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There was a time when all the main gaming you did was played out on a console or a PC, but how times have changed. In line with virtually everything technological, people are now generally looking for a "one device does everything" approach to play in order to enjoy everything from movies and social media to bingo online. This, along with ever more available wireless go-anywhere connectivity, means that smartphones are now becoming many people's first choice for gaming.


The manufacturers are well aware of this fact and are incorporating more and more gamer-friendly features into each new generation of phones. So here are five to get your fingers twitching in anticipation of their 2017 launches.


Apple iPhone 7S



Hard to believe it, but 2017 sees the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and what a long way it's come since its launch. Traditionally Apple make all their big product launches in September and there's no reason why next year should be any different, Rumours are already rife that the 7S may have an OLED screen giving extra-sharp picture quality as well as the phone featuring wireless charging. What will definitely be included are the revolutionary wireless headphones that are great for gaming.


Xiaomi Mi Mix



Due out from January the Xiaomi Mi Mix is proof, as if it was needed, that some of the lesser-known manufacturers have some big surprises up their sleeves. Most notable on this phone will be the big, edgeless screen which comprised over 93% of the total phone size and which promises crystal-clear images. This is married to a super-fast processer and up to 6GB of RAM. For fantastic sound there's also going to be the very technical sounding "cantilever piezoelectric ceramic acoustic technology".


HTC 11



Their preceding model, the HTC 10, was widely agreed to be the model that really put the maker back on the map and the 11 is likely to be an improvement even on this model, due out in April. Sound is likely to include the successful Boomsound speakers and a fast Snapdragon 830 processor will be able to deal with all the gaming action that you need. They're also likely to increase the screen size from 5.2" up to 5.5" and up the battery power which will mean less frequent need for e-charging.


LG G6



The end of February should see the launch of the G6. It's expected to have a glass front and rear. Of particular interest to gamers are the plans to improve the processor to prepare it for Virtual Reality applications. Wireless charging is also likely to feature as well as an innovative iris-scanning technology to help keep the phone safe from unauthorised use.


Samsung Galaxy 8



Following the disastrous and costly launch of the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung have a lot riding on the 8. They've got till August to get it right and when it is launched we're expecting to have a phone with a large 5.7" screen and a powerful processor ready for VR gaming. Waterproofing is almost certain too - ideal if you're a fan of gaming in the bath.


So of all the phones it's inevitable that the most noise will be made about Apple's - but that doesn't mean it's necessarily the only one for gaming. So maybe look to the Xiaomi if you want the biggest, and best, surprises. 

14 November, 2016 Gaming

"Samsung Galaxy S7 edge" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Răzvan Băltărețu


The popular image of mobile gaming is one of commuters playing Candy Crush and similar throwaway titles but developers like Apple, Samsung, and Google are engaged in a perpetual game of one-upmanship, meaning that devices are getting faster with every new iteration of the iPhone or S-series Galaxy.


The mobile arena in 2016 isn't too dissimilar to the one occupied by consoles and PCs - specs are everything and arguing about them is a viable hobby in select corners of the internet. It's perhaps no surprise that AAA games like Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Dead Space, XCOM, and FIFA have all made their way to mobile in recent years.


However, mobile gaming is much more than console ports and match-three titles. The iGaming sector in particular has long had a foothold on Android and Apple devices, inclusive of games like bingo, poker, blackjack, and slot machines. It's not hard to see why; iGaming is growing by 11% a year worldwide and ad-revenue on casino apps outstrips that of apps in other genres.


With that in mind, mobile devices can be a paradise of pick-up-and-play action. The variety of different William Hill Bingo casino games are a good example, with 75, 80 and 90 ball games on a range of different themes. Playing bingo on the go can also net players incentives like jackpots and loyalty points.


With 2016 winding down, and most of the year's new devices already on the market, here are some of the best mobile devices for playing bingo on the bus:


Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge


Let's get straight to the point. Samsung's flagship smartphone is (probably) the best device you can buy right now. It boasts 4GB of RAM, a Qualcomm Adreno 530 GPU, and the Snapdragon 820 processor. The Edge also has 64GB of storage, a 5.5-inch AMOLED screen, and a Game Launcher app to optimize your device for games.


As you might expect, it also supports the Samsung Gear Virtual Reality headset. It's not the sharpest device in the world (and the current game library leaves a lot to be desired) but it's an order of magnitude cheaper than the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. At $650-750 for both Samsung devices though, it's a big investment.



"Huawei Nexus 6P" (CC BY 2.0) by Janitors


Nexus 6P


Forget about Google's Pixel XL, the older Nexus 6P is still a fantastic device. It's also about $125 less expensive than the S7 Edge yet features comparable hardware, like the Snapdragon 810 processor. It falls down a little on the graphics-processing unit (Adreno 430) and RAM (3GB) but it has a larger 5.7-inch AMOLED screen.


