Razer and Qualcomm made a Nintendo Switch-style game console … but you can’t buy it

Since the Nintendo Switch awakened the desire for a mobile game console, other devices have appeared to meet consumer demand. But the next one to come out – a joint venture between Qualcomm and Razer – won’t even be sold to consumers.

Instead, the Snapdragon G3x portable development kit, as it’s called, is a working console for developers to experience creating mobile games beyond smartphones. It’s sort of a pre-platform, meant to get developers (and potentially game studios) used to a new class of consoles before they hit the market.

No, not handheld desktop consoles like the delayed Steam Deck – the Snapdragon G3X, as the title suggests, runs the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1, the first in a whole new line of Qualcomm gaming chipsets (this n It’s no coincidence that it follows the same naming convention as the just announced Snapdragon 8 Gen 1).

In other words, the consoles that Qualcomm is preparing the gaming industry for would be focused on mobile games. Presumably, these consoles would run the same apps you find in the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store, but with improved specs and dedicated analog controllers and buttons that would leave touch controls behind and screens uncluttered.

Qualcomm Razer Snapdragon G3X

(Image credit: Qualcomm / Razer)

There have been a lot of false starts for mobile console games over the years, like the Nvidia Shield Portable system, and outside of the Nintendo Switch none have lasted long. Part of this is due to the ubiquity of smartphones, which have inadvertently lowered the bar: why spend so much more money on something that plays the same games as the phone you already own? Why bother with another device to update and recharge?

For Qualcomm, this seems like a natural progression from mobile gaming, and the company has every interest in seeing a transition to dedicated consoles, namely that its new Snapdragon G3x chipsets can power them.

This is why the chipmaker seemed so jaded when asked during a background briefing if the Snapdragon G3x would be coming to market. If a manufacturer wanted to use their concept fully realized and build consumer devices, Qualcomm might be interested in collaborating – but even if a different console debuted first, the chipmaker is happy to sell them the silicon they have. already tested and implemented. in a finished device.

Qualcomm Razer Snapdragon G3x

(Image credit: Qualcomm / Razer)

So what is the Snapdragon G3x handheld?

The Snapdragon G3x portable development kit is, essentially, a supercharged smartphone gaming rig with a dedicated controller built around it.

It’s not exactly a new concept given the all-in-one Steam Deck and Nvidia Shield Portable before it (among others) – it’s just a matter of applying them to mobile games. But unlike previous phone gaming setups which are either add-ons for specific models like the Kunai Gamepad for Asus ROG 5 or wrap-around controllers like the Backbone and Razer Kishi, the Snapdragon G3x Handheld doesn’t serve as a phone at all.

There’s a fair amount of phone DNA in the Snapdragon G3x handheld, though: a 6.65-inch Full HD Plus OLED display with 10-bit HDR and 120Hz refresh rate, a 5MP 1080p webcam, and an Android operating system all feel inherited from phones. Plus, it has mobile connectivity, allowing gamers to take the console on the go and play anywhere with a phone.

But there are also new things Qualcomm is bringing from mobile games to consoles. While we don’t have much information about the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 chipset powering the G3x handheld, the company says silicon will power advanced haptics and other extras – which should elevate the experience. console gaming on top of the feel of playing on a phone.

Its Adreno GPU will also have updatable drivers – and while Qualcomm’s flagship chips were able to download updates from the Play Store to their Adreno GPUs from last year’s flagship Snapdragon 865, per Android Authority, which required manufacturers to customize and release updates for their devices. A manufacturer of mobile game consoles would likely access these updates more quickly.

Qualcomm Razer Snapdragon G3X

(Image credit: Qualcomm / Razer)

The hardware is also more suited to gaming, which is likely due to all of Razer’s influence, from the angled controller grips, knobs and controllers to the air-cooling system that sucks in cool air from the back of the console. and expels hot air from the top. (Ideally, this will prevent the G3x handheld from overheating and losing frames, which can happen with less powerful or poorly cooled phones.)

Importantly, it also has a USB-C port at the top for outputting 4K HDR and up to 144Hz to a linked TV or monitor, allowing it to play on a big screen just like the Nintendo Switch dock. – but beating this console a la Punch 4K. The port can also exit to an “XR viewer” (like augmented reality glasses), which Qualcomm says will take off in the years to come.

The G3x handheld also has 4-way speakers, a 1080p webcam for streaming, and mics at the center and top of the device. At least one version also connects to the sub-6 and mmWave 5G, enabling the fastest possible mobile gaming, as well as WiFi 6E.

Qualcomm Razer Snapdragon G3X

(Image credit: Qualcomm / Razer)

All of this makes the G3X an awesome way to spruce up your mobile gaming for those with the extra cash to spare. What sets the console apart from other peripherals is the software provided by AKSys Games Localization, which automatically maps onscreen controls to buttons and gamepads.

If you’ve ever played with phone gaming peripherals, you know how bold this statement is: No matter how well your controller is designed, it’s worthless if you can’t sync button presses. with on-screen touch controls. If Qualcomm and Razer can achieve this, it could make the set of G3x mobile and standalone game consoles attractive enough to justify the expense and hassle.

Qualcomm Razer Snapdragon G3X

(Image credit: Qualcomm / Razer)

Hope for a Snapdragon mobile console future

The Snapdragon G3x Handheld certainly seems like an odd device to publicly announce, but only from a consumer perspective. Qualcomm wants game developers and potential console producers to believe that this product niche is not only possible, but inevitable. The company is banking on a whole new line of chipsets.

So who would a mobile console be? Qualcomm and Razer regard modern gamers as nomads, switching between platforms even to play the same games. The G3x Handheld serves gamers on the go as it can play already popular mobile games on the device as well as host games streamed from the cloud through its mobile connectivity.

As a developer-focused device, the G3x Handheld has the freedom to offer many features that can be dropped in a consumer-oriented console – the aforementioned XR Goggle compatibility is a good example given its rare adoption until now. ‘now.

But in the end, the G3x Handheld is a harbinger, at least according to Qualcomm and Razer: Mobile games accounted for 52% of the $ 175 billion made by the global gaming industry last year, and they didn’t. are only getting bigger (in comparison, the PC accounted for 21% and console 28%). Mobile games will continue to evolve and the G3x Handheld is a way for device makers to introduce new ways to serve a growing market.