Be Tech Ready!!
GamingMobile GamingPhones

Has the gaming smartphone fad fizzled out already?

The era of the hardcore gaming smartphone, designed exclusively for playing intense games with the highest-resolution screen and fastest processor, is over. We won’t be witnessing phones focused solely on gaming at the cost of neglecting other standard phone features.

The Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro making its debut at CES 2024 is the final nail in the coffin for gaming smartphones, marking the end of an era. It seems like the genre is now officially a thing of the past.

Hold on a second, isn’t the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro a gaming smartphone? Absolutely! The ROG Phone 8 Pro is all about gaming, packing the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, AirTrigger buttons on the shoulders, and a side-mounted USB-C port – all the goodies that gamers love. Asus doesn’t slack off on the software either, with performance-boosting features like X Mode, new AI tools, and the Armory Crate app for collecting and tweaking games.

Also Read: What’s NPU, and why is everyone suddenly interested in it?

Blending gaming with regular phones

However, unlike the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, the ROG Phone 6D, or any of its predecessors, this one is not just a gaming beast; it’s also a smartphone built for everyday use. With features like wireless charging, an IP68 water and dust resistance rating, slimmer bezels around the screen, a lighter weight, and a more practical shape, it caters to regular usage as well. Despite having the cool RGB LED screen on the back panel, it stays entirely hidden when not in use – you wouldn’t even know it’s there.

That’s why it’s a gaming phone, not just a flashy gaming smartphone. The wild features from previous ROG Phone models have been dialed back, making room for practical (and some might say, necessary) features that we actually want in a phone for our daily use.

Gaming still takes the crown in terms of its capabilities, much like how the camera shines on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Both phones excel not just in gaming or photography but are brilliant all-around devices. In the past, the ROG Phone was outstanding only during gaming sessions and mediocre in almost every other aspect. Now, it strikes a more balanced performance across the board.

Turning the ROG Phone 8 Pro into a regular high-performance phone is a smart business move, but what’s even better is that Asus hasn’t completely ditched the gaming focus, unlike some others in the industry. While Asus isn’t the only player in the gaming smartphone arena, with brands like Lenovo, Xiaomi, and Nubia also trying their hand at it, it looks like the enthusiasm from all these companies has dwindled.

Other OEMs shifting focus from gaming

Xiaomi’s gaming branch, Black Shark, hasn’t dropped any new phones since the Black Shark 5 series back in March 2022. Instead, they’ve shifted gears to focus on crafting gaming accessories and smartwatches. On the other hand, Lenovo has completely halted the production of the Legion Phone series.

RedMagic, which is Nubia’s gaming division, currently only has one gaming smartphone in its lineup, the RedMagic 9 Pro. However, they’ve broadened their product range to encompass monitors, keyboards, mice, and more. While the phone might seem a bit over-the-top with its real cooling fan, it doesn’t have the diverse range of devices seen with the previous RedMagic 8.

Apart from these three, Razer is one of the few big players that ventured into gaming smartphones, but it hasn’t revisited the concept since the release of the Razer Phone 2 in 2018. Poco has frequently emphasized gaming to market its smartphones, but beyond the 2022 F4 GT, it’s usually more about marketing than the brand fully diving into a hardcore device to challenge the ROG Phone series.

Figuring out why Asus toned down the madness and Black Shark took a backseat is tricky, but it likely boils down to factors like demand, development costs, and the abundance of powerful flagship phones that cater to most mobile gamers. Additionally, the rise of handheld gaming consoles, offering access to non-mobile games on the go, might also play a role in this shift.

Is there no demand for gaming smartphones?

The Valve Steam Deck is at the forefront, and it’s been joined by a bunch of similar gadgets like the Lenovo Legion Go, the Razer Edge, and the Asus ROG Ally – all names we know well. Among these, only Asus is actively producing a gaming-centric smartphone, although, as mentioned earlier, it’s now much more akin to a regular flagship smartphone than ever before.

The desire for mobile gaming gadgets hasn’t faded, but brands are channeling their efforts based on the preferences and demands of the audience, both in terms of requirements and the games they want to play.

This is likely the key factor behind the decline of dedicated gaming smartphones: more folks prefer playing their beloved PC or console games on the fly rather than hardcore mobile games. While mobile esports remains popular, it seems this enthusiasm hasn’t necessarily translated into smartphone buyers actively seeking out gaming features when making a new phone purchase.

Also Read: Biggest cybersecurity threats the world could face in 2024

Is it the end of the line for gaming smartphones?

Is the gaming phone truly a thing of the past? Unfortunately, the gaming smartphone, as we remember it, has indeed met its end. The wild times of the past few years are behind us, fewer companies are crafting specialized models, and the remaining phones have transformed into something different. It’s not that we won’t encounter phones designed with dedicated mobile gamers in consideration, but the era where that was their sole focus has come to a close.

It might not be a downside; in fact, it’s a positive shift as we’re getting more enjoyable phones for everyday use. Phones like the Nothing Phone 2 are taking a unique approach by incorporating the attention-grabbing flashy lights typically seen in gaming phones. Gaming smartphones are now integrating regular features like IP68 rating while retaining customizable buttons and top-notch cooling, but they’re toning down the quirky designs. This makes them more appealing to a broader audience.

While the gaming smartphone era is over, we now have a variety of fantastic handheld gaming consoles, a few regular phones tailored for mobile gamers, and some outstanding mainstream flagship phones that double as excellent devices for casual gaming. To reach this point, we had to let go of motorized cooling vents, wild color schemes, and all sorts of other over-the-top gaming smartphone gimmicks — but it could be a trade-off more than worth it.

Vishal Kawadkar
About author

With over 8 years of experience in tech journalism, Vishal is someone with an innate passion for exploring and delivering fresh takes. Embracing curiosity and innovation, he strives to provide an informed and unique outlook on the ever-evolving world of technology.