The Nexus 6P also has VR capabilities through Google Daydream, the successor to Google Cardboard and arguably the one device in the VR market that bridges the gap between functionality and affordability. However, the 6P is on the large side of things and, while that might make it great for gaming, it's not the most comfortable thing to have in your pocket.


OnePlus X


If price is your chief concern when buying a smartphone, the OnePlusX is a budget device that doesn't compromise too heavily on hardware. It's just over a year old now and offers a quad-core Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.3GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU, and 3GB of RAM. It's also available for less than $250.



As a ‘mini' alternative to the OnePlus 2, it has a smaller AMOLED screen than the Nexus, Edge, and the more expensive OnePlus models. It's also the least powerful device on this list but, at more than half the price of the Edge, it's definitely worth checking out if you're a gamer on a budget.


If you're still not convinced, there's also the HTC 10 and Moto Z Play, both of which offer a good experience for Android gamers.


It's time to start writing that Christmas list.

1 November, 2016 Gaming


Poker is one of the simplest games to play. As long as you've got a pack of cards, a couple of other players and something to use as poker chips, there are few games as easy and quick to learn. But there are going to be occasions when you don't have any of those three essential things, and that's where mobile poker steps in to save the day. While the social aspect of live poker games is undoubtedly fun, the truth is there is a host of benefits to playing poker online rather than live. And with smartphones now better equipped than ever for gaming and allowing us to access all sorts of games from wherever we are, if you're a poker fan who hasn't explored the mobile world, you're really missing out. 


Here are some of the biggest benefits of playing poker on the go.


Accessibility


Perhaps the most obvious benefit of mobile gaming as a whole is accessibility. This is certainly the case when it comes to mobile poker. While some will be fans of the number of games on offer from mobile poker sites and apps or the expert poker strategy tips available, being able to pick up a phone and access a number of tables within seconds is what really sets mobile poker apart from the way people have traditionally played the game. And if you want to change games or move to another table, this can be done almost instantly, as can accessing your winnings and making a withdrawal - no more waiting to cash in your chips and then having to pay them into your bank.


"poker" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by dangoodwin


Options


We all like options, whether it comes to consumer items such as phones and cars or entertainment like TV series and games. This is the same with mobile poker: from the cost to buy into a game to the type of poker being played, gambling on the go gives you plenty of options. Whether you're looking to enter into a tournament or just join a sit-and-go table, play Texas Hold'em or Omaha, with mobile poker you can take your pick from the same range of games as you'd get on your desktop. There is also the option of playing with real money or practising with play money, which allows you to get confident with a game before committing real cash to it.

via GIPHY


Security


While in the early days of mobile poker, some may have questioned the safety and security involved, making a transaction with the most established mobile poker sites is now viewed as being more secure than ordering a pizza or paying for petrol. Utilising sophisticated RSA public/private key encryption technology helps ensure sensitive data is transferred securely over the internet, with all card details stored on the cloud by the most cutting-edge firewall system. From making deposits to placing bets and ultimately withdrawing winnings, the whole process is both simple and secure with mobile poker - giving you peace of mind when playing a hand while waiting for the bus.


"System Lock" (CC BY 2.0) by Yu. Samoilov

 



If you are looking to experiment with the hundreds of thousands of great video games that are available on the Google Play Store, you'll need a device to access them. The great thing about android is that they have a different group of manufacturers, meaning they also a vast range of phones and other devices to choose from. This means that you don't need to purchase the top of the range devices as some other phones, further down the pricing scale, offer a truly exceptional gaming experience.


But which Android mobile phone or portable handheld Android game console is right for you?


Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge



With the latest Snapdragon 820 processor, the Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB of RAM, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is one of the most powerful smartphones on the market. It is more than capable of not just playing the most up to date games, but plays them like a breeze too. Released in 2016, it looks fab, especially with the curved edge, which doesn't add a great deal to be honest, but gives it a classy finish. The games run as smoothly as needed, without lagging, and is what they call, future-proof, guaranteeing two years of top-level performance. This means that this awesome Samsung will be able to cope with any of the top games due for release in the future.


NVIDIA SHIELD Portable and Tablet



The NVIDIA SHIELD Portable is the best purpose built handheld Android game console on the market right now. It looks and feels great on the outside, while on the inside, it is powered by a NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor which helps power the stunning 5-inch HD LCD display. On this device, you will be able to stream PC games and play the Android games of your choosing. Running on Android KitKat, it is a fantastic machine and was only a matter of time before the market demanded it.


HTC 10



HTC's new flagship phone, the 10, is something of a return to form for the Taiwanese brand, who went unnecessarily quiet in 2015, following weirdly low sales for what was actually a very good phone, the M9. Anyway, here they are again and the 10 is worth the wait. It's a beautiful phone, and contains specs allowing it to compete with the Galaxy S7 range. Powered by Snapdragon 820 and Adreno 530 GPU, the phone kindly gives up 4 GB of RAM (as does the Galaxy). Visually, the games will look the part thanks to the LCD 5 technology and is a wise, but pricey, choice.


