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2 weeks ago

Games are having performance problems in PlayStation 4 Pro

Your PlayStation 4 Pro isn't operating at 100% yet.

It looks like Sony's latest console isn't exactly living up to its name yet. The PlayStation 4 Pro is supposed to be all about delivering the best possible gaming experience for those who have upgraded to a 4K television, as well as deliver a better PlayStation VR experience. If you go check out a PlayStation 4 Pro demo, you'll be shown some great examples of how this console can perform under ideal situations, but now that people have them in homes and are actually playing the "enhanced" games, it looks like Sony missed their mark on a few titles.

In some cases, performance actually dips below what the original PlayStation 4 and the new slim PlayStation 4 are capable of. Here's what you need to know!

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 weeks ago

Samsung's Black Friday deals start Nov 20: Gear S3, SD cards and more on sale

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Samsung's Black Friday deals are (almost) here.

Black Friday just starts earlier and earlier every year, and as is now the norm Samsung is pre-announcing its deals before the sale even starts. Over at its Black Friday deals page, you'll find an incredible number of deals across mobile, home entertainment, appliances, accessories and more.

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2 weeks ago

This $15 accessory will transform the look of your Amazon Dot

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Accessorize your Echo Dot to fit the decor of every room in your house!

The Amazon Echo Dot allows you to access the power of Amazon's voice-controlled A.I. assistant Alexa from wherever you are in the room, with all that tech crammed into a package about the size of a hockey puck. And if you end up opting for the black color option, it'll really look like there's a hockey puck sitting on your end table. Or your kitchen counter. Or wherever you end up placing them around your house.

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2 weeks ago

Best free apps for Google Daydream

It's time to take phone based VR experiences to the next level with Google Daydream.

Google Daydream has arrived, bringing a slew of terrific apps with it. There are a fair few to pick from and try out, but you may already recognize a few from PlayStation VR and Gear VR.

If you don't have the time to try all of them out, don't worry! We've collected the best free apps on Google Daydream for you.

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 weeks ago

ZTE Axon 7 Mini review: Smaller, but not as quick

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A shiny little smartphone package that's almost a better deal than its sibling.

Remember small phones? The kind that easily fit into your pocket, a small clutch purse, or even your car's cup holder? Compact devices are making a comeback and ZTE is one of those companies that's latching on to the trend.

The Axon 7 Mini is indeed a shrunken-down version of its larger, 5.5-inch counterpart, the Axon 7 — and that's precisely what makes it such a good deal. You're getting the same svelte, aluminum unibody hardware, in addition to stereo speakers, solid mid-range specifications, and a camera that's pretty decent in favorable lighting conditions for $100 less than its older sibling. But the Axon 7 Mini would have been a better deal if its software didn't require so much editing.

The bottom line

The ZTE Axon 7 Mini is a capable, compact little package that's a worthy consideration at its $300 starting price point. But be forewarned that its software could become a force to reckon with over time.

The Good

  • Solid, stylish build
  • Packs more into its pricepoint than other manufactuters
  • It's a small phone!

The Bad

  • Software is packed with gimmicks galore
  • Camera struggles in low light environments
  • Not all apps will play nice with its mid-range processor
Width Height Thickness 5.81
147.5 mm
2.80 in
71mm
0.31 in
7.8mm
  • Display:
    • 5.2-inch Full HD
    • AMOLED Display
    • 1080x1920 resolution (423ppi)
  • Camera:
    • 16MP, ƒ/1.9 lens, PDAF
    • 8MP front camera, ƒ/2.2 lens, 1080p
  • Battery:
    • 2705 mAh capacity
    • Quick Charge 2.0
  • Chips:
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor
    • Octa-core 1.5GHz
    • 3GB RAM
    • 32GB internal storage
    • microSD slot with adoptable storage

About this review

I (Florence Ion) am reviewing the ZTE Axon 7 Mini after spending a week with it on AT&T's network in the San Francisco Bay Area. The phone is running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow under ZTE's MiFavor UI 4.0. It did not receive software updates during my testing period.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini Hardware

One of the biggest complaints I hear is that smartphones these days are "just too big." That's all gradually changing, however, as more manufacturers concede to the fact that consumers like to have a choice. In this case, you can choose between ZTE's larger, supercharged Axon 7 smartphone, or the similarly-styled, mid-range Axon 7 Mini that's a bit more pocketable.

