Smartphones have changed many things in the modern world. Most of us use them to conduct our day-to-day banking, chat with friends, and order take out food. Thanks to these devices, we can leave homes without a wallet, safe in the knowledge that we can pay for almost everything with just the tap of our phone.
The world around us has also changed to accommodate these pocket-sized computers. Public transport is fitted with USB sockets so we can charge them, QR codes are included on billboards, and many businesses are making their products and premises “Instagramable”.
Smartphones have also helped to kill off an entire category of games console. In 2020, Nintendo discontinued the 3DS, the Japanese company’s final portable gaming machine. Of course, its Switch is a hybrid that has a portable mode, but it is distinct from the entirely hand-held devices that had been commonplace for more than 30 years.
While other handheld devices had existed before it, the Nintendo Game Boy became the first truly portable console when it was released in 1989. Since then, the company has been the dominant force in the category, despite strong competition from Sony throughout the 2000s. However, with the quality of smartphone gaming, fewer and fewer people have been buying portable consoles in recent years, leading Nintendo to make its decision.
Are Gaming Phones the New Portable Consoles?
In their place, some smartphone manufacturers have begun to develop mobile devices that are designed primarily for gaming. Unlike a Nintendo DS or the Sony PSP, these gaming phones can also serve as a normal smartphone, making calls, sending email and taking photos.
They typically have more powerful hardware than most other devices and come with special features like physical hotkeys, a charging socket on the side, and even a detachable fan to aid with cooling. But are they worth the extra cost?
Mobile Games Don’t Need Expensive Hardware
Despite what the advertisements might try to tell you, mobile games will run on most modern devices. Even if you own a Samsung Galaxy S8 or a OnePlus 3T, you will find that almost all of the 1 million+ games available in the Google Play Store will be compatible.
That figure also doesn’t include single apps that contain many games within them. For example, online casinos typically offer hundreds or even thousands of different titles within their apps. This includes multiple variants of traditional table games and a constantly changing selection of slots that are themed around everything from American sports to Ancient Egypt. Even live dealer games, which incorporate live video streams, will run on almost every smartphone released within the last few years.
This means almost every smartphone owner has access to a library of games so big, they could never feasibly play them all in an entire lifetime.
Do Gaming Phones Offer Any Other Benefits?
While a four-year-old smartphone can play Call of Duty: Mobile, there may be some marginal benefits to using a dedicated gaming phone. The most obvious of these is the fact that a gaming phone’s powerful CPU and GPU will allow you to run bigger games at their highest graphics settings.
Additionally, hardcore mobile gamers may benefit from the convenience of hotkeys that allow them to perform certain in-game actions faster. The ASUS ROG Phone includes “ultra-responsive” AirTriggers that let players perform actions quicker and more easily by assigning on-screen actions to these hotkeys.
The advanced cooling and side-mounted ports can help to make long periods of mobile gaming more comfortable, especially if you need to charge your device at the same time.
These advanced features will appeal to a small group of players who want the ultimate mobile gaming experience. Titles like Fortnite, PUBG Mobile, and GRID Autosport are going to benefit the most from the hotkeys. Whereas, players of Candy Crush or Angry Birds are unlikely to need lighting fast reactions that hotkeys provide. They’re also unlikely to benefit from the extra cooling as these games won’t even cause the CPU to break a sweat.
So, for now at least, gaming phones appeal only to the hardcore gamer who is interested in the latest and most demanding video game titles.