Qualcomm And Razor Attack Handheld Gaming

During the second day of the Snapdragon Tech Summit, Qualcomm announced a surprise entry into handheld gaming. While the company already offers mobile SoCs for gaming smartphones like the ASUS ROG phone, it is now setting its sights on the mobile console market that offers handheld controllers with displays, much like the Nintendo Switch and upcoming x86-based Valve Steam Deck platform. Qualcomm has developed a new SoC just for the platform called the Snapdragon G3x and has partnered with gaming accessory maker Razor to offer a hardware reference/software development platform that is essentially a handheld gaming console.

The platform is targeted at the fast-growing mobile gaming market, which Qualcomm estimated to be $90 to $120 Billion today. The platform will be able to run Android games directly on the device or it can stream games from PCs, game consoles, or the cloud. If this sounds familiar, it should. Nvidia offered a similar platform called Shield in 2013 with limited success. However, the technology, the games, and the market have changed significantly over the past few years. Most importantly, there are now more multi-platform game titles available.

Qualcomm partnered with Razor to build this development platform. The handheld console features a 6.65-inch, 120Hz, 4K, touchscreen, OLED display. In addition, it has active cooling using fans, a 6000mAh battery, a 1080p webcam for live casting, and connectivity through USB-C, Wi-Fi 6/6E, and 5G to enable anywhere-anytime game play. The platform’s USB-C port serves both for charging and for XR viewer connectivity. And the device features advanced haptics for gameplay feedback, as well as an ergonomic design that is approximately 11-inches long and weighs just over 500 grams.

My first impressions from playing with the device is that the weight makes the device feel like it is a high-quality platform without being too heavy to cause fatigue. The width is also nice in that it allows for your hands and arms to be farther apart in a more relaxed position, especially when sitting down. I look forward to testing production units.

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The development platform is available for game developers to preorder today from Razer. Initially, the focus is on the developers to bring great gaming content to the platform.

While the specifications on the G3x have not been released, it would appear that the device resembles the 8cx product family for PCs. So far, we know that the G3x includes an Adreno GPU capable of providing 144 frames per second with 10-bit HDR resolution, a 5G mmWave cellular modem, Wi-Fi 6/6E through Qualcomm’s FastConnect 6900, and Snapdragon Sound, the company’s culmination of technologies to provide lossless audio. And according to Qualcomm, the G3x is just the first in a family of products targeting handlheld gaming that will feature the company’s “entire arsenal of Snapdragon Elite Gaming technologies.”

It is not surprising to see Qualcomm enter the handlheld gaming console market. The G3x straddles smartphone SoCs and PC SoCs. In addition, there is definitely growing interest in handlheld gaming consoles as seen by the huge demand for the Switch and Steam Deck. The only questions about the Qualcomm platform are whether Razor will offer a version of the unit for consumers and what other OEMs might offer a Qualcomm-based unit?

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