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Something to look forward to: The world of Android gaming phones continues to expand with outlandish devices like the Asus ROG 5 or Xiaomi's Black Shark series; however, a dedicated gaming handheld is something of a rarity these days. The category has been pretty much cornered by Nintendo's wildly popular Switch, and it now looks like Qualcomm is prepping an Android-powered rival with detachable Joy-Con-like controllers that it plans to release early next year, potentially showcasing the power of its next-gen Snapdragon chips and an effort to inspire partners to experiment with more form-factors.
Gaming handhelds like the retro Playdate and the Ryzen-powered Aya Neo are certainly interesting new players in this console category, but as with high-end gaming phones, they're likely going to remain niche devices that'll do little to shake the Nintendo Switch off its throne. Qualcomm, it appears, is up next to launch an Android-powered competitor, which will not only mark the US chipmaker's debut into consumer electronics but could also make it a mainstream rival to the Switch, especially since Sony decided to discontinue the PS Vita.
According to Android Police, who had a look at the "non-final" images of the device, Qualcomm's offering bears a similar design to Nintendo's hardware, featuring detachable controllers on either side of the main module and display-out capabilities for attaching to a TV or monitor. It will have an SD card slot for storage expansion and a 6,000mAh battery with Quick Charging technology. The company is also said to be in touch with a "premium supplier" for the console's gamepad design and manufacturing.
I heard it'll have a 6.65" Full HD+ display, a 6000mAh battery, and support a fan. It apparently doesn't even have a rear camera.— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) March 23, 2021
You can see some work for a fan controller in CAF: https://t.co/hfOxIfVzi9
Powered by Android 12, Qualcomm's console is expected to come with a customized launcher and full support for Google's apps and services. There's also word that it will feature Epic's upcoming Games Store app for Fortnite players as well as some sort of dedicated content portal built by Qualcomm. Other details include 5G capability, though with telephony services absent, and the usual bevy of sensors and haptics.
Qualcomm is targeting a $300 price point for the console, which it plans to launch in the first quarter of next year. Interestingly, the company is also said to be all too aware of Nintendo and its shining legacy. While Qualcomm may potentially end up with an Android-powered Switch knock-off, its real objective looks to be showcasing next-gen Snapdragon silicon for gaming and inspiring partners to try out different form-factors.