assistant is already one of the most powerful voice control systems around, allowing you to easily and naturally ask for the weather, set alarms, make calls, and much more. Google has search-based questions and simple tasks under its belt, but with Fuchsia, it sounds like voice will be taken a step further so that you can perform deeper, more complicated actions without having to touch anything.

It’s unclear how far Google will go with this, but imagine being able to archive emails, log your water in Fitbit, compose tweets on Twitter, and more by just talking to your devices.

Tapping on apps and using our fingers to navigate is natural right now, but who knows what’ll happen in 5-10 years. If Fuchsia goes according to plan, voice could easily become the go-to input method and change the mobile landscape as we know it.

What are you hoping to see?

With all that said, what are you hoping to see in Fuchsia? We’re still quite a few years off before Google puts this in the public eye, but even so, it doesn’t hurt to look ahead and dream about what could be.

Android P

  • Android P: Everything you need to know
  • Android P Beta hands-on: The best and worst features
  • All the big Android announcements from Google I/O 2018
  • Will my phone get Android P?
  • How to manually update your Pixel to Android P
  • Join the Discussion

23
Jul

Samsung Galaxy Watch rumors: Release date, specs, price, and features!


The Galaxy Watch could be Samsung’s best and boldest smartwatch yet — here’s why.

It’s been a hot minute since Samsung released the Gear S3, and while the Gear Sport did a nice job at holding us over for a while longer, it’s time we get a proper sequel to one of 2016’s best smartwatches.

The rumor mill suggests that this year will see Samsung release the successor we’ve been longing for, but instead of a traditional Gear S4, reports are coming out that the new gadget will be called the “Galaxy Watch” and use an operating system Samsung hasn’t dabbled with since 2014.

What is the Galaxy Watch and why should you care about it? Here’s everything you need to know!

The latest Galaxy Watch news

July 23, 2018 — Wireless Charger Duo pictured; will charge the Note 9 and Galaxy Watch simultaneously

Thanks to tipster Roland Quandt, we now have our first look at a new Samsung accessory called the “Wireless Charger Duo.” As we can see from the retail packaging pictured below, the Wireless Charger Duo will not only be able to wirelessly-charge two phones at the same time, but will also support “Charging the Phone and Galaxy Watch.”

This is the Samsung Wireless Charger Duo (EP-N6100) for the Galaxy Note 9. Charges the Galaxy Watch alongside the phone. pic.twitter.com/VnP10xAhvb

— Roland Quandt (@rquandt) July 21, 2018

Not only does this further confirm the Galaxy Watch name, but Quandt’s note about the Wireless Charger Duo launching alongside the Note 9 also reiterates an earlier report about the Galaxy Watch launching with the Note 9 on August 9.

July 18, 2018 — Galaxy Watch to launch with the Note 9, Tizen now expected to be the OS of choice

Up until now, we’ve been unsure as to when Samsung will be announcing the Galaxy Watch. The possibilities include the Note 9 event and IFA, but according to a new report from ZDNet, it’ll be the former of those two.

The Note 9 launch is scheduled to take place on August 9 in New York City, and along with this, ZDNet also says pre-orders will go live just a few days later on August 14 with an official launch following on August 24.

Furthermore, both that report and one from SamMobile claim that the Galaxy Watch will actually run Tizen and not Wear OS like we’ve heard from other rumors. This does seem more likely considering the time and money Samsung’s invested into Tizen, but maybe we’ll still see a special edition of sorts that does run Wear OS? Who knows.

All the big details

What’s with this talk about Wear OS?

lg-watch-sport-vs-gear-s3-6.jpg?itok=cRr

Almost all of Samsung’s wearable products have used the company’s own Tizen operating system, but with the Galaxy Watch, that could be changing.

Back in late May, it was reported that some Samsung employees had been seen wearing Gear watches running Google’s Wear OS (previously called Android Wear). That rumor was put to rest a couple weeks later, but then on July 6, another tipster stated that the Galaxy Watch will, in fact, use Wear OS instead of Tizen.

While that may seem like a ball out of left field, this wouldn’t be unheard of for Samsung. In 2014, one of the very first Android Wear watches to come out was the Samsung Gear Live.

However, on July 18, another report popped up claiming that Tizen will actually be the operating system of choice — not Wear OS.

We’re still not entirely sure what’s going to happen here, but a Wear OS watch from Samsung would be a huge win for the platform as a whole. Google needs big names to back Wear OS, and who better to support it than one of the largest companies on the planet?

When will the Galaxy Watch be released?

Samsung’s yet to release any teasers or press invites for the Galaxy Watch, but according to the rumor mill, we’ll see it announced alongside the Galaxy Note 9 on August 9.

Current rumors point to the Galaxy Watch launching on August 24.

Following the August 9 announcement, pre-orders for the Galaxy Watch will follow on August 14. From there, the gadget will officially launch on August 24.

Should that rumor turn out to be false, the next logical announcement will likely come during IFA in Berlin in late August / early September.

How much will the Galaxy Watch cost?

Now, most importantly, let’s talk price.

As much as we loved the Gear S3, its price tag wasn’t the easiest to swallow at the time at $349. However, compared to today’s market, that’s not really unheard of.

A Series 3 Apple Watch with GPS and LTE will set you back at least $399. If you get the model without LTE, you’re still looking at a minimum of $329.

With that in mind, we’ll probably see the Galaxy Watch sell for around $300 – $350 depending on whether or not it has LTE.

That’s certainly not cheap, but if Samsung knocks it out of the park with its design and features, it should be able to hold its over (if not trump) what Apple’s currently offering.

Android Wear

  • Everything you need to know about Android Wear 2.0
  • LG Watch Sport review
  • LG Watch Style review
  • These watches will get Android Wear 2.0
  • Discuss Android Wear in the forums!

