Xiaomi Black Shark to Asus ROG Phone: Resurrection of gaming phones
Gaming phones are making a comeback. Here’s what you need to know about the new crop of phones optmised for high-end gaming.
Gaming on phones is certainly not a new concept. From Pokemon Go to PUBG and Fortnite, mobile gaming experiences are becoming better and richer day by day. But as the games are becoming more graphic intensive and including futuristic technologies such Augmented Reality, the hardware is also catching up, albeit gradually. And now, we are hearing about "gaming phones" more often than ever.
What is a gaming phone? You may wonder. After all, you can play any mobile game on your smartphone. So why is there a need for a specific categorisation — "gaming" — for such handsets? The answer is quite simple — these phones are capable of handling graphic intensive games with ease, without draining your phone's battery, and comes with a bunch of hardware and software optimisations, just for your gaming requirements.
You can play basic running games like Subway Surfer or Temple Run on almost any smartphone. But for games like Pokemon Go, Arena of Valor, Asphalt 8, Modern Combat or Injustice 2, your phone needs that extra bit of juice to ensure smooth graphic rendering. From a high quality display to a superior GPU (Graphic Processor Unit), the phone combines multiple elements to deliver an uninterrupted gaming experience.
Basically, expect a gaming phone to deliver following things: high resolution screen, top-of-the-line CPU and GPU, high volume RAM, better heat management and high battery life. Also, expect a bunch of software optimisations such as disabling notifications during gaming for making the experience more intuitive.
Gaming phones: Looking back at the sporadic pushes
Over the years, tech companies have experimented with gaming-focused handheld devices. Back in 2014, Nvidia introduced Shield Tablet that allowed users to stream games from PCs and cloud. It also supported a console mode. After two years, Nvidia launched Shield Tablet K1 which came with optimisation for Android, Steam, and the GeForce cloud platform. Both these devices failed to strike the chords with gamers.
Back in 2003, Nokia had launched its N-Gage. Touted as the Game Boy of mobile phones, the phone supported multiplayer games over Bluetooth and games through dedicated cartridges.
Another similar gaming phone launched in 2006 by Samsung was Premium Gamephone, that came with a slider with dedicated gaming joystick buttons. The device supported games in landscape mode and came with sensors like accelerometer.
Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play debuted in 2011. The phone also had a slider screen with dedicated gaming joysticks. Once believed to be the foundation device for a "Playstation Phone", the phone didn't really do well in the market, eventually dashing hopes for a PS phone forever. READ: A brief (and depressing) history of gaming phones
Resurrection of gaming phones
The biggest push to the gaming phone section came when Razer, a company known for high-end gaming devices and accessories, launched the Razer Phone, with the top-of-the-line specifications.
Leveraging a 120Hz screen, Razer Phone comes with an UltraMotion technology. "The Razer Phone's display refreshes up to 120 frames per second — twice as fast as any other mobile device. The result is super smooth, lifelike motion with zero lag, so you possess the split-second advantage you need get ahead of the competition," the company explained on its website.
Here's a comparison between 30FPS, 60FPs and 120FPS games.
Razer Phone specifications: 5.7-inch LCD display with 1440x2560 pixels resolution and Gorilla Glass 3 protection, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor and 8GB RAM, 12MP + 12MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera, and 4,000mAh battery.
Xiaomi Black Shark
One of the biggest mainstream brands to associate with a gaming phone is Xiaomi. The company launched a Black Shark gaming phone which comes with a dedicated liquid cooling system for heat dissipation. The phone also supports a gaming pad which has a gaming joystick.
Xiaomi Black Shark specifications: 5.99-inch full HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 processor, Adreno 630 GPU and 8GB RAM, 12-megapixel and 20-megapixel sensors with f/1.75 aperture and LED flash on the back, 20MP front camera, and 4,000mAh battery.
Asus ROG Phone
Asus, which is already popular in the gaming fraternity — thanks to its ROG line-up of gaming laptops — recently launched the ROG Phone. The device is powered by Qaulcomm's top-end Snapdragon 845 processor with bumped up clock speed of 2.96GHz, from the standard 2.8GHz.
Asus ROG Phone comes with a variety of gaming focused features. For example, it supports 802.11ad WiGig connectivity, allowing users to mirror the content on a compatible TV in the proximity (through the company's WiGig Dock). Other key features include four USB ports and front-facing speakers.
Another highlight of this gaming phone is the 3D vapor-chamber cooling system which is said to dissipate heat better. Just like modular phones, Asus ROG Phone comes with a bunch of accessories. For instance a TwinView Dock allows users to turn the ROG Phone into a dual-screen phone with an additional 6,000mAh battery.
Asus ROG Phone specifications: 6.0-inch 18:9 (2160x1080) AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate and HDR support, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC + 8GB RAM + Adreno 630, 12MP + 8MP Rear Cameras + 8MP Front Camera, and 4,000mAh battery.
Apart from these specific gaming phones, most of the flagship phones like Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, Apple iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus and Google Pixel 2 XL are optimised for high-end gaming. For instance, Apple iPhone 8 Plus uses A11 Bionic chip to allow users to play heavy and AR-capable games with ease. Samsung Galaxy S9 comes with a bunch of software optimisations, allowing users to play high-end games in full-screen mode.