Nexus 6P



While we have listed the S7 Edge as the best on the market, this number represents the best value. The powerful hardware in the Nexus 6P, machinery like Snapdragon 810 processor and Adreno 430 GPU, shouldn't be available at this price but, hey, that's android for you. This brilliant little gem is capable of competing with the Samsung and HTC flagships for almost half the price. The Nexus 6P looks stunning and, with 3 GB of RAM and a 5.7-inch AMOLED screen, gives a performance fit enough for even the most discerning consumer.


Why Android is Best


We wholeheartedly commit to the idea that Android devices are superior to iOS devices not just because of their ability, but also because of the little extras you get with the Google system. Extras like freemium games and range of manufacturers which leads to greater, competitive market place. This is especially effective for games and gamers.


If you do like real money online casinos, then you will have to navigate over to the homepage of the site you wish to use before downloading the app directly from them, as opposed to downloading straight from the Play Market. This minor convenience aside, you can enjoy all your favourites like blackjack and slots. These, and others, are available at all casinos for Android users. Slots are the most popular of all online and live casino games, beating off competition from games like poker, roulette and others.


There are so many games, most of which are free to play, and range from all manner of different genres. These could be tower games, strategy games, life sims, action games, racing titles, just about anything you fancy. If real money gambling is more your thing, then any of the devices listed here will suit your needs. Even most of the Android machines not listed, should do the trick.


"Little android figurines" (CC BY 2.0) by Family O'Abé


While Pokémon Go might have added a new risk factor to online gaming - physical injury - app store safety traditionally revolves around viruses, micro-transactions, and adware. Here are three quick tips for stress-free gaming this autumn.


1. Stay Away from Third Party Stores


Here's a strange fact about smartphones: mobile malware is a growth industry. In the twelve months between 2014 and 2015, the number of malicious programs attacking smartphones jumped nearly 200%. However, the number of viruses, worms, and other nasties hidden in the Play and App stores remained close to zero.


So, how does malware get onto mobile phones in the first place? Viruses and their ilk are a non-issue for the majority of smartphone users; the threat only arises when people try to download apps from third party stores, especially those physically located in the Middle East. In some places, your infection rate can be as high as 1 in 3.


A good example occurred shortly before the release of Pokémon Go, when a malware-infested app called Guide for Pokémon Go appeared on third-party app stores. It was downloaded half a million times before anybody noticed that it was up to no good.


Apple and Google's vetting systems aren't infallible - there's at least one story of an app with no functionality at all becoming a five-star app on the Play Store - but at least the odds aren't stacked against you in the official stores.


2. Permissions are Everything


You might not have realised but every app on your phone has your explicit permission to do certain things. For example, Facebook and Instagram can both access your camera; Pokémon Go can find out your precise location, and Gmail can view your phone's calendar. Apps need these permissions to function.


However, you should always try to ‘connect the dots' before giving a new app VIP access to your phone. For example, Facebook needs to ‘talk' to your camera every time you try to take a photograph from within the app and Pokémon Go uses your location to determine your proximity to monsters; that makes sense. Ask yourself if that calculator app you've just downloaded really needs access to your text messages.


You should also be wary of imposter apps, especially anti-virus tools (Symantec has removed fake ‘Norton Anti-virus' apps from the Play Store in the past), as these can be used by criminals to scam you. Using the above example of the calculator app - a favourite trick is to send thousands of automatic text messages to premium rate numbers, landing you with the bill.


3. Take Care with Online Gaming Apps


Having access to casino games on the go is one of the benefits of smartphone gaming but it's important to find a trustworthy operator, especially if you intend to play cash games. Closing the app and visiting the company's website with your browser is an easy way to determine the legitimacy of a gambling firm, as most casinos have their credentials on the homepage. The Betway app, for example, is regulated by the Belgian Gaming Commission, as well as other bodies such as the European Sports Security Association.


The same goes for apps with micro-transactions. Reports indicate that micro-transactions - small payments for extra lives, in-game currency, or other luxuries - make up 79% of all mobile developer income. They're an easy way to make money from otherwise ‘free' apps and they're not going away.


Ensure that all payments you make on a mobile platform go through the Play Store or the App Store, as the two companies have various safeguards in place to prevent fraud, and you may be able to get a refund if the app doesn't work as expected or somebody else uses your account to buy things. Apple and Google won't share your payment details with the company who created the app.


One final point - you can learn a lot about a mobile game, from compatibility and user experience to the number of micro-transactions, by reading the customer reviews on the two app stores before downloading the app to your phone. It sounds cynical but somebody else's bad luck might just save you from installing a fraudulent or malicious app.

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