I played with Qualcomm’s Switch type G3x game console and wish I could buy it

I think a lot of our readers were disappointed to learn that the Switch-like gaming hardware that Qualcomm showcased at its annual Snapdragon Tech Summit wouldn’t actually be available for purchase. It looks like a fancy product you’d see on a shelf next to a stack of accessories in a big box store, but it’s not for you or me just yet. It’s a developer party. While we wait Something To demonstrate that we can actually buy, let me tell you a bit more about what this developer hardware was using and what we can expect in terms of software and hardware when the mainstream units actually land.

Full disclosure: Qualcomm basically stole everyone in tech media at its annual summit in recent days, where we’ve been able to harass engineers, VPs, and product managers about its recent announcements. I’m pretty sure they’re a little fed up with me and my endless specs questions now, and my legs are covered in mosquito bites.


Practice with the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1


First, a relevant context. Like many of our readers, I grew up with the Game Boy. I had a PC, but not very good until I was older, and a TV-connected console was stuck at home when I wasn’t. At least 90% of the time, playing video games meant playing my Nintendo handheld – four gorgeous shades of black and white, first, then color once it was available. So gaming has always been a primarily mobile experience for me. But once I switched to carrying big-screen smartphones everywhere, playing games on that touchscreen never felt right. I wanted those hardware controls – buttons, joysticks, or triggers, not flat non-touch glass.

Things like the Nintendo Switch itch me, but I have this kind of Android ethic at heart: I want full control and ownership to do things like charge emulators or make my device mine. I have experimented with products like small computers from GPD, but the quality has always disappointed me. So I was understandably interested when plans for Qualcomm’s device leaked earlier this year.

As I mentioned, the development hardware, co-developed with Razer, is nicer than expected, given that it will likely only be used in development studios, where big ugly boxes are more the norm. That’s not to say that it feels particularly premium; it’s light and a little fragile in this kind of too plastic and empty space, but it’s otherwise well designed and pleasant to use. I just feel like it could be a few ounces heavier.


The buttons on the face are tactile, but not quite clickable, reminding me of the face buttons on an Xbox controller. The triggers don’t quite match the same comparison, but they’re honestly pretty good, with smooth resistance (if, in my opinion, slightly too weak). I’m definitely a Playstation layout team rather than Xbox when it comes to joysticks, but I’ve always liked the staggered sticks themselves: they’re pretty stiff without moving or drifting when centered, and smooth and precise. while rotating through the entire range of motion. I’m not much of a controller connoisseur, but nothing about it stood out to me so terrible, and I didn’t feel like I was at a disadvantage while playing.

The 6.65-inch 120Hz OLED display was also nice. At 1080p I thought the resolution might just be okay, but I found myself sticking it farther away than a phone, and it’s much sharper than the 720p screen on a Nintendo Switch. It was bright enough in the limited environments I could use it in – indoors and in the shade of some sort of open veranda. I suspect it would have been Okay in broad daylight. Naturally, I couldn’t test things like battery life or mmWave connectivity, and it was difficult to test the audio in the environments I could use it in. What I could hear sounded good. I also haven’t tested things like call performance because while it does support cellular data connectivity, it’s not actually a “phone” in the sense that it can’t pass through. calls.

It’s much sharper than the 720p screen of a Nintendo Switch

The software was a bit stripped down, and Qualcomm’s launcher barely looks like Android. A staggered side-scrolling title list with buttons at the bottom for things like settings was pretty intuitive, but it felt a bit stripped-down. It’s probably more convenient for occasional use, but if you’re an Android enthusiast who likes nested menus filled with niche and sometimes superfluous options and settings, this doesn’t offer that genre. of experience. It might not matter when you get your hands on a future product, we’ll talk about that later.


I was only able to play a handful of titles, both due to lack of time and limited to what was installed on the unit itself, but the quality was good on pretty much everything I performed. (Xbox Cloud Gaming looked awful until I realized it was running over the hotel’s legitimately trash Wi-Fi, how impressed I was it wasn’t even worse.The details, lighting, and ambience effects on Final Fantasy VII The First Soldier looked great, and Air Derby 2 (an in-house game developed by Qualcomm for the demo) was crisp and clear. These are all mobile games, sure, but they ran with nice, high-quality settings and looked a lot prettier than the visuals my Switch can spit out. The controls were responsive as well, without the kind of lag you sometimes feel from bad Bluetooth controllers.

The most impressive thing for me, however, was how well everything turned out, as if it was basically ready to sell tomorrow. Often times these early tech demos have rough edges we need to work on, imagining the middle stuff when we just got a proof of concept. It wasn’t like that. I figured I would see something like the controls crashing or even just running into a stutter or a software bug, but (outside of cloud streaming over the trash Wi-Fi connection) it was surprisingly seamless. Most titles already seemed to work with controllers by design, but I was told that even titles that not Support controllers will work through the AKS controller mapping, which Qualcomm has integrated.

So what can we expect when you buy one?

I was able to land a last minute interview with Qualcomm’s Micah Knapp (Senior Director of Product Management and Stage Presenter) to talk about the new device, Qualcomm’s plans and the platform it represents in general. – and that last bit is really the important part, when you think about it. You probably won’t buy this unit that I played with today, but you could get another model that shares their guts, and that’s really what the company is trying to do here.

You might assume (like me) that because Qualcomm went out of its way to bring all of the specs of this new device to market yesterday and created a bunch of software just for it, the company was trying to establish a platform that it could. fully control. So, I sat down to ask my questions, and my first one felt pretty natural: “What sort of minimum requirements or specifications will Qualcomm place on devices using the G3x?” The short answer is “none” if you can believe it.

As I explained, Qualcomm basically wants to treat the G3x as a phone chip for the telephony market. The company will provide the SoC, and software will be available for companies that want to use it, but manufacturers can choose which hardware they want to use, within reason, anyway. There are still things like Google’s GMS requirements to consider if device makers want to access the Play Store. But, if and when you buy a G3x device, it may have very different hardware.

It could mean a similar design with just a different screen or button layout, or it could even mean other entirely different apps: game devices set-top boxes, dongles, whatever companies want to build. And, if the model numbers don’t say so, the G3x could be the first chip in the lineup, but Qualcomm is already planning to make low-end versions of the chip as well. (I must point out that some have claims the G3x is just an actively cooled and modified Snapdragon 888, which would make sense.)


Nothing concrete can be shared with me at this time, but a hypothetical G2 could be a mid-level gaming experience, perhaps without active cooling. And something like a potential G1 might be an entry-level chip best suited for things like cloud game streaming. If manufacturers jump on the G3x, we might see not only different riffs on the developer demo we saw, but totally different models targeting different prices and applications – an increase in top handheld game consoles. range powered by Android with real and honest functionality. god material controls.

There’s only one more part you need to make this work, and that’s the games, but we got off to a good start there. Basically, it’s just another Android device with the Play Store, so it packs a lot of games, and this controller mapping means that even titles that weren’t designed to take input properly. controllers may be required to operate. Qualcomm and Razer were unable to tell me if any developers or game studios have made any specific commitments or announcements for the new platform (that means “no”), but there is room. to make that happen before mainstream devices arrive and the entire existing library of Android games already available.

I’m hardly obsessed with the game (I didn’t even bring my Switch with me on this trip, knew I would be too busy working for fun), but I’m tentatively excited to see what kind of material the G3x ends once you can purchase it. In the long run, I am particularly curious to see how this might end up comparing to Steam’s efforts to do the same in the opposite direction, cutting down on PC hardware for mobile.

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