Gaming is a lucrative business, and that includes the mobile front, which generates around $175 billion per year from an audience of 2.5 billion mobile gamers. Compare that to the movie industry that raked in less than $45 billion last year and you'll understand why gaming is such an important consideration for many companies. That's all to say there is ample incentive for chip makers to focus on gaming, and so it's no surprise Qualcomm is expanding its offerings with the new Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 gaming platform, with an assist from Razer (more on that in a moment).
The Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 is a purpose-built platform for gaming, and one that could potentially help expand the growing field of handhelds devices that are so popular. Take for example the Nintendo Switch OLED and Valve's Steam Deck. They are two very different devices, but at their core, they're both handheld gaming systems that have found an eager audience.
The Snapdragon G3x platform represents a spirited run at the category by Qualcomm. "Currently there really are no bespoke game devices in the mobile space. The interesting thing is that mobile gaming is the most prevalent and fastest growing gaming segment by far, yet there are no mobile devices dedicated solely to mobile gaming. Because of this large, unmet need, we built a handheld mobile device dedicated to gaming—one that satisfies this unique opportunity within the gaming segment," Qualcomm says.
Qualcomm is playing coy with the precise specifications, but we know the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 is based on a Kryo CPU and Adreno GPU, similar to other Snapdragon mobile platforms, with some lofty performance claims in tow. They include support for up to 4K resolution gaming and 144 frames per second, plus true 10-bit HDR.
To get things started, Qualcomm is also introducing the Snapdragon G3x Handheld Developer Kit and has partnered with Razer to offer the first such product exclusively for developers, which is to say it is not destined for consumers...yet.
"Razer is extremely excited to partner with Qualcomm Technologies and support them on their way to introduce new cutting-edge technology to the global gaming industry," says Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO. "Together, Qualcomm Technologies and Razer will lead the way with new and innovative solutions that push the boundaries of fidelity and quality available in portable gaming, transforming the way these games are experienced."
The developer kit Qualcomm and Razer collaborated on features a 6.65-inch OLED display with a Full HD+ resolution, a fast 120Hz refresh rate, and 10-bit HDR support. It also features and "advanced cooling system" that promises to deliver sustained peak performance, with ventilation on the top and rear of the handheld device.
Qualcomm And Razer's Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 Dev Kit In The Flesh
"The big challenge you have with many of the high-end, heavy games is that frame rates start to drop as the device heats up. In active sequences particularly, performance starts to get janky. The Snapdragon G3x Handheld Developer Kit all but eliminates that and allows you to run at the highest possible levels of performance and stay there," Qualcomm says.
Other notable features include a 1080p webcam, advanced haptics, analog thumbsticks, a D-pad, and familiar A, B, X, Y, Start, Select, and Menu buttons, along with a couple of triggers. It also features a four-way speaker system and the promise of lag-free audio when paired with Snapdragon Sound enabled earbuds.
The ability to stream games is a point of emphasis, too. This includes from a PC or game console, as well as the cloud (Qualcomm specifically mentions Xbox Game Pass, but fingers crossed it will work with GeForce NOW too). Fast connectivity helps with that aspect, and to that end, the device includes mmWave 5G support and Wi-Fi 6E. It also supports Bluetooth 5.2.
Qualcomm anticipates gamers being eager for devices based on the Snapdragon G3x platform, but also notes that "gamers follow content" and so it has to "serve the developer community first." Once they have gotten their feet wet with the developer platform, OEMs will be free to come in and create consumer devices. How long that takes remains to be seen.