The Axon 7 Mini's aluminum gold chassis is hot. It's striking. And the Mini's futurustic style makes you feel like you're carrying a device worth more than its price tag. The Mini's patterned and perforated speaker grilles also give it a cool edge and you'll notice that each speaker feels velvety to the touch. It's a nice contrast against the device's smooth back plate. And if you're just not that keen on gold, the Axon 7 Mini comes in silver, too.

One bummer of wielding a smaller device is that you're oftentimes compromising on the display size, but not so with the Axon 7 Mini. ZTE clearly whittled down as much as it could of the chassis around the Mini's 5.2-inch 1080p AMOLED display. There's almost no bezel on either side.

Using this phone gave me nostalgia for the smaller phones I used to wield simply because the Axon 7 Mini is easier to accommodate. I don't usually have this much luck with the Pixel XL, for instance; I have to choose a bag very carefully to accommodate its extra bulk, and I'm usually doing finger acrobatics to hold on to it, my car keys, and my wallet at the same time. By contrast, the Axon 7 Mini can be operated one-handed, and you won't feel like you're reaching across a scorching desert as you're extending an index finger along the back of the phone towards the rear-facing fingerprint sensor.

The Axon 7 Mini can be operated one-handed, and you won't feel like you're reaching across a scorching desert to access its fingerprint sensor.

The Axon 7 Mini makes me a little nervous with its protruding optics. I don't mind the center placement of the lens, but having it stick out so much that even the clear plastic case included in its box doesn't shield it makes it seem as if this were an overlooked design decision. I like the lens to be flat on the backside so that when you put on a case, there's a bit of buffer between the ground and the camera.

Casual games like Lumines run fine on the device's mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor and 3GB of RAM. But expect to encounter the occasional slow down. I experienced a few of my own with apps like Snapchat and Hulu. There were also a few instances where apps like PCMark crashed seemingly for no apparent reason. I'll be curious to see what ZTE's MiFavor UI 4.0 runs like six months from now, which is typically when systems start to exhibit slowdown. For now, expect relatively speedy performance as long as you're limiting your usage to two tasks at a time.

I'll be curious to see what ZTE's MiFavor UI 4.0 runs like six months from now.

Lastly, everyone's favorite topic: Battery life. I kept the Axon 7 Mini for about three days on standby and it reminded me of one of those demon-possessed porcelain dolls — it just wouldn't die! The Mini told a different story under duress, however. I left it on overnight for a PCMark battery rundown benchmark and its 2705 mAh battery lasted just under five hours with the screen set to 200 nits. It's the best battery performance we've seen in a while from a phone this price. ZTE also includes a QuickCharge 2.0 charger in the box. In my testing, it managed to replenish close to 40 percent in about 45 minutes. It's not as fast as what some flagships offer with QuickCharge 3.0, but ZTE had to cut costs somewhere.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini Software

ZTE's interpretation of Android is the second-least offensive of the Chinese OEMs. MiFavor UI 4.0 retains the app drawer and sports Marshmallow's icon style, but it's not nearly the same experience as using a phone built by a Google. Its extra features are polarizing, too. For instance, while I appreciate the ability to review a screenshot before saving it, I absolutely abhor the little arrow that lives the navigation bar — this exists solely so that you can hide it if the app you're using won't hide it for you, but it was more of a nuisance than a helping hand.

There's also the Mi-Pop virtual navigation keys, which act like a chat head and don't disappear when you're playing a game. They're exhausting to learn to use and frankly not needed considering the Axon 7 Mini's compact screen size.

app drawerHome screen.Notification shade.Silly voice commands.

