For years, there’s been virtually zero competition for the Switch, Nintendo’s portable gaming console that’s sold record numbers of units since it first went on sale in 2017. The gaming industry has so far failed to provide a meaningful alternative that’s as portable and powerful, but over the past couple of years, some companies have stepped up to the plate with pocketable gaming systems (namely the Steam Deck). However, none of them promise the same prowess or mass market appeal as the Switch, and that’s largely due to lack of infrastructure.
The world just isn’t ready for an influx of gaming systems with 7-inch screens and Xbox-like controllers because no company’s really tried to make it happen. But Qualcomm may be to thank if that dream becomes a reality sooner than later.
Today, the company announced its new Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 processor, and it’s promising to power the Android/Steam portable consoles gamers dream about. The chip is designed to be an all-in-one platform built specifically for gaming. Qualcomm says the chip it’s “the PC gaming rig of mobile games” and that it hopes to grow strong developer support so many companies implement it in new consoles.
The G3x Gen 1 comes with a ton of gamer-centric features like an improved Adreno GPU with updatable drivers, 4K display output, mixed reality headset tethering, and up to 144fps support for games. Qualcomm bundles in both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G along with Wi-Fi 6E. You also get the company’s Snapdragon Sound which helps to enhance wireless audio.
To help developers get a jump on optimizing games and experiences for the chip, Qualcomm and Razr teamed up to introduce a developer kit. The kit comes with a proof-of-concept console complete with a 6.65-inch OLED 120Hz display, a 5MP camera for live-streaming, a pair of microphones, four speakers, USB-C charging, and more. It looks a lot like if you took an Xbox controller and stretched it out with a long screen.
Notably, Qualcomm has confirmed that this isn’t a product that will be sold to consumers, instead saving it for developers only. This means it could be a while before we see the first consumer-grade devices begin popping up.
Until then, Qualcomm is making it known that it wants to dominate the portable gaming console market with its hardware in OEMs’ devices. It’s done just that in the smartphone market, AR and VR, and mixed reality. Whether they’ll be successful will depend on how well this chip performs and how popular the devices it ships in become, so there’s plenty more to this story that’ll unfold over time.