Updated July 18, 2018: Updated Wear OS and release date sections to reflect current rumors/reports.

23
Jul

This $11 Anker cable has built-in Micro-USB, USB-C, and Lightning connectors


For those who just can’t commit to a device.

anker-3-in-1-ti1.jpg?itok=yn6Gnj75

You can never have too many charging cables, especially when they come with three different charging connectors. Right now, you can pick up Anker’s PowerLine II 3-in-1 cable for just $11.24 when you checkout using coupon code ANKER436. It normally sells for around $15, and this is the first time the cable has been discounted since its release just a few weeks ago.

The cable itself has a Micro-USB connection built into the end of it, and then there are adapters for USB-C and Lightning ports. The adapters are connected to the cable so you don’t have to worry about misplacing them. It offers max speeds of 2.4A on the Micro-USB and Lightning chargers and 3A on the USB-C. It’s MFi-certified, which means Apple has approved it to charge and sync your iPhone and iPad.

Anker is so confident that you’ll love this cable and won’t have issues with it that the company is backing it with a hassle-free lifetime warranty. These are handy to have around since not everyone uses the same devices these days. Be sure to grab a few of these to have in your car, home, travel bag, and more today.

See at Amazon

23
Jul

Suzy Cube review: An Android platformer that beats Mario at his own game


suzy-cube-review-hero.jpg?itok=aJPev5um

The best $4 you’ll ever spend in the Play Store.

Suzy Cube is a brilliant new 3D platformer developed by indie game studio NorthernBytes Software and published by Noodlecake Studios. It’s a charming premium title that manages to cram all the fun and charm of a Nintendo-style platformer onto your phone with little to no compromise. Goodbye Mario, hello Suzy Cube!

Download: Suzy Cube ($3.99)

Before I get into the full written review, check out this brief video of live gameplay and commentary I recorded using the YouTube Gaming app:

A polished platforming experience

suzy-cube-screens-03.jpg?itok=HZ5oBbRR

Suzy Cube has been in development by for over three years as a passion project by indie game developer Louis-Nicolas Dozois. It’s been featured at gaming conventions throughout its development and regularly garnered praise from those who had a chance to play it.

Dozois partnered with Noodlecake Studios to help with publishing and you can see their subtle touches to the clean menu design and polished presentation, but it’s the gameplay itself that really shines through. It can be really hard to develop a proper 3D platformer for touchscreen devices because there’s so much that can go wrong. Touch controls are a constant point of criticism for ambitious 3D mobile games, and a game can be completely derailed by a poorly implemented camera angle or boring level designs.

suzy-cube-screens-05.jpg?itok=MqbqrU_P

In my mind, there’s a short list of qualities that must be present in any great 3D platformer. They are:

  • Solid controls that are quick and responsive.
  • Levels offer new challenges and gameplay variety as you progress.
  • A dynamic camera that never feels out of position or cumbersome as you play.

Suzy Cube manages to come through on all three points in stride, which is especially impressive given the limitations of developing for touchscreen devices. When it comes to mobile gaming, Suzy Cube might be the new gold standard for touch controls — they simply need to be experienced to be believed. If touchscreen controls just aren’t your thing, there’s Bluetooth controller support which is fantastic as always.

Solid touchscreen controls are essential for a 3D platformer on phones, and this one succeeds.

Coupled with the superb controls is an in-game camera that tracks your character as you play without the player having to struggle with it at all. The player has no control over the camera, so it needs to match the player’s flow and it rarely fails except for a few auto-scrolling levels where that’s by design. Several levels in Suzy Cube include segments where the player’s perspective totally shifts, and it works so well because you never doubt the controls and the camera is quick to adapt — whether you’re sprinting up a spiral mountain or exploring the depths of an underground labyrinth.

Suzy Cube’s great controls allow for more advanced level designs, which you’ll experience as you progress through the game. Each level feels unique from the last and the complexity of the challenges gradually increases as you play. Rather than fighting against the controls or camera to stay on course, you’re left to enjoy the gameplay itself and the variety of set pieces and level styles presented.

Lacking enemy variety

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Perhaps the only weaknesses are in the variety of the bad guys and the storyline, which are both simple and mostly feel like an afterthought. Stomping on the little cube baddies is fun, but there’s very little variety among them and you will quickly forget that they are supposedly the main bad guys who stole your kingdom’s gold.

The game is amazing, but the enemy options could be better.

Then there the boss battles, which are five differently colored dragons that share the same design, attack patterns, and weaknesses. It’s not a huge knock on Suzy Cube that each world features essentially same boss battle with just minor tweaks because each offers its own slight attack variation and I would expect that there are some limitations for an indie title like this. Fortunately, it’s a fun sequence that get’s downright diabolical by World 5.

Reasons to play again

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Suzy Cube features six levels in each world and a secret world that includes an additional 10 levels that are only unlocked by collecting all the stars in Worlds 1-5. That means you’re going to be playing each level multiple times to unlock all the content in the game.

For some games that can be an exhaustive exercise, but Suzy Cube is such a joy to play that I have just as much fun going back and trying to track down the more tricky hidden stars as I did playing it through the first time. Everything is also kept to a strict timer, so I could see myself trying to do level speed runs and finding new and faster ways of cutting through a level.

Final thoughts

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Suzy Cube was developed as a passion project and it’s clear as you’re playing all the care and attention to detail that went into making this one of the best games released for Android this year.

Here’s hoping that we get a sequel that follows up with the same great gameplay and controls because the bedrock has been set for a new franchise for a genre that has been largely maligned on mobile.

Download: Suzy Cube ($3.99)

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