MiFavor UI is not a bad rendition of Android, but I wish ZTE would have taken a hint from the OnePlus method.

And then there are the experimental features, like the app that lets you control the Axon 7 Mini with just your voice. It's not the best feature addition, considering it barely works half the time, and you're better off just using Google Now.

MiFavor UI is not a bad rendition of Android. But I wish that ZTE would have taken a hint from the OnePlus method. At the very least, MiFavor UI is much more palatable than Huawei's EMUI.

axon 7 mini rear view

ZTE Axon 7 Mini Cameras

The Axon 7 Mini is equipped with a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera. It boasts an aperture of f/1.9, digital image stabilization, touch to focus, face detection, and instant exposure control, which shows up as a slider option in the viewfinder. Basically the same specs as its larger counterpart.

The Mini's camera is not always particularly fast. I went for a walk with just the phone in my hand to snap photos of the sunset and while I liked the color composition of the photos I captured, I was saddened when I got home and realized that many of the snaps were either blurry or out of the focus. That lack of optical image stabilization can be a bit of a bummer in varying light conditions. Any of the photos that were in focus weren't particularly sharp, either.

The Axon 7 Mini is also quite sensitive to lighting, which is why it's so prone to producing blurry photos. If you use the tap-to-focus functionality, the photo will tend to expose to the area you've tapped rather than the entire scene. As exhibited in the first photo in the gallery below, this can be problematic in outdoor environments.

If you look at the last picture in the gallery above, you'll see I shot the last photo with one of the Axon 7 Mini's extra camera features, referred to as "Super Night Mode." It's helpful, but there's a bit of a learning curve. I would have appreciated if Super Night Mode popped up with an alert, for instance, to consider using a tripod so that I could take better night shots. Instead, I came out with a blurry photo. The rest of the Axon 7 Mini's extra camera features would also benefit from this kind handholding, if only to get new users into the groove.

On the plus side, the Axon 7 Mini's manual mode is pretty robust. It has all the same controls as Samsung and LG's flagships and you can set the shutter open for up to seven seconds. However, there is no ability to shoot in RAW, so don't expect to become a professional smartphone photographer with this kit in hand.

The Axon 7 Mini is pretty decent at video stabilization. The only shakiness I experienced was from my own terrible camera work. Regardless, while the Mini doesn't record as smoothly as the Google Pixel, it's substantial enough for pointing-and-recording. I also appreciated that I didn't have to touch the screen to maintain focus while recording, though you will notice a bit of blur in between scenes as the Mini constantly attempts to adjust the focus, especially in low-light environments.

I am feeling this selfie cam.

As for selfies, you'll do fine with the Axon 7 Mini in your hand. Its 8-megapixel front-facing camera is capable in well-lit environments, and its f/2.2 aperture ensures that you can still snap a headshot when the lights are down low. I also appreciate that ZTE's beautify mode isn't as alien-like as LG and Samsung's.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini Odds and Ends

For a smaller smartphone starting at $300, the Axon 7 Mini is pretty well-equipped. In addition to the features covered here, the Mini also has an expansion slot for a microSD card that doubles as a SIM tray for when you're overseas. Additionally, it sports a USB Type-C port, which is quickly becoming the standard for Android devices across the board. There's also a generous 32GB of storage inside, which is double what you normally find in a phone this price.

ZTE has bundled in a plethora of audio features, including a chip for Hi-Fi Recording, as well as dual noise-suppression microphones. Its Dolby-made dual speakers are also pretty impressive for jamming out to Spotify tunes, though you'll quickly hear its limitations the louder you go.

Should you Buy it? Sure

The Axon 7 Mini made an impression not because of its smaller size, but because of how much polish ZTE put into it. You'll sense it the minute you take it out of its box. Inside, it's nestled neatly by ample padding, protected as if it were a high-end flagship device. The trick is that even though it looks like one and boasts some of the same features, it doesn't nearly cost as much. At $300, you're getting a mix of high-end features paired with mid-range specifications in a stylish, compact little package. If you're looking for a deal, the Axon 7 Mini is it.

