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




I think many readers were disappointed to learn that the Switch-like gaming hardware Qualcomm was showcased at its annual event. Snapdragon Tech Summit You can’t actually buy it. It looks like a stylish piece you’d find on a shelf next to a pile of accessories in a large store, but it’s not for you or me yet. This is a developer-only party. while we wait what To make it clear that we can actually buy it, let’s talk a little bit more about what the developer hardware was and what we can expect from both software and hardware when the consumer unit actually landed.

Full disclosure: Qualcomm flew by default. Everyone I’ve been attending annual meetings over the past few days in the tech media, where I’ve been able to tease engineers, vice presidents and product managers over recent announcements. I’m sure they’re getting a bit tired of my constant questions about me and my specs by now, and my leg has been bitten by mosquitoes.


Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 Hands-on


First, some relevant contexts. Like many of our readers, I grew up with the Game Boy. I had a PC, but it wasn’t a very good PC until I got older and the console connected to the TV was stuck at home when I was away. Playing video games at least 90% of the time meant playing my Nintendo handheld. Initially four glorious shades of black and white were available, and later color became available. So gaming has always been a mobile-first experience for me. However, once I switched from my big screen smartphone to taking it with me everywhere I felt it was never right to play games on that touchscreen. I wanted hardware controls like buttons, joysticks or triggers rather than flat, non-tactile glass.

same things nintendo switch It scrapes the itch, but I have that kind of Android spirit at heart. I want full control and ownership for things like loading emulators or making my device mine. I’ve been experimenting with products like GPD’s little computer, but the quality has always disappointed me. So when there were plans for Qualcomm’s device, of course, I was interested. leaked earlier this year.

As I mentioned, the developer hardware co-developed with Razer is far better than expected. Probably because the big, ugly box will only be used in more typical development studios. That doesn’t mean it feels particularly luxurious. It feels light and clumsy with too much plastic and empty space, but otherwise it combines well and is great to use. I have a feeling it could be just a few ounces heavier.


The buttons on the face are tactile, but the click feel isn’t that great, reminding me of the face buttons on my Xbox controller. The trigger doesn’t meet the same comparison, but it’s honestly pretty good with a gently ramping (if slightly too low) resistance in my opinion. As for the joystick, it’s definitely a Team PlayStation layout rather than an Xbox, but I still liked the twisted stick itself. It’s stiff enough without wobbling or drifting when centered, and smooth and precise during rotation over its full range of motion. . I’m hardly a controller connoisseur, but nothing terribly popped at me about it and I didn’t feel penalized while playing.

The 6.65” 120Hz OLED screen was also good. At 1080p, I thought the resolution was just fine, but I found it held farther than my phone and it’s a lot sharper than the 720p screen on the Nintendo Switch. It was bright enough in limited environments that it could be used indoors and in some sort of open veranda shade. I think it would have been it’s okay in direct sunlight. Naturally, I couldn’t test things like battery life or mmWave connectivity, and it was difficult to test audio in an environment where audio was available. What I could hear seemed fine. I also didn’t test things like call performance. That’s because, although it does support a cellular data connection, it’s not really a “phone” in the sense that you can’t make calls.

Much sharper than the 720p screen on the Nintendo Switch.

The software was a bit barebones and Qualcomm’s launcher hardly feels like Android. The side-scrolling list of offset titles with buttons at the bottom for things like settings was intuitive enough, but felt a bit stripped down. It might be more convenient for everyday use, but it doesn’t offer that kind of experience if you’re an Android-as-Android enthusiast who likes niche menus and sometimes nested menus full of unnecessary options and settings. It may not really matter when you get your hands on a future product. More on that later.


Due to time constraints and limitations of what was installed on the device itself, I was only able to play a handful of titles, but basically everything I ran was good quality. (Xbox Cloud Gaming It looked terrible until I realized it was running on the hotel’s legally garbage wifi. worse.) The detail, lighting and ambient effects in Final Fantasy VII The First Soldier looked great, while Air Derby 2 (an in-house game developed by Qualcomm for demos) was crisp and clear. Of course, these are all mobile games, but they ran on some nice, high-quality settings and looked a lot prettier than the visuals my Switch could spit out. The controls were also responsive. There was no lag that you would feel with a bad Bluetooth controller.

But what impresses me most is that everything is put together so well that it’s basically ready to sell tomorrow. Often times, these early tech demos have rough edges that we have to work through, basically imagining the bits in between when we get a proof of concept. This was not the case. I thought I’d see things like broken controls or even stuttering or software jank (external cloud streaming from a garbage Wi-Fi connection), but it’s surprisingly smooth. Although most titles already seemed to work with controllers by design, do not do it Supported controllers work thanks to Qualcomm’s built-in AKS controller mapping.

So what can you really expect when buying?

A last-minute interview with Micah Knapp, Senior Director of Product Management and Onstage Presenter at Qualcomm, allowed me to talk about the new device, Qualcomm’s plans, and the platform it represents in general. It’s a really important part when you think about it. you probably won’t buy this This is the unit I was playing with today, but you can get other models that share the guts. And that’s exactly what the company is trying to do here.

You might think (like me) that Qualcomm was trying to market all the specs of this new device yesterday and made a lot of software specifically for it, so the company is trying to build a platform they have full control over. So I sat down and asked a question, and the first question felt very natural. “What kind of minimum requirements or specs will Qualcomm impose on devices that use G3x?” The short answer is “none” if you can believe it.

As I explained to you, Qualcomm basically wants to treat the G3x like a phone chip for the phone market. Companies provide SoCs and some software available for companies that want to use them, but manufacturers are free to choose the hardware they want within reasonable limits. There are still things like Google’s GMS requirements to consider if device manufacturers want to access the Play Store. However, if you are buying a G3x device, the hardware can vary significantly.

This could mean similar designs that differ only in screen or button layouts, or it could mean completely different applications: set-top gaming devices, dongles, and whatever the company wants to make. And if the model number isn’t clear, the G3x could be the first chip in the lineup, but Qualcomm already plans to make a low-cost version of this chip as well. (I should point out that some have opinion That makes sense as the G3x is just an actively cooled and modified Snapdragon 888.)


Nothing concrete to share with me right now, but the hypothetical G2 could be a mid-range gaming experience without active cooling. And something like the potential G1 could be the best entry-level chip for things like cloud game streaming. If manufacturers jump into the G3x, we’ll see not only different riffs in the developer demos we’ve seen, but also completely different models targeting different prices and applications. New hardware control.

There is one more piece that is needed for it to work. It’s a game. But we are off to a good start from there. Essentially this is just another Android device with a play store, so there are a lot of games and controller mapping means that even titles that aren’t crafted to get input from the controller can be induced to work. Qualcomm and Razer couldn’t tell me if the developers or game studios had made any concrete promises or announcements about the new platform (meaning “no”), but that’s likely to happen before consumer devices are released and the entire existing library is released. There is room. ‘s Android game is already available.

I’m hardly obsessed with gaming (I didn’t even bring a Switch on this trip, I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it because I was too busy to work), but I’m tentatively excited to see what kind of hardware the G3x will see. It ends when you can actually buy it. In the long run I Especially I wonder how it can overlap. Steam’s effort to do the same thing in the opposite direction, reducing PC hardware for mobile.

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It gives a whole new meaning to ‘fork’.

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