The next handheld gaming contender could come from Qualcomm and Razer.

Handheld gaming has re-emerged in recent years. In a sense, it is. Nintendo Switch And how he redefined handhelds as TV-connected consoles. In other words, it’s all because of the phone. While the coming of the switch and valve Steam deck Already looking for ways to take mobile console and PC games on the go, Qualcomm’s new dedicated mobile gaming chip, the Snapdragon G3x, is trying to do something different: gaming phones with large screens, high-performance, TV Build in dedicated game systems connected to. .

The ThinkPhone comes with the Nintendo Switch, which includes a dose of VR and AR compatibility.

Announced Wednesday, Qualcomm’s G3x chip, along with Adreno GPU and Qualcomm’s Kryo CPU, is a perfect fit for gaming on its premium mobile phone chips. The exact details of the gaming performance are still a bit vague, though: details of clock speed and chip were not provided. Qualcomm promises more consistent performance and higher frame rates on these processors, and emphasizes TV output with higher frame rates as an added benefit.

Qualcomm has already partnered with Razer to build a developer-focused handheld device using the chip, which will be used to accelerate the development of software and future hardware. Which means it’s about to be the most delusional time of the year, as well.

But everyone already has a phone in their pocket. Will they pay for another dedicated gaming device? Qualcomm thinks so, especially as a large-screen home console. It may not be a handheld like a small phone, but a larger screen, a switch-like device capable of streaming games.

It remains to be seen whether Qualcomm will succeed in doing so before others do, but the area being explored is entirely meaningful. Devices like the Nintendo Switch are great, but the phones lack the flexibility to connect to the app. Phones, meanwhile, often feel like they’re sometimes adorned with shoes for more modern games on smaller screens.

Qualcomm’s gaming platform “In a device like this, you will have a completely rock solid frame rate, you can move it forward. And you will have the same user experience, no matter how long you play it.” Micah Knopp, head of Qualcomm’s gaming platform, told CNET.

CNET had to test Razer’s developer kit for the platform that uses Qualcomm’s new chip. We also talked with Qualcomm and Razer executives about the features of the chip, what devices to expect and how these handhelds are quite different from premium Android phones.

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There are vents at the top and rear, and the handheld is definitely bigger than any phone.

Celso Bulgati / CNET

Big Body Gaming

Razer’s developer kit is not small: it seems. Valve Steam Deck Handheld PC, Or OLED switch. It’s chunky. The upper vents cool the gaming chip for better performance. It looks beautiful, and while it is still smaller than anything like a PS5 or a gaming laptop, the Razer handheld is longer. Phones with controller accessories like the backbone or razor’s own cache controller are just as long, but it’s definitely not something you can easily carry anywhere. Phones can at least be snatched from their game controllers.

The Razer Developer Kit includes a complete set of dual analog sticks, buttons, a D-pad, shoulder buttons and triggers. The display is a touch screen, but you can also use button mapping, as other phone game controllers do, to map mobile games to physical button controls. The battery on the handheld is 6,000 mAh, which is much larger than most phones.

The device, at least Razer’s G3x gaming platform prototype we saw, is designed for landscape mode gaming. While portrait mode allows vertical games to be played, the controller layout assumes a widescreen layout similar to a TV. It is also to take advantage of cloud and locally streaming games, which Qualcomm sees as a key use for its handhelds. Xbox Cloud GamingGeforce Now, Google Studio And there are already many other options for phones, tablets and laptops. An even greater interest in gaming handhelds is the condition of Qualcomm which can be connected to these other sources as well.

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Snapdragon G3x’s biggest advantage seems to be its ability to connect to large screens, or to stream games from PCs or cloud services.

Celso Bulgati / CNET

Switch-like TV-connected gaming, and heptics

The built-in 6.6-inch 1080p OLED display on the Developer Kit runs at 120Hz, but the hardware can also play games on a 4K TV or monitor at 144 frames per second using a USB-C connection, which really sets it apart. Is. From phones, this is a TV-linked proposal that feels like an evolution of the platform that Nintendo Switch has been doing for years.

Even before the switch, Nvidia Shield tablets Also double as a TV-connected console. Razer dabbled with it, on the way back Razor Edge Gaming Tablet. Although Razer’s development kit looks more like a typical gaming handheld than a modular switch, Qualcomm’s Knapp acknowledges that more modular designs for the platform may work. At the very least, it will allow TV docs.

“During COVID, we expected that people who play mobile games would focus more on PCs and consoles. [they] Play, “says Knapp.” What we’ve seen them do is they want to talk to their TV, to take advantage of the big screen. It definitely opens up a possibility for people to take their favorite mobile and streaming experiences and dock them on TV. “

The G3x chip controller also supports Heptix, which Qualcomm promises can be more modern and game-specific than what is available on phones. This alone can be a standout.

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The camera sits right in the middle, more like a laptop than a phone.

Celso Bulgati / CNET

5G, Wi-Fi 6 and a different camera setup

The G3x chip supports mmWave and sub-6 variants of 5G and Wi-Fi 6E, giving the impression that the hardware has been improved to run faster in well-connected areas. But the G3x chip platform is not like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon phone chips, and does not have the same optimization for high-end phone use. According to Qualcomm’s Knapp, it is not designed to take advantage of modern cameras, but the developer device has a top-mounted 1080p camera for streaming while gaming, which is centered on the upper edge so the selfie angles will not look strange. ۔

The G3x gaming platform is designed to run Android, so handhelds can still theoretically run many apps in addition to games. But something as big and weird as these dedicated handhelds would suggest that most vertically oriented phone apps would be a weird fit.

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Built in heptic support chip for controllers and triggers.

Celso Bulgati / CNET

AR, VR capable

One of the most interesting features of this gaming chip is that it will allow VR and AR peripherals, which no other gaming handheld currently does. Qualcomm currently powers almost all stand-alone VR headsets and AR glasses, such as Oculus Quest 2, Through its processors, and the company intends to introduce a new wave. Glass attached to the phone And software in 2022.

It’s not clear what kind of headset can work with the G3x chip, but it’s similar to the VR and AR lenses promised for the phone. On handheld, the possibilities become a bit more interesting. This could theoretically allow you to view a large virtual monitor on your glass, or use a handheld device as processing power for future gaming headset console hybrids. It may currently allow only VR devices such as Oculus Quest to be developed in systems that can also work with handhelds that are connected to an attached screen.

Price? Probably not cheap.

I asked if these G3x devices are meant to be cheaper than premium phones, and got no clear answer.

“There are some expectations for lower price points, but based on the user experience, there are some expectations for higher prices,” Knapp says. How to determine Not surprisingly, KNEP suggested that as far as manufacturers are concerned, there would be a possible spectrum: “We don’t want to limit them and what they make, and what they charge.”

Advanced phones can cost over $ 1,000. They also do gaming PCs. Game consoles cost a lot less. It remains to be seen how powerful, and how versatile, Qualcomm’s gaming handhelds are. Phones and PCs do more than just gamble. But while both Sony and Microsoft aren’t building handheld game systems, the Nintendo Switch platform is getting old, and Valve’s SteamDack still has to prove itself, Qualcomm’s vision is another potential path to the future. Mobile game consoles can be made.

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