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

Get a lifetime of 1TB cloud backup from Zoolz for just $39

Our current, tech-obsessed world demands a storage solution for your multimedia data, the most convenient being cloud-based storage which you can access from anywhere. Most cloud-based storage services charge a monthly fee, which, over time, adds up to quite a fee.

Those of you sick of subscription fees need a storage solution that requires a single payment for a lifetime of access. More importantly, you need cloud storage that is encrypted and can be accessed from all your devices.

Lifetime Cloud Storage for $39 Learn more

Right now, Android Central Digital Offers has a deal on 1TB of cloud storage from Zoolz — a single payment of $39 gives you lifetime access. Does this seem cheap? It is! This is 98% off the regular price of $3600.

You will never be charged any extra fees, and you can access your cloud storage from multiple devices. Your data is protected with 256-AES encryption to better safeguard your stuff, and you can schedule backups and throttle bandwidth during uploads. Place files you know you won't soon need in cold storage — takes three to five hours to access — or place files you frequently need in standard storage that can be accessed instantly.

1TB of Lifetime Storage for $39 Learn more

Considering 1TB of storage from other popular services costs about $10 per month, this deal will pay for itself in four months, and you can keep using it forever. Even if you don't think you need it now, you probably will need it in the future. Don't miss this great opportunity to snag 1TB of cloud storage for only $39!

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2 weeks ago

5 reasons I keep coming back to Nova Launcher

88

I've used a lot of launchers over the years, but my first is still my favorite.

I was a Nova Launcher fan before I was an Android enthusiast, and the launcher has only gotten better over the years. Nova is a wonderful launcher for users at any level. Sure, I've spent my fair share of time on Action Launcher, Apex Launcher, and so many others trying to find what made my home screen the best it could be… and so far, the answer has been a resounding Nova. The benefits over other launchers can seem small, but in a launcher market that's as tight as this one, those small benefits can make a huge difference in the launcher that we've called one of the best things to happen to Android.

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2 weeks ago

Galaxy S8: Samsung reportedly considering pressure-sensitive display, because of course they are

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Galaxy S7 edge

But the technology isn't the hard part — developer support is.

Just like last year, the rumor mill is churning over the possibility of Samsung including a pressure-sensitive display (like Apple's 3D Touch) in its upcoming flagship phone. This time the source of the speculation is Korean outlet The Investor, which has been coughing up Galaxy S8 rumors for the past couple of weeks, citing "multiple industry sources."

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2 weeks ago

RAVPower's awesome portable power banks are as low as $20 right now!

3

Right now you can save big on RAVPower's portable power banks at Amazon, dropping the prices as low as just $20. There are a variety of capacities available to pick between, depending on your needs from the pack. With batteries starting at 12000mAh and going as high as 26800mAh, you'll easily be able to charge multiple devices on the go, and even several times at that. These small power banks have dual outputs so you can hook up two phones, a phone and a tablet, or any other combination of electronics that you need to charge.

This deal is only good for today, November 14, so don't miss out. Which capacity will you be picking up? Let us know in the comments which works best for you.

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

Do these 5 things when you get your Google Pixel

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You just got a Google Pixel, now it's time to get up and running the right way.

You've done your research, you've read the review and you've placed your order. Now your fresh new Google Pixel or Pixel XL is awaiting your setup and customization. Just like any new phone there's a lot to take in with the Pixels, and we're here to point you in the right direction so you can start things off the right way.

Here are the first things you should do with your new Google Pixel.

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3 weeks ago

Google Play Music update adds machine learning and a fresh new look

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Google Play Music update

Context awareness and AI smarts could help Google find more music that you'll love.

Google has just announced the biggest overhaul of its Play Music streaming service in years. On the face of it, Play Music has moved beyond the card-centric design of old, and now shows an interface built around album art, bright colors and vector graphics. Instead of shaded squares, graphics now expand to fill the entire window. (And there's a lot less orange going on, too.)

