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This article was published on March 24, 2021

Report: Qualcomm is making an Android-powered Switch lookalike

Report: Qualcomm is making an Android-powered Switch lookalike

Qualcomm, the company that makes the chipsets for a huge chunk of Android phones, is apparently gearing up to get into the gaming business. Not just as a chip supplier either; according to a report by Android Police, the company is making its own gaming console to show off the power of its Snapdragon chipsets.

As is so popular these days, the console is expected to look a whole lot like a Nintendo Switch.

Android Police reports it was able to observe “non-final” images of the console, which showcased a device with detachable controllers made by a “premium” supplier. The central screen portion, meanwhile, “resembles a thicker, bulkier smartphone.” This extra bulk would give Qualcomm’s chips more thermal headroom to run at high speeds for longer than possible in a compact smartphone form factor.

Other details from the report:

  • The device might have a 6.65-inch screen, according to XDA’s Mishaal Rahman.
  • The screen might have an FHD+ panel.
  • It would come with a 6,000 mAh battery.
  • It’ll be able to dock to a TV or monitor.
  • It’ll have an SD card slot for expandable storage.
  • It’ll run Andriod 12 with a custom launcher and “full support” of Google apps.
  • It might also come with the Epic Games Store at launch.
  • Qualcomm is targeting a Q1 2022 launch, so it’ll probably run on next-gen processors.
  • The usual phone specs like Bluetooth, 5G, GPS, accelerometers, and haptics will be in tow, but it’s unlikely to work as a dedicated phone.
  • The company is hoping to price the device at just $300.

While I do dig the Switch form factor and have wished other consoles would adopt similar designs for portable play, I can’t but help but be skeptical. It’s not easy for companies to break into the gaming business — not even for companies as big as Qualcomm. There’s a reason the console market has been a triopoly for so long.

If Qualcomm tried to create a new gaming platform altogether, it would be difficult for the company to pull developers from the competition. Let’s just say history hasn’t been kind to new players in a videogame market. In any case, it seems unlikely Qualcomm would go this route, considering the emphasis on full Android compatibility.

But if Qualcomm is just going to ask users to play existing Android titles on its fancy Switch clone, I find it hard to believe users would flock to the platform — especially when there are already a fair number of gaming-oriented phones.

Android Police says Qualcomm isn’t expecting overnight success, but rather the company is hoping to inspire its partners to explore new form factors. That idea isn’t a totally crazy idea; that’s effectively what Microsoft did with the Surface line. And if the company could really keep the price down to $300, it might just encourage some early adopters to invest in the platform. But I’m still skeptical.

Of course, this is a pre-production leak, so anything can change between now and launch — or the product could be scrapped altogether. Still, it’s interesting to see Qualcomm looking to sell a product directly to consumers for a change.

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