April 20, 2024

The gaming smartphone is dead

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The real dedicated gaming smartphone is dead.

We will no longer see a phone with the highest resolution screen and the fastest processor inside where primary function is to play the most demanding games for as long as possible, at the expense of other more traditional functions of the phone. It’s the arrival of the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro at CES 2024 that has cemented the fate of the gaming smartphone, and the genre now appears to have been consigned to the history books.

The ROG Phone 8 Pro is for gaming, right?

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

But wait, the new Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro is a gaming smartphone, right? Yes, the ROG Phone 8 Pro is a gaming phone because it has the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, AirTrigger buttons on the shoulders, and a side-mounted USB-C port, all of which avid gamers will appreciate. Asus is also working hard to get the software right, with its performance-enhancing X Mode, new AI tools, and its Armory Crate app for collecting and modifying games.

But unlike the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, the ROG Phone 6D or any of the previous models, it is also a smartphone prepared for daily use. It has wireless charging and an IP68 water and dust resistance rating, smaller bezels around the screen, a lighter weight, and also a more responsive shape. It may have the familiar cool RGB LED display on the rear panel, but it’s completely hidden when not in use. No one would know it was there.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

That’s why it’s a gaming phone and not a gaming smartphone. The craziness of previous ROG Phone models has been toned down in favor of useful (and possibly essential) features we want in the phone we use every day. Gaming is still at the top of the list of its capabilities, but in the same way the camera is at the top of the list of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Both are great phones to use when you’re not gaming or taking pictures. Previously, the ROG Phone was only brilliant when gaming and average at almost all other times. Now the division is much more even.

Asus is not the first, but it is doing well

Black Shark 5 Pro Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The decision to make the ROG Phone 8 Pro a more regular high-performance phone makes good business sense, but we’re pleased to see that it hasn’t abandoned the genre entirely, which is what has happened elsewhere. Asus isn’t the only company making gaming smartphones, with other brands like Lenovo, Xiaomi and Nubia dabbling in them, but interest from all of them seems to have waned.

Xiaomi’s gaming arm is Black Shark and it hasn’t launched any new phones since the Black Shark 5 series in March 2022. The brand has since moved on to making gaming accessories and smartwatches. Lenovo has stopped manufacturing the Legion Phone series entirely. RedMagic, Nubia’s gaming division, makes a single gaming smartphone called the RedMagic 9 Pro, but it has expanded its product portfolio to include monitors, keyboards, mice, and more. It’s true that the phone is very dumb for gaming with its actual cooling fan, but there isn’t a variety of devices this time around, as there was with the RedMagic 8.

Razer Phone 2 Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

Aside from these three, Razer is one of the only major companies that has tried its hand at gaming smartphones, but hasn’t revisited them since the Razer Phone 2 launched in 2018. Little has long leaned toward gaming. to promote its smartphones, but outside of the 2022 F4 GT, it’s more often for marketing purposes that the brand jumps headlong into a powerful device that competes with the ROG Phone series.

Is there no demand?

Digital trends

The question of why Asus has stopped the madness again and Black Shark has disappeared into murky waters is difficult to answer, but logically it has to do with the demand, the cost of development and the prevalence of powerful flagship phones that will satisfy the needs of the consumers. vast majority of mobile gamers. But it could also have to do with the sudden influx of handheld game consoles, which provide access to non-mobile games on the go.

The Valve Steam Deck leads the charge, but it has been followed by several similar devices, including the Lenovo Legion Go, Razer Edge, and Asus ROG Ally, all very familiar names. Of the three, only Asus still makes a smartphone where gaming is the focus, but as already said, it’s much closer to a regular flagship smartphone than ever before. Demand for mobile gaming devices doesn’t seem to have slowed down, but the requirements and games the public wants to play are dictating where brands focus their efforts.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

This is perhaps the main reason for the demise of true gaming smartphones: more and more people are interested in spending time playing the same games they enjoy on their PC or console on the go, rather than intense mobile games. Mobile esports is still very popular, but this may not have translated into smartphone buyers making an effort to prioritize gaming features when shopping for a new phone.

Goodbye gaming phones

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Is the gaming phone really dead? Unfortunately, I believe in the gaming smartphone. how we knew him is dead. The madness of the last few years is over, fewer and fewer manufacturers are making dedicated models, and the phones that still exist have become something new. It’s not that we don’t see phones made with the dedicated mobile gamer in mind, but the days when that was their only purpose are over.

I don’t see it as a negative, since we increasingly have more fun phones that we can use more frequently. Regular phones like the Nothing Phone 2 have put a spin on the flashy flashing lights associated with gaming-only phones. Gaming smartphones are adopting standard features like IP68, maintaining customizable buttons and high-end cooling, and then toning down the silliness of the design, which means more people will be willing to consider it.

Although the gaming smartphone is dead, we now have a range of excellent portable gaming consoles, a small selection of everyday phones designed for mobile gamers and some incredible flagship phones that are brilliant for casual gaming too. To get there, we’ve had to sacrifice motorized vents, crazy color combinations, and all sorts of crazy smartphone gaming tricks, but I’d say it’s a more than acceptable trade-off.

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