But aside from these superficial changes, the way Google recommends music for you is about to get a whole lot smarter, thanks to AI.

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3 weeks ago

Euro HTC 10 rumored for Nougat update in the next month

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Late November or early December launch, according to tipster.

This one's firmly a rumor for the moment, but it comes via a usually reliable source. Twitter's @LlabTooFeR, who has a solid track record with HTC leaks, says the European variant of the HTC 10, is looking like it'll get Android 7.0 Nougat around the end of November, or early December.

That's broadly in line with the Q4 2016 window given by HTC for unlocked models. As always, carrier variants will almost certainly take longer to receive the update — possibly slipping into early 2017.

We already got a look at HTC Sense + Android 7.0 in the Sprint-exclusive HTC Bolt, announced in the past week.

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3 weeks ago

Amazon Music Unlimited now available in the UK

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Prices start at £3.99 per month for playback on Amazon Echo; Prime members get a discount too.

Just a month after the service launched in the United States, Amazon Music Unlimited is available in the UK. As is standard for streaming services, Amazon gives you access to 40 million songs and curated playlists for £9.99 per month — with a bunch of discounts attached for customers already involved in the Amazon ecosystem.

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3 weeks ago

Samsung is buying audio maker Harman for $8 billion

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Samsung is making an aggressive push into the connected car space.

Samsung has announced that it is acquiring car audio maker Harman for $8 billion. The brand is best known for its consumer audio products sold under the Harman Kardon label, but Samsung is more interested in the Harman's automotive sales, which accounted for 65% of the company's overall revenue.

Harman's connected car solutions — including audio, embedded infotainment, telematics, connected safety and security systems — are estimated to be installed in over 30 million vehicles globally.

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3 weeks ago

Best Arcade Games for Android

Best arcade games for Android

Bring back all the nostalgic feels with these arcade classics for Android.

For all the great new games that are released on Android, sometimes you want to play something ... familiar. Maybe something a little retro that reminds you of those arcade days spent plugging quarters into standalone machines for hours on end.

You can relive those moments on your Android phone with these great arcade games available in the Google Play Store.

PinOut

PinOut is a brilliant reimagining of the classic pinball action we're all familiar with into an endless arcade format, created by the award-winning developers behind Smash Hit. The game features sharp, futuristic graphics and smooth controls as it pits you in a race against the clock to see how far you can make it on one ball.

Unlike other pinball games that give you a set number of balls and have you focused on racking up combos and bonuses by strategically hitting bumpers and other features on the table, PinOut instead offers an infinite race against the clock on a seemingly neverending table. Tap to use the left and right flippers and strategically work the ball up through rails and onto the next section. Some rails feature a trail of dots which add time to the countdown clock at the top, so you'll need to master your flipper control and focus on hitting the ball through the time bonus rails. If you fail to hit the ball and it falls between your flippers, the only penalty imposed is the time you waste getting the ball back up to where it once was. If the time runs out, it's game over.

PinOut is a free download from the Google Play Store, but you might want to spend $2.99 on the one-time upgrade to premium to unlock the ability to start from previous checkpoints you've reached.

Download: PinOut (free with in-app purchases)

PAC-MAN

PAC-MAN for Android

The quintessential arcade classic has been ported to Android over and over again, with a dozen of different twists on the tried and true gaming formula. But if you're looking for a pure Pac-Man experience, Bandai-Namco's free PAC-MAN app is everything you'll need.

In Classic Mode, you'll find everything looks and plays as you remember — minus the need for a stack of quarters. Once you've had your fill of the classic mazes, check out the collection of new mazes which add a new layer of strategy.

Tournament mode adds another layer of replay. Try and set the high score in regularly occurring tournaments against players from around the world.

PAC-MAN is a free download in the Google Play Store, and includes in-app purchases for different maze packs.

Download: PAC-MAN (free)

Galactic Nemesis

Galactic NemesisGalactic NemesisGalactic Nemesis

Galactic Nemesis is an updated version of arcade classics like Galaga and Galaxian for your Android phone. Blast your way through wave after wave of alien invaders, upgrading your ship as you go.

