Chipmakers do not have a strong track record of selling hardware directly to consumers. That’s not stopping Qualcomm with a report today describing plans to create an Android-powered Nintendo Switch.
According to Android Police, Qualcomm is taking a Snapdragon chip and putting it into an Android-powered game console with detachable controllers and the ability to connect to televisions.
The core of the device is said to look like a “thicker, bulkier smartphone” that allows for more thermal headroom to improve performance of the unspecified chip. Today’s report speculates that it will “feature the next generation of Snapdragon silicon” given an expected Q1 2022 release date. It could be announced at the end of this year alongside the Snapdragon 888 successor.
It will be paired with a 6,000mAh battery that unsurprisingly leverages Quick Charge, as well as 5G (X55) — with cloud gaming often touted as being enabled by the cellular technology. Other known specs include an SD card slot, Bluetooth, GPS, accelerometers, and dual-zone haptics. The controllers are said to be sourced out to a third-party.
This Qualcomm console will run Android 12 with a “customized launcher.” It could be the first non-Pixel device to launch with the new OS. Besides the Play Store, Qualcomm is said to want the Epic Games Store pre-installed.
The target price is $300, but the exact configuration or bundle is unclear. Qualcomm is apparently realistic about this device not necessarily taking off, but hopes it will encourage “partners to explore new form factors as the line between ‘mobile’ and ‘console’ gaming increasingly blurs.”
That said, this Android-powered Nintendo Switch device will be sold directly to consumers, while Qualcomm also wants carrier availability. Nvidia is the only chip vendor to have any real success selling to consumers, but even its Tegra-powered Portable (and later Tablet) failed. The rumored pricing is not unreasonable, but it ultimately comes down to what content will be available.
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