The Future of LAN Cafés is Here

We popped up a LAN café across Singapore just to see if we could
ExperimentsOctober 11, 2019
As nostalgic as we are for the skreeee-wwhrreeee-bee-boop-bee-boop-doinggg-doinggg of OG dial-up Internet, even the most die-hard of us must admit that the days of old-school LAN gaming are gone. One thing we all agree on – it was the company that made LAN cafés great. So can we replicate that feeling on a good old smartphone? With a couple of slick Huawei Nova 5T devices in hand, we took to the streets with our very own pop-up LAN café to find out.

When we first moved on from messy, dimly lit LAN cafes, we upgraded to… the messy, dimly lit confines of our own bedrooms. There were some improvements – the air-conditioning was considerably more stable and the toilets were nicer – but one thing we missed was our friends!

But nowadays, one doesn’t even need an actual computer to play “computer games”. All you need is a decent smartphone and you can game pretty much anywhere, any time. Hence our a-ha moment: could we replicate the joyous camaraderie that made LAN cafés so great… with smartphones?

Think about it – there are numerous life occasions that could be infinitely improved by the option of whipping out your phone and gaming as a group. Stuck in a boring conference? Run out of NS anecdotes to entertain your tablemates at a wedding dinner? A game is the perfect social lubricant. The best part: you can do it on the sly, without tipping off any of the wedding guests or conference attendees around you and your group.

For proof-of-concept, we tested our mobile LAN café theory at locations around Singapore – with the help of the gaming-optimised Huawei NOVA 5T, which has a world-first 7nm Mobile AI Kirin 980 chipset for super fast, seamless gaming. GLHF!


Life hack: make cramped, boring commutes where people step on your feet and breathe on your face feel a lot less endless by jio-ing your friends to join you at your personal mobile LAN café. We recommend thrilling shoot-em-up or battleground games like N.O.V.A. Legacy or PUBG Mobile that’ll help you work off some of the commute-related stress. Worried about battery life? The Nova 5T’s 3750mAh battery takes the edge off so you can game worry-free; but even if you drain your power, the phone’s 22.5W Super Charge capacity means you can easily recharge in a jiffy whenever you want.


Everyone knows the post-lunch bubble tea queue is for bitching about work and/or colleagues you hate, right? Nah. You never know who is listening, plus negativity is bad for your health. We have another outlet for you – complement your oncoming sugar rush with games that come with cutesy graphics like Yokai Dungeon and Bowmasters – which, we have to say, look extra good on the phone’s smooth 6.26″ All View display. Killing things + characters that make you go “aww!” is a winning combo for segueing back into your work day.


Recommended for all those occasions when you have a bit of time to kill, but don’t want to have to fork out money while you do so. Like when you’re a waiting for a movie, or when you already ate your meal and don’t know what else to do as a group. Parks are free, and so are many mobile games. For maximum immersion, we do recommend a phone with a decent speaker – with Virtual 9.1 Surround Sound, the Nova 5T was perfectly capable of drowning out ambient bird noise and dropping us right into the game.


Oftentimes the best part of going to a LAN café was the inevitable trip to a late-night kopitiam afterwards. After all, there’s no crushing in-game death that a plate of greasy mee goreng can’t fix. Since we’re all time-pressed adults now, all the better to combine both activities in one. Bonus: with your hands busy, you’ll be less willing to pick at the shared dishes sitting in the middle of the table and your waistline will thank you. If you have to reach out for the paiseh piece, the phone’s sleek dimensions actually make one-handed operation pretty convenient. Nubbad.


Here’s a thought – break the awkward silence of long Grab rides with an impromptu gaming sesh. Racing games like Asphalt 9: Legends are the obvious choice here because, duh. But also you can play them in short sessions, so if you reach your destination faster than expected, it’s less awkward to break the gameplay. While the fast-moving graphics of a high-speed car race might once have felt awkward on a mobile device, the Nova 5T’s processor handles this stuff ably. Nothing like speeding down a digital highway to make rush hour traffic vroom by.

Phones featured: the Huawei Nova 5T.
In collaboration with Huawei.

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