Controls are dead simple. Tap and drag your finger around the screen to move and shoot at the same time. Power-ups collect along the right side of the screen, so simply tap them when you need a little help. You get the first world for free but will have to pay $1.99 to unlock 3 other worlds. You'll also get 10 ships to unlock, over 50 in-game challenges, and no ads. With great pixel art, simple controls, and a winning gameplay formula, you can't go wrong with Galactic Nemesis if you're into classic arcade games.

Download: Galactic Nemesis (free with in-app purchases)

Metal Slug 3

Metal Slug 3 for AndroidMetal Slug 3 for Android

A classic run-and-gun arcade title, Metal Slug 3 has been perfectly ported over to the Google Play Store and is worth checking out if you're a fan of the original games or simply enjoy action arcade shooting games.

The Android version gives you multiple ways to play.There's a single player campaign, which you can play in classic Arcade Mode or Mission Mode, which allows you to play your favorite mission or practice a particularly tough mission.

If your friends have the game, you can connect up via Bluetooth and play co-op modes. Metal Slug is always more fun with friends, so the addition of wireless local multiplayer greatly enhances the replay value.

Download: Metal Slug 3 ($2.99)

R-Type

Fans of R-Type will enjoy how smooth this classic side-scrolling shoot-em-up game plays on Android. Man your ship and take down the alien invasion one level at a time.

The game lets you control your ship directly via touch or using an on-screen joystick (Bluetooth controller support would have been nice here) and has a toggle for autofire. We've found the touch control to be the best compromise for allowing full control for evading enemies without obstructing too much of the screen.

Having reliable controls is important because this game is as tough as you remember it being. With wave after wave of enemies, tough boss battles, and one-hit deaths, you're in for a real challenge with R-Type.

Download: R-Type ($1.99)

SoulCalibur

Soul Calibur for AndroidSoul Calibur for Android

We'd be remiss to have a list of best arcade games without at least one fighting game making the cut. This port of Soul Calibur is one of the nicest direct ports we've seen, featuring (thankfully) updated graphics from the 1998 original.

Beyond the classic Arcade Mode, there are multiple game modes to enjoy: Time Attack challenges you to beat all characters as fast as you can, Survival sees how far you can go in sudden-death battles, and Extreme Survival cranks things up to see how far you can go without being hit.

Before you click your heels and jump into the Google Play Store to get this one, here's the bad news: the price. At $13.99, this is priced more along the lines of a console download than a mobile offering. But this is essentially a full-fledged console game on your phone. This might be strictly for the hardcore SoulCalibur fans, but if you're looking for a quality fighting game for your Android device, SoulCalibur is as good as you'll find.

The only other downside besides the price is its lack of controller support; however, the virtual gamepad is surprisingly responsive and fully customizable.

Download: SoulCalibur ($13.99)

Pinball Arcade

Pinball Arcade for AndroidSoul Calibur for Android

For fans of pinball, nothing will quite replicate the experience of playing on a glass-top pinball cabinet. Pinball Arcade for Android might just be the next best thing, featuring 70 classic pinball tables.

Each table is faithfully reproduced with all original features and graphics in rather stunning 3D graphics.

You get the full Arabian Nights table for free and are able to play free versions of all of the other tables included in the game, but you must plop down some serious cash to get full access to the other tables, which are sold individually ($5-$9 per table) or as part of a Season Pack ($35-$42 per season pack).

These prices are going to be way too steep for most, but if you're a hardcore Pinball fan who collects pinball cabinets, you'll appreciate the ability to test and play classic tables for a fraction of the cost of owning one in real life.

Download: Pinball Arcade (free with in-app purchases)

Any arcade games we missed?

In our research, there were a number of games we seriously considered but dropped for one reason or another, including Atari's Greatest Hits (too many in-app purchases), Double Dragon Trilogy (game wouldn't load for us), and Crazy Taxi Classic (also wouldn't load). Let us know in the comments below if there are obvious